Guest post from Jamie Oliver
One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions is the hunt for our Christmas tree. We cut our own every year. We hike out on our own property and find a Charlie Brown tree to haul home for the holidays. You could just as easily trek out to a nearby Christmas tree farm and get the “cut-your-own” experience, and I would say that the fun of the day is absolutely worth the time to look up a place to go and drive out there. It takes the experience from yet another holiday chore to a wonderful family memory. (Note: Some areas require a permit to cut down a tree; be sure and check before cutting.)
We like to make an afternoon of it and have been out even until almost dark before, hunting for that perfect tree. Having young children, here’s a couple keys to keep in mind to keep the whole day from backfiring into more stress then blessing.
First, we go before or after nap time, but never, ever, skip the nap. They’re going to be running around for a couple hours while you’re out, be sure they’re at their best and avoid the meltdowns. If you had to travel a ways to get there, that would be a perfect opportunity to schedule nap time in the car, either heading out or coming home.
Second, dress in layers, but dress warmly. You might be out and about for a while hunting up that perfect tree and nothing’s going to bring misery to the whole adventure faster than someone getting too cold. A small backpack is perfect for keeping hats, gloves, or scarves that aren’t needed right away at hand for later, or corralling them if anyone gets too warm and needs to peel some layers off.
Third, tell them what you’re looking for. Big, small, green…whatever. Give the whole family some criteria to hunt with and encourage everyone to participate. That’s what makes it fun for everyone. We tell our kids that it needs to be a green one, as tall as Daddy, and too wide to get their hands around. It gives them something to go with.
And lastly, have fun and take lots of pictures! It makes the memories sweeter to remind yourself throughout the year and have something to look forward to. We usually take snacks in the truck to eat before and after. It’s a great opportunity to break out the thermos and everyone share some hot chocolate and homemade cookies. We also love to use it as a learning opportunity and identify trees with them, notice neat leaves and grasses, and point out bird nests or rabbit holes. We tiptoe for a while waiting to see some deer, or shhhhh everyone to listen for squeaking mice.
Give it an air of excitement and adventure and your kids are sure to pick up on it and even take it on all their own. It’s one way we make the holiday preparations seem more like fun than like a to-do list to be checked off.
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