Nov 24 2007

Artificial or real tree?

The day after Thanksgiving, I saw several cars rolling down the highway with Christmas trees tied to their car roofs. It got me to thinking: Which is more frugal, buying an artificial tree or a real one?

To me, the answer is clear. Artificial trees can be used for many years, you don’t have to water them, and you don’t have to deal with pine needles all over your floor.

Still, some people love the tradition of going and finding the perfect tree each year. Others like the real tree look and smell.

Several years ago, I bought a 6′ skinny tree at Target for about $15. It’s nothing fancy, but it does its job.

In our area, real trees (the good ones) can cost $75-$100+. To me, that’s a bad purchase. It’ll last for a month or so, then you have to dispose of it.

Save a tree, save some money, and buy a fakey.

What do you do?



6 Responses to “Artificial or real tree?”

  1. Interesting question.
    We buy a real tree every year because we like how it smells and we enjoy going to cut it ourselves (we also have a toddler so this is becoming A Tradition). In our area, there are lots of tree farms, so we can shop around and are supporting the local economy as well. Our trees cost around $25-40. Also, once the season is over, a local park composts old Christmas trees.
    It IS tempting to just pay $15 once like you did, though. . .

  2. While I was growing up, my parents always provided a real tree for us, and I have fond memories of driving to Northern Michigan (well, at least more north than where we already lived) to pick out a tree at a particular tree farm and cut it down. I thought I’d never want to have a fake tree. I was wrong about that.
    When I was in college, my parents got a fake tree, and it didn’t make any difference. I was at home for the holidays then, for a month or so at a time, so absence wasn’t the cause for my change. I think in the end, I learned that having a real tree just doesn’t matter as much as I though it did. I still have wonderful memories of those Christmases.
    And now that I have my own home, I see that the artificial trees have so many benefits!
    So, I think that if you want to share the memories of a tree finding outing, you could take the kids on a winter nature walk. Or plant a pine tree right in the yard as a permenant Christmas tree and go out and decorate it with bird treats each year. But let it live and grow, and keep your own life simpler with an indoor artificial tree.

  3. Believe me when I say I am all for saving the environment and trees especially. I’m the first to stop someone from littering or unnecessarily cutting down trees. BUT I always have a real Christmas tree. We buy from a local tree farm that replaces every tree they cut, so that makes me feel better about it! Without the smell of fresh cut pine, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for me ;)

  4. for more on the real vs. fake debate check out this site:

    http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2004/12/08/umbra-tree/index.html

    sounds to me like real trees win!

  5. Most real trees are grown on Christmas tree farms, specifically planted for the purpose, and replaced, so I’m not sure the environmental side is even a remote issue. As for me, the smell of a real Christmas tree is one of my favorite childhood memories, and I think traditions and quality are worth a bit extra. One reason I love being frugal is so I can spend more for special occasions. Have you checked out a farm near you? You may be able to pay much less than you think, but YIKES about a $70 tree! My family has never spent that much. Adrian and I will be at my family’s for Christmas this year, so we’re not even getting a tree, but we will put up some decorations.

  6. We have always been able to get trees at our local Home Depot for about $20, so it hasn’t been that expensive, and it’s a decent tree. I’ve even left it when I’ve gone to my parents for Christmas (being gone for about a week) and it’s done okay then.

    My husband will not stand for an artificial tree. :-) He insists on a real one, and I am just as happy to comply. The smell and the tradition of putting up a tree… I feel like getting an artificial one would be “selling out”!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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