Oh, Christmas Tree – The Live vs. Artificial Debate

If you haven’t already decorated your home for Christmas, chances are that you are at least thinking about it by this time and will soon embark on that undertaking. Whether you are a minimalist or prefer to cover every available space with something Christmas, it is likely that your tree (or trees) will be a spotlight decoration. This of course begs the question, real or artificial? There are advantages and disadvantages to both and here we will describe a few of each.

Given that live trees have been used since the tradition of decorating a tree begun, it seems only fair to start with them. For many families, the hunt to find the perfect Christmas tree is both a highly anticipated tradition and an experience. It may involve a trip to a farm, perhaps a wagon ride out to the fields and lively conversation about which one is the perfect tree for this years celebration. Once the tree has been found it is cut, wrapped and tied to the top of the car to be brought home for several weeks of enjoyment. A live Christmas tree is also likely to fill your home with a beautiful aroma and its imperfects provide character that only nature can produce.

While it is a highly romanticized undertaking, there can be some disadvantages to opting for a live tree at the holidays. Before a tree is even brought home you may find yourself questioning whether or not it will fit in the space that you have designated for it, both vertically and horizontally. In a field we can easily underestimate the size of our chosen tree to find, only once we’ve gotten it home, that we need to cut it down a bit to accommodate our ceiling height.

They are, undoubtedly, messy and you may find yourself cleaning up pine needles long after the tree has been taken out of the house. Additionally they need to be watered regularly while they are in your home to ensure that they do not dry out. We are also limited as to how long we can host a live tree in our homes before they start to lose needles and pose a fire risk.

On the other side of the debate are the artificial trees. Not only do they solve the challenges of the mess created by a live tree and eliminate any worries about space, they can also be set up at any time and stay a part of your decor for as long as you like (though, perhaps this is viewed as a disadvantage by some as well!). They are also perfectly symmetrical which many find appealing, are often pre-lit for convenience and take away any worries about allergies. These advantages attract many families to artificial trees at Christmastime.

Anyone that has ever set up an artificial tree knows that achieving that perfectly symmetrical look can take hours of dedicated maneuvering of the branches to get just the right look. This can be a drain on your patience, especially if eager children are waiting to assist with the decorating. Additionally, sooner or later, the pre-lit trees will begin to fail and removing the lights that are often so intricately entwined on the branches is a cumbersome task as well.

Finally, come the end of the season, there arises the issue of storing the tree. It never quite fits back in the box the way it did when it was first purchased and in homes with limited storage, an artificial tree can take up valuable real estate.

The decision of live versus artificial tree is one that is unique to each family and there is no right or wrong answer. Regardless of your tradition, setting up your tree is a special, magical time, whether live or artificial.