VANCOUVER -- Cutting down a Christmas tree is still an annual tradition for many B.C. families, and it won't put you on the province's naughty list as long as you follow a few easy rules.

Here's everything you need to know about bringing home a Christmas tree the old fashioned way this holiday season.

Permits are a must

Harvesting your own tree on designated patches of Crown land is perfectly legal, provided you first obtain a Christmas tree permit from the government and have it signed by the local Natural Resource District Office.

The good news is permits are free of charge, and the permits for the 2019 holiday season are already available online

Find the right spot

Tree-hunters also need to make sure they go searching in an appropriate area. Private property is obviously off limits, as are research areas, plantations, parks and areas adjacent to rivers, streams, lakes or swamps.

Fortunately, districts offer handy maps people can use to find a spot. Officials generally like recommending areas underneath hydro poles, which need to be kept cleared anyway to prevent trees from interfering with the infrastructure. 

It's eco-friendly

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, home-chopped trees are better for the environment than fakes, particularly the ones that use polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The foundation also supports renting and returning trees, buying from local farms and using a potted tree that can later be planted outdoors.

The roads can be a hassle

Accessing legal tree-hunting spots often means navigating natural resource roads, which tend to be remote, unpaved and often only one-lane wide.

The government recommends drivers be careful, watch for logging trucks, and head out with emergency supplies and equipment – including ropes, gloves, tools, tire chains, a first aid kit, a phone and some warm clothing.

It doesn't hurt to let someone know where you're going, either.

Keep your pet on a leash

While trapping season mostly runs from fall to spring, there could still be active traps out in forested rural areas – and there aren't necessarily signs letting you know.

If you're taking a pet dog out for the Christmas tree hunt, the province recommends keeping it on a leash for its own safety.

Lower your standards

While there are some picture-perfect trees out there, a lot of the ones you find on Crown land are more of the Charlie Brown Christmas-variety. You can scour the hills for hours finding one that's just right, or you can embrace some charming imperfections.

Of course, if the whole thing sounds like too much trouble, you can always have the tree-cutting experience at a commercial U-cut Christmas tree location. There's a list of options available on the B.C. Christmas Tree Council website.