There is a little Clark W. Griswold in all of us.  As in the movie “Christmas Vacation”, we dream of trudging through knee-deep snow with our family on a quest for this year’s family Christmas tree.  Last year’s tree was “perfect”, but it has lost its stature over the last ten months.  We are now ” laser focused” on finding THE TREE; the perfect specimen to grace our home and be adorned with our favorite, treasured ornaments. It MUST be the tree of all trees that will set the standard for all other Christmas’ to come.  A tree that will be the symbol of this years family Christmas.

In the past, I have dragged my family to Christmas tree lots all over Atlanta to find the perfect tree.  We have found short ones, tall ones, skinny ones, and fat ones.  We have all heard a tree vendor in a shopping center parking lot tout fresh trees; just cut last week, and shipped directly from the tree farm just for you.  Perhaps some of the trees are fresh, but if you really want a fresh tree, why not cut one yourself ?   It will be a family adventure that promises to give lasting memories and interesting stories that will be told and embellished for years to come.

For those of us that prefer not trekking through knee-deep snow like the Griswold’s to find the perfect family Christmas tree, consider a local north Georgia tree farm.  Tree farms offer a variety of tree types and sizes ready for you to cut.  Some tree farms make the experience even more rewarding with hay rides, hot chocolate, and other activities for kids.

You might recall the scene in ‘Christmas Vacation” when Clark’s son Rusty asks, “Dad…did you bring the saw?”  Although some tree farms have saws available, I urge you to bring your own saw, along with rope / tie-downs, protection for the top of your vehicle, and gloves.

So go ahead and make your plans to cut your own tree this year.  It will prove to be fun for everyone, even Dad.   I have compiled a short list of some Christmas tree farms in the north Georgia mountains.  Please check with the individual tree farm for hours of operation, and any other activities they may have.

The Kinsey Family Tree Farm on Jot-EM-Down Road in Forsyth County,, opens the weekend before Thanksgiving.  In addition to cut your own trees, they offer pre-cut, and “live” trees for sale.  Roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, wagon rides, and holiday music will surely delight the family.

Located on John Burruss Road in Forsyth County is the Bottoms Christmas Tree farm, .  They have a wonderful selection of “Choose to Cut” trees.  The family can enjoy roasted marshmallows and hot apple cider.  You can visit with their farm animals and take a horse drawn wagon ride ( Saturdays only).

The Holly Hill Tree Farm, , on Woodland Lane in Dahlonega offers a variety of  “U-Choose and Cut” trees.  Also in Dahlonega on Black Mountain Road is the Black Mountain Forest Christmas Tree farm, .  They offer White Pine and Leyland Cypress trees ready for you to cut.  Spend some time browsing the Christmas shop for handmade wreaths, and Christmas decorations.  Enjoy viewing the display of antique tractors, corn shelters and grinders.

In Pickens County, visit Jack’s Tree Farms ( 706-692-3261) on Carver Mill Road in Talking Rock.  Please call for hours of operation.  Also in Pickens County is Lowery’s Tree Farm on Old Pleasant Valley Road.   They can be reached at 706-276-3545.

In Clarkesville, Habersham County, visit Purcell Tree Farm on Ga. Hwy. 197 North.  They offer “U-Choose & Cut” and pre-cut trees.  The Christmas tree farm opens the day after Thanksgiving.  Contact them at 706-754-4134.

Located in Cleveland, White County is the Mossey Creek Tree Farm.  They offer a variety of “U-Choose and Cut” trees, such as Leyland Cypress, White Pine, and Cedar.  They can be reached at 706-219-3059.

Rabun County is home to the Dillard Tree Farm,,  on Highway 441 in Dillard.  The tree farm is open Thanksgiving afternoon, and closes  for the season on December 16.  They feature the Canaan Fir Christmas Tree ready for you to cut.  They can be reached at 706-746-3145.   Also on Highway 441 in Rabun Gap is the Osage Tree Farm.  They can be reached at 706-746-6952.

The Southern Tree Plantation, Inc. on Owltown Road in Blairsville claims to have over 25,000 Christmas trees of eight different varieties from which to choose.  It has saws and wrapping available.  Visit their web site for more information,

There are other Christmas tree farms that offer pre-cut and live trees.  Please visit for a tree farm near you.

As an architect and home builder, some of my most vivid memories is returning to a client’s home during the holiday season and seeing how they incorporated their Christmas decorations with the home design.

Often times, features are added to a design for this special time of year.  In one instance, we centered  outlets under the windows for “electric candles.”  In another home we created an alcove that is used year-round, but in December, it becomes a special place for their Christmas tree.   We always place an outlet in the fireplace mantle for decorations.  I take pride in designing and building a special place to relax and celebrate the holiday season.  Please visit


Dahlonega – A Mountain Gem

One of my favorite towns in Georgia is nestled in the mountains an hour and a half north of Atlanta.  The anticipation of something special begins on the journey to this “mountain gem.”   The majestic silhouette of the north Georgia mountains comes into view on your way to Dahlonega.   It is a marvelous landscape  that reflects an important part of Georgia  and its history.   I always look forward to the first sign of spring, as a green hue overtakes the mountains.   The array of colors in the fall makes way for the first dusting of snow in the winter.  This transformation is a sight to behold, as mother nature works her magic on Georgia’s Appalachian wonder.

Step back in time as you walk around  the Dahlonega Town Square.   All of the buildings are on the National Historic Registry.  Close your eyes and let yourself drift back in time to a more simple era, when the street in front of you was dirt and transportation was by horseback or buggy.  The commerce of the day centered around gold.   It was an exciting time then, as it is now.  Dahlonega ( ) has never forgotten its heritage, while transforming itself into a marvelous place to spend a day, week, or a lifetime.

Dahlonega is a special place with an incredible history.  It is a treasure-trove of art, theater, wineries ( ), restaurants, gold mines and wonderful  shops on the town square.  The focal point of the square is the old Courthouse, circa 1836.  The Courthouse is now converted into the Dahlonega Gold Museum ( ).  Many folks don’t realize that in 1828, gold was first discovered in the Dahlonega,  Lumpkin County area.  This occurred some twenty years before the California gold rush began.

Adding to Dahlonega’s charm is a robust art community.  There are art galleries, live theater, bluegrass jams on the square, and concerts in Hancock Park.  If your lucky, you can catch a live performance of Doc Johnson’s Medicine Show ( ).  Doc and his troop of fun makers perform several times a year in Dahlonega.  On your trip, be sure to visit the historic Holly Theater ( ).  The theater operates year-round.  It offers movies, concerts, theatrical performances and special gala events.  The Holly Children’s Theater gives kids an opportunity to take part in acting classes and audition for one of  the Children’s Theater productions.  Also on the square is a great music venue, The Crimson Moon Cafe  ( ).

Dahlonega is also home to the 130-year old North Georgia College & State University ( ), which is part of the state university system.  The college is only one of  six senior level military colleges in the country.  It is also home to some 5,000 students and offers a host of continuing education classes.

I have had the pleasure of working with many couples that have decided to move to the Dahlonega area.  I consider designing and building homes in the North Georgia mountains a privilege.  Each custom residence is a reflection of its owner, and as unique as a North Georgia sunset.  For those who yearn for a simpler, more gentile way of life, consider Dahlonega.  Please visit