- Real Christmas Trees
- Types of Real Christmas Trees
- Advantages of Real Christmas Trees
- Disadvantages of Real Christmas Trees
- Where to Buy a Real Christmas Tree
- Real Christmas Tree Set Up
- Artificial Christmas Trees
- Types of Artificial Christmas Trees
- Advantages of Artificial Christmas Trees
- Disadvantages of Artificial Christmas Trees
- Where to Buy Artificial Christmas Trees
- How to Set-Up an Artificial Christmas Tree
- Christmas Tree Storage
- Christmas Tree Safety
It’s a debate for many families during the holiday season—should the Christmas tree be real or artificial? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of having a real Christmas tree vs. an artificial Christmas tree.
Real Christmas Trees
Real Christmas trees have been a popular choice for years. You don’t have to store them once the season is over, and they bring a comforting, natural scent into your home. There are several different varieties, so you can find one that works for you whatever your size, needle shape, and color preference.
Types of Real Christmas Trees
There are several varieties of Christmas tree, with slightly different scents, needle shapes, and colors. Popular Christmas trees include:
Noble firs have blueish-green needles and grow in a pyramid shape. The needles are usually 1-1 1/2″ long.
balsam-fir-shutterstock_168450836 christmas tree species
Balsam firs are a Christmas favorite year after year because of their signature scent. They have dark green needles and grow in a pyramid shape.
Fraser firs are similar to Balsam firs; they have dark green needles and a pyramid shape. Fraser firs, however, grow in a more compact way, making them a popular choice in small spaces.
There are a few different subspecies of Douglas fir, each with their own color. The needles are soft and stay on the tree longer than other varieties.
Colorado blue spruces
Colorado blue spruces have a unique silvery-blue color and a pyramid shape. Their needles are pricklier than some other specimens.
white-spruce-shutterstock_151576451 christmas tree
White spruces are beautiful, tall Christmas trees. Their needles are very light in color.
scotch-pine-shutterstock_158701946 christmas tree
Scotch pines retain their needles for quite a while, making them a popular choice. They’re oval or pyramid in shape and they have blue-green needles that fade to yellow-green as the season goes on.
Eastern white pines
Eastern white pines are a very popular choice for Christmas trees. They have blue-green needles, an oval or pyramid shape.
Eastern red cedars
Eastern red cedars are usually medium green and are pyramid shaped.
Leyland cypresses are more slender than other species and their soft needles are generally dark green or blueish green.
Advantages of Real Christmas Trees
- Real trees fill your home with that fresh fragrance of evergreen, a scent that can conjure up happy childhood memories for many.
- Nearly all real Christmas trees sold in the United States are grown by American farmers, according to the USDA.
- Growing trees help clean the air we breathe and also provide much-needed shelter for wildlife. When trees are cut down, more are planted in their place.
Disadvantages of Real Christmas Trees
- The cost of buying a real Christmas tree each year can be a disadvantage. The average price for a real tree in 2017 was $75, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.
- Some people have allergies related to the trees, meaning they’d spend the holidays sneezing and wheezing if they had one in their home.
- Real trees need to be watered throughout the holiday season and can drop needles. They can also harbor bugs and can be a fire hazard, if they dry out.
Where to Buy a Real Christmas Tree
Local tree farms typically sell Christmas trees while other local organizations like the Boy Scouts and Lions often sell trees in a lot during the holidays.
Real Christmas Tree Set Up
Most Christmas tree lots will sell simple bases for your tree, but you can also put it up in your own. Once your tree is securely set up in a bowl with water and set to the height you want, you can start decorating. It’s easiest to do lights first, then garlands, and finally ornaments and your tree topper.
Artificial Christmas Trees
For those who don’t want to pay for a new tree year after year, or who are sensitive to real trees, artificial Christmas trees are a great solution. You do have to find a place to store them, but they will save you money and many kinds even come with the lights already attached.
Types of Artificial Christmas Trees
- Pop-Up —You can find preassembled trees where all you have to do is pull the branches down. Holiday Peak is an example.
- Flocked — Flocked Christmas trees are designed to look like snow has freshly fallen on them. Holiday Stuff has a 5-foot flocked Christmas tree available on Amazon.
- Pencil-Thin Pine — A pencil-thin fake Christmas tree is a tall, thin tree that’s popular for people short on room. Younis has a pencil-thin pine tree on Amazon.
Advantages of Artificial Christmas Trees
- Artificial trees are convenient. Just set them up and they look just right, year after year. When the holidays are over, just pack them back up for the next year.
- You’ll save money over the years with an artificial tree. While you have to pay for a real one each year, artificial trees last for years.
- There’s no mess—no dropping needles, no watering, no bugs.
Disadvantages of Artificial Christmas Trees
- Artificial trees cannot be recycled. Made from PVC, a petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastic, they are destined for landfills.
- Most artificial trees are made overseas.
- Artificial trees can be a fire hazard, too. There are several news reports of artificial, pre-lit trees that have caught on fire due to a blaze that starts in the tree’s firebox at the base of the tree.
Where to Buy Artificial Christmas Trees
You can find fake Christmas trees at hardware stores and online vendors like Amazon. Fake Christmas trees typically range in price from as little as $60 up to $350, depending on what you get.
How to Set-Up an Artificial Christmas Tree
Artificial Christmas trees come with assembly instructions and with most all you’ll have to do is simply hook in the branches. Many come with lights already built in. Once you’ve assembled the tree, you can plug it in and put on your ornaments!
Christmas Tree Storage
Once the holiday is over, what’s the best way to store an artificial Christmas tree? Many people like the convenience of an artificial Christmas tree, but storing it can be a pain because it takes up so much space. Here’s an idea: Buy two 8-in.-diameter concrete form tubes, wrap each layer of the tree in twine and shove half of the tree layers down each tube. Mark the layer numbers on each tube and slide the tubes up in your garage rafters for a perfect storage solution!
Artificial Christmas trees are assembled in color-coded layers. After a few years, the colors rub off (or you lose the instructions), and putting the tree together gets confusing. Try this simple trick. When you disassemble the tree at the end of the season, do it one level at a time. Once all the branches from one level are off, duct-tape them together and number each layer with a marker. Next year, the tree will go together in a snap!
Bonus fake Christmas tree storage tip: When dismantling our artificial Christmas tree, we always used the ribbons it was originally packed with to tie up the boughs of each section. Last year, the ribbons finally wore out and we couldn’t find a strong enough replacement. Instead, we came up with a terrific substitute—self-adhesive ‘bandage’ wrap. The wrap is strong and reusable, it won’t damage the tree and it’s not very expensive.
Christmas Tree Safety
Whether you have a real or an artificial tree, safety is a priority. Dry needles on a live tree can pose a fire hazard, while faulty wiring is a potentially lethal nightmare.If you have a real tree, make sure you’re regularly checking the water level. And never use electric lights on metal trees.
No matter what kind of tree you have, opt for LEDs where possible. They don’t produce heat so they’re a much safer option. Always unplug the tree at the end of the night, and be sure to keep it a safe distance from any open flames.