(Photo courtesy of hillcollectionblog.com)

Where to Bear Grylls Your Own Christmas Tree in the Bay Area


There's nothing a little elbow grease, a bit of holiday cheer, and a single handsaw can't take down.

Searching for an outlet to release that pent-up anger from Thanksgiving, when you sat across a well-meaning relative who, let's just say, didn't mind the outcome on November 8th? Hint: cutting down your own Christmas tree might turnout to be just as therapeutic as it is festive. Here are a few places where you can let your inner lumberjack run amok in The Bay.

Grandma Buddy's Tree Farm (North Bay)

Starting with their first sapling in 1982, Hazel and her husband Gilbert have epitomized the meaning of the mom-and-pop tree farm; it's been in the family for more than 30 years despite both their passings. Grandma Buddy's Tree Farm is a "U-Cut" experience for the whole family. Between the chicken coops, horse barns, "garland farm," and acres of evergreens, even the most rambunctious two-year-old will expend more than enough energy here to make the ride home rather peaceful. Try to get there before 5 p.m. to see the sun begin to set over the treeline! // 8575 Graton Rd. (Sebastopol), grandmastrees.com

Pro Tip: Most Christmas tree farms will sell all their most desirable trees in the first two weeks after Thanksgiving. Don't procrastinate or you'll get get the gimpy Charlie Brown tree.

Little Christmas Tree Farm (Wine Country)

There's nothing subtle about watching a 12-foot fir body slam the mulch beneath it. A longtime favorite among Christmas tree connoisseurs, the Little Christmas Tree Farm should be a high-item on anyone's list. Noble, Turkish, and Douglas firs are all available as pre-cuts; Monterey pines, Sierra redwoods, and Leyland cypresses are reserved for "choose and cuts." But, really, you can't go wrong with any of them. // 961 Chapman Ln. (Petaluma), littlechristmastreefarm.com

Pro Tip: Worried about fire and fed-up with having to water your tree everyday? Consider "flocking" your tree after cutting it down. Basically, the tree's inundated with artificial, fire-resistant snow that clings to the evergreen's flammable needles and branches like super glue. Aside from preventing future kindling, the flocking also helps the tree keep its water reserves!

Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm (East Bay)

There's nothing quite like the rhythmic sound of a saw in motion. Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm's hillsides are alive with just that sound of music. Here, you're encouraged to walk through the acres of dense firs, eye your favorite, and saw gently away until it can be dragged to your car. An undiluted U-Cut experience (there's no barn or chicken coop or horse pasture to distract your lumberjack vibes), this place offers a slice of tranquility in the ever-bustling Bay Area. // 7001 Miller Rd (Castro Valley), cvchristmastreefarm.com

Pro-tip: Most of the Bay Area's pre-cut trees (Douglas, Turkish, and noble firs) are shipped, already cut, from tree farms in Oregon where the nitrogen-rich top soil helps grow dense, thick branches that are perfect for catching tinsel and stringing garlands.

Santa's Tree Farm (South Bay)

Story time, train rides, candy canes, oh my! There's little you won't find at Santa's Tree Farm—including U-Cut trees. They have an unusual selection of California native evergreens, but the farm's concolor (white) firs are in a league of their own! (As far as we know, they may be the only tree farm currently offering this holiday favorite in the Bay Area this year.) Be sure to make the trip soon before they sellout! // 78 Pilarcitos Creek Rd (Half Moon Bay), santastreefarm.com

Pro Tip: The farms listed above will provide all the necessary utilities to chop your own tree. However, we urge you to bring a large blanket or a few towels to line the roof of your car to protect it from scratches and scuffs.

FINE PRINT: Cutting your own tree offers a unique experience to get outside and experience winter's splendor. But it also can lead to an act of unconscious pillaging. (Tree farms and other public natural spaces are notorious for accumulating plastic waste products during this time of year.) So, while we encourage and applaud you for getting outside and taking in nature, make sure you're being kind to the area around you and practicing the principles of Leave No Trace. Or else, naughty list.