How to Pick Your Christmas Tree

How to Pick Your Christmas Tree

Getting your Christmas tree is a big deal. Many of us make traditions out of going out and finding the perfect tree, roaming the countryside full of anticipation for that moment when we finally see “the one.” Then, we gather the family together to decorate it with our favorite ornaments. The whole event marks the beginning of many people’s favorite time of year.

When choosing a Christmas tree many people are loyal to a certain variety, like Noble Firs and Douglas Firs, while others just look for the right shape or lack of bald spots. Some even go for a “Charlie Brown” tree that’s unique rather than perfect. The quality of trees you have to choose from depends on the grower and whether they’ve had “good years” weather-wise. But other things about your tree, like its size, is completely up to you.

Before you head to the farm or lot, figure out where the tree will be placed in your home and measure for height and maximum width.To figure out the best height, take the total height of the room and deduct one foot for your tree topper and one foot for the stand.

Variety Guide

All kinds of evergreen species are grown and used as Christmas trees, but in our region, firs are the most popular. Here are three of the most common fir tree varieties you’re likely to find around Portland.

Noble fir: This variety is considered by many to be the Cadillac of Christmas trees. Nobles have luxurious green needles, a long shelf life, and a great christmas-y aroma. They have strong, stout branches with space between bows that make plenty of room to show off bigger or heavier ornaments. But, Nobles are usually the most expensive type of Christmas tree because they can be more difficult to grow and take 8-10 years to mature.

Douglas fir: This tree is the most widely available because they are the easiest to grow, and can often be found sheared for the ideal shape. Doug firs have a nice fragrance and pretty good shelf life. They have more of a thick, bushy crown of thinner branches, lending themselves more to smaller, lighter-weight ornaments.

Grand fir: This variety is the most fragrant of the native fir species. A lot of them are heavily sheared like a Douglas fir, and with their attractive needle shape they make a popular choice for flocking. However, Grands may not last as long as a Noble or Douglas firs.

The freshness of the tree will also play a huge role in how long it lasts. It’s best to cut it fresh (or have the pros do it) so you know it’ll last as long as possible. Check for resilient needles that are flexible. When you run your hands lightly down a branch, the needles should stay put. Choose a tree with a rich color that smells strongly and has branches that are ideal for your lights and ornaments.

Heading out to the farm

There’s an abundance of U-cut farms in the Portland metro area. Some of the most popular include 4j’s Tree Farm in Boring, as well as Beck’s and Allen Tree Farm in Oregon City. Bob’z is a family favorite based in Estacada while Helvetia Christmas Tree Farm in Hillsboro is a tradition for many on the West end of town. Do your research and choose a farm that offers the kind of experience you’re after. Many offer a gift shop, hot chocolate, hayrides and visits with Santa on the weekend.

Choose a weekend that’s dry and bring your own twine just in case. A tarp is a must to avoid scratching on your car roof or—better yet—borrow or rent a truck for the occasion. Shaking and baling is a good idea to avoid extra needle dropping (and insect stowaways). But most importantly, have fun and enjoy the festivities. Cutting your own tree is an annual activity that’s a foundation for great memories.

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