Steele’s Christmas Tree Farm: Know Before You Go
Our annual visit to Steele’s Christmas Tree Farm has become a family tradition. The property is really beautiful – rows and rows of trees in all shapes and sizes. The kids can run wild, we play hide-and-seek for a while, then at the end of the day we leave with our favorite tree. It feels like the start of our Christmas season, and my whole family looks forward to it each year.
Steele’s is open for business starting at 2pm Thanksgiving Day. We usually take the drive up on the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s important to know that you won’t be coming home with a “standard” Christmas tree. Steele’s variety includes Leyland Cypress, Caroline Sapphire, Fraser Fir, and Eastern White Pine. It’s fun to go around and feel the difference in the branches of the tree limbs. We usually select the softer Leyland Cypress, but the choice is all yours! Year after year we get compliments on our tree, and people always ask “What is this?” because the species is very different than you see at your typical white box store or local tree stand.
Location & Preparation
Steele’s is located in Angie, Louisiana, which is near Bogalusa. It’s right at an hour drive from our house in Mandeville. We treat it like a day trip, usually leaving early and packing snacks. You know your kids will be starving the second they get there. Steele’s website informs you of the best path (take Highway 25) if you’re coming from the South Shore or Covington. Highway 21 through Bogalusa is a longer route. See directions here. The area is pretty rural and there aren’t many options to stop to eat on the way home. There is a Subway and a Sonic in Franklinton, but packing a lunch is likely a better idea. With plenty of space to spread out, you could even plan a picnic at the tree farm before getting back on the road. P.S. There is a cute little gift shop with candied nuts that always smell amazing, small toys, and gifts available.
Because Angie is a bit north of New Orleans and even the Mandeville / Covington area, it can sometimes be a lot colder there than when you left home. Last year, we were in shorts (crazy Louisiana weather), but I’ve also visited when it was mildly chilly at home and then nearly freezing when we got there. I always laugh when I see pictures from that year because I’m wearing whatever random layers I could find in the trunk! Always just toss extra layers in the car for each family member, just in case.
In the past, there was a small jumpy area and a giant chair to climb up on for pictures. I’m hoping those kiddo-approved photo opps will remain there this year. And if you’re extra well-prepared, you can get a great Christmas Card photo opp of the family!
No Hassle Drill Base Stand
Seriously. This is the very best part. For about 20 dollars, you will purchase a reusable rebar-enforced tree stand that you bring back year after year. After you cut down your tree (hand saws provided for the lumberjack-inspired folks… or handy helpers with chain saws who you can wave over to help out) and it is trailered up to the front area, the magic of tree stabilizing begins! First, your tree is shaken of spare limbs and bugs and net-wrapped, then expertly balanced on a stand for perfect positioning. Next, a drill operated by a giant lever creates a hole up through the trunk of your tree. Finally, your stand (no-hassle, indeed) is hammered onto your stand. The tree (with stand) is loaded for you onto your car top or into your truck bed, and you drive away. (Bring straps to tie down no matter how you plan to cart your tree home.) When you get home, you literally stand the sucker right now and cut away the net. No balancing or annoying screw pins to hold it up. Just cut away the net, and you’re good to go!
Other Reminders & Tips
- Real trees drink a lot of water! Water every day to every two days. A pitcher with a spout or a watering can is the easiest way.
- Real trees can actually grow. I’m serious about this. One year our top branches grew another few inches by Christmas!
- Remember to measure your ceiling height to make sure your tree will fit. Trees are available from 5′ to 18′ at Steele’s. The largest ones are quite a sight to see!
- Payment is accepted with cash or check (no credit cards), but there is also an ATM inside the gift shop.
- The ground is usually pretty dry at Steele’s, but I wouldn’t wear really nice shoes, just in case. Tennis shoes to run and play are the best option.