Christmas Trees

Parent Q&A

Christmas tree for secular family with Jewish heritage? Oct 31, 2018 (16 responses below)
Where to buy Christmas tree and decorations near Berkeley Dec 13, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • I’d love for our family to pick out a real Christmas tree each year, bring it home, decorate it with the littles, and just have the magic of the scene, but my husband is afraid it will hurt his Orthodox Jewish parents. My family isn’t religious and I don’t believe in God (and neither does my husband), so the holidays for us are simply a time of family togetherness and enjoying special scenes around town. Each year we throw a fun Christma-Hannu-Kwanzika party- a mish mash of music food and white elephant fun. There’s no religious element. One year we did pick out and decorate a tree with lights and tons of blue and silver Stars of David. We also had tons of snowflakes and menorahs and holiday lights in and outside the house. I love decorating for the seasons and especially love the pretty lights of this time of year. Anyway, my in-laws happened to see our tree in the background on Skype. Apparently my mother-in-law cried. My husband says that for them, a tree is a big sign of assimilation. Like, you really are not like where and what you came from. I don’t want to hurt them, yet I’m still yearning for a tree. Anyone relate?

    I can relate. My family is culturally Christian but not at all religious, my husband's family is Muslim, and we are both atheists. Our kids are happy Bay Area children with some exposure to most flavors of religious beliefs and happily partake in traditions of all sorts. For me, decorating a Christmas tree and setting out stockings is one of my favorite traditions of the year, and my husband loves it too. His mother, however, also learned of our tree and was devastated. I think she has a hard time understanding the idea of secular celebration. My husband tried to explain that there's no religion in Christmas for us, that it's just about family and service, but she doesn't understand. We also have a Star of David on our tree (something my daughter proudly made at school one day) and it just feels easy and natural to us. I will say that my MIL originally told us that our children would be confused and without an identity, and I think she's softened on that position over the years as she's seen them just feel so comfortable in this multicultural community we live in. So I offer empathy if not advice!

    Jews don't have Christmas trees.  Period.  I would find Jewish symbols on a Christmas tree deeply offensive.  Christmas is a Christian holiday.  I respect that and love helping my friends celebrate THEIR holiday.  I often have non-Jewish friends come to my house to celebrate Jewish holidays.  I have often trimmed trees with friends at their homes.  But to deny that Christmas is Christian (which is what you suggest) is just to make Christianity the default, the norm, the expectation, the absolute.  

    Yes, it can be hard for the Jewish kid who sees pretty trees at  friends' houses. They will get over it.  Indeed, it is an important part of growing up and learning to respect  differences rather than trying to suppress them.  Jewish kids who grow up without trees know what it is like to not be part of the dominant culture; they will have more understanding of those in similar or analogous situations.  That is a great lesson.  You can live without a tree.

    I can relate, and I know this is hard.  In my case I grew up in a Catholic family and all of my favorite childhood memories revolve around Christmas and the tree.  But my husband is Jewish and for him, having a tree in the house symbolizes betraying his identity in a complicated way that is hard to articulate but very real.  This was a big issue for us early in our marriage but ultimately I felt like there was more at stake for him than for me-- that the negative emotions he would feel outweighed the positive emotions I would feel.  So I'd encourage you to think comparatively about what this is worth to you vs. the impact on your husband and your in-laws.  Over the years I have missed the tree much less, and we've found other, more neutral ways to both honor my family history and create new shared traditions together.

  • Could anyone advise on the best place to buy Christmas tree and Christmas decorations around Berkeley? (We've just moved to El Cerrito and will stay in the area only for a couple of years, so considering used/second-hand options for decorations as well).

    We like to get our Christmas tree and wreath from the Delancey Street Tree lot on University in Berkeley.  There is another lot on San Pablo in El Cerrito which may be closer to you.  The trees are reasonably priced, attractive and we like to support the Delancey Street organization (which is a residential support program helping to turn around the lives of former substance abusers, homeless and ex-offenders through education, work opportunities, counselling etc.).

    A great place to find unique Christmas tree decorations is the East Bay Nursery on San Pablo in Berkeley. 

    We get our trees and wreaths from the Delancey Street lot -- there's one on University Ave near Acton in Berkeley, and one on San Pablo near Stockton in El Cerrito. They have high-quality trees and the money goes to support the foundation's work with people who have faced homelessness, addiction, and incarceration (and these people are staffing the lot and they are unfailingly cheerful and polite, so the whole experience leaves you with an extra holiday glow.  Even in the rain.).  

    For tree lights:  LED lights are more expensive up front but you'll make it up quickly in a far cheaper electricity bill.  Ace Hardware on Milvia in Berkeley, or Pastime Hardware on San Pablo at Fairmount have good selections.

    For second-hand decorations try Urban Ore at Ashby and 7th in Berkeley, or any local thrift store or thrift chain like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Thrift Town (google for nearby locations).  Also try Craigslist, Freecycle (there are a number of local freecycle groups you can find by googling) and for that matter, the BPN marketplace itself.

    The Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair runs on the next couple of weekends and you will find hand-crafted ornaments there.  East Bay Nursery on San Pablo in Berkeley has a vast selection of tree ornaments, as does the merry-go-round in Tilden Park (where you can also visit Santa Claus).

    Merry Christmas!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Really Great Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree Farm?

Nov 2011

I checked the archives but everything's at least 3 years old, so I'm hoping for some 'fresh' recommendations for a really good Christmas tree farm. It would be great if it was close-ish to our home (Berkeley), but we're willing to drive up to an hour in any direction for a really good place.

Since I know we'll be paying more than we would at our local OSH, I really want it to be special. Specifically, I'm hoping for a 'Christmas in the country'-type of atmosphere... it would be nice if we could really feel like we're away from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. We'd also like it to be picturesque (hills?), and friendly folks running the place would be a bonus, too.

