Guide: Where to Find the Perfect Christmas Tree in Boston
Where to cut, where to buy, and which trees will last throughout the holiday season.
Nothing says Christmas like the smell of pine needles wafting through the air and pulling out holiday ornaments that have been passed down for generations. All of this starts with the perfect Christmas tree, which could be harder to find than expected. With families heading out as soon as the tryptophan coma wears off, you better find your Christmas tree early, as most of the best lots sell out before snow even hits the ground. Whether you’re looking for a choose-and-cut challenge, the convenience of a lot, or you want your tree to arrive fully trimmed and decorated on your doorstep, here is a guide to finding the perfect tree near Boston:
Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree Farms
There are few things in life that bring more satisfaction than picking your very own Christmas tree and cutting it down with your own two hands (and that trusty saw), but to avoid your own Christmas Vacation fiasco, a few steps to prepare: The first is to measure your ceiling. Leave enough extra space for that classic angel or star on top, and mark the height so that you can make sure your tree will fit in the space you have (remember that trees always look smaller in the open air). Before you leave, check with the farm to ensure that they still have plenty of trees, and ask if they provide saws and twine. Here are five all-around best Christmas tree farms near Boston.
Greenwood Tree Farm
This farm has more than 500 trees (mostly Fraser Firs with a few Balsams—see below for a comparison of tree types) for choose-and-cut at $65 plus tax. Greenwood also has a selection of pre-cut trees up to nine feet tall from a farm in New York for $45-$75, so there is plenty of variety here to choose from. You’ll need to bring cash for this farm, although there’s an ATM nearby if you forget. Also enjoy free parking, honey samples, and complimentary cider while at Greenwood, as well as a decorating station where you can make a custom wreath or kissing ball that will be a perfect addition to your holiday spruce. Plus, don’t forget to put your name in at the Christmas Gift Shop—a fresh, homemade wreath is raffled off weekly.
Thursdays and Fridays, 12-4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 96 Dudley Road, Billerica, 978-667-5380, greenwoodtreefarm.wordpress.com
At $69 per tree ($49-$120 for pre-cut), this is the most expensive farm on the list, but you won’t be disappointed by the experience. Known for its pick-your-own (Smolak also appears in our Apple Picking Guide), Smolak’s Fraser Firs and Douglas Firs stand up to their reputation and tends to sell out every season, so get there early. Their “Marriage Saver” (also known as the “Stand Strait Christmas Tree Stand”) will keep your tree straight and steady thanks to complimentary drilling. Even equipped with craft activities to entertain the kids while you shop, Smolak is a no-brainer.
7 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 315 South Bradford St., North Andover, 978-682-6332, smolakfarms.com
Crane Neck Christmas Tree Farm
Aiming to expand, this West Newbury farm just opened a new location in Groveland (near the home location) with even more trees available. At the flagship farm, there is an ample selection of trees including Fraser Firs up to eight feet ($45-60), Balsam Firs as tall as nine feet ($45-60), and Douglas Firs ($50-60), and Blue Spruces to eight feet ($35). They also have a selection of trees every year that are tagged for clearance from $5-60, so you can definitely find a tree in your price range (cash and checks only). With a friendly smile, the staff at Crane Neck will provide you with saws, twine, wraps, and pack up your tree for you. One of the few farms that allow dogs (as long and they are on leashes), this farm is perfect for a full family outing. Complete with picture-taking spots and nestled only 10 minutes away from scenic Newburyport, Crane Neck provides the entire holiday experience.
9 a.m.-4 p.m. on select days, 114 Crane Neck St., West Newbury, 978-363-1272, cranenecktree.com
Vandervalk Tree Farm
This farm doesn’t allow tagging of any kind, so come prepared with cash or check, and ready to walk away with a tree. The family-owned farm specializes in six- to eight-foot Balsam Trees at $60 each. This price includes shaking, wrapping, warm cider, and cute picture-taking spots set up for your family to remember the day.
Mondays-Fridays, 3-8 p.m., Saturday and Sundays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 25 Lovell St., Mendon, 508-478-8733, vandervalkfarm.com
Turkey Hill Farm
Tree-cutting opened for the season the day after Thanksgiving at Turkey Hill, and the farm is good about updating their website with the latest conditions. Turkey Hill boasts plenty of trees to go around, with some “interesting” trees (we’ll let your mind roam on that one) for as low as $10, with a max of $65 (cash and check only). Peruse the selection of Fraser Firs, Douglas Firs, a few Blue Spruces, and Canaan Firs, tag the tree you want, and cut it yourself, or arrange for the staff at Turkey Hill to do it for you.
