It is officially the holiday season and about that time that our living rooms are decorated for the season!
When it comes to the real or artificial tree debate, many people have strong opinions to either side. There are definitely pros and cons to either choice. Let us look at a few reasons for and against either side so that we can all make an educated choice this year!
Real Trees – PROS:
That Tree Smell
I think we can all agree that one of the best things about having a real Christmas tree in the living room is the evergreen smell! That fresh cut smell says the holidays are here!
A benefit of using a real Christmas tree is the variety available to you. There are many species available so you can choose based on your preference. Different species have different smells, colors and needle shapes. Not only do real trees offer variety in species, even within the same type of tree you can get whatever shape and size tree that will fit your space best! Or maybe that reminds you of the ones you had as a kid!
Supports Local Businesses
Buying trees from a local tree farm or from the local market supports the small businesses in your area. It is a great way to spend your money in your own community.
We have already seen the family outing social media posts with the families venturing out to the local tree farms to cut down their own tree! Cutting down your own tree is a family outing and a great family tradition. These local tree farms usually have a variety of tree types and of course have plenty of sizes and shapes to choose from.
No Need to Store
Depending on your storage availability, not needing to store an artificial tree in the basement or precious closet or attic space may make your decision for you! Getting a real tree every year means that when you’re ready to take the tree down at the end of the holiday season, there is no need to store a large tree for the rest of the year.
Real Trees – CONS:
While one of the pros of a real tree is no need to store a tree from year to year, with a real tree, at the end of the season you will need to dispose of your tree which can be daunting. There are places you can take your tree to recycle it which is what we would suggest. Your trash service may accept your tree in their regular service, but be sure to check their regulations on breaking down branches etc.
Another unfortunate part of caring for real trees is the seemingly constant need to water them! Your tree stand should hold a quart of water for every inch of diameter the stem is. For most trees that will be about 1 gallon. Freshly cut trees will go through some water so when you first bring the tree in it should be watered daily. Keeping the tree watered is the first defense to keeping your floor as clean as possible. Dry trees will drop their needles much faster! Another critical reason to keep a real tree watered is that a dry tree can be a fire safety hazard. So keep those trees watered!
Using a tree stand could be the worst part of using a real tree. It is definitely at least a 2 person job and sometimes it still seems that we can never get it straight! Of course that isn’t the worst outcome, the worst outcome is if it falls over completely! Make sure you have a sturdy enough tree stand for the size and type of tree you purchase. The last thing you want to do is to be sweeping up the broken ornament pieces from the third time the tree has fallen over! A matched tree stand should be strong enough to hold your tree in place.
Real trees can be costly depending on the variety available in your area. With using a real tree every year you could be spending that cost year after year.
Some people are allergic to the pollen that real trees bring inside with them. Depending on the severity of your reaction to these trees, you may need to rule out real trees entirely. Also keep in mind if any of your expected guests have tree allergies. A dinner guest would probably be fine over the course of a dinner, but if you are having and family stay with you with allergies, it may be an artificial tree year for you!
Real Tree Tips:
The healthier the tree the less it will shed its needles. Stringing lights on a real tree is going to cause quite a mess so make sure the tree is fully watered to minimize the amount of damage caused.
Artificial Trees – PROS:
One Time Cost
One of the best things about using an artificial tree is that it is a one time investment. Ideally, you will be using an artificial tree for a good amount of years so that cost will be spread out over many years.
Unlike real trees, there is no expiration date on an artificial tree! With a real tree it is important to consider how long it will need to be up and so you sometimes cannot put a real tree up as early as you would like because it will be too unhealthy come Christmas day. With an artificial tree you can be sure that the tree can be up for the full season. Part of being imperishable is that there is no need to keep the tree healthy like with a real tree and so with an artificial tree is the no mess! They make a little bit of a mess carrying them in from storage, but once they are in place they make absolutely no mess. No need to clean up needles last minute before company arrives!
Another reason to use artificial trees is that lighting them is usually a breeze. Most artificial trees are pre-lit, meaning they come with lights installed so all you need to do is plug it in. Even if they are not pre-lit, once you string the lights you can leave the lights on the tree when it comes time to store them and it will be ready to go next year!
As much variety as you can get in a real tree there is even more variety available in artificial trees. Artificial trees come in virtually every size shape and color. You can get artificial trees in a rainbow of colors, white, pink, blue and tinsel are pretty easily accessible. The options are endless when you search online. Many artificial trees are created to mimic a certain type of evergreen tree so there is a variety in look and needle appearance even within the green family.
Easy Set Up
Artificial trees certainly go up easier than real trees. They are made balanced and come with tree stands that are designed to hold their own weight. They typically come in two or three sections that easily fit together in place. The branches are often flexible and hold their shape so you can “fluff” an artificial tree to your desired shape and fullness.
Artificial Trees – CONS:
While it is a one time expense, artificial trees have a variety of quality. It is generally a “you get what you pay for” situation. There are many artificial trees that are beautiful and look very real but they usually come with a higher price tag to match. The price will go up exponentially as you go up in size as well. Of course if you are getting a very large tree, you probably want to make the investment in a high quality tree as well so that will also multiply the cost.
If you are not selective about the trees you buy they can look fake or out of place. Buying the cheapest tree available can limit your options to a fairly poor representation of the real thing. Some of the cheaper ones are lacking in branches making them less full than how a real tree actually looks.
When the season is at its end, with artificial trees you will need to find a place to store them for the rest of the year. If you don’t have plenty of storage finding space for a large tree can be a challenge. Artificial trees compact a little bit from their full size, but generally they probably only get about 25% smaller or so. They usually come apart in a few place so you don’t need a Christmas tree size space to store them, but you will need still need almost their whole volume of space for storage somewhere.
Artificial trees are most commonly made out of PVC which means that they cannot be recycled. This means that you should keep your tree 8-9 years. Although some studies have lengthened that time to more like 20. Also something to keep in mind is that most of the economic artificial tree choices are manufactured outside of the U.S. So if this is a priority for you you will want to be cautious when purchasing an artificial tree.
Wear and Tear
Artificial trees while imperishable are not indestructible and can break especially if not using caution when putting up and taking them down. Knowing that they can be more expensive and that they need to be used for many years for their environmental impact, they need to be well taken care of to get the most life out of them. In addition to the possibility of breakage, I have found that the white ones in particular can start to change color and begin to yellow before getting too many years of use.
Many trees are pre-lit which is a great advantage of the artificial route. Springing for the LED is definitely money well spent in the long run keeping your utility bills lower. Another artificial tree tip to extend the life of your trees, is that if your pre-lit tree stops lighting, rather than trashing the whole tree you can cut the attached strand off and string with a fresh strand. Pre-lit trees are usually fastened pretty well so taking the old strand off can take some time, but is worth the effort not to have to trash the whole tree.
When it comes down to it there are many pros and cons to each choice and it’s really about preference and what is the most important to you and your family. Whatever choice you make, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season!