We don't need bouncy houses, Santa Claus, etc. But I wouldn't rule out a place if it has any of that stuff, either. Thanks in advance! Monica

Hi, Monica! I was in your situation about four years ago. I really love tree farms, and wanted to find the best one I could. I did extensive research, and finally found Frosty Mountain Tree Farm in Sebastepol. I think you'll find it meets most, maybe all of your criteria (which match mine). It might take slightly over an hour to get there, but not much, and it's soooo worth it. Here's what I love about Frosty Mountain:

*Gorgeous, hilly, rural scenery, about 1 hour + 10 minutes from Oakland/Berkeley. Really, it doesn't get any more beautiful than this!
*More variety (types of trees) than many other farms
*Old country play structure and farm animals for the kids (they are very family friendly, of course)
*Hay rides
*Extremely friendly, helpful people, plus it's family owned and operated
*Organic (!) coffee/espresso truck (it gets COLD there, and the coffee is excellent!) including snacks!
*Cool historic barn with tons of unique, lovely, very reasonably priced Christmas decorations, as well as popcorn, apple fritters and wreaths.
*Return customers get a 5% discount off their purchases.

The folks at Frosty Mountain are so friendly and warm, we have been going there every Christmas since: it's our family tradition. Last year, I found the most beautiful tree I think I have ever had in my life (I'm a nut for Christmas trees). I cannot recommend Frosty Mountain highly enough. They have a terrific, informative web site with pictures and descriptions of the types of trees they grow there. Check it out at: Just so you know, the weekend after Thanksgiving is their busiest. We usually go the weekend after that to avoid the worst of the crowds. I hope to see you and your family there this year! Alesia

Our family has been going to Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm ( for the past 5 years or so, after trying a variety of other options. I really love it - it's on EBMUD watershed land out in the hills, so very secluded and country-like, definitely no bouncy houses or fake sleigh rides. The people at the gate are super friendly but pretty much stay out of your way - it can feel like you're tramping around in your own private woods. It's a little pricey, but the tree lasts a long time and they're sustainably grown (no irrigation, no pesticides, you leave the stump to re-grow a new tree), so I feel like it's a good investment and a fun experience. JP

I highly recommend Rancho Siempre Verde about 45 minutes from San Francisco on highway 1 Yes, it's a bit of a drive -- but SO WORTH IT! The folks are friendly and the tree price includes help loading it into or onto your car. Plenty of parking, trees, and marshmallows to roast on the fire. And bonus, the farm is absolutely beautiful (no tacky Christmas decorations!) In the Holiday Spirit

The tree lot on Reliez Valley Road in the Alhambra Valley (Martinez) would fit your criteria. It's near the intersection of Alhambra Valley Road and Reliez Valley Road. anon

This place is a GREAT family outing! Santa, gift shop, farm animals, bring your friendly leashed dog too! But keep in mind Noble, Douglas & Turkish Firs grow in Oregon and are at the tree farms as pre-cut trees. We've been going to Little Hills for years and It's only about 45 minutes from Berkeley. Moniz

This is a really great place to choose and cut your own Xmas trees. We have went for the past 4-5 years and the prices are so much cheaper than the local lots in the Bay Area. One year we were able to purchase two trees for less than fifty bucks, It's a little ways out, but a nice ride (great for family time). Last year there was snow on the way and we stopped so that our daughter could play for a bit. Place is run by a great family. Check it out, here is the website: Franchaska

Local Christmas Tree Farms

December 2008

Hi - looking to take my family on a cut your own christmas tree expedition. Any recommendations on where to go and what to do for a fun filled time? Trying to Establish New Traditions

Hi- We have gone to Garlock Tree Farm for the past 4 years and love it!! It is a great family tradition! Enjoy! Monique

For the past few years we've gone to Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm ( It doesn't have all the sleigh rides and bounce houses and circus atmosphere (search the rest of that website if that's what you're looking for) -- just a peaceful forest out in the hills where you can tromp around with the kids till you find the perfect tree. Sometimes it feels like we have the whole place to ourselves. It's not too far away, fairly reasonably priced (or at least comparable to tree lot prices, but so much fresher), seems to be a family operation, always willing to give you a few extra branches for wreaths and things. JP

Rancho Siempre Verde, near the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, south of Pescadero is a beautiful, family owned Christmas tree farm. They have tons of swings for kids to try, hay bales, marshmallows, tractors, you can picnic - it's really a paradise. You can hang out there or go visit Santa Cruz, the lighthouse, or Ano Nuevo as part of your trip. I've been at Rancho Siempre Verde with kids ranging from 1 1/2 to 12 and none of them wanted to leave. The farm's website is: love the farm

What a great new family tradition you are starting! The highlight of my childhood was going to a farm and cutting down the tree. We always went to Crest Ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains. We got up early, made Kahlua and coffee, and ran around the many acres of trees. Bring an extra scarf as a marker for a tree you like while you check others out. They provide a cart and saw and have reasonable prices. They also sell hot dogs and cider, have a playground, and a cute chicken coop. It may be a bit of a drive from the EBay but it's worth it. anon

There is a Christmas Tree Farm in Half Moon Bay. We just went there to cut our tree there. There was santa to take a picture with, train ride (small, but fun for kids), and small shop. Different variety of trees. I can't remember the name of the place but you might be able to find on line. Sue

December 2004

I am looking for a Christmas Tree farm that is not too long of a drive from the East Bay (maximum 1 hour). I looked through the archives and only saw a listing for something in Dixon but I wonder if anyone else has any favorites?

