Real or Fake Christmas Tree – Which to Buy?

If you celebrate Christmas, you’re more than likely keeping a Christmas tree in your home.   Many memories from childhood come from the Christmas Treeholiday season, and the Christmas tree is often a part of the festivities and center of some of the activities.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that many families have regular traditions with the tree.  It may decorating the tree the same way each year, adding some long-time ornaments to the tree, or even keeping it in the same exact location.  What about the idea of keeping the same exact tree every year?

Depending on your decision when considering whether to buy a real or fake tree, you just might be able to keep that same tree every year for a long time.

Now, I could have called posed the decision as “real vs artificial tree”, but often times the latter really are fakes.  They’re generally intended to look like the real thing, not the other way around. They’re fake. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad.

Why Buy a Fake Tree

For me, the reason is clear cut: allergies.  My family had a fake tree all the way back to my childhood, for that very reason.  So for some people, this makes the decision an easy one.

For others who don’t have that as a factor, there might be other reasons:

  1. Cost.  By spending up front, you can spread the fixed cost of buying a tree over many years.  Let’s say you pay $200 for a tree and keep it 20 years, you’re spending $10 per year. Not bad! So you want to keep it only 10 years? Well, then it’s still only $20 annually.  Sure that goes up if you buy some super-deluxe tree, but generally your average annual cost won’t be too bad.
  2. Convenience.   The tree is right there at home, you don’t have to go out and lug a different one home every year.  Time is money after all, right?
  3. Tradition.  There can actually be attachment to the same tree year in, year out.  I still remember the tree from childhood, that we had at my parents’ house.  There was a nice familiarity to it, and it was a regular, reliable part of the holiday season. When you have really good memories with the same surroundings, it’s easy to have great feelings for the whole scene – including enjoying having the same tree.
  4. Cleaner.  Something that’s manufactured is likely to be less messy than something that was a living, organic thing growing from the ground.  Real wood and needles are not as conducive to a clean place than to the fake variety.

Why Buy a Real Tree

  1. Natural.  While I have never personally had one, I can totally see how there’s something different about having a real tree.  After all, it’s real – not fake.  How often is any fake item more desirable than the real thing?
  2. The Environment.  Now, I can’t speak to this completely – but it makes sense that a real tree would be more environmentally friendly in the big picture than a fake tree.  Can a fake tree truly be as recyclable as a real tree?  What went into making the fake tree, and transporting it to its distribution or retail center? Just questions that one can think about.
  3. Tradition.  Didn’t I say this above? Sure.  Traditions can take many forms, and I can totally see the tradition of going out and finding a nice tree every year.  It can be a fun thing to do each year, something to look forward to as a part of the season.  While I personally haven’t done this, I can see how it could be really cool for many people.
  4. Scent.  This probably goes back to the “natural” aspect, but a fresh pine scent can have great appeal to people.  One would think that artifical pine-scented oils and candles can only replicate the real thing so much, from a sensory and psychological perspective.

The Bottom Line

Really, I think many people might have strong opinions on this either way, and already have their minds made up.  It really is a personal decision for each household.  However, if you have a decision to make, it’s worth considering these factors before making your purchase!

My Questions for You:

Which type of tree do you prefer – real or fake?

Why do you have that preference?

Is this the same type of tree you had when growing up?




  1. says

    We had a real tree, but now we have a fake one. Our dogs like to drink the water (which makes them sick) and they also liked to eat the tree, so we had to get rid of it :(

    • Squirrelers says

      Michelle – yeah, drinking that water and then actually eating the tree aren’t exactly strong votes for real trees :)

  2. says

    We always had a fake tree growing up and that’s what I currently have, and I’m sure the way I was raised had a lot to do with it. I know there was also a story that my dad told of why they switched (before I was born). One time he was walking and somehow had a needle go all the way through the side of his toe. So, artificial is fine with me :)

  3. says

    I get a real tree because they are grown locally and support the local economy, they’re a renewable resource (grown on land not suitable for farming) and our city picks them up to chip and mulch afterwards. I bought a cheap artificial one for an apartment that didn’t allow real trees. It looked so bad that I got rid of it when I moved. Very bad for the environment! I would say, if you go artificial, get a nice-quality tree that will last!

    • Squirrelers says

      If getting a fake tree, I suspect that it might be like anything else in that quality might last a lot longer. That’s often the case with clothes, just as an example.

  4. says

    I would say a fake tree because I feel it is greener. You can resuse it for multiple years instead of having to cut down a fresh tree every year. Plus, many kinds of the plastics used now are recycleable so when the tree does break down after x years it should be able to be recycled.

    • Squirrelers says

      Miss T – interesting, fake trees being greener. I would have thought the opposite, actually. I suppose it depends on how the fake tree is actually made, perhaps some are green these days.

      • MJ says

        I bought my fake tree from my sister at our joint garage sale (she gave me a discount; I got it for $15). We’ve used it for about four of the last five years. My sister and I were raised on real trees, and going out and finding the BEST real tree was part of our Christmas tradition. At some point, she and my mom found a sale on fake trees and each of them bought one–the one I bought from her was actually my mom’s, which she “inherited” when my mom went into a nursing home and my sister bought her a smaller one for her room. This tree has been going strong for at least 20 years, and the thing that we all have noticed is that our allergies improved, we quit having pet-related tree disasters (if the pets knock over a fake tree, at least the presents don’t get wet; a family heirloom tree skirt made by my mom was ruined by my cats one year when I had a real tree), and it’s pretty convenient, too.

        In the years when I lived 15 minutes from the Canadian border, I bought real trees and I loved them. They were fresh and smelled wonderful, and I knew I was helping someone fairly local stay in business for another year. But now that I live considerably south of there, I think it benefits the environment more for me to use my 20-year-old fake tree than to buy one that has traveled days on a truck and then has been spray-painted green, like the ones down here are.

        • Squirrelers says

          Thanks for sharing. What jumped out at me from your comment was the reality that allergies were curtailed, and pets wreaking havoc with the tree became less of an issue. Very practical reasons to choose a fake tree. Stop by again!

  5. says

    Here’s some things you can do with a real tree:
    – have a spiffy bonfire
    – whack at it with a machete
    – sink it in pond with other xmas trees for crappie and bluegill habitat

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