Should I Buy an Artificial or Real Christmas Tree? ($10 Question)

Your Advice - help answer readers' questionsWith Christmas right around the corner, you should have started to make your Christmas budget as one reader is currently doing. In the process, she wonders what is the better alternative: a real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree?

I am trying to decide whether to purchase a real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree this holiday season. We have always purchased a real tree in the past, but they are getting to be more and more expensive. I know that I will save money with an artificial tree in the long run, but they seem very tacky to me. Is there an artificial tree that isn’t tacky?

I’m also wondering which of the two is more environmentally friendly. Is usin


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20 Responses to Should I Buy an Artificial or Real Christmas Tree? ($10 Question)

  1. dan says:

    I personally like real trees much better, but if your primary concern is saving money, then a fake tree will save you a lot in the long run. I must admit, fake frees are much improved over what they once were, but I still like real ones myself.

  2. scott says:

    If you decide on an artificial tree. check garage sales, moving sales and estate sales. You can get them (plus tons of xmas decorations) for pennies on the dollar.

  3. laura says:

    If you have allergies/asthma, be aware that real trees may carry mold which could aggravate your situation. We have a daughter with seasonal in spring/fall, and we were shocked when she had those symptoms when we had a live tree. Now that we have two artificial trees (one purchased at Target and another a hand-me-down) we don’t really notice any difference (minus dead needles in April!)

  4. Traciatim says:

    Money Sense Magazine (Canada) had an interesting article recently called ‘Go Green, Kill a Tree’. It went in to great detail about how un-green using a fake tree is. Mostly because they are made from PVC, real trees help the environment.

    Tree’s mostly absorb CO2 from the atmosphere while growing, so buying locally grown real trees helps remove CO2. Buying a made in china PVC (petroleum based product) that’s shipped all over the world just helps destroy the earth.

    The bottom line, if you like breathing oxygen then buy real. That’s the harsh interpretation of their main points.

  5. Teri says:

    Real trees are also such a fire danger. (I me be a little extra crazy on this note but our neighbor’s house burned down because a fired started from their tree).

    Because of the allergy/fire danger thing we always use fake trees. We picked a really nice one up on clearance AFTER christmas when we bought our first home. 8 years later it looks as nice as the day we bought it.

    I think it is really a personal preference. But financially, we maybe spent $50 don’t even remember) for a top quality tree that will last decades to come.

  6. I have an artificial Christmas tree but much prefer real ones. Real Trees are much more environmentally friendly though when you dispose of plastic ones the plastic cannot be broken down naturally. Christmas tree farms are often grown on land that crops cant grow on and in the process thy stabilise the soil. But then I’m hypocritical because I have an artificial tree but have had for years, so don’t see the point in throwing it out. What ever you choose as long as its decorated nice it will look great.

  7. Rocco says:

    I agree that real tree are more environmentally friendly, but once you have an artificial one, it is hard to switch. The damage is already done, right? My girlfriend and I inherited a small artificial tree from a friend. It simply folds out, and it has the ligths attached. It seems like once the tree is made, it is already going to fill a landfill, so I might as well use it.

  8. Tyler says:

    A fake tree requires that you dedicate storage space to it for three hundred and thirty some-odd days out of the year. That means extra clutter on top of the existing clutter of Christmas decorations.

    A real tree can be cut up after the holidays and and composted. Same with wreaths. As for the fire hazard, the real danger comes from improperly wired lights and overloaded circuits. It’s even less of an issue nowadays with LED lights that emit almost no heat.

  9. ben says:

    Don’t forget that you can also get a live tree. Then after using it for the holidays, you can plant it in your yard or in someone else’s yard that would like it. It’s not the cheapest, but is is very environmentally friendly.

  10. Hilary says:

    What about transportation costs for getting a real tree into a big city? If you want to have a huge tree but live in the middle of NYC (contradiction for most people, I know…), would the transportation costs trump any green-ness you would get from having a real tree?

  11. Will says:

    If someone has allergies or inherited a tree than I could justify using an artificial Christmas tree. However for those who do not I have no way of justifying the use of artificial trees. As an American and an environmentally conscious citizen I believe that real Christmas trees are the only option.

    Artificial Christmas trees:
    -85% of artificial trees are made in China. China uses slave labor (in many cases children) to make their trees and the skimp on materials.
    -Are made out of PVC and often contain lead. Small needles could easily be swallowed by pets or children. Lead can be fatal.
    -Plastic can burn; these trees are rarely “fireproof

  12. Will says:

    Oh I forgot to mention:
    Real Christmas trees only catch fire when they are extremely dry and near a heat source. A fresh tree is full of water and could not burn even if exposed to open flame.

    It is because of irresponsible owners that house fires occur.

  13. Free From Broke says:

    Here’s a crazy thought – Don’t get any tree! No worry about any safety risk. No worry about damaging the environment. Maybe you can come up with some better holiday activity? Who says you need a tree for about a month in your house anyway? I saw Shrek The Halls on TV last night and I thought it was interesting when Shrek was finding out about x-mas and he says “a tree for inside the house?”

  14. pfadvice says:

    The random numbers generated were 3, 8 and 13 (I decided to pick three from this $10 question) — Congratulations to laura, Tyler and Free From Broke. An email have been sent to each of you.

  15. Stephanie says:

    If I’m not mistaken, once a tree is cut down, all that CO2 that was absorbed starts to come back out (when the tree is breaking down/decaying)

  16. John Williams says:


    I am sick and tried of every single article I find on the internet telling me that real trees are all so superior to artifical trees.

    Well if this is so true, then why have artifical tree sales only increased in the last few years?

    Stop believing all of the proporganda that the tree growers spew out.

  17. Traciatim says:

    So why are sales of convenience foods up even though people know they are disgusting for their bodies?

    Why are fossil fuel emissions up even though people know it’s bad for the environment?

    Why is there garbage from extreme amounts of packaging on products even though most products would do fine in a very small amount?

    What people do is generally not the best choice for everyone, only what’s most convenient for them. I have a fake tree in my basement because I lived in an apartment that banned real trees. I own a house now, so I’m either selling or free-cycling the fake one. Not everything is an evil conspiracy from corrupt geniuses manipulating the world. Mostly it’s just people are selfish.

  18. Ann says:

    If you are concerned about the cost of real trees. Wait the last week or few days before christmas and the prices are marked down substantially. You can still enjoy a real christmas tree, be environmentally friendly, and save money too.

  19. David says:

    The artificial trees are better to me…they seem to save money on the long run and I don’t have to worry about allergies from the mold of a real tree. I personally go for the pre-lit Christmas tree.

  20. K Gift says:

    I guess this all depends where you live, if you live in the forest, well cut it down and bring it inside. For me its easier to just by an imitation thats easy to set up has a cost once off and it still has all the Christmas spirit that the real thing has.

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