December 8: Battle of the Christmas Tree Farms


Photo By Gabrielle Faletto

Lee’s Trees offer colored trees as well as regular Christmas trees.

By: KT Mattern and Gabrielle Faletto

With Christmas being right around the corner, families are in desperate need of Christmas trees to decorate from head to toe. Whether it be fraser fir, norway spruce, scotch pine, balsam fir, canaan fir or white pine, it’s important to narrow down your options when it comes to the best place to find the perfect tree. We went to both Kuiper’s Family Farm and Lee’s Trees, which both happen to be within 15 minutes away from the high school, to compare the two and give you the best bet on where to cut down your tree.

Kuiper’s Family Farm

A household name in the Kaneland district, Kuiper’s, has built a brand that offers both fall and winter purchases. Their tree season opened on November 1 and goes until December 17. Like most stores, they’re open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Right when you walk from the parking lot, there are plenty of pre-cut trees to inspect. If you’re feeling more traditional and decide to cut your own, Kuiper’s employees will offer you a saw.

As a larger location, Kuiper’s gives haywagon rides out to where the trees are planted. Once you arrive in the orchard, you’re let off the ride and potential buyers can pick out their own tree from the large selection and cut it themselves. At first, the wagon drops you off at a more open space with some trees. The trees in this area aren’t as large, and often have some spots where the foliage hasn’t grown in or has already turned brown.

If you decide that this kind of tree isn’t your cup of tea, you can look a little farther through a path to another section, which is a little difficult to find at first. In that particular section, there are many more trees that grow even taller and fuller.

The color and size of these trees are more of what you’d imagine seeing. The trees vary in many different species and sizes. Some of the species they offer are the concolor, douglas, spruce and fraser firs. Depending on the tree, they each have their own tags stating how expensive they are. If your tree doesn’t have a tag it will automatically be $89 for any sized tree.

Once you’ve picked out your tree, a wagon will usually be stationed or on its way back to pick you up. So instead of dragging your tree back, you can comfortably sit on the wagon with your tree in tow. The wagon brings you all the way back out front where the tree station is set up with plenty of workers posted out front. Taking the tree off the wagon for you, the staff will shake your tree to remove any loose needles. They will also bale your tree so that it’s easier to handle and pack up in or on top of your car.

While the “tree elves” are fixing up your tree, you can make a trip into The Orchard shop where you can pay for the tree you chose. By presenting the tag that comes with the tree you also get a free apple cider doughnut for everyone in your party. Once you’ve paid and made a quick stop in the gift shop you can show a “tree elf” your tag and they will load the tree into your car for you.

Along with picking out a tree, many families visit Kuiper’s for the multiple activities they offer. Not only is there the haywagon ride, but there is a train ride that takes you over the property and some goats that can be fed.

If the day isn’t too nice to be picking out a tree, you can hide out in the gift shops where there are numerous items to shop for ranging from doormats to fudge.

Along with food and gifts, Kuiper’s offers wreaths and roping. With the wreaths ranging from $34 to $59, there are many different styles that can match anyone’s house. While it may be on the more expensive side, Kuiper’s brings out the sentimental feeling when you and your family indulges in their homemade sweets while waiting for your tree to be ready.

If you’re taking the family, Kuiper’s is the perfect place to entertain both young and old traditions, but if you are hoping to find a more variety of trees that fits everyone’s liking, you may want to look elsewhere.

Lee’s Trees

The 14 acre, full service, family owned, Christmas tree farm, located in Maple Park, IL, offers both U-cut and pre-cut Christmas trees along with homemade wreaths, swags, roping and centerpieces. Families are able to pick out or cut down their perfect tree from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. only on weekends up until the 17 of December or until all trees are sold out.

Not only is Lee’s Trees located in Illinois, but they also have two locations up north in Wisconsin where they are harvested on a weekly basis to ensure freshness. From there, their pre-cut trees are hand selected from thousands of other trees and are priced individually based on how big they are, what type of tree they are and how good of quality they are. The $65 to $290 pre-cut trees range from table top trees to 12 foot fraser fir, balsam fir, canaan fir and white pine trees.

However, if families like to do it the old-fashioned way and cut down their own tree, they are able to trek out of their nice, warm cars to find a tree without having to pay a single penny to enter. With that being said, Lee’s Trees Farm provides saws in order to make the cutting process easier.

Most trees are tagged individually with the size, price and type of tree. However, if the tree is untagged, they are $10 per foot. Depending on what size of tree you’re looking for, the U-cut tree prices can range from $15 all the way up to $220, with an average of $67. Although these high priced trees may be a little intimidating, they’re actually well worth the money spent.

Unlike Kuipers tree farm, at this time of year, there is still a variety of different sizes and species that are all in outstanding shape. Scotch pine, serbian spruce and norway spruce are just some of the many different varieties you can find. Once you and your family find the perfect tree for your living room, Lee’s Trees employees will shake it clean, bale it up and help load it to your car, all at no charge.

If all that isn’t enough to please you, Lee’s Trees Farm also has colored trees throughout the farm for those who want a more unique tree, photo ops that make a perfect christmas card and a sales shop where you can enjoy free hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn and homemade cookies. Plus if you love dogs, there is a really good chance you’ll see more than one during your trip.

When comparing this farm to Kuipers, Lee’s Trees definitely takes the win for this battle. They offer a more vast variety of christmas trees that are in perfect quality. There is nothing quite like setting aside an afternoon for a christmas tree adventure, and at Lee’s Trees you’ll create memories that will make you and your family excited to come back next year.

Winner: Lee’s Trees