The holiday season is my favorite time of year. Jingle bells, christmas carols, family, and loads of fun activities. However, in Los Angeles, it can be hard to get into the Christmas Spirit (it’s hard to rock out to ‘Let it Snow’ on a 90 degree day with confidence) especially if you grew up in the snow-filled northeast like I did.
Christmas in L.A. lacks so many of my childhood wintry memories, cutting down a tree with an actual vs. picking one up in an abandoned parking lot. The smell of winter, waking up to the world covered in a blanket of white fluffy snow so bright it hurts your eyes. Hearing the crunch of snow beneath your feet, bundling up in a snow suit, making snowmen, sledding down hills and coming inside with frozen fingers. Thawing out with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate loaded with marshmallows. Watching the snow fall outside your window while you curl up by the fireplace and sing Christmas Carols.
Christmas in LA is just not the same. BUT…this year I’m determined to fill the holiday season with so much holiday cheer Buddy the elf would be jump for joy!
I’ve decided to compile THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS IN LOS ANGELES. From trees to ice skating, Disney to caroling. The cheesier, the better! And since, in my family, the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Friday is obviously reserved for Black Friday insanity) is devoted to tree hunting, Part I is all about those lovely branches.
When I was a kid, every year we would load up the car with too many people, too many dogs (yes, the dogs have to come too), and drive to a tree farm. We would wander around aimlessly through a forest of trees, in the freezing cold searching for THE PERFECT ONE…which always had to be chosen by my mother (no matter how perfect someone else’s find was). We would take an obligatory family photo (or 20) in front of the tree (dogs included), and then stand back and watch as dad chopped it down. Then we’d tie it to the top of the car, take it home and discover (yet again) it’s way too big. Dad would spend an hour chopping off half the tree, which (according to my mom) was always a “lucky” thing because now she has extra greenery for the mantle. Finally, we would decorate the tree as a family while my mom played what my siblings and I affectionately call “the amputee christmas” dvd (a.k.a. a dvd of war-torn countries, amputees wincing in pain, starving children, abused dogs and homeless people all set to uplifting holiday classics sung by Sarah McLaughlin.) While this may be NOTHING like your family tradition, most likely you share the tradition of finding and decorating a tree.
Whether you are looking for an easy tree from a parking lot, or you want the full lumberjack chop-it-yourself experience…there are PLENTY of options in LA. Here’s some of our favorites.
MR. GREENTREES: 8950 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069 310.276.9827
Operated by the same people who operate the infamous Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch, this is the “go-to” place for celebrities and fancy folk. The trees are pricey, but amazing quality. The trees range from 2 feet (us normal folk can afford) to 20 feet (that cost more than most peoples’ rent). If you want a tree that will last the holiday season AND the chance to arm wrestle a celeb for the perfect tree…this is the place to go.
- Open 9am – 9pm
- pre-cut only (sourced from Oregon, Washington and Denmark)
- Noble Fir, Douglas Fir, Grand Fir
- wreaths, garlands and decor also available
- delivery available
MR. JINGLES: 2 locations – Westwood & Hollywood 1.844.4jingle
Parking lot. Trees. Affordability. Simple. This is a chain operation – they have locations throughout LA, San Dieg0, Florida and Colorado. You go, you pick a tree from a parking lot, you drink FREE Hot Chocolate, you go home. No bells and whistles, but good and reasonably priced (starting at $19.99) green beauties.
- Open Mon-Thu 10am-9pm, Fri-Sun 10am-1opm
- pre-cut only (sourced from Oregon)
- Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Grand Fir, Nordmann Fir
- wreaths, stands and lights available
- delivery available
- SPECIAL: Buy a tree and get a certificate for a free personal pizza from Fresh Brothers Pizza
SANTA & SONS: L.A. Valley College 13205 Burbank Blvd., LA, CA 818.501.8637
Family run by a husband and wife that eat, sleep, and breathe trees. The Rholfs began as field workers on a tree farm in Oregon in the 70s. They organized a co-op and began planting their own trees in the 80s. Now they grow trees up on their farm in Oregon and trek down to sunny SoCal to sell them to us! If you are looking for a place beloved by the community and full of homegrown heart…this is your place. Their trees are fresh, they are super knowledgeable and they love what they do.
- Open 9am-9pm
- pre-cut (sourced from their own environmentally friendly certified Oregon tree farm)
- Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Nordmann Fir, Noble Fir
- delivery available
UNDERWOOD FAMILY FARM: 3370 Sunset Valley Rd., Moorpark, CA 93021 805.218.0282
If you are looking for a tree with a side of forced family fun…this is your best bet. Not only can you pick out your Christmas Tree, but you can also spend your day at the Farm Center & Market visiting the petting zoo, watching animal shows, riding tractors and visiting with Santa (select weekend dates). Underwood a further trek, but it’s great if you are looking to make a day out of your tree picking.