Years ago, a co-worker told me about the tree farm her family always visited, where they got beautiful, large trees for ridiculously low prices. I think it was in northern Sonoma County, but that's all I can recall. In those days, I had more money than time to spend on the holidays, but this year the picture is different -- and I'm sure my preschooler would enjoy making more of an event out of going to get the tree. So, does anyone know of a place that might be the one? Or any other place that fits the same description? I don't mind a drive of 2-3 hours from Berkeley, but closer would be fabulous too. We're partial to Noble firs but would consider similar substitutes. Holly

Last year, we went to one of the many farms in western Sonoma County. It's probably an hour to an hour and a half drive from Berkeley. Check out for a list of the farms there. I think we went to Christensen's Christmas Tree farm, but it might have been the Davis Christmas Tree Farm. Anyway, it was a really nice experience, and we'll do it again this year. The staff was all warm and friendly. They had some farm animals. The man let my 3-year-old daughter ''help'' get the tree up on the car, and she had a ball.

You won't get a ''deal'' on a tree, but I didn't mind paying a bit extra (it's actually not any more than tree lot but more than Costco or Home Depot--I think the 6 ft. noble we bought was about $56) to support a local farm and have a good time. They do have Noble Firs cut, although they don't grow them there. The web page will list what trees are grown at a place and which are cut. No one seems to grow nobles in this area. Maybe it's too warm. Mimi

Try - California Christmas Tree Association. We've used 4 C's Christmas Trees in Half Moon Bay (650) 726-4383 for the past 4 years. We left our house in Oakland at 1:30 and were home by 4:00pm on Sunday with our beautiful Noble Fir Christmas Tree! Have Fun!

We just bought our tree at the Alhambra Valley Tree Farm. Technically it is in Martinez, but it is probably closer to downtown Pleasant Hill. The drive was less than 30 minutes from Berkeley (we took 80 and then 4). Cut-your-own-trees were 45.00 (they also have pre-cut tress). We had fun and I definitely recommend the place. For location: Liz

We've been to a farm in Castro Valley a few times. It wasn't fancy, but it sure was convenient. Jennifer

There are a lot of christmas tree farms up here in Petaluma. We just moved up here from Berkeley and this is our first Christmas in a house that is big enough for a big tree so we've been scouting out the farms and getting long time residents opinions on who's got the best of everything. Here's what we've learned:

Larsen's Tree Farm has 2 locations, beautiful vistas, great trees and quite possibly the steepest prices going.

Wolf's tree farm has got great trees and reasonable prices

Pronzini's is NOT a choose and cut farm operation although they are local farmers...they just have the standard retail cut tree location at the Petaluma Fairgrounds...probably much fresher than most places in Berkeley (since the actual farm is just a few miles away) but the experience of the farm is just not in the parking lot at the Petlauma Fairgounds!

Little Hills has great trees and excellent prices. We just saw a humungous beautifully shaped tree in a local restaurant here and the owner said that Little Hills has the best trees(she grew up here in Petaluma) and that she paid only 75 bucks for her 12 ft Montery Pine.

So here's the info for all of the above:

LARSEN CHRISMAS TREE FARM Features: 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16 (see key below) (707) 762- 6317 or (707) 778- 1716 Bob Larsen, Kriss Mungle 391 Marshall Ave. (Res.), Petaluma, 2043 Magnolia Directions: From Hwy. 101 take Petaluma Blvd. south to Magnolia or Petaluma Blvd North to Skillman and follow signs Open: Day after Thanksgiving, 10-5 weekdays, 9-5 weekends Monterey Pine, Sierra Redwood, Leyland Cypress Fresh cut: Noble Fir and Douglas Fir All kept in water. WOLF'S CHRISTMAS TREE FARM Features: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 241 Liberty Road, Petaluma, CA 94952 Phone:(707) 792-2150 e-mail: mungle [at] Open: Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning the day after Thanksgiving from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Choose and Cut: Douglas Fir, Monterey Pine, and Sierra Redwood Fresh-cut: Noble Fir, Douglas Fir All fresh cut trees are kept in water LITTLE HILLS CHRISTMAS TREE FARM Features:1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 (707) 763-4678 FAX and Office: (707) 778-1716 Kriss & Carol Mungle e-mail mungle [at] Web site: 961 Chapman Lane., Petaluma Directions: Take Petaluma Blvd. south or north from Hwy. 101 to Western Ave. in downtown Petaluma. Follow Western Ave. 1.4 miles to Chapman Ln. Open: Day after Thanksgiving, Mon., Wed - Fri. 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; Weekends 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Closed Tuesdays Monterey Pine, Sierra Redwood, Leyland Cypress Fresh-cut: Noble Fir, and Douglas Fir All kept in water Code Key 1 - Trees over 10 ft. available 2 - Wreaths/garlands for sale 3 - Flocking available 4 - Picnic area 5 - Hay/wagon/tractor rides 6 - Santa Claus on weekends 7 - Free candy canes 8 - Reserving trees 9 - Free coffee 10 - Maps/brochuresavailable to callers 11 - Free garlands/boughs 12 - Freshly cut trees of other species available 13 - Christmas gift shop 14 - School tours available by reservation 15- Apple cider/refresments 16 - Flame retarding available

Please doublecheck directions on mapquest or the like Little Hills is the easiest to find. Happy Holidays moniz

Check out: you can get a list of tree farms located in Sonoma County at this site. there are plenty that have additional activities in addition to cutting your own tree to make the hour drive more worthwhile.

