Real or Artificial? A Helpful Christmas Tree Guide

christmas tree, artificial tree

Growing up I always insisted my family have a real tree for Christmas. And I made sure we picked one that was so tall I would need a ladder to decorate the top, and wide enough to fit all the gifts underneath. As I got older, I realized a real tree isn’t always the best option, especially if you don’t own a home. With our string of apartments and rentals, my roommate and I have opted for an artificial Christmas tree for the last few years. 

If you always get a real tree, you may be asking yourself: is it finally time? Should you get an artificial, reusable tree instead? Or perhaps you’ve just bought a house and are wondering if you want to transition from the artificial tree you’ve used in the past to a real pine tree, or maybe a fir or spruce?

The key to finding the right Christmas tree is multi-faceted. There are several options to consider and this guide will take you through the questions and concerns you have about choosing the best Christmas tree for you. Time-crunched? Scroll down to check out our infographic for a quick visual guide on the best option for you!

Are Christmas Trees Bad for the Environment?

christmas tree, artificial tree

You’re worried about your carbon footprint, so here’s some peace of mind. The American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) reports both options are environmentally sound. A study done by international research firm thinkstep (formerly PE International) claims both artificial and real trees have a similar effect; and both are practically negligible when it comes to environmental impact. The ACTA-sponsored research determined real factors that could negatively impact the environment are: 

  • Length of Ownership
  • Disposal Method
  • & “Tree Miles”

Basically, what that boils down to is: it’s on you. If you go with an artificial tree, make sure it’s quality and will last you at least six to nine years. Then donate the tree when you buy a new one. For real trees incineration is a better disposal method than a landfill due to decomposition time, so, stock up on that winter firewood.

Try to figure out where your yearly Christmas tree lot gets their trees from to determine the “Tree Miles” of those spruces and firs. Or, you can choose to go to a Christmas tree farm and pick out a tree to cut down. A tree that travels shorter distances to get to your home is better for the planet.

Combining Festive with Functional 

christmas tree, artificial tree

Space is essential, and you have to know the right type of tree for your home. Choose where you’re going to put your future Christmas tree and measure the dimensions: height, width, and depth. Both artificial and real trees have enough size variety to fit your needs, but you also need to think about the long term.

If you go with an artificial tree you should consider it an investment; this could be a tree you’re going to keep for the next 20 years. So, if you’re thinking about moving soon or buying a house, your spacing needs are probably going to change, but you’re stuck with the same artificial tree.

Apartment living is tricky. Real trees probably aren’t the best option, especially if you don’t live on the first floor, but if you buy a small artificial tree that works with your current space, it could become obsolete when you move out. Now Christmas tree buying is really turning into figuring out your life plan. Scary.

Real trees can work great for homeowners or rental houses/townhomes, but depending on your apartment type, it can be a hassle to carry a real tree up staircases, or into an elevator. You have to consider storage too. You’ll only use an artificial Christmas tree one month out of 12, so make sure you are able to store it before diving into the investment.

The Right Choice for You

christmas tree, artificial treeNow that you know the environmental effects and are drawing out your 10-year-plan required for Christmas tree buying, it’s time to make a decision. Keri* prefers artificial trees because they are low maintenance. Emma* is a fan of the real deal; she loves the scent of real Christmas trees and the uniqueness.

It’s really about what’s right for you and your home. Personally, I wouldn’t want a tree that’s going to be a huge hassle. Carrying a real tree upstairs or in an elevator is a lot of work for a decoration that will only be in your home for about a month. An inexpensive artificial tree is probably best in this scenario (unless you don’t have the space to store it).  They’re convenient, easier to set-up, and maintenance-free.

I do love real trees though, they’re just more authentic in my opinion. If you can make a real Christmas tree work for your family and home, go for it. They’re environmentally sound, smell wonderful, and have more character. If you own a home and do go for an artificial tree, don’t be afraid to splurge. This decoration will last you 10-20 years.

Feel free to check out our infographic for a quick look at what could be the best Christmas tree choice for you or leave a comment about your thoughts. We’d love to see pictures of all the Christmas trees out there!   

christmas tree, artificial tree

*Designers at HMS Mfg. Co. for the Stola brand

Written and Published – Writer at HMS Mfg. Co. for the Stola™ brand

Copyright © 2018 by HMS Mfg. Co. All Rights Reserved.

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