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How to Choose Between Real or Fake Christmas Trees
Should you get a Real or Fake Christmas Tree?
When it comes to holiday decorations, nothing beats a Christmas tree! But the debate rages on as to what is the best choice for your living room - real or fake Christmas trees?
Truth be told, there are positives and negatives for both choices. In fact, there is even a third choice these days for eco-conscious consumers: a live, potted Christmas tree that you can plant in your yard when the holiday season is over. Some people even choose to donate their tree to a local park. No waste!
Deciding between real or fake Christmas trees depends in part on where you live, your lifestyle, travel plans for the holidays, and several other considerations. So, don't get your tinsel in a tangle.... let's review your options for Christmas trees now!
Real Christmas Trees: Pros and Cons
Purists like me choose real Christmas trees each year. No offense to those who like pulling the artificial tree out of the attic each year with the rest of the holiday decorations, but I enjoy the fresh pine smell of a real tree!
There are two options for people that wish to put up a real Christmas tree in their home. Cut your own, or buy retail. Prices vary widely, and if you live in a sunny, tropical location like Florida, you probably aren't going to have the selection that we do here in Oregon!
The Pacific Northwest is filled with U-Cut tree farms that give you the experience of selecting a growing tree to cut down for a slightly smaller fee than paying retail at a tree lot. You can also get a permit from the U.S. Forest Service – depending on location - for a mere $5 to go into designated areas of national forest and cut down your Christmas tree. The benefit to these options is that the tree is fresher and will likely last longer than retail options (those trees have often been cut days or even weeks ago and then shipped to the stores). You are also saving on cost when you cut your own tree.
The Forest Service will also thank you for helping it naturally thin the smaller Christmas tree-sized stands that often take precious water and nutrients from the larger trees. Allowing tree harvesting each year also helps reduce forest fire fuel.
If chopping down trees just isn't something that gets you in the holiday spirit, then you can always choose a real Christmas tree from a retail lot. The biggest benefit for this option is convenience. You can get your tree and get it home in less than an hour. Costs are often calculated on the height of the tree. Really tall trees can get expensive!
Overall considerations for real Christmas trees:
- Cost - you'll be investing each year
- Care - you have to water your tree or it will dry out, droop and could become a fire hazard
- Tradition - nothing beats the smell of a real Christmas tree
- Convenience - many people find it easier to put a cut tree in a tree stand than to assemble an artificial Christmas tree
- Can be recycled after the holidays
- Made from 100% natural ingredients - it is a tree , after all!
The First Lady Receives the White House Christmas Tree
Fake Christmas Trees: Pros and Cons
Despite their occasional bad rap, fake Christmas trees (aka artificial Christmas trees) actually have a number of benefits. This just may be the tree for you.
For a one-time investment of about $100-200, you can have a Christmas tree for years to come. Although there is no "Christmas tree smell," you also don't have to worry about watering your tree or trying to adjust it so that it fits in the stand just right - and doesn't tip over!
Pre-lit Christmas trees are a favorite option among fake Christmas trees, and safer than a real Christmas tree from a fire hazard perspective.
Overall considerations for fake Christmas trees:
- Cost - pay once and you have a tree for years
- Care - easy for people with busy lifestyles who may forget to water
- Convenience - simply pull your tree out of the attic and put it together. No need to schedule a trip to the tree farm or corner lot
- Not natural - artificial Christmas trees are usually made with petroleum products and cannot be recycled at the end of their "lifetime"
- Hassle to fluff the branches and arrange the tree each year
- No Christmas tree smell
Get a Realistic Pre-Lit Christmas Tree
Live Christmas Trees
A relatively new option for Christmas trees is to go with a live - or living - tree that can be replanted after the holidays.
Eco-conscious families like this option because its 100% natural and there is no waste.
There are several considerations with respect to live Christmas trees, however. You'll have to take extra care to keep your tree alive through your celebrations so that it can be added to your yard, or possibly donated to a local park come January.
- Pick a species of tree that does well indoors. Fir trees are good choices - my favorite is the White Fir, which looks particularly festive this time of year!
- Select a tree that will fit well in your living space because you will not want to trim it. Don't forget to factor in a container large enough to fit the root ball.
- Water your tree as needed, and keep it away from fireplaces, ovens/stoves and vents
- Living Christmas trees can only last about 7-10 days indoors, so plan accordingly
- Acclimate your live tree for 3-4 days inside a garage so as not to "shock" the tree to the warmth of your home.
- After Christmas, acclimate the tree once again before planting. Follow general planting instructions for other evergreens in your region.
Overall considerations for live Christmas trees:
- Green - no waste and you plant a tree after the holidays!
- 100% natural
- Cost - about the same as cut Christmas trees
- High maintenance care
- Can be decorated like any other Christmas tree
- Beautiful Christmas tree smell
How to Care for a Living Christmas Tree
Choose the Tree that's Right for You
The real or fake Christmas tree debate is ultimately yours to settle. Choose the tree that's right for you. If you don't have time to water a tree, perhaps artificial is the way to go.
But if your holiday traditions include a trip to cut down a tree and tie it to the roof of your car, you might want to stick with a real Christmas tree, instead.
No matter what you select, enjoy decorating your tree and the beauty of the holiday season!