Real or Artificial? Here’s How to Decide Which Christmas Tree to Purchase

Real or Artificial? Here’s How to Decide Which Christmas Tree to Purchase

Beyond deciding what to gift everyone or how to travel this holiday season, there’s another conundrum you might be grappling with: Should you buy an artificial Christmas tree or stick with a real one? It’ll come down to preference, but here are a few pros and cons to help you decide.

Real Trees

Provide Family Tradition

For many individuals who observe Christmas, nothing quite compares to the tradition of selecting and bringing home a fresh, live tree from a Christmas tree farm or local nursery. This cherished tradition symbolizes family, nostalgia, and the spirit of the season. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, which polled 2,000 American parents with children aged 17 and younger, those who opt for real Christmas trees are more likely to place high value on creating new holiday traditions with their families.

Participants in the survey also expressed that obtaining a Christmas tree was their favorite holiday tradition from childhood, and it continues to be among their top experiences to share with their own children, second only to buying presents for under the tree. Thus, for those undecided, the sentiment among survey respondents suggests that a real Christmas tree holds an irreplaceable significance.

Create Family Fun

This tradition extends beyond simply having a tree—it’s about the entire experience of going out to get it. Selecting the perfect tree becomes a delightful December activity, especially on a crisp, wintry day. Children eagerly participate in picking out their favorite spruce for the family room, making it a wonderful weekend outing that brings everyone together and fosters the festive atmosphere of the holiday season.

Add a Natural Scent

During the holiday season, there’s a distinct aroma that fills the air, and nothing quite matches the enchanting fragrance of fresh pine needles. While you can certainly opt for scented candles or diffusers to mimic the scent of evergreens, nothing rivals the authentic, earthy aroma of a newly cut Christmas tree.

Easily Recycled

For many years, there was a misconception that chopping down real Christmas trees was harmful to the environment. However, this notion is not entirely accurate. Real Christmas trees are actually a sustainable crop, much like any other natural crop. According to the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, Christmas tree farmers carefully manage planting and harvesting to ensure environmental protection. In fact, they typically plant at least one new tree for every tree harvested. Additionally, real Christmas trees are fully biodegradable and recyclable, making them environmentally friendly options that can be repurposed for mulch after the holiday season.

On the other hand, artificial trees have a significantly greater impact on climate change and resource depletion. Manufactured from plastic and steel, artificial trees require more energy to produce and are often imported from overseas. Furthermore, once discarded, artificial trees contribute to landfill waste. A life cycle assessment conducted by WAP Sustainability Consulting compared the environmental impacts of real and artificial trees and found that one real Christmas tree generates fewer environmental impacts than one artificial tree. However, the negative environmental impact of an artificial tree can be reduced if it is kept and reused for five years or longer.

Support Local Vendors

What better way to show your support for small seasonal businesses than by buying a real Christmas tree from a local vendor? Unlike artificial trees, which are typically mass-produced overseas and sold by large chain stores, real trees sourced from family-owned Christmas tree farms or local nurseries directly benefit the community. Opting for a real tree from a local supplier not only contributes to the local economy but also helps sustain small businesses in your area.

Reduce Initial Expenses

The cost of a Christmas tree can vary depending on factors such as location, seller, and tree type. Contrary to popular belief, artificial Christmas trees aren’t always the more affordable choice when comparing individual prices. According to data from The National Christmas Tree Association, the average price per real Christmas tree in 2018 was $78, whereas the average price for a fake Christmas tree was $104.

Artificial Trees

Reusable Holiday Decor

If budget is your primary concern during the holidays, this factor might sway your decision. While the average price of an artificial tree was nearly $30 higher (at the time of purchase) in 2018, a faux tree can be reused multiple times, eliminating the need to purchase a real tree annually. If you intend to use your artificial tree for five or more Christmases, it could ultimately prove to be the more economical option.

Offer No-Mess and No-Maintenance

Real Christmas trees may be charming, but they come with their fair share of maintenance. They require regular watering, trimming, and cleanup, which can be time-consuming and demanding. Not everyone has the time or inclination to devote to the daily care of a live tree. Opting for an artificial tree eliminates these hassles entirely. With an artificial tree, there’s no need to worry about watering, pruning, or finding the perfect spot for maximum freshness. Plus, once the holiday season is over, you won’t have to wrestle it out to the curb or a recycling center—it’s simply a matter of packing it away until next year.

Reduce Fire Risks

Artificial Christmas trees are typically constructed using fire-resistant materials, offering peace of mind when it comes to fire safety. This feature can be particularly reassuring for those who have experienced fire scares in the past or wish to minimize any potential risks associated with traditional live trees.

Allow Customization

Artificial trees offer the advantage of customization, allowing you to tailor the tree to your preferences. Unlike natural trees, which are subject to nature’s whims, artificial trees can be ordered to meet specific aesthetic preferences. Whether you prefer the slender profile of a Kingswood fir, the lush foliage of a Blue spruce, or the rustic charm of a Ponderosa pine, artificial trees provide a wide range of options. Additionally, artificial trees can be purchased pre-lit, adorned with pinecones, or dusted with faux snow for added convenience and seasonal flair.

Chiaramonte Garner

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