We go to the Xmas tree farm off of Redwood Road in Castro Valley. They have Douglas firs in all sizes. They provide the saws and will help you tie in on your car too. Merry Merry

Try Alhambra Valley Tree Farms
Peter Jones Phone: (925) 372-6176 FAX: (925) 229-3447 Trees are located in Martinez, CA, Corner of Alhambra Valley Rd and Reliez Valley Rd. Directions: Alhambra Valley 4 miles south of Hwy 4 in Martinez. South 1/4 mile on Alhambra Ave. from Hwy 4 to Alhambra Valley Rd. Alhambra Vly Rd. to intersection with Reliez Vly Rd. Open: Saturday after Thanksgiving Day Hours: Mon - 8 am to 5 pm, Tues - Sat - 8 am to 8 pm, Sun 8 am to 5 pm. Tree Varieties: Choose and Cut: Monterey Pine, Scotch Pine and Cedar Pre-cut trees: Noble Fir, and Douglas Fir

Check out this site: for other CA locations Christmas Tree lover

There are a bunch of tree farms in the Santa Cruz mountains. The ones we've been to are up Bear Creek Road off of highway 17 at the Lexington Reservoir. Also, there used to be some tree farms out in/near Livermore. And there are some up in Sonoma County, for example off of Highway 116 near Sebastopol.

Alhambra Valley Tree Farm. We have been getting our tree from this local farm for many years. It's located in Martinez. You can cut your own tree or choose a pre-cut tree. Here is a website with their location and hours of operation. Donna

We just went to Santa's tree farm (out Highway 92 towards half moon bay) and it was great! They even had a free train ride with Santa Claus for the kids. They have a 2$off coupon on their website. The pine trees were $27 and the fir trees were $37. They also ''netted'' the tree for an extra $2. You should try to get there early - by the time we left at 11:30 it was getting pretty crowded. Have Fun!

If you drive down Skyline Boulevard on the Peninsula, you will drive past several Christmas tree farms. Start just south of San Mateo and head on south. It's a beautiful drive and a lot of fun to cut down your own -- they give you the tools. We make a day of it, get a tree, head out to the coast and have lunch, and then home to decorate. Some folks bring picnic lunches, champagne, or cocoa and have tailgate parties on the farms. There are several sterile looking places -- all the trees lined up in neat rows -- but if you keep driving, the road gets narrower and a little curvier and then you'll see tree farms that look just like the woods, with dirt roads that meander around. It's one price for any sized tree and you can take loads of extra branches and fronds to decorate with at no charge. And this is very PC, if that's an issue for you. New growth comes up where you cut the tree and becomes next year's trees. Merry Christmas! Susan

Alternatives to Live Christmas Trees

November 2007

We really want to have a tree this Christmas, but we don't want to cut down a tree. What are the alternatives? We live in an apartment, so buying a tree to plant in our yard is not an option. We heard that SF had a ''tree loaner'' program last year, where families kept the tree in their home for the holiday. After the holiday, the city came by, picked it up, and planted it in a city park. Does anyone know of similar programs? Or, how else can we have a sustainable Christmas tree? We live in El Cerrito. Amy

I have gotten a small live tree, then put it on craigslist for free -- with the stiuplation that the person who takes it plants it and doesn't sell it. Also, last year I bought a Christmas bush by mistake -- but it's doing just great on the balcony of my little apartment. good luck! kevin

OK, You probably aren't interested in this, and it's probably way too obvious, but please go ahead and consider an artificial tree. I resisted the idea for years out of some romantic notion, but two years ago my husband talked me into it, and you know what? it's really great. The tree actually looks pretty realistic, it doesn't shed needles, we don't have to worry about spilling yucky water all over our carpet (or electrocuting ourselves), it saves money (we even got it for 1/2 off a couple days before Christmas), not too big in storage, and--get this--ours comes with lights already strung on it! What's not to love? Alternatively, if the idea of an artificial tree is repugnant, you can try total kitsch: my mother has the goofiest looking fiber-optic lights tree that bears little resemblance to the real thing, and it's hilarious. Another friend of mine has a very tasteful, miniature, artificial redwood tree. I would have bought that one if I ever saw it around. Keep in mind a potential downside of live trees, which is that if you aren't looking very, very carefully, those slugs and pincher bugs that were comfy in your tree pot when it was outside will be crawling across your living room floor. My second year with my ''eco-friendly'' living tree, I hauled it into the living room, dusted it off, and honestly, it looked like crap, didn't really provide much of the ''christmasy'' smell (which you can also get with a wreath or cuttings, of course), and the next couple of mornings I nearly puked when I saw those silvery trails across my carpet. I couldn't even find all the buggers. janet

As a landscaper, I know that, as wonderful as the concept of growing rather than cutting down a holiday tree may be, the naturally large conifers sold as living Christmas trees have no place in the standard sized urban yard- I've had to remove many over the years for clients when the tree began to show it's natural size, & that can get quite expensive as well as spoiling the whole original idea!

If you want a realistically sized living holiday tree, I'd suggest you buy a dwarf conifer from a nursery that won't get large even when mature, so that it can happily remain a container plant for many years or be planted in a garden without eventually taking it over. If you don't like the plastic nursery container, you can ask the nursery to pot it up into an ornamental one for you.

There are some really beautiful dwarf conifers in this category to choose from & there's a list of some of them in the brand new (2007) edition of Sunset Western Garden Book. Some of them are upright, some upright and weeping, and some are more like bushes.

Or, if you can get into the idea of going for something unique and non-traditional, there's no reason why your holiday tree needs to be either a conifer or even a tree- there are many shrubs that are quite beautiful in the nursery can and can actually be realistically planted in the average size garden.

