How to cut down your very own Christmas tree


It is so easy to get your very own real tree straight from your local forest! Let me tell you how to cut down your very own Christmas tree!

Woman with a green winter coat carrying her baby with an ergo carrier standing in front of live Christmas trees

Every holiday season it was tradition for my family to cut down our own real tree for Christmas. I felt like having a real tree trumped a fake tree for so many reasons. We would always go in late November. I remember the hustle and bustle of getting all our warm clothes together and making hot chocolate before heading to the mountains.

The cool fresh air was so rejuvenating. We would pack our sleds and find the best sledding hill to go down while our parents scouted out the perfect tree. We would sip our free hot chocolate and eat donuts gathered around a fire. So memorable. It was a much better experience than going to a Christmas tree farm in my opinion.

Is it cheaper to cut down your own Christmas tree?

When you get a Christmas tree from a tree farm you can pay up to or even over 100 dollars for a tree! The permit for cutting down your own Christmas tree is between 10-15 dollars depending on the U.S. State that you live in. So YES, it is much cheaper to cut down your own tree.

Do you need a permit to cut down a Christmas tree?

photo Credit and web link:

Yes, you will need to have a permit to cut a tree down in the forest. Where we live we go onto the Bureau of Land Management website and purchase our permit there. They take credit cards or debit cards. For us, our tree permit was 10 dollars.

We are required to print out our permit and have it with us when we cut down our tree and while we are traveling with the tree on our car. If you can’t find online information about getting a real Christmas tree in your area, try visiting your local forest service offices or ranger station.

They may have more information for you. There are some states that will not have access to this as they don’t have forests that allow this. If this is the case for you, you can buy a permit for another state. For example, while we were living in Virginia, we didn’t have access to real tree permits there, but West Virginia did.

We bought a tree permit for West Virginia and went there to get our tree. So you do NOT have to live in the state you are purchasing your permit from. But you DO have to cut your tree in the state you purchased your permit from in their designated areas.

What tools do you need to cut down a Christmas tree?

Cutting down a real Christmas tree is a simple task so there are only a few items that you will want to have when cutting down a real Christmas tree.

baby wearing warm clothes while she is out christmas tree hunting
Make sure to dress warm!
  1. Bow saw – You can use a regular saw if that is all you have, it is just slightly more difficult to use for cutting down a tree and will sometimes get pinched in between the trunk as you are cutting. If this happens you can have someone slightly tip the tree so it isn’t pinched.
  2. Twine or Rope – This is also a must have for bringing your tree home. You can either attach your tree to the top of your car or on a trailer. Either way having twine or rope is necessary keep the tree from flying off during your drive home.
  3. Permit – don’t forget to bring your permit!
  4. First aid kit
  5. Measuring tape – Before you go to cut down your tree, you will want to measure the space where you will be putting your tree. Then bring your measuring tape so you can measure the tree you are looking at. Trees in the forest look smaller than they actually will be in your home. Measure how tall and how wide your space is and then make sure to find a tree in those dimensions. You can cut off the top of the tree if you need to make it a little shorter. Additionally, most permits have limits on the height of tree you can cut down, so you’ll need to measure your chosen tree before you cut it down and take it home.
  6. Map – This can be on your mobile device or a printed copy. You want a map to make sure that you are hunting for your tree in the correct place.
  7. Food – No, this isn’t necessary to cut down a tree, but you should always be prepared with food and water when going into the wilderness during anytime of the year, especially winter. We had fun bringing hot chocolate and homemade donuts too!
homemade cake donuts on the counter
Yummy homemade donuts!

What types of trees can you cut down for Christmas?

There are many different varieties of evergreen trees out there. Some of them are Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Nobel Fir, Scotch Pine, and Turkish Fir. The most common varieties in my area are the White Fir, Subalpine Fir, Pinyon Pine, and Juniper trees, and these are the trees that we are allowed to cut down for our real Christmas trees.

IMPORTANT. Make sure that you can identify the trees in your area that you are allowed to cut down. Also take note of the requirements of the size of the trunk, height, location and other rules for selecting your tree.

Where do you go to cut down your own Christmas tree?

You don’t need private land in order to cut down some beautiful trees for Christmas! When you purchase your Christmas tree permits it will give you a map of areas on public lands where you can cut down your tree.

Download the map on your mobile devices so that you can view it even if you are out of service. Things to consider when choosing your location. Will the place you are going have snow? What are the road conditions like when getting there?

Most forest roads are not plowed. This means it is a good idea to have 4-wheel drive and/or chains to get to your destination. Some years, we have parked on the side of the road (out of traffic’s way) and hiked into where we would be cutting down the perfect Christmas tree.

Other years we have brought 4-wheelers and ATVs that we would take in. Some years we didn’t have any snow in the mountains and could easily drive our mini-van to the destination. Just know what the wilderness areas around you will be like and prepare yourself for those conditions.

How to easily cut down your own Christmas tree

man cutting down a real Christmas tree using a saw in the woods

First, select a tree that fits your space requirements and U.S. forest service guidelines in your area. It is important to have a tape measure to know the actual size of the tree. Then you will get your saw and start your cut no more than six inches off the ground.

You will want to make your cut quickly. Begin sawing in a back and forth motion. Do not tip the tree causing the base to splinter if you can avoid it. Continually cut the trunk until your saw has made it all the way through.

It helps to have someone hold the tree while you are cutting, but isn’t necessary. Then take your fresh cut tree and carry it over to your mode of transportation. Carrying is better than dragging because when you drag your tree, needles will fall off.

Man holding a real chirstmas tree that he just cut down

Securely fasten your tree to the roof of your car or trailer using rope or twine. When positioning the tree make sure to face the tree with the base of the tree trunk facing the front of the car. This is so that the wind won’t blow against the top of the tree causing damage to the tree.

Real Christmas tree strapped to the top of a red mini van

How to take care of your live tree

Now that you have a beautiful perfect Christmas tree you need to know how to take care of it. Once you have brought your tree home, you will want to cut of a small portion off the bottom of the trunk. This creates a fresh cut that will better absorb water.

You will want to have a tree stand to hold up your tree. We have tried out several different Christmas tree stands and found this one to be our favorite. This is not a sponsored post, we just really like how quickly this one grabs the tree trunk. Easiest stand we have ever used.

It is also more stable than other stands we have. It can also support very skinny trees which has been a problem for us in the past. Now that your fresh cut tree is in the stand you will want to fill the stand with water.

A Christmas tree stand should always have a basin built in for you to fill with water. If you don’t keep the tree watered, it will die in a few weeks. Check your tree stand weekly to make sure that it has enough water in it.

Now you can enjoy the wonderful smell of fresh pine in your home while re-living the fun memory of picking out the tree yourself!

Check out this hot cocoa bombs recipe to make some delicious hot chocolate to sip while you sit next to your fresh cut Christmas tree.

This post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Make some cocoa bombs for friends and use THESE FREE PRINTABLES!

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