Craig resident Jim Howell never waits for Christmas trees to go on sale in Craig.
Howell's artificial tree is already up and waiting to be decorated, something he and his wife traditionally do on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The Hayden Heritage Center will host its annual Tree Festival Benefit Auction and Sale from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. A selection of decorated Christmas trees will be available for sale. All proceeds benefit local organizations and clubs. For more information, call 276-4380.
"That way, we can enjoy it longer," he said.
With Thanksgiving over, Christmas trees -- real or otherwise -- are in hot demand.
Millions of Americans this week will begin pursuit of the perfect tree under which to stack presents.
Some will trek through snow-covered woods in search of the perfect evergreen. Others will journey through big-box stores for the plastic variety or shop for live trees already cut.
Whatever their preference, area residents have plenty of choices.
Kmart began selling artificial trees in October, but shoppers who want live trees had to wait until this week.
City Market received its first shipment Wednesday, and the Craig Lions Club's annual tree sale begins today.
Tunies & Such, a nursery, also is stocked up and ready to deliver trees anywhere in the Craig area.
All report having large selection of healthy trees.
"They're in really good shape this year," City Market Manager Kirk Mahaffie said.
Mahaffie said he'll sell nearly 300 trees this holiday season, but there's no telling how fast they'll go.
"In other places I've been, there's a definite trend, but I haven't noticed one here," he said.
There is a big push in the two weeks before Christmas, he said.
Trees for a cause
The Craig Lions Club has been selling Christmas trees as a fundraiser for more than 30 years, club treasurer Stu Nadler said.
Proceeds from the sale fund Lions Club programs, such as vision screenings for youths, eye exams and glasses, scholarships and other community needs.
This year, the club has nearly 200 Douglas and Canon fir as well as Scotch pine. Prices range from $30 to $65 for the few 10-foot trees available.
Take a bough
Tunies & Such has nine varieties of trees to choose from, along with wreaths, garlands and boughs, owner Bob Meckley said.
He also has living trees. Prices range from $15 for 3-foot trees to $65 for top-quality trees.
For the first time in several years, Craig resident Corrie Scott is hiking into the forest to chop down a tree. She's going with friends who have made harvesting Christmas trees a tradition.
Christmas tree permits are $10 and are available at the Bureau of Land Management office, 455 Emerson St. in Craig, or any Forest Service office.
Trees can be cut on national forest lands, with a few exceptions outlined in permits.
Keeping it fresh
Meckley said it's not too early to purchase a Christmas tree, but keeping it alive and fresh for the holiday depends on the quality of care it receives.
Cut one inch off the bottom of the tree before putting it in water, he advises. Trees seal off at the trunk if left without water, making them unable to absorb water.
"Water your tree very day," Meckley said. "Don't let it get dry."
He also recommends keeping trees away from direct sunlight and heat to keep them fresh.
O Sewing Machine?
Although some may opt for the convenience of an artificial tree, others take an easier route.
Craig resident Roy Karo, 51, expects his children and grandchildren to visit on Christmas. This year, they'll stack presents under a houseplant.
"We haven't had a Christmas tree in a long time," Karo said. "There's never enough room."
During the years, they've decorated plants, a bush and even a sewing machine.
But the tree alternatives don't diminish the holiday spirit, he said.
Karo and his wife put lights, garland and Christmas knick-knacks all over their home and decorate whatever is dubbed the year's "tree."
"This way, we have something we can keep all year round," he said.