Is it better to have a real Christmas tree or an artificial one?


Fact Box

  • According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 350 million real Christmas trees are growing in American tree farms, with top-producing farms primarily in Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington. 
  • In 2018, the average artificial Christmas tree sold for about $104, while a real Christmas tree cost about $78. 
  • Artificial Christmas trees were first developed in Germany in the 19th century and were made from dyed goose feathers and wire branches.
  • About 63% of Americans put up artificial Christmas trees in their homes, while only 24% get real ones.

Haley (Real)

When it comes to celebrating Christmas, nothing is more festive than the smell of real pine in the air--and studies show that having a real Christmas tree can actually be good for your physical and mental health. Researchers at Kansas State University found that a real pine tree in the home can boost your immune system, protect against getting sinus infections, and even help purify the air. And environmental psychologists attribute the use of natural elements to 'recover[ing] more quickly from stress and mental fatigue.' Conversely, artificial trees are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which releases gases over time that can 'irritate the eyes, nose, and lungs,' says Glenn Harnett, MD. There have also been cases where traceable amounts of lead were found in fake trees. 

Aside from health benefits, going to pick out a real tree is a fun family outing that not only creates holiday traditions but also supports local businesses. And it helps the environment, as 85% of artificial trees are imported from China and end up in a landfill. On the other hand, real trees can be recycled and repurposed in many ways after the holiday season.

Also, real Christmas trees are perfect for people with limited storage space, as they don't need to be disassembled and stored every year.

Real trees require a bit more work than artificial ones because they need to be watered regularly--and also, needles may accumulate on the floor. However, if that extra work means helping the environment, supporting US businesses, and the many other benefits of real trees, then it is all more than worth it.

Michelle (Artificial)

In 2018, 82% of households that celebrated Christmas with a tree chose an artificial one. It is the safer option, as many are made with fire-resistant materials and won’t bother those with tree sap allergies. Artificial Christmas trees cost more initially, about 33% more than a real tree, but the consumer will recover their investment after two years of use. The National Christmas Tree Association says the average family uses a fake tree for “six to nine years”--that means four to seven years with a free Christmas tree.

Artificial trees provide a level of consistency and customization to your space. Depending on the real trees available in your area, you may not find a perfect match each year. However, you can find a fake tree in virtually any color, species, and height, guaranteeing that it will reliably fit your space and match your décor. Additionally, you can add details like artificial snow and included lighting. 

Ease is another benefit of artificial trees, as they can be shipped directly to your home and stored each year between usage. This comes as a relief to people that worry about transportation and disposal of a real tree. Moreover, real trees need to be cared for daily and produce messes of needles that require cleaning.

Finally, and perhaps obviously, artificial trees grant longevity. For the decorators that jump into the Christmas season early, a real tree may not survive the time required. An artificial tree gives folks the ability to be holly jolly whenever their hearts desire. In short, artificial Christmas trees are the best option for your home.

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