Buying a nursery tree, especially a dwarf conifer, is going to be more expensive than buying a living tree from a lot, but it will accomplish your goal of not killing a tree instead of just giving you the delusion that you aren't. Cece

Visit this website (tends to be pretty entertaining and sometimes enlightening) and scroll down to the Dec. 1 entry to read what Danny Seo, whose specialty is ''green lifestyle,'' has to say about live versus fake Christmas trees: Melanie

Christmas trees and toddlers

December 2007

Does anyone have any advice about how to have a Christmas tree in the house with a 13 month old? Our older child (and us!) would be sorely disappointed not to have a real tree again this year, but we can't figure out how to have a tree safely with our 13 month old. She understands 'no' but ignores it much of the time, so we can't count on her not to touch the tree or pull on it. She also likes to put hair in her mouth, so we are concerned she'll put pine/fir needles in her mouth and eat them no matter how vigilant we are. We have a small house configured such that there's no place to put the tree in a corner blocked off by a baby gate, house is too small to block off one room entirely to the baby for that long, and we can't afford the $$$ it would cost to buy free-standing gates to surround the tree. We do not want an artificial tree. What do we do, hang it from the ceiling? Seriously, if anyone came up with creative ideas for their own babies we'd really love to hear. O Christmas Tree

I had friends in Hawai'i who did hang their tree from the ceiling every year--so unique and beautiful. But if you want it on the ground, what about a live tree in a sturdy pot? That would be much heavier and harder to knock over. We did that last year when our daughter was a bit younger than yours and plan to do that again. The hard part is the transplant if you don't have a yard... Best wishes celebrating Christmas with a tree! Christmas Tree Lover too

We got a little tree--about 2-3 feet tall, and perched it on a table that was high enough that the kids couldn't reach it. It gave us the smell of a xmas tree, but our little ones were hands off! little tree

We used a free-standing baby gate around our tree and it worked great - have you looked into borrowing one from someone? Try posting something to the Marketplace. Failing that, I would, just for this Christmas, get a small tree that can sit on a table and decorate the heck out of it, reassuring your older child that next year you'll be back to the big tree. Ginger

We are facing the exact same dilemma this year. We have a 14 month old boy who is into everything and would very likely pull over any Christmas tree he could get his little hands on. Still we can't imagine the holidays without a tree, and neither can our 5 year old, so we went out and got a little 3 foot tree and set it up on a card table. My 5 year old has decorated it and loves it. The 14 month old can admire it from a distance but can't touch it. Would this possibly work for you? Have to have a tree

When our youngest was a toddler we bought a small tree and put it on a table so she couldn't reach it but could see it. It was one of the prettiest trees we ever had. anon

During our child's toddler years, we had a table-top Christmas tree that our child could see up close but could not reach. We strung lights over our interior doorways and played a lot of Christmas-y music to create the holiday feel in our home without having a huge tree. Trees are nice and all, but there's no law that requires every family to have one in their living room at Christmastime. God willing, your family will enjoy many more Christmases to come with a big tree in your home. (Not to get too Dr. Phil on you, but it's OK to adjust your expectations about Christmas this year, having a toddler and all...) CC

When our child was 1 year, we got an approx. 3-4 foot tree and put it on top of a table that was too tall for her to reach. anon

For my son's first two Christmases, all the ornaments within arm's reach of a toddler were unbreakable (and in fact, the bottom three feet of the tree was pretty bare. We also attached a hook to the ceiling to anchor the tree in place so that it could not possibly tip over. The tree withstood a few tugs from baby (not many, it wasn't that interesting and it was prickly) and also survived being climbed up by my stepdaughter's new kitten. No one (cat or baby) tried to chew on the needles. I think even a dedicated hairchewer would find a Christmas tree rather un-delicious. I had already stopped using tinsel, after a notable Christmas dinner when the cat paraded through the dining room with tinsel hanging out of his butt (tinsel is apparently quite tasty to cats). Fran

I would recommend buying a small tree and placing it on a table so that your 13 month old cannot reach the tree. Table top trees can be just as festive and beautiful as a full size tree on the floor. They are cheaper too! When our daughter was that age we got a small tree and put it on a small round table that was tall enough so that she couldn't reach the lowest branches. The table was kind of ugly so we draped a lovely piece of fabric over it and put the tree on it and decorated it. It all worked out just great and the tree was beautiful and out of reach. Laurey Foulkes 3loons [at]

Can you buy a small living tree in a pot of soil and put it on a table? That's what we have done with our son. Some come already decorated with a few decorations, some ribbons and lights. After Christmas, you can put it outside in a pot on the porch or in the yard and then bring in it again next year to use. It would just be for a couple of years until the little one is older. My two cents

We have a 17 month old and a cat, so I understand your concerns. Thankfully, we've always preferred a table top tree anyway. This year we've got a 4 ft, very bushy, perfect little tree with plenty of branches for our many ornaments. Target has a nice selection of 3-5 ft trees for $20. We also got a new, leakproof tabletop tree stand there for $12. They also have nice inexpensive live trees including rosemary bushes trimmed to look like Christmas trees in 3 different sizes. We got a little one for the bedroom. Good luck! tabletop tree lover

With a 3-yr old and an 18 month old, we just did it and it's a bit of a battle but the novelty does wear off. We buy a short tree and put it on a table and put non breakable ornaments loosely (no hooks) on the bottom to let them pull stuff off. We've never had them try and eat the pine needles so I don't know about that. But, the battle of the tots and the tree is part of the fun! mrs. santa

We are going to get a small live tree, cover it with lights and as many decorations as it can hold and put it on a table - out of the reach of our 11 month old. After Christmas it will get planted in our yard. s

We too have a very spirited, into absolutely everything 13 mo old daughter and live in a very small house. We decided to get a small table top tree (approx. 3 ft) and put it on a table in a corner fenced off by our couch and another large comfy chair (the two come together at their arms) and will keep the table w/tree tucked into the corner. We have no idea how she will respond, but as most things, it will probably be novel for a short time, then loose her interest and she will be onto something different. Since we weren't able to have much of a Xmas holiday last year (because of her being so small), we want to give it a try. Good luck to you.... anon

Could you try a table top tree? One that was short enough to fit on a table out of your baby's reach, but not hit the ceiling? anon

When my daughter was about the same age, we opted for a smaller tree placed on a table/cabinet that was just about as tall as she was. We had a Christmas-themed cloth over the table. To us it had a similar effect to a tall tree on the floor, and it kept needles & ornaments out of her busy hands. anon

We have the same problem with our toddler. This year, we bought a tiny little living tree from Target - it's only a couple feet high. We are keeping it on our kitchen counter. It's a bit of a pain having it there but I really wanted a tree. We'll be able to put a few decorations on it. A tiny tree is better than no tree!