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., 380 Middle Road, Haverhill, 978-372-9474, turkeyhillfarm.com
Places to Buy Pre-Cut Christmas Trees
Sure, cutting your own tree is another level of excitement, but wandering through aisles and aisles of pre-cut trees can bring the same amount of joy once you find the perfect one. The freshest trees will be the ones with soft, pliable needles that do not snap when bent or come loose when the outer branches are stroked. Some needles will fall off, but that’s what the shaking is for. The benefit of pre-cut trees is that they are clearly labeled to their exact size so you can find the right fit for your space. But make sure they aren’t too wide around, or you could have a little more holiday spirit than expected. Here are three Christmas tree lots around the city that are known for their excellent pre-cut trees.
A small farm in the middle of the city, Allandale works with restaurants in the area to supply produce for their stock and boasts a varied selection of plants and flowers year-round (not to mention Best of Boston-worthy gardening must-haves). But Allandale also stands out for their holiday services. With fresh trees and wreaths arriving weekly, this farm is an easy pick, as it is settled right on the Boston-Brookline border. Known for their jolly and festive holiday atmosphere and helpful staff, you won’t lose any of the Christmas magic with a pre-cut tree from Allandale.
Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays 9 a.m.-6 p.m., 259 Allandale Road, Boston, 617-524-1531, allandalefarm.com
Boston Christmas Trees
Situated in Allston, a quick trip to Boston Christmas Trees is a bona fide Christmas miracle. Their Balsam Firs and Fraser Firs, sized 3 to 12 feet, range from $10 to $100, depending on size, so you can get a pint-sized bundle of holiday joy for your tabletop, or a full beauty that will fill the living room. Though they offer plenty of free parking (a tough find in Boston), the lot also offers a Zipcar program with $85 in free driving and a reserved spot at one of the 15 pick-ups in the Boston area (use the code “BOSTONCHRISTMASTREES2013″). The friendly staff is willing to help find the perfect wreath, tree, garland, or swags for any Christmas situation, and will provide you with a disposable bag to help get your holiday spirit home in one piece.
8 a.m.-10 p.m., 22 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-510-0866, bostonchristmastrees.com
Ricky’s Flower Market
Anyone who’s been to Somerville will tell you that Union Square is the place to go, and that doesn’t change during the holidays as Ricky’s Flower Market, just outside the square, is a prime place to find pre-cut trees. With a variety of trees ranging from tabletop to 12 feet tall and available in unusual varieties (try their “sassy” White Pine), Ricky’s has the perfect tree for any occasion. You can even grab a mini Christmas tree to gift your perfect host friend. The market now offers delivery via bicycle as well, if the tree you loved happens to be a little more wieldy than expected.
9 a.m.-9 p.m., 238 Washington St., Union Square, Somerville, 617-628-7569, rickysflowermarket.com
Though the places above may offer some downright jolly trees, there’s no question that cutting your own, or even sifting through every tree on the lot, is a serious commitment. If your relationship with Christmas just isn’t on that level yet, Dashed can bring all the holiday joy and magic directly to your doorstep at just the click of a button. A locally grown startup founded by Boston College alum Philip Dumontet, Dashed has a special holiday deal with everything from swags to poinsettias to make your home as cozy as Santa’s workshop. Who knew Foodler delivered such festive greenery?
Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sundays, 12-8:30 p.m., foodler.com
* Update 12/4/2013: Uber
Miss the fast-paced thrill of Cyber Monday shopping? Uber will bring a bit of that rush on Thursday, December 5, when they will deliver trees (on demand) to your doorstep between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. All you have to do to order one of these Home Depot-furnished seven- to eight-foot Fraser firs is use their free app and select the “UberTREE” option. The driving service teases on their website that trees could be delivered as quickly as within minutes.
$135 for tree (comes with tree stand and Uber gift), Thursday, December 5, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., blog.uber.com
Types of Trees in This Guide
A tree is a tree is a tree, right? Wrong. Here are descriptions of the trees types mentioned in the guide above to help you understand what you’re searching for.
A very traditional tree, the Balsam has short, flat, dark green needles that won’t fall off the branch right after you get it.
A unique coloring, the blue spruce can range from dark green all the way to powdery blue. The stiff branches on the spruce are great for heavier ornaments.
Though a less common variety, the Canaan Fir is very similar to Fraser Fir and Balsam varieties. The medium-strong branches and deep green color make for a traditional Christmas feel.
Also known as the White Fir, the Concolor has a citrus scent that puts off a nice aroma. These trees can last up to 350 years in the wild.
A full-bodied pyramid shape, the Douglas Fir lasts a long time when cut and has anywhere from blue to dark green needles. These needles, when crushed, emit some of the best Christmas tree scents of any variety.
With a deliciously pine-y scent and bicolor needles (green on top and silvery white on the bottom), this tree is the epitome of holiday spirit. The space between branches is also great for ornament placing.
If you have an allergy or don’t want your house to smell of pine this season, this is the tree, as it emits little to no scent. Its soft, blue-green needles will last throughout the holidays, but aren’t the best for holding heavier ornaments.