Chopping Spree

Cut and roll your own Xmas tree

Paper shortage? Spotted owl displacement? C'mon! Christmas only comes around once a year. Do you really think depriving yourself of the thrill of grabbing the family hatchet and hacking down and bagging your own Christmas tree is gonna make a difference?

Certainly not, insists Rick Dungey, flack for the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), a St. Louis-based group. He says anything less than a sap-bleeding piece of timber ripped out of God's green earth is just plain un-American. "You can either buy a natural, organic, recyclable product grown on a United States farm, or you can use a non-biodegradable, artificial product made in a Chinese factory," he argues. "Take your pick."

Real trees are priced by the foot (usually $3 to $5) and by quality. There are a number of Christmas tree purveyors in the St. Louis area (many are located on outlying farms), so sharpen your saw, hop on your favorite search engine, pick a location that sounds scenic and get to cuttin'!

Cutting your own Christmas tree makes you feel alive
Dan Zettwoch
Cutting your own Christmas tree makes you feel alive

For more information on tree care and why the White House turns to St. Louis for its Christmas bush -- er, tree -- check out www.realchristmastrees.org. -- Tom R. Arterburn

Fort Davenport
It's positively divan

Looking for an appropriate, non-shopping outlet for that pre-Christmas energy your kids have been generating since Thanksgiving? What to do? Simple: Build a couch fort. Get out the extra sheets, pull the cushions off the sofa and explore your inner Frank Lloyd Wright with the rugrats. Grab a DVD of classic Warner Bros. cartoons, make a bowl of popcorn and veg out within the sanctuary of your living-room Cam-elot. They'll remember it as long as they live, and besides, it's probably been a while since you've seen any real cartoons. If you don't have any kids, omit them from these instructions and return to step one. -- John Goddard

Hail, Santa!
Benevolent despot

EUREKA, Missouri (RFT) -- It isn't Orlando, and it isn't the North Pole, but it is "Santa's Magical Kingdom." After an uncontested, nonviolent coup, Kris Kringle has seized power at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park (just off I-44, next to Six Flags) and officially renamed the campground.

As far as kingdoms go, the empire of Claus is devoid of money-hungry tax collectors and knights in shining armor; it is, however, bursting with more than 2 million shining lights. And like other magical kingdoms, the result of this happy mutiny is cheesy and kid-friendly -- but much less expensive ($15 per vehicle; $4 off Monday through Thursday with the donation of a new, unwrapped toy for the Homeless Resource Center, or $3 off with a printable coupon at www.santasmagicalkingdom.com). Not only can you drive through this thrifty holiday realm, but you also can make reservations for a horse-drawn carriage or a wagon by calling 636-938-5925. But hurry, you must visit by January 4; rogue elves have reported unrest in their camp and another administrative shake-up is likely to happen then. -- Alison Sieloff

Slime Ain't No Crime

SAT 12/20

Viscous, gummy, green, clingy, snot-like slime -- if you're a kid, it brings a smile to your face. Make your own primordial ooze when Mad Science of St. Louis presents Slime!! at 2 p.m. at the St. Louis County Library, Lewis & Clark Branch (9909 Lewis-Clark Boulevard, 314-868-0331, free). Children will also learn about chemical reactions, polymers and the wherefores of Silly Putty. -- Byron Kerman

 
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