Inside: The best time of year to buy a fake Christmas tree, how artificial trees save you money, and what to look for in a fake Christmas tree.
“Oh, Christmas tree,
Oh, Christmas tree,
How lovely are your artificial branches!”
Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I love everything about it from the music to baking, and most of all, decorating the Christmas tree!
Until I got pregnant with our first little boy, my husband and I had a tradition of hiking into the snowy forest, finding our perfect Christmas tree, chopping it down, and bringing it home to decorate.
I used to think there was nothing quite as good as the smell of a fresh tree at Christmas, that is until I found the ease that comes with an artificial Christmas tree. While hunting for the perfect holiday tree sounds magical in theory, in practice, it’s a bit of a different story.
Pros and cons of a fake Christmas tree
If you’ve never gone hunting for a live Christmas tree let me tell you about it.
First, it’s almost impossible to find a perfectly symmetrical tree in the forest. From far away the trees look great, up close is a different story. It’s the old good from afar but far from good adage.
If you’re going for a Charlie Brown-style Christmas tree, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. However, if you’re looking for a standard Christmas tree shape, it’s not so easy.
Second, trudging through waist-deep snow, chopping down a tree, and dragging it back through waist-deep snow is a lot of work. If you’re looking to sweat through a snowsuit, then Christmas tree hunting is for you!
Third, you’re still not finished. Even once you shove the tree into your vehicle and get it home, you still have to trim the wonky branches, straighten the trunk, and get it watered before it dries up and dies.
I’ll say it again – it’s a lot of work. Before kids, we had the energy for these kinds of Clark Griswold shenanigans, now we’re tired just putting up our artificial tree.
The pros of a fake Christmas tree
- Variety – no matter what kind of Christmas tree aesthetic you are going for (short, tall, big, small), you can find an artificial tree to match your style.
- Low maintenance – no hunting, no chopping, no trudging through the snow, and no watering. You can even buy artificial trees that come with lights and decorations.
- Longevity– a good artificial tree can last you a decade if you take care of it.
- No pokey needles – with an artificial tree, you never have to worry about pokey needles falling all over your floor.
- No tree disposal – you also don’t have to worry about trying to dispose of your tree before it dries up and turns into a dead plant in the corner of your family room. Just take it apart and box it up or shove it in a closet until next year.
- It’s cost-effective – you can save money by not having to spend $50 to $100 or more on a live Christmas tree every year. You can find a decent artificial tree for anywhere from $120 and up.
- No tree casualties – when you purchase an artificial tree you no longer have to feel guilty about cutting down a lovely, living tree.
- Minimal cleanup – every year my sister’s cat climbs her tree, and every year their tree tumbles to the floor, spilling water and needles all over. While there is no such thing as a completely pet-safe holiday plant, if your cat or dog knocks over an artificial tree you won’t have to contend with cleaning up water and sharp needles.
The cons of an artificial Christmas tree
- No fresh tree smell – an artificial Christmas tree just doesn’t smell as good as the real thing.
- No crazy tree hunting memories – while hunting for a Christmas tree is hard work, these adventures can lead to some hilarious stories and wonderful lifelong Christmas memories.
- It’s a holiday tradition – when I was a kid we always had a live Christmas tree, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. So, there is a loss of that tradition when it comes to an artificial Christmas tree.
- Can look tacky – in my opinion, some fake Christmas trees look super tacky but you can also find ones that are really beautiful and look like the real deal.
- You have to store it – whether you box it up or stuff it in a closet in full decoration, you’re going to need somewhere to store your artificial tree.
- Made from nasty materials – many artificial trees are made from a combo of metal and PVC (polyvinyl chlorine colloquial), which is a petroleum-derived plastic that is not biodegradable.
Where to look for inexpensive fake Christmas trees
If you’re on the market for an artificial tree you can check out the following locations:
Big box stores
If you want to purchase a cost-effective artificial tree and you also want a good selection of options to choose from, check out one of the big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, or Target. You can literally find artificial Christmas trees in any size, shape, or colour that you could ever want.
If you want to avoid any in-store visits, you can easily pursue all of the artificial trees that the internet has to offer. Of course, Amazon is always an easy go-to for any of your Christmas needs. They can fulfill all of your holiday decorating needs from the best artificial tree to the best tree stand. You can also check out other online stores like Wayfair and Bed Bath and Beyond.
Also, remember that pretty much any of the big box stores you want to buy from have an online presence. If you don’t want to head to Walmart or Target, you can still log onto their website and see what they have available online.
If you’re looking to keep the cost of an artificial tree to a minimum, you can look for a second-hand tree using eBay or Facebook Marketplace. You might have to scroll through some pretty ugly used Christmas trees, but there are also some good buys to be found.
What to look for in a fake Christmas tree
When it comes to purchasing a fake Christmas tree there are a few things you may want to consider.
- Tree materials– while many artificial trees are made out of plastics that never degrade, you can find some more environmentally friendly versions. When you’re shopping look for artificial trees with labels on the box that says they are “PCV free.” These can be difficult to find but if you start your search early you can probably track one down before the holidays.
- Tree dimensions– before you go purchasing a fake Christmas tree make sure you know what shape and size of tree you are looking for. What can realistically fit into your space? Pull out your tape measurer and get the proper dimensions before you finalize your sale.
- Convenience– how easy do you want your Christmas tree experience to be? Do you want to assemble, light, and decorate? Or, do you want a tree that comes with lights and decorations already on it?
The best time of year to buy a fake Christmas tree
If Christmas is right around the corner and you still haven’t found your artificial Christmas tree, you might be in luck. According to USA Today’s money expert, Matt Granite, the ”perfect Christmas tree sweet spot” is the first two weeks of December. At this time there are still a variety of Christmas tree types in stock and you can find some amazing deals.
There are also sales to be had right after the Christmas season. Most of us have gone shopping right after the holidays and witnessed all of the lonely leftover Christmas decorations, Christmas tree shirts, wrapping paper, and artificial Christmas trees sitting on the 50% off shelf. It’s out with the old and in with the new, now’s the time to make the purchase. So, if you can motivate yourself to get out and shop after a busy holiday season, you might be able to score a sweet deal.
Of course, you might also be able to save a bit of money on a fake tree when it comes to the big sales like Black Friday or Green Monday.
- Get other money-saving tips for the holiday: How to Do Christmas on a Budget
Happy tree shopping
If you decide to forgo the holiday Christmas tree hunt and opt for the convenience of an artificial tree know that you are not alone. According to a study conducted by the American Christmas Tree Association, 82% of trees displayed by U.S. households during the 2018 holiday season were artificial. So, maybe low-maintenance, variety, and cost-effectiveness trump the smell of a fresh tree and a sweaty Christmas tree hunting adventure. To each their own!
–By Jessica Martel