“The most wonderful time of year” right? Shopping malls, crowded parking lots, traffic, long lines, people who have seem to forgotten the joy of the season.  I love this time of year but sometimes Christmas gets too commercial, too much about spending money. Every magazine, blog, and “community” news piece is centered around listing the perfect gift ideas for the countless people in your life. Wouldn’t it be better to actually spend some time doing something with those people? We all have so much stuff. It weighs us down. Why not make a memory rather than make them find space on a shelf. Make less stress on yourself (both mentally and financially) by giving action gifts or simply food and drink.  Make yummy food for them (like this granola) or homemade hot chocolate. Take them to see a play. Take them on a hike. Spend time with them. We often equate time with money, and its true, but sometimes spending more time to do something fun is a lot better than spending more money to do something quick.

For starters, lets make getting a Christmas tree an adventure! It’ll cost you WAY LESS, you’ll get a little work out, and get to spend some quality time in nature with your loved ones. This is the way everyone used to get their Christmas trees- from one of America’s greatest resources, our beautiful forests.

Photo Credit: Colorado Public Radio CPR.com

Check out the US Forest Service website about how to get a permit ($10) to cut down your own Christmas tree.  Buy your permit and plan a trip to one of the forest areas. They will provide you a map and a tree key so you know what kind of tree you are getting.

Give yourself and whoever you’re bringing along some time to find the perfect tree and remember that you will likely be another 4000 feet higher than Boulder elevation so physical labor might be more difficult.

Make it an outdoor adventure- wear snow shoes (if you have them, you’ll be alright in most areas if not), bring a thermos of a hot beverage or soup, wear your good, warm snow gear, and bring a track guide. There are so many animal tracks you can easily see in snow! And of course, don’t forget a saw (no power chainsaws).


If you already have your Christmas tree then make plans for cutting down your own tree next year! Much of our forests in Colorado are over grown due to fire prevention. Fire prevention is important for our safety but it has left a landscape and ecosystem used to fire to become overgrown and optimal health. So helping the Forest service with the cost of your permit (they are severally underfunded) and forest health is a great idea!

Lizzie works as a seasonal for City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, spending her days among the flora and fauna of Boulder both on and off the job. When it comes to knowing what to do and whats going on in the numerous open spaces around Boulder, Lizzie is your girl. After graduating from the University of Texas with a Geography: Environmental Resource Management degree, she came to Salida, CO to work in the San Juan National Forest and surrounding areas on a trail crew. Previously she has worked for Boulder County Parks and Open Space, other trail crews, and as an environmental educator. She has a passion for spreading environmental knowledge and bringing nature straight to the people.