CRANBURY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — For many families, picking out the perfect Christmas tree is part of a decades-old tradition.
For one family in New Jersey, the tradition means so much more.
So, just in time for the holidays, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock got a chance to learn a bit more about the tree business, including choosing and taking care of the perfect tree.
Soaring over Barclay’s Tree Farm in Cranbury, Drone Force 2 offered a glimpse of thousands of Christmas trees. On the ground, Murdock met the Barclay brothers, Steve and Chris, who are second-generation owners. Their father planted the very first Christmas tree on the property in 1968.
When asked what his most cherished memory is, Steve said, “Going out with my brother and my father and walking around the farm and picking out the biggest tree you could find,” Steve Barclay said. “As a little kid, the bigger the tree the more presents you can put under it.”
Now, the brothers help others find their perfect Christmas tree. Chris’ kids help out, too. Ryan wants to be the third generation to man the farm.
“Eventually, when I have kids I want them to have the same experience that I had,” the 11-year-old said.
Eight-year-old Lauren is the candy cane girl.
“I hand out to candy canes to all the little kids,” she said.
Murdock asked for advice to share with those planing to cut their very own tree this season. There are three things the Barclay brothers say don’t forget. First, footwear. Leave the stilettos home and wear sturdy boots. Second, a good pair of gloves. And last and most importantly, Christmas spirit.
“Measure your room and the space for the tree before you come out,” Steve Barclay said.
“All the trees look a lot smaller in the field than when you get home,” Chris Barclay added.
What type of tree should you hone in on? If you love big, heavy ornaments the blue spruce is for you. It’s also great for fending off frisky felines, because the needles, well, feel like real needles.
Firs look outstanding. They typically have a citrus pine smell and softer needles.
To make sure your perfect tree is healthy, “Give it a little tug and make sure the needles aren’t coming off,” Steve said.
Green needles are good. Yellow are borderline. Orange means the tree is well past its prime.
The brothers then addressed the age-old question everyone asks when they go to get a live tree — which species last longest?
They said a fir tree will typically last longer than a spruce, but any fresh-cut tree will thrive past New Year’s.
“I’ve heard Miracle Grow, aspirin, Sprite,” Chris said when asked if there’s a secret to making a tree last, “There’s no secret sauce.”
However, he did say you can get your tree off to a good start by putting hot tap water in the stand when you first bring it home.
“That’s going to melt any sort of sap that’s formed on the cut of the trunk,” Chris said.
The last bit of advice the brothers offered was to keep the trunk submerged after that. Any water temperature will do.
Many cut-your-own farms open Friday. They are very weather-dependent and make sure to pack your patience, because finding the perfect tree may take some time.