How to Choose Between a Real or Fake Christmas Tree

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 vs fake christmas treeAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

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.

These are the best real Christmas tree species.

Real Christmas Trees

The Pros

  1. Real trees fill your home with that fresh fragrance of evergreen, a scent that can conjure up happy childhood memories for many.
  2. Nearly all real Christmas trees sold in the United States are grown by American farmers, according to the USDA.
  3. 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.

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The Cons

  1. 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.
  2. Some people have allergies related to the trees, meaning they’d spend the holidays sneezing and wheezing if they had one in their home.
  3. 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.

Different Types of Real Christmas Trees

Popular Christmas trees include: Noble firs, Fraser firs, Douglas firs, Balsam firs, Colorado blue spruces, white spruces, Scotch pines, Eastern white pines, Eastern red cedars and Leyland cypresses.

Where to Get 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.

How to Set Up a Real Christmas Tree

These handy hints and tips for Christmas trees can set up your real Christmas tree and keep it thriving.

Artificial Christmas Trees

The Pros

  1. 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.
  2. You’ll save money over the years with an artificial tree. The American Christmas Tree Association reports buyers spend anywhere from $65 to $176 on an artificial tree.
  3. There’s no mess—no dropping needles, no watering, no bugs.

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  1. Artificial trees cannot be recycled. Made from PVC, a petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastic, they are destined for landfills.
  2. Most artificial trees are made overseas.
  3. 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.

Different Types of Artificial Christmas Trees

Where to Get a Fake Christmas Tree

You can find fake Christmas trees at hardware stores and online vendors like Amazon.

How Much Does it Cost?

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.

How to Take Down and Store a Fake Christmas Tree

Now that 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.

Need more more storage space for your tree and other Christmas decorations? Check out these great garage cabinets.

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.