As soon as Thanksgiving passes (but not a minute sooner) I'm ready to turn my holiday cheer up to ten. This involves lugging our two red and green totes full of decorations up from the basement, several trips to the local craft store for more unnecessary holiday kitsch, and a trip to Hog Hollow Farm for our fresh-cut family Christmas tree.This trip to the tree farm is a relatively new tradition for my family, but it's one that we plan to keep for years to come. A pre-cut tree from a store lot will do the job, but a fresh-cut Christmas tree offers a bit of whimsy and an adventure that gets my family outside for a good part of the day. There are lots of places in the surrounding area where you can trek through the forest to find the perfect tree, but with two young kids my family prefers an option with a bit more structure (and bathroom availability).Hog Hollow Farm is about a 40 minute drive from Wenatchee, located ten miles up the scenic Entiat Valley. Visitors park in an open lot and wait around a bonfire for the next available tractor ride up to the actual tree farm. This scenic ride seated on a hay bale takes about five minutes and provides more than enough charm to make up for the bumpy ascent.Visitors are greeted by friendly helpers, all wearing sturdy Carhartt jackets and bright red Santa hats. A bundle of handsaws are made available, and for those less interested in the searching part, there is a large crackling bonfire with free marshmallows to roast as well as a cabin to peruse filled with fresh wreaths, locally-made craft items and yummy seasonal treats for sale. This place is backcountry charm at its finest.Our crew this year was my husband, two kids, and my in-laws, along with their handsome black lab (yes, well-behaved dogs are welcome!) We all share different opinions on the “perfect tree,” but fortunately Hog Hollow Farm has rows and rows of trees ranging from tabletop size to fifteen feet tall ($20-$70), as well as different needle varieties to suit your style. I personally prefer the stocky ones that barely fit through the front door and take up the lower right quadrant of my living room.We trekked through the rows of trees, examining each potential candidate for the proper height, width and fullness. With our three-month-old daughter strapped to my chest, I mostly enjoyed watching our three-year-old son race with excitement from tree-to-tree, claiming each one as “the one.” After we finally found our tree of choice, our son helped his dad do some of the sawing and, with all fingers still intact, we took our tree back to home base where it got its own special ride back to the parking lot.For good measure, we all enjoyed sitting around the fire for a bit before hitching a ride back to the parking lot. The stillness of the upper Entiat Valley quiets even the rowdiest of toddlers, giving everyone an opportunity to soak in the bounty of this time of year while enjoying a warm fire and sticky sweet marshmallows, followed by a tractor ride back through the woods. We were lucky enough to get a dusting of snow during our trip too, adding some extra magic to the experience.Even on a cold winter day, Hog Hollow Farm is full of warmth. The people who work outside all day to ensure each family has a good tree-picking experience do so with smiles, from the tractor drivers to the young men waiting back at the parking lot to help tie trees down to the tops of cars. It feels good to make a trip like this part of our family tradition because it supports a local business while providing our family with lasting memories (and a fabulous tree!). I would encourage other families with young children to check out Hog Hollow Farm for a fun tree-hunting experience.(Bonus: Your toddler will most likely take a great nap after all is said and done.)Hog Hollow Farm: 100 Mad River Road, Ardenvoir, WA 98811 (509) 784-1465Open the first Friday after Thanksgiving and every weekend through Christmas Eve from 10am-4

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