Christmas Tree – Real or Artificial?

by Pinkchic18

When Christmas time comes around, the decorations go up! But one thing that varies among households are Christmas trees, so it raises the big debate: real or artificial?

Getting Started

Oh, what's in a tree?

A Christmas tree is the focal point of your holiday décor. You want it to be just perfect. You’ve got your space all picked out, your family is ready to decorate, and the Christmas gifts are looking for a home. But how do you decide which type of tree to get?

Should you go with artificial or real? There are benefits and drawbacks to both sides. Consider your options and then select based on your family’s individual preferences and needs.

Which kind of tree do you use for Christmas?

READER POLL

Real Trees

The Real Deal

There is something magical about bringing a live tree inside to decorate. The authentic pine smell and the real branches and needles really give your home a Christmas feel, but you will have to take care of your live tree. You’ll need a sturdy container that will allow your tree to stand upright with the weight of the decorations on it. You’ll also need to ensure that it is watered regularly or the needles will become brown and start to fall off.

You can select a “ball” Christmas tree. These trees come with soil around the base of the trunk and the base is wrapped in burlap. You can then plant the entire tree once the Christmas season is over. That makes good sense since you won’t be throwing away a live tree. There are alternatives, however, to just ditching your tree when you’re done with it. You can bring it to a recycling center where it can be chipped up and used for fill.

Some things to consider with a real tree too are the danger to pets and children. If you have tiny children, or mischievous pets, you’ll need to put a gate up or barricade the room so that they don’t try to eat the needles or break off branches.  But of course there is the fun of going with the family to cut your own tree that makes it really exciting.

Weigh these things when considering your choice of a live tree.

Artificial Trees

Faux and Fabulous

Image by biewoefOne of the beautiful things about an artificial tree is that you can reuse it year after year. Make the initial investment and you’ve got yourself a tree that will last you decades. And they never go out of style. In fact, the older the tree, the more “retro chic” it will become. You can set it up any time you like from Thanksgiving Day on and it will still look fresh.

You don’t have to do anything to it once you’ve got it decorated. Just plug your lights in and you’ve got a wondrous centerpiece for your living room. So fast and easy you'll be working on your Christmas cookies in no time.

But, unlike live trees, fake trees just don’t have the same authenticity about them. You can obviously tell they are not the real thing. However, in recent years artificial trees have become so lush and full that the ones you buy now are nothing like the twiggy versions from yesteryear. And depending on how you decorate it, you could make it look almost live. Almost.

Another benefit is that children and pets can’t really harm it. They still need to be blocked off from it if they are very young, but if a child were to pull a branch off, you could just put it back. And you won’t have any pine needles to clean up. When the season ends, just place it in the box and store for next year.

Consider your family’s lifestyle and needs. Either live or fake can look amazing if you decorate it with care.

Get an Artificial Tree

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Updated: 07/26/2013, Pinkchic18
 
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ethelsmith on 12/22/2011

I love both but for years now have had an artificial tree. Still looks the biz

janices7 on 12/21/2011

Unfortunately I have horrible allergies so I have to use a fake tree. To make up for the fact that they don't smell, I get a pine-scented Yankee candle to burn. And we've had our tree for at least 15 years - hopefully we are coming out ahead on the eco-friendly debate since we've had it for so long.

MichaelAnschel on 12/20/2011

And then there are the environmental considerations..
A real tree comes from a tree farm that is a mono-culture crop that often leaves the earth a barren wasteland if the farm shuts down. On the other hand, they are low embodied energy (no manufacturing), contain no nasty chemicals or endocrine disruptors (bad for children and pregnant women). For those who care, they are essentially carbon neutral.

Real trees are also a fire hazard if you don't keep them watered and bring them out of the house in time. These days, with so many people composting, you can cut your tree up into little bits and turn it into fertilizer for your soil.

Ultimately, while it lacks the beautiful smell, a fake tree made out of recycled plastics that can be used year after year is probably the greener and less messy choice. But I'm still a sucker for the real thing.

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