What Should I Consider When Buying a Christmas Tree?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky
Christmas gifts.
Christmas gifts.

If you are considering the purchase of an artificial Christmas tree, you are in good company. Many people are choosing "faux" Christmas trees instead of the real thing. Not only are they simpler to care for, some are also more fire resistant. In addition, they are more lifelike and realistic than ever. In fact, few people can tell the difference between a quality artificial Christmas tree and a live real one unless they touch it.

A Christmas tree with presents underneath.
A Christmas tree with presents underneath.

When selecting a Christmas tree, you can choose from many different sizes, shapes, styles and price ranges. Do you prefer the look of pine, cedar, fir or spruce? Artificial trees are modeled after the real thing, so much so that a blue spruce has the same bluish green tone as a live one. The overall shape of the Christmas tree as well as the branches and needles are styled to look just like different types of real trees. There is something available for every taste, including pre-lit trees that help avoid the aggravation of tangled Christmas lights.

Depending on the space you plan to use for your Christmas tree, you may prefer a short, squat one or a tall, thin one. These are available, and so is everything in between. It is still a good idea to measure your available space to make sure the Christmas tree you select will fit easily. If you have eight-foot (2.4 meters) ceilings, measure to make sure they are exactly eight feet.

Often times, the ceiling height may be a fraction less than what is expected, and if so, the tree will not fit well. Generally, it is a good idea to select a Christmas tree that is six to twelve inches (15.2 to 30.4 centimeters) lower than the assumed ceiling height. This is true whether you choose a live or faux Christmas tree, although with a fresh tree you always have the option of chopping off a bit to make it fit.

If you do select a live Christmas tree, the most important issue is making sure it is very fresh and well hydrated. Pull a couple of needles off to examine them. They should be securely attached rather than falling off easily. Break a needle in half. It should be moist, should bend without snapping, and should have a fairly strong scent. If not, the tree may be somewhat dried out, and most trees stay that way, even after being placed in water. A dry tree will not only lose its looks and its needles faster, it can also become a fire hazard.

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Discussion Comments


The artificial prelit Christmas trees are very popular and many people who are looking to buy an artificial tree look for this type. I have an artificial tree, but still string my lights every year.

After talking to several people who have the prelit trees, I don't know if I will change or not. They say the biggest disadvantage comes when one or several bulbs stop working. I just always plug my lights in every year before I put them on the tree to make sure they are working.


In my experience, the best way to buy a live Christmas tree is at a tree farm. Not only are those trees still fresh right up until right before you take them home, they often have a better selection of sizes and varieties than sellers that operate temporary tree lots. They also tend to be less expensive, because they don't have to transport the tree away from where it grew.


As much as I love a fresh Christmas tree, I understand why so many people are turning to artificial. They make less mess, take up less space, and these days are becoming cheaper as well- it seems to me that live Christmas trees grow more expensive every year.

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    • Christmas gifts.
      By: Monkey Business
      Christmas gifts.
    • A Christmas tree with presents underneath.
      By: Václav Hroch
      A Christmas tree with presents underneath.