Our family wanted to do something different for Christmas this year. At first, we weren't sure what we wanted to do since Thanksgiving season was pretty busy for us, but soon we knew that we wanted to get a real Christmas tree and decorate our home more than usual. And just as we came to that agreement, Chevrolet reached out and asked if we had any holiday plans. I shared what we had planned and got access to a Silverado Custom Trail Boss to haul our tree! We've had one before, so we knew it was going to be a fun week. Last time , we had a red Silverado Trail Boss LT, and took a trip to the State Fair for the first time. It's safe to say, Chevrolet has been there for a lot of our family firsts.

My parents and sister cut their first real tree last year and they looked, and smelled, very nice. Ashley believed she still had her childhood allergies so we passed up on doing that ever since we met. We came to learn a few weeks ago that there are trees that are hypoallergenic and some that release minimal pollen. We wanted to go check them out and see if we could finally get our real tree! We planned it out and here we are, with a 9-foot tree and plenty of room to decorate it. The tree farm we went to was Dewberry Farm near Brookshire, and besides trees, they have a whole are of entertainment and food for the whole family. It is a cool place and we would love to go back next fall for their pumpkin patch and corn maze, I've always wanted to get lost in one.

Interestingly enough, we ended up getting a tree that is not hypoallergenic, it's called Blue Ice. It smells fantastic and we spent more than an hour roaming through the fields finding the perfect tree and with no sneezing, itchy eyes, or any kind of allergic reaction. This was exciting! The tree also had a bluish green color tone which was very different. So on to cutting the tree it went, but before this all started, we went through a 3 minute talk about cutting trees and safety. And I want to share some of those tips as well as how to safely load and tie down your tree! Here are 9 Tips for Safe Christmas Tree Chopping

1. Be Prepared
Before heading out to the farm, be sure to have an idea of where you are going to place it as well as making sure it will fit inside your home. You definitely don't want a tree that needs the top cut off because it doesn't fit. Also, take some tie-down ratchets or twine ( some places have twine for you) for transport.

2. Stay Warm
Be sure to stay warm. Finding the perfect tree could take some time and the weather will more than likely be cold and wet, unless you live in Texas like us where most people were out cutting their trees in t-shirts! The ground was dry when we went but if it was wet and cold, I probably wouldn't have been as patient in choosing a tree. You could also take knee pads or something of cushion when you start cutting your tree.

3. Choose Wisely:
There are many options when it comes to trees and farms. Look ahead of time and see what kind of trees they have, especially if looking for a hypoallergenic tree or a particular kind of tree. Once you find your tree, be sure to inspect it and make sure it is healthy. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends testing the branching to make sure the tree is healthy.

4. Chop Chop
Everyone's favorite part! We were given a saw but you could take your own. Cut your tree low to the ground and straight across. In the short orientation, we were told to cut 3/4 of the way through and then the other quarter on the opposite side to avoid splitting of the bark. Have a friend or family member hold the tree for you to help cut smoothly and avoid tipping.

5. Use Netting 
At the farm we went to, the staff take the tree that was cut and take it to processing where the tree is shaken and then put into netting. All trees should be put into netting or a sleeve for easy
transport. It makes moving the tree around and tying down easy.

6. Stump first
When loading your tree, whether in a truck bed or on the roof rack of your vehicle, put the stump-end of the tree towards the front to help mitigate movement within the bed of the truck. 

7. Tie It Down Tight
Loop twine through the integrated tie-down hooks and repeat to cinch with a “figure-8” motion securing the tree. This 2019 Silverado has 12 fixed tie downs stationed throughout the bed of the truck to help you secure the tree, whatever size, down. Most trucks have at the least 4, be sure to use them! Bumps and road vibration can move the tree around so make sure this is something you do right.

8. Tailgate Up
The best way to transport your tree is with the tailgate up. If your tree is bigger than your truck bed, you can put the tailgate down – just make sure to tie a red ribbon on the end of the tree so drivers behind you can see it. Remember to follow local laws about items extending beyond your vehicle.

9. Water:
Make sure you put your tree into water immediately when you get home and place it away from heat sources like fireplaces or radiators that can dry it out. It is recommended to cut 2 inches off the trunk once you get home before putting the tree in water. The tree will drink up a lot of water the first couple of days so make sure to check on the water level throughout the season, very important! That way you can keep it alive and healthy all holiday season long!

Before I go, I wanted to mention how I have seen many posts on social media arguing about what kind of tree is better, artificial or real. I thought it was interesting and concluded that real trees are better. At least for me, my family, and our environment. Artificial trees are cool, reusable, and last many years. The idea was that this would save trees from being cut down and impacting the environment. Times are different today, these trees are grown for the sole purpose of being cut down, once they reach a certain height and age threshold. The environment argument would be invalid in this case since. Most artificial trees are manufactured in China, made of plastic, and full of harmful chemicals that release slowly into our homes. In the end, this is what our family debated on and it comes down to where you live. Maybe you don't have tree farms around you, so an artificial would be best in that case. What's going to happen when our tree dies? Well, in January we can take our tree to the beach where they will be used to protect the sand dunes from erosion. It all goes back to the land we try to take care of. With that, I wish you all happy tree cutting and safe holiday festivities!