When our son (now 20) was 18 months old, we put a small (about 4 feet tall) tree on top of a childs' table inside of a playpen. That worked pretty well. Most of the gifts went into the playpen under the table by dropping one side of the playpen. We liked the set-up so well, we still put a smaller tree on top of the little table (without the playpen). It gives the appearance of a tall tree, but leaves plenty of space underneath for gifts. Been there

This was such a great age - get a green tree - let you 13 month old chomp away - it's okay.

No lights or tinsel.

For decorations cut out paper shapes. Use paper loops glued with Elmers school glue to put them on the tree. If they get eaten, it's no big deal. The paper shapes will be fun for your older child. You can even flip through magazines and cut out pictures of dogs, or toys and glue them on to the shapes - once again using Elmers school glue.

The tree will be beautiful and you will have spent a great weekend and almost no money.

Have fun. Chose mostly Stars and Diamond Shapes

We have a similar situation and have opted this year to get a smaller tree and put in on a table. My older toddler was fine with this. When I mentioned that the tree was a bit small she said, ''No it isn't! We have a REALLY big tree!'' Happy Holidays

We have a smaller tree that can be set on a small table, out of the reach of little hands. Gifts can be arranged on the table around the tree. Santa

When my daughter was around that age, we bought a small tree and put it up on a table. We put non-breakable/non-valuable ornaments towards the bottom. It worked great, and it still looked beautiful. We were able to enjoy the festive decor and delicious tree smell! happy with a small tree for one year

My very active son was 13 months old too his second Christmas. We had a tree and although he did pull on the tree it wasn't a problem and he didn't get hurt. What we did is tie a string around the trunk on the top third of the tree and tied one piece to a hook in the wall and the other to a window lock (anything sturdy would do) so it wouldn't tip over. We didn't do lights, and only put on non-breakable ornaments. Of course saying no all the time to your daughter isn't going to work, she isn't developmental ready for that. So just make the tree a safer so that it's ok if she pulls on it. It's pokey anyway so it's not that fun to play with and the novelty will quickly wear off.

As for the pine needles, I'm postive once your daughter puts some in her mounth she won't do it again. They won't feel nor taste good.

Other folks I know just get a small one and have it on a table. anon

Here's my favorite solution.

Get a tree.

Find a stud in the ceiling near where the tree shall stand in all it's glory.

Drill a hole and put in an eyehook. Run a line around a nice thick branch at the top of the tree and then run the line through the eye hook and tie it up. Hurray! Neither mischievious elves, fat fat cats, nor dogs chasing said fat fat cats can pull down yr tree down now.

As for ornaments...

Hang your favorite precious ornaments elsewhere (curtain rods, on tree branches attached to the wall etc.).

Decorate your tree with stuff that is OK for playing like pine cones, popcorn, and (my husband's brilliant idea) the kids own toys with a ornament hook glued to them (a glue gun works great). The ubiquitous plastic animals look really cool on the tree. Ho Ho HO Syndallas

I was thinking about the same thing, as my baby is just starting to walk and likes to grab and eat everything. I grew up with younger siblings, and I think my mom put the christmas tree up on something like a coffee table so that it would be just out of reach. That's also a good technique for making a smallish tree look bigger (and more room for presents!) Here's what I'll probably try: put the tree on a coffee table PLUS put a baby gate/fence thing around it. With the tree on the table, it won't be completely hidden by the gate. I might even drape a red tablecloth over the baby gate when company comes over, or remove baby gate and watch like a hawk during photo ops and company. L

Organic Christmas Trees?

November 2006

Well, it seems that Christmas trees are some of the most highly sprayed, toxic plants you can put into your house... sigh. Anyone know of any Organic Christmas tree farms nearby? I'm sure all the trees have to be sprayed with some kind of chemical fire retardant. A friend went with a fake tree b/c of this--I'm not ready to give up on real trees (and the fakes are pricey!) if we don't have to! BUT if you can recommend a convincing fake tree, I'll take that too. Thanks! Eileen

Though I can't say that they're organic, the UC Forestry Club has an annual Christmas tree sale at Mulford Hall on the UC campus (near the West Circle off of Oxford St.). The trees are from undergrowth on private forestry land in the Sierra, and so do not have the intensive management seen in Christmas tree farms. It is unlikley that these trees were ever directly managed. By purchasing one of these trees, you are not only helping the students in the Forestry Club, you are helping to reduce fuel on California's forestlands

The only OG trees that are certified that I know of are really small. 2gal to be precise about 16 inches max. They are at Whole Foods Berkeley in the front of the store. Good luck Janelle

this is the only one i know of in the bay area -
it is near los gatos. jennifer

i didn,t read the original posted message asking for organic christmastree but i want to put my two cents in when it comes to christmastrees... maybe you can consider buying a fake tree that will last you a lifetime that will safe a lots of trees know it,s so funny i have encountered many environmentally aware people here in the bay area and still they have real trees for christmas...i wonder if they ever think about all those trees..i myself am not a treehugger or so but i grew up having a fake tree for christmas and it does not spoil any was always an event to help papa put up the tree and then to decorate it..i even convinced my husband to have a fake tree and there is definetely enough christmas spirit in our house... then there is a story for children which i strongly remember from my childhood that i can tell to whoever is interested that gets you thinking about the life sister-in-law and her husband got so touched by it...they ended up buying a life tree in a pot which was more expensive but they planted it after christmas and it,s still alive give it a thought

