Several Christmas tree farms offer the choice to cut your own tree during the month of December.
The tradition is one many remember from their own childhood and would like to pass on to a new generation.
It is a winter activity that's going strong, according to Bill McMaster of Bill's Farm Market in Petoskey. The farm usually has about 100 families trudge through the snow and cold, wielding hand saws to cut their own Christmas centerpiece each year.
"So many people love to do it on the weekend as a family outing," said McMaster.
With a crosscut saw, it usually only takes five to 10 minutes for someone in good shape to cut a tree, McMaster explained, "and it's usually a family effort."
Bill's Farm Market has offered cut-your-own trees for 12 years and despite its popularity, McMaster said they're not likely to run out, with about 6,000 trees to choose from.
Varieties offered include balsam fir, Fraser fir and blue spruce. McMaster said spruces are more rigid, so best to support the ornaments, but firs are softer to the touch.
The farm buys 2- to 3-year-old seedlings, trims them every spring and after 12-15 years they are ready to be used as a Christmas tree.
"They're a long-term investment," said McMaster.
Gordon McPherson owns McPherson Evergreens with his son, Phil. The farm is located between Central Lake and Ellsworth on County Road 65.
McPherson says the popularity of cut-your-own trees lies in part in customers knowing what they're getting in the product.
"They can get a fresher tree by cutting it themselves," he said, "And at the same time it's a family Christmas experience."
This is the third decade the farm has been offering Christmas trees, garlands, wreaths and centerpieces. They usually sell close to 400 cut-your-own trees every year.
McPherson is retired and uses the Christmas tree farm for extra income.
"It keeps me busy," he said, "I like to work with the trees and get to meet a lot of good people doing this."
John Bosma, of Bosma Christmas Trees just north of Harbor Springs, has been in the business still longer with 45 years of experience. He says people really enjoy cutting their own trees.
"Some people are out there five minutes and some spend five hours and make a day of it," he noted.
Bosma said his company sells about 400 to 500 cut-your-own trees every holiday season.
"We have several varieties because people like different things," he said, including white fir, balsam fir, Fraser fir, Black Hills spruce and blue spruce.
The farm provides a shaker to remove dead needles and wraps the cut trees with netting.
Local cut-your-own Christmas tree farms
Bill's Farm Market
4450 E. Mitchell Road, Petoskey
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 24
Prices begin at $20.
Bosma Christmas Trees
3133 Pleasantview Road, Harbor Springs
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Dec. 24
Prices are $25.
8103 Ellsworth Road, Ellsworth
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 24
Prices begin at $30.
Johnecheck Tree Farm
06820 Camp Daggett Road, Boyne City
Hours: Open daylight until dark every day through Dec. 24
Prices are $20.
269 S. Fletcher Road, Petoskey
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday through Dec. 24
Prices are $25.