It is really starting to look like Christmas in Connecticut. That means it is time for my favorite holiday tradition, a Christmas tree hunting adventure! For years the Sunday’s Bread family has been donning warm winter clothes and sturdy boots to take a hayride into the fields of the Connecticut countryside to cut down a fresh tree.
On our first trip to the farm we noticed families from around CT and NY enjoying delicious tailgate spreads. Given that we are all-in foodies around here we just had to do the same. Read on for our favorite Christmas Tree Cutting tailgate menu, some tips and more about this wonderful tradition. As you can see, GG, was all-in with her favorite tartan scarf.
Christmas tree cutting tips
We started cutting down a fresh tree twelve years ago. The girls were so young. While now the hayride is optional back then we had to take it as they could not walk that far. So first tip – check the weather and it is likely you will need to wear warm clothes and boots. If the day is going to be cold, you may even want some hand and toe warmers.
The atmosphere is very festive. Where we go they even have oxen (see picture). They also have a cute Christmas market where you can buy ornaments, wreaths and of course trees. We prefer the adventure of walking through the fields to find one. Your own cut tree is as fresh as you can get so they last easily through the holidays. I guess you can tell that I am a fresh tree gal. There has never been a question of fresh versus artificial at the SB house. I love the smell of fresh pine, and the way the white lights glow against the needles.
As much as I love a fresh tree, there are a few items you may want to bring with you (even if you buy one from the market or local home store). While our tree farm does provide some cord to tie the tree to the roof, we always install our ski rack and bring our own set of cords for tying it securely. As I love the Christmas market and often buy a wreath or other items, I usually bring a plastic bag for the trunk so that the needles do not get everywhere.
Once you find your tree, perhaps the most important tip is to stay next to it. Our girls usually disagree about which tree is coming home with us so that means one of us has to stay with the trees under consideration. Mr SB then uses one of the farm’s saws (they give you those), and we all help securely get it down. At our farm, you are given a tag and part of the tag stays with the tree. You move the tree to the side and then they will pick it up and put it on their wagon to bring it to the parking area.
A note on Christmas tree decorating
Growing up in Rhode Island, we always had a beautiful tree. As I adore Christmas and all of the preparations I often decorated it. I was the most enthusiastic one especially after my sisters had left for college. You could say I am bit of an expert at this point. Now, I love taking out the antique ornaments. Some ornaments are from my grandparents – at least 100 years old at this point. We have also collected ornaments from around the world. We have brought back ornaments from our tours of the National Parks, Mexico, France, South America and pretty much everywhere we have traveled.
What do I do with the girls’ home made ornaments?
As for the home made ornaments from Sunday School or school – well, it all goes on the tree. I love the memories. I know in the blogging world, the trend is a super coordinated, perfect tree – that is just not me. It does not bring me joy. So, up goes the cardboard cutout with a little photo of my college girl when she was five. I add some beautiful gold ribbon as a garland along with candy canes and gingerbread cookies. At least in our eyes the tree is very beautiful and full of Christmas spirit, memories and meaning.
Christmas tree cutting tailgate tips
Back to the tree cutting, we usually go with other families. As the farms can be crowded, we caravan so we can park next to each other. We all bring our favorite menu items. So here is the menu – it may be a bit eclectic but delicious all of the same and travels easily. Oh, and Mr. SB loves to bring his portable grill.
I am including his recipe too. The caper mayonnaise is to die for, and that leftover Thanksgiving turkey is delectable when dipped in it (shh don’t tell). I also love the mayo slathered on some sourdough bread piled high with turkey for the best sandwich ever. It would even make a delicious dip for crudite or some plain ol potato chips.
Christmas tree cutting tailgate menu
OK our tailgate philosophy is pretty simple. Delicious, easy food that can be consumed ideally with your fingers (finger food:). I love to make it cute with a tartan tablecloth, festive ice bucket decorated with candy canes (a galvanized steel bucket that I picked up at Michaels a few years ago) and matching tartan plates/cups. All easy and no fuss.
Red cabbage and carrot slaw with an apple cider vinaigrette
Bagels and cream cheese
Chocolate cookies with peppermint kisses
Assorted Christmas cookies including gingerbread men/women and Christmas trees
We brought the buffalo dip in an insulated cooler and then reheated it on the grill. Mr. SB prepared the meat at home so it was ready to go on site. We used a folding table versus our tailgate as it was just easier to lay out the spread.
After a hearty tailgate we ventured out into the farm. We found our tree and even decorated it that evening (GG was tired!). We had some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving so I made my Turkey Tetrazzini and we chilled out while watching the Christmas Chronicles. Is there a better day than that? Would love to hear your Christmas and holiday traditions. Check back as I will be sharing how to decorate your mantle with natural greens and more!