Real Vs. Artificial Christmas Tree - Which One To Choose?

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The debate about whether an artificial or real tree is ideal for Christmas is a common discussion for many families. Some people want the experience of cutting down a real tree, but then they have to clean pine needles off the floor for weeks. Other people enjoy the convenience of a tree they can pull out of a box and put up quickly each year.

Each option has pros and cons, but ultimately, the best Christmas tree will suit your aesthetic and practicality needs so you can create happy holiday memories. At Foter, you can find plenty of options, including the perfect tree for you.

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Christmas Living Room with Artificial Tree

Christmas Living Room with Artificial Tree

Real Christmas Tree

Pros and Cons of a Real Tree

A real tree fulfills the Christmas dream in many ways. The smell of fresh pine needles and the traditional experience of going out to cut down the perfect tree with your family are appealing reasons to opt for a real Christmas tree.

Real trees provide an authentic holiday aesthetic that is hard to recreate with a synthetic version. The branches are often fuller, the colors are more vibrant, and the shape is more organic.

But while a real tree might seem like the ideal choice for building Christmas traditions, there are several drawbacks to having a real tree in your home. Selecting and transporting a freshly cut tree can be cumbersome and impractical for many families. Some people are allergic to a natural pine, spruce, or fir tree, and having one of these in your home can result in an uncomfortable personal experience during the holidays.

A real Christmas tree also needs to be watered to keep it from drying out, and if it does dry out, the needles will drop, and the tree can become a fire hazard in your home. There have also been instances of a real tree falling over and water spilling on the house's floor. If you have hardwood floors or electrical cords, this is an essential factor to consider.

Real trees are also more expensive than artificial versions, with the average tree costing around $75, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. However, most trees are grown by local farmers, so buying a real tree also helps support the economy.

Green Fir Artificial Christmas Tree

Green Fir Artificial Christmas Tree

Is Artificial the Better Option?

Artificial trees are a more affordable choice than real trees, so if you're on a budget, they can be an excellent way to add holiday cheer to your home. They'll also last you for years after the initial purchase. The benefit of this longevity is that you might be able to avoid shopping for a new tree again for close to a decade if you invest in one that's good quality.

Even though they keep well for years, there is a significant environmental impact from producing and transporting these trees for sale. No matter how many years you use the artificial tree, it will ultimately need to go to a landfill site at the end of its life, whereas a real tree is biodegradable and eco-friendly.

If you have small children, you might want to consider the chemicals used to make an artificial tree and the flame retardant products that might be part of the branches. If kids are likely to put the branches in their mouths while you're putting the tree up, this could be a safety hazard. Many artificial trees contain polyvinyl chloride, commonly used to manufacture synthetic plastic but contain harmful chemicals, including lead.

If you want an artificial Christmas tree and have small children, it's a good idea to shop for a tree containing non-toxic materials, and you might need to contact the manufacturer to confirm the tree doesn't contain PVC.

Green Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree with White Lights
Green Fir Christmas Tree with Clear Lights
Small Artificial Christmas Tree
Small Green Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree
Christmas Artificial Pine Tree with Solid Metal Stand

The Environmentally Friendly Choice 

When deciding between artificial and real Christmas trees, some people want to consider the most environmentally friendly option.

Contrary to popular belief, cutting down authentic Christmas trees is not harmful, as a full crop of new trees is planted in their place. Christmas Tree farms operate as a business, growing the trees as crops intended for harvest. A tree will be planted to replace the one you select. However, it does take close to a decade for a deciduous tree to grow five or six feet tall.

You can argue that shopping for an artificial tree is terrible for the environment due to the resources required to manufacture and package fake Christmas trees. However, if you're planning to buy one for the long haul, this can be an environmentally friendly option. By reusing the tree for several years, you are not creating waste each Christmas. When you weigh this against the prospect of cutting down a real tree for ten years or reusing one artificial tree for a decade, this option can have a much less environmental impact.

A good option if you want to opt for a real Christmas tree is to source it locally and recycle the tree when you're finished with it. This allows you to have the family experience of going to a tree farm and cutting down a tree, but with less environmental repercussions.

The Final Verdict

The choice between a real Christmas tree and an artificial one is a personal choice that no one else can make for you. When considering all the facts regarding both options, it depends on where you place the highest value.

If the environmental impact of your decision is an essential factor for you, you might consider choosing to source a real tree locally to support local businesses, reduce the carbon footprint required to get the tree to you, and you'll be able to recycle it when Christmas is over.

If low cost and convenience that you are after, then an artificial tree is the right choice. It's a less expensive option that's easy to pick up from a local store and keep for years. An artificial tree is also easier to maintain throughout the holiday season because it doesn't require a real tree's maintenance.