When I was growing up, my family always had a fake Christmas tree. Taking the Christmas tree’s metal center pole, opening the box full of branches, hooking the branches into the pole and fluffing them up was just as much a part of Christmas decorating as putting on all of the ornaments and hanging the Mistle “Toad” from a doorway.
The fake tree seemed so commonplace to me that when I visited a friend’s house around Christmas one year and they had a REAL tree in their living room, I was shocked. I tried to play it off cool. “Oh yeah, oh course you have a living tree inside the house. That makes perfect sense.” When inside my head I was thinking, “What is wrong with these people? You can’t put a real tree inside a house! Where did they even get it from? The side of the highway??”
Christmas tree crop of 2010
Fast forward to 2005, Marge ‘sand my first Christmas together in our new apartment. We had to get a tree, and we had to choose between a fake and a real tree. We didn’t have much space, so we could get a fake tree fit for our small apartment, which we might have to upgrade when we eventually moved into a house. Or we could get a real tree and just throw it out after Christmas. At this point, I was already starting to develop my DIY and frugal tendencies, and so…
Christmas Tree 2006
A real tree it was!
2014 Christmas Tree in the field
And not just a real tree, but we were going to cut it down ourselves. Cheaper that way, isn’t it? You could buy a freshly cut tree for $60 or more from a nursery. Or maybe $30-50 for a tree in some parking lot. But you don’t know those trees! You don’t know how long they’ve been cut! They could drop half their needles even before Santa goes to town on those cookies.
Going to our local tree farm, a cut it yourself tree was $35. And if you cut off just the top four feet or less, you got it for $20! Guess which one we usually went with.
Tabletop Pine Tree, 2007
I heartily recommend cutting down your own tree and immediately setting it in water at home. That tree is thirsty, and will immediately suck up a gallon or more of water on the first day. Now imagine if you had bought one of those parking lot trees. That thing is dying of thirst!
We cut a tabletop tree every year for our apartment. After buying our house, we started cutting down full size trees. We’ve been returning to the same tree farm every year since 2005. It’s one of the Christmas experiences I most look forward to. Sometimes we get a fir, sometimes a spruce, sometmes a pine. We haul this beast of a tree into the house, put it into a stand, and it fills the living room with the sweet smell of sap.
Compare that to assembling pieces of PVC and metal. Where’s the romance?? Even unadorned, I like having the tree in the house.
These days we buy a full size tree from the same farm as in 2005, but now it’s for $41, tax included. Here was the field this year:
Christmas Tree 2011
The second, and final, part of our Christmas decorating ritual takes place during whatever Christmas music special is on the networks. We put on all of the ornaments we’ve collected over the years. These past few years it’s been during the Michael Buble Christmas special.
So considering that it’s the Christmas season, here are the reasons why YOU should cut down a real Christmas tree instead of buying a fake one.
- The experience of cutting it down. NUMBER ONE REASON. You get to go out into a field with a hacksaw, claim your tree, and cut that tree down just like your cavemen ancestors did when they celebrated Christmas.
- The smell. A real tree is full of sap and smells up your house pine-y scents. A fake tree smells inert.
Christmas Tree 2009
You support a local business. Buying a real Christmas tree is inherently local. You can probably guess where they make the fake trees. Here’s a hint: It’s not at a factory near your house. Support The Things You Like!
- They’re more environmentally friendly. At least, I’m almost sure they are. They have to be right? It takes some resources to grow trees, but they’re giving back to the enviroment. Factories making trees are just fabricating metals and plastics and putting stuff into the air, then going through great lengths to deliver it to you.
Christmas Tree 2012
It’s the real thing, not imitation. A fake tree is just that, a fake version of something that already exists. I know I’ve said it before here. Don’t deal with imitations! If you like the look of a thing, use that thing. Be honest with yourself and your materials.
- They don’t take up space throughout the year like a fake tree. That pole and the boxes full of branches have to be stored somewhere for the other 11 months of the year. Do you really want to waste the space on that?
- It looks nicer. This should be self-evident. The idealized Christmas in America is the Victorian-era Dickensian Christmas, and that includes an oddly-shaped real tree.
Christmas Tree 2015, unadorned
According to our Quicken records, over the last 11 Christmases, we’ve spent about $370 on Christmas trees. Could we have bought a fake tree for less? Probably. But I doubt I would enjoy it as much.
Try and convince me that a fake tree is better than a real tree.