Christmas trees are farmed, like corn -- not cut from wild forests. They are a renewable resource, and recyclable to boot! Many are grown on local family farms, and are not chemically treated. I say this to encourage ''tree-huggers'' to have a real tree rather than a bunch of plastic made in China under appalling environmental circumstances.
Farmer's Daughter

November 2001

Does anyone know of a good place to go and cut your own Christmas tree? I am sick of paying the Boy Scouts $80+ for dried-out trees that hardly last a week ... and I don't mind if it's a bit of a drive as long as there are nice trees at the end of it. Sara

Regarding the Christmas tree search, UC Berkeley's Forestry Club has trees for sale this week (Dec. 3-7) between 10 and 5 outside of Mulford Hall on campus - near the West gate at the end of University Ave. They are relatively cheap, $5 per foot, primarily fir but some incense-cedar. The trees were cut (by the students) on Sat. Dec. 1, so they are quite fresh, and you would be supporting a student group that uses the money from the sales to send students to a national conference in the fall. Kristen

I love the Silveyville Tree Farm in Dixon. It is a bit of a drive from Berkeley (about 45-55 minutes) but it is well worth it! It is a nice family-run farm with cider and sleigh rides! Jaime

Where to buy a high quality artificial tree

November 2007

We are considering buying a fake Christmas tree for this coming season. I checked out the ones at Costco last year and liked them except that the realistic looking needles were only on the outside of the branches and the inner parts looked rather cheesy. Is this the standard ? Is there anything better out there ? We are willing to pay extra if the quality is good. Thanks for any help. - ho, ho, ho

There is a store in Dublin, CA: Pool Patio and More (on Dublin Blvd) that has a very nice selection of high end artificial Christmas trees. Some of them look very real:) Check it out. I got mine there last year and am very pleased. satistfied customer

November 2005

We're considering buying an artificial Christmas tree this year. The fire danger of fresh Christmas trees - not to mention the gross waste of the whole thing - has us thinking artificial is the way to go. But I love Christmas trees so I'm a bit wistful about the decision. I'm worried that an artificial tree will look cheesy. Can anyone recommend a place that sells really high- quality artificial trees? I don't mind spending a chunk of change on it, as I know it will eventually save us money not to buy fresh trees year after year. lin

You don't have to spend a lot of money! We got an artificial tree several years ago for some of the same reasons you mentioned -- it just started to make us sick to throw out a dead tree every year. (We have relatives who buy a live tree in a pot every year and plant it in their yard after Xmas -- they have a veritable forest now -- but that's not really practical for most of us urbanites.) We got a great tree from Target and have grown to really love it. Our family tradition now is to set it up and bend out all its little wire branches -- you can really ''craft'' some personality in there! Perky little arms reaching up to the sky or some years a more spikey aggressive tree.

Nobody has ever realized it's fake and when we tell folks they are *very* surprised. I think fake trees must've come a long way. We also usually buy a wreath or bit of pine swag to hang so we get a whiff of the fabulous ''Christmas smell''.

Of course the other way to go would be with an *obviously* fake tree, like those beautiful vintage ''aluminum'' trees (they make cheap new ones now).

I think the key is to have fun with it, create a new tradition around it, and feel good about your choice to not waste an entire little tree for a decoration. We really do have great affection for our little fake tree -- it's practically a family member now! isabel

More expensive isn't always better! We found a tree several years ago at Long's (a close-out, I think, right before Christmas) that looks quite realistic and is easy to set up. We like it more than many expensive trees we've seen--so if you see a deal somewhere, don't assume it's no good. no fresh-cut smell, though...

We decided to go with artificial trees for the same reasons you cited. We got ours at Walgreens last year for something like $29 -- not the high-quality tree you're yearning for, but it really isn't bad. I feel like it's just fine and it's easy to explain to people that we got it because we didn't want to kill a tree every year. (Not that guests walk in the door asking for an explanation or anything, but it makes me feel better). plastic tree lover

Cleaning an artifical Christmas tree

January 2005

We have an artificial Christmas tree, due to my husband's asthma and allergies around real trees. It is quite large, 10', and we've had it for around 8 years. This year, when putting it up, (a lot of work!) the dust it has collected over the years was very evident. Both my husband and I ended up with some allergic reactions to the dust. How does one clean a fake tree? I've searched the web, and have only found ''wipe with a damp cloth.'' Any suggestions? Nancy

Take it outside, and blow it off with a leaf blower or compressed air. Hilary

Have you tried taking the tree outside and hosing it off? I do that occasionally with my larger indoor plants. The weather has been nice lately, so you can take advantage of the sunshine drying your tree off before you put it away. Teresa

Well, if it's not made of a material such that you can take it outside and hose it down, I'd suggest taking it outside, putting on a dust mask, a scarf over your hair, and start by shaking it. Then use a feather duster all through it and then use canned air. You may have to repeat this process a couple of times. Wear old clothes that you can take right off afterward so that toss them di! rectly into the wash and not carry the dust into the house. Or you could wear a disposal painter's suit. Good luck! Cecelia

Protecting Christmas tree from dog that chews

December 2004

Help! We love Christmas but this year we have a new dog who chews up toys, shoes and anything else she can get. We always close doors when we leave so she can't get to the forbidden items. Where do we put our Christmas tree? I want it in the living room to enjoy, but fear that the dog will attack it when we are out of the house. It's not possible to close off the livnig room or other public rooms in our small Berkeley house and I'm getting depressed thinking that we won't be able to have one. The dog is a rescue, a few years old, with no teeth in front from previous chewing - in other words, we're not going to be able to break her of the habit. And, we can't leave her outside (don't want to either) when we're gone. Is it hopeless? Are our beautiful Christmases a thing of the past? Any ideas? Thanks!
Christmas-tree lover with lovable but annoying dog

