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Article posted: 12/2/2012 6:00 AM

Cutting your own Christmas tree a fun family outing


There's no doubt the Christmas season is in full force.

If you want to add a natural element to your holiday decorations, a real Christmas tree may be just the thing.

Cut-your-own tree farms offer a chance to find that perfect centerpiece for your holiday celebration along with providing a fun outing for the family. Many tree farms offer attractions and activities for children such as meeting Santa, petting farm animals, going on wagon rides or warming up with a cup of hot apple cider.

You might even come away with a new holiday tradition. Here is a sampling of area tree farms.

Ben's Christmas Tree Farm

7719 Ryan Road, Harvard, (630) 279-0216, benstreefarm.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 16

Price: $6 to $8 per foot

The 55-acre organic farm offers nine varieties of evergreens including balsam fir, Norway spruce and Scotch pine. The farm offers free horse-drawn wagon and tractor rides and hot chocolate and coffee to help you warm up after cutting down your tree. Kids can meet farm animals and Santa Claus. Wreaths, Christmas decorations and cider doughnuts available.

Honeybee Acres Christmas Tree Farm

41W072 Bowes Road, Elgin, (847) 464-9627, honeybeeacreschristmastreefarm.net

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday through Dec. 9

Price: $40-$56

Customers have been coming to Honeybee every year since the farm began selling Christmas trees in 1990. After cutting down a tree, have a photo taken with it in Santa's sleigh. There is free cider available with the purchase of a tree. There's also pancakes, bacon, chili, fresh-baked cookies and 13 types of hot chocolate available at the Reindeer Café, which opened last year. Workers will even tie the tree to your car so you don't have to.

"Customers keep coming back year after year," said owner Kurt Straub. "They just like coming here. We're just very personal."

Ide Christmas Tree Farm

1500 83rd St., Downers Grove, (630) 743-4032, idechristmastrees.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 23

Price: $60

The Ide family has been selling Christmas trees for more than 55 years, offering a choice of 45,000 spruce and pine trees -- up to 15 feet tall -- on 35 acres of land.

Marmion Abbey Farms

850 Butterfield Road, Aurora, (630) 936-0034, abbeyfarms.com

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Dec. 23

Price: $40

Run by the monks of Marmion Abbey, the nonprofit farm offers 120 acres of trees. Visitors get free hot chocolate and a sled to use on the farm. You can also check out their store, which carries jams, gifts, wreaths and garland, plus doughnuts on the weekends.

Nature's Best Christmas Trees

13001 Illinois Highway 76, Poplar Grove, (815) 765-2960, naturesbesttrees.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday through Dec. 16

Price: $8 to $10 per foot

The 15-acre farm has been selling Christmas trees for 21 years, offering eight types including Fraser fir, black hills spruce and white pine. The farm keeps dozens of beehives, and you can sample honey along with gingerbread cookies. Homemade honey is also for sale.

Oney's Tree Farm

16608 U.S. Highway 14, Woodstock, (855) 804-3702, oneystreefarm.net

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Friday, Dec. 14

Price: $52-$62

You can pick out the perfect tree during a horse-drawn wagon ride through the farm's 75 acres. After riding back, kids can take a pony ride. There's also a shop with ornaments, tree toppers, wreaths, hot cinnamon rolls and apple cider doughnuts. Mrs. Claus visits and tells stories from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

Pioneer Tree Farm

4614 Pioneer Road, McHenry, (815) 385-8512, pioneertreefarm.com

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 2 and 9; and Saturday, Dec. 8

Price: $45

Open since 1973, Pioneer Tree Farm grows pines, junipers, firs and spruces. There are free wagon rides to and from the trees and visitors can warm up with hot chocolate and coffee while browsing handcrafted gifts in the warming house. Most of the workers at Pioneer Tree Farm are volunteers from Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, and 10 percent of the farm's profits go to the environmental advocacy group.

Richardson Farm

9407 Richardson Road, Spring Grove, (815) 675-9729, richardsonadventurefarm.com

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Sunday, Dec. 23

Price: $53-$59

Richardson Farm offers more than 50,000 trees in nine varieties on 75 acres, along with a selection of Christmas wreaths. There are free wagon rides out to the trees on weekends. Fudge, kettle corn and doughnuts are made on-site. There is also free hot chocolate and coffee.

"People who come out to our farm are people who want to get a Christmas tree with the whole experience wrapped around it," said owner George Richardson. "They want to build that warm feeling. They know it's an extraordinarily fresh tree because they cut it down themselves. People have a wonderful time with it."

Ziegler Christmas Tree Farm

42W109 McDonald Road, Elgin, (847) 464-5776, zieglerchristmastreefarm.com

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 8

Price: $39-$68

Open since 1992, Ziegler Christmas Tree Farm sells hand-trimmed trees along with wreaths and garlands. Visitors are welcome to bring their dog along or meet adoptable dogs from Chicagoland Dog Rescue. There is also cider, hot chocolate, and cat and dog treats available for purchase. Proceeds from the treats benefit the organization. The group has been coming out to the farm during tree season for the last five years.

"They said they needed some money and we said come on out," said owner Janice Ziegler. "It's worked out well."

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