- Open 9-5 weekends only
- Admission $6 (children under 2 free)
- pre-cut (sourced from the Northwest)
- tractor rides, animal show, mistletoe, wreaths & more available
- Santa Claus: Dec. 5-6 & 12-13 (11am-4pm)
DELANCEY STREET HOLIDAY TREES: 8 locations (Brentwood, Culver City, Los Feliz, Malibu Village Mall, Manhattan Beach, North Hollywood, Santa Monica, Wilshire) 323.662.4888
These lots are longstanding community favorites, and they are inspirational. Delancey Street is the leading residential self-help organization for former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have been at rock bottom and fought their way back. Delancey helps men and women from teenagers to senior citizens, who stay on average 2 years earning their GEDs, gaining marketable job skills, as well as interpersonal skills to help them succeed in mainstream society. Get a beautiful tree here AND support an important mission.
- contact for location hours
- pre-cut trees
- trees, mistletoe, lights, wreaths, water bowls & more
- living potted pines
IRVINE PARK RAILROAD: 1 Irvine Park Rd., Orange CA 92869 714.997.3968
All aboard! OK, so this is technically Orange County…but it’s like the Disneyland of Christmas Tree Lots. There is an actual Christmas Tree Holiday Train that you can ride to the ‘North Pole’ to meet Santa. I mean COME ON! You can get a tree and then spend the day at Santa’s Village riding trains, ice fishing, listening to stories read by Mrs. Claus, decorating cookies and playing carnival games. There are even super cute photo ops throughout the village. Of course (as with most places) all these activities cost additional money…BUT it’s guaranteed to be a day full of holiday festive fun your kids will love.
- Open 10am-8pm (activity and train hours vary)
- Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Grand Fir
- Train Rides, Santa Bounce House, Ice Fishing, Story Time, Cookie Decorating, Christmas Carnival Games, Coloring Center, Photo Ops
- Train Ride to meet Santa at the North Pole
- wreaths, garlands and flocking available
CHRISTMAS RANCH TREE FARMS: 1586 Pederson Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 805.501.0874
Grab a saw (just not a chainsaw – they aren’t allowed) and get to chopping. If you REALLY want to pick out a tree, hop in your car and drive a little out of LA to pluck one fresh out of the ground. And by pluck, I mean lay down and saw your heart out. Don’t worry, they have pre-cut trees for the less adventurous crowd. BUT…if you want a truly wild experience hop on their vintage army Jeep and ride over a steep hill to the far end of the farm to find your perfect tree. What’s sweeter…they participate in Trees for Troops which provides x-mas trees to active military and their families.
- Open weekends 9am-9pm, weekdays 2pm-7pm
- pre-cut and u-cut available
- pre-cut: Noble Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Grand Fir, Nordmann Fir
- u-cut: Monterey Pine, Leyland Cypress, Aleppo Pine, Arizona Cypress, Coast Redwood, Italian Stone Pine (table top trees)
- wreaths, flocking, jeep rides & more
- coupons available online
- additional Simi Valley location
THE LIVING CHRISTMAS CO.: Home delivery
If you really want to try something different this year – try a LIVING tree. This company brings you live potted trees. After you care for them through the holiday season (hopefully keeping them alive), Living Christmas Co. comes and picks up the tree to replant and reuse next year. This is a great way to participate in the holiday while minimizing environmental impact. So, if you cry a little every time you see a dried up, sad discarded tree in the alley, then this is the option for you. Just know that: 1. The trees are NOT perfect. 2. You need to ACTUALLY keep it alive – this means watering it and giving extra TLC and 3. It can take up to TWO WEEKS for your tree to arrive…so if you want to have a tree in your house to put presents under before they are unwrapped, then I would get to ordering! Also, this is a 100% online transaction, so no festive holiday tradition of picking out your tree…but you do get to do something good for the environment.
- 24/7 online ordering
- living trees
- Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Monterey Pine, Aleppo Pine, Cypress, Blue Cedar
- delivered to your door (4 hour delivery window), can take 2 weeks to get tree
- expensive yet altruistic
So there you have it. Several great (and unique) Christmas Tree purchasing options. There are a TON more, but these really stood out as either offering a unique holiday experience or having high-quality trees and knowledgeable staff. So whether you want a whole day of family fun, a quick trip to a parking lot or a living tree you have to keep alive…Happy hunting. And remember – if you want your tree to last the whole season – pick a good one!
If we missed your favorite Christmas Tree Lot, let us know on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or right here in the comments!