We have a 7 year old Rescue dog who still acts like a puppy and chews everything up. He literally chewed through our couch and curtains (he hung off them til they fell and then he ripped them to shreds) and pillows. Yes, he gets plenty of exercise. He is just insecure and likes to chew. If we were to give him up, I'm sure he'd be put to sleep since most people wouldn't have the patience. So, when we are out of the house and don't want to leave him outside in the yard, we put a nylon (nikki brand) muzzle on him. It's actually one size too big so he can drink and probably chew things still, but he doesn't since it's probably a psychological thing. We've left it on for about 4-5 hours long, but that's not usual or often (usually 2-3 hours). It's the only way to keep him from chewing our house and keeping him indoors. You can get a nikki muzzle from pet food express or any other pet store. I appreciate that you are willing to keep your dog - if you gave him up, he'd probably be put to sleep. we love our dog too but he's a pain in the ass

Maybe try surrounding the tree with baby barriers? They're like freestanding baby gates. Anon.

Get a nice big crate and some safe chew toys for him and put him in it when you leave him unattended. Until he learns not to eat everything, he's a danger to himself as well as to the Cmas tree. They do just fine in a crate for several hours as long as they get plenty of exercise on a regular basis. dog lover

I highly recommend you get an ex-pen: You can put it around the tree or put the tree in a corner and block it off with one. I put lovely bows or garlands on mine... and the peace of mind is precious. (This is also good for presents that may contain food.) I started doing it for my dog but continued as my son was young. Jennie

Ethics of Disposable Trees

December 2004

Every year my partner and I have this dilemma over what kind of tree to get. He is opposed to the waste and environmental toll of growing ''disposable trees'' for the holidays. I too, don't like it, but my desire to have a Christmas tree like I remember is greater than my ethics at this time of year. We have bought living trees, but as renters, never had a place to plant them once they got too big. Finally I bought a cheap artifical tree as a compromise. Now that we have a daughter and she understands what trees are, I feel weird putting a ''fake tree'' in the house. Any suggestions on how to deal with this dilemma? Does anyone know of any local tree farms that treat the land well, rotate their crops, etc? Does anyone have soem land they'd like a Monterey Pine on once the holidays are over? Stuck on a Tree in Alameda

We have always bought our trees from Delancy Street Trees in El Cerrito. Although we respect the enviroment and feel uneasy about the whole disposable tree thing, like you, I am way into the wonderful smell of pine in our home that brings so many great memories and traditions. So we pay a lot more, get a great tree and help out the Delancy Street Foundation, which serves underpriviliged/homelss adults and families to get job training and skills to function on a better level. At least we feel we are doing good service to humanity.

the following was pasted from
LITTLE HILLS CHRISTMAS TREE FARM Recycling - Help Cool the Globe Cut a tree, help stop global warming. How's that again? Isn't it supposed to be plant a tree, cool the globe? Not when the tree is a real Christmas tree. That's because Christmas tree growers nationwide have planted over one million acres of trees. Most of these trees are planted on marginal soil not suited for other forestry or agricultural purposes. Christmas trees are grown on farms and plantations for the specific purpose of being harvested as Christmas trees. During their growth cycle they add beauty to the landscape, shelter for wildlife, and clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide laden air and sending out fresh oxygenated air. Environmental experts point out tree farms fight the greenhouse effect directly by providing cooling and air conditioning greenbelts in our hot cities and towns. These tree plantations would not exist without the demand for real Christmas trees. CHRISTMAS TREES ARE A RENEWABLE RESOURCE Christmas trees are a renewable resource. When a Christmas tree is harvested another tree is planted in its place, continuing the growing cycle. Christmas trees are also 100% recyclable with the most common recycled product being garden mulch. Your tree can be recycled by participating in the county wide Christmas tree recycling program. Bring a real tree home this Christmas, and feel good about contributing to a healthy environment.

As for buying a living tree, I'd be interested to know how many of those living trees really survive. I have heard that the living trees don't survive below 4000 ft. and most of them die once they are planted. It seems to me folks are spending a lot more money for a trees that really are being killed. So, get yourself a real tree and enjoy. It will be fresh and won't drop needles for a month! Merry Christmas! Susan

If you go to a ''cut your own'' Christmas Tree Farm (we did this on the Penninsula, but not since we've been in Berkeley) you will find signs saying ''Please do not kill the trees'' -- with instructions on how many branches must be left for a new tree to grow on the same root. Since the tree continues to grow, the root system remains and erosion is not a problem. Presumably the trees receive some supplementary nutrition and training to keeping them producing. The tree you cut is really just ''harvested'' or pruned off the trunk. Would this satisfy your dilemma? Heather

I have been facing the same dilemna re: getting a Christmas tree for the last few years as well. Our solution to this is to get the ''disposable'' tree but to only buy them from Delancy Street xmas tree lots. Delancy STreet is an amazing organization that helps people get back on their feet (substance abusers, ex-felons, and others in need) and get their lives together. The Christmas tree lots are a big source of income for them. So, it doesn't necessarily address the environmental component specifically but it is a way to help build a better community. I found this link if you want more info about them - and no, I don't work for them! patrice

We have had a similar dilemma over the years, and have not had a traditional tree for several years now. I don't like the artificial trees, so we have an artsy metal tree that we hang the ornaments on. At times the kids seem wishful of a regular tree, but they understand that we have strong feelings about the wastefulness of all the Christmas trees. I do get a wreath, which gives us the good smell. jewel