For so many of us, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a Christmas tree. The fun of decorating it, moving furniture around to find the perfect spot, and the sparkle and shimmer of a fully decorated tree are all signs that Christmas is on its way. But, do you fake it, or go for the real thing?
You might be surprised to learn that James Wilson, owner of Brackendale Tree Care, prefers an artificial tree during his family’s festivities. Other members of the team wouldn’t be without a 7 foot Norway spruce in their living rooms this Christmas.
There’s no right or wrong answer it’s fair to say; so if you are unsure whether to stump up for a real Christmas tree or branch out into the world of artificial trees, here’s some food for thought.
Real Christmas Trees
You’ll have a beautifully scented home as the piney fragrance resonates through your home during the festive season. Buying and choosing the tree is an event in itself, and young children especially love the magic of bringing a real tree into their home. Many Christmas trees are grown and cut locally, meaning you support the local economy. A well-grown Christmas tree will contribute positively to the environment as it grows, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. If disposed of thoughtfully (your local council can help), it will also contribute positively as it decomposes – being shredded and returning to the earth as a mulch or compost.
But, a real Christmas tree can be a lot of work. They need to be properly cared for and you need to be careful about where you place the tree. Too close to a radiator and you will have a brown crispy tree in no time at all. They are heavy and can be dangerous if pulled or knocked by a curious toddler or an uncle who’s had too much brandy. If you like to put your decorations up early, then the chances of your tree looking good for Christmas and New Year are slim. Which leads us onto the next point – the needles. They look lovely on the tree, but do mean a daily hoover-up or sweep, especially if you have pets or small children. And finally, a good sized tree is expensive; prices start at around £40. Not too bad for a one-off cost, but as an annual spend this can really add up.
Artificial Christmas Trees
Artificial trees are simplicity in themselves, with no mess, no needles and no worry about where you locate them. In fact they are often so light that you can move them around mid-season with barely any problem. They arrive in shapes and sizes which fit our living rooms and halls, and are easy to decorate without prickling your fingers. Artificial trees are available pre-decorated and pre-lit, which removes a lot of hassle for anyone who doesn’t want to fuss around with baubles and tinsel. And at the end of the season, they can be packed into their boxes and stored in the garage or loft until next year. There’s no trip to the tip with a badly shedding tree, and no industrial hoovering of the living room and car afterwards. Clean and simple, that’s what an artificial tree is.
But some might say an artificial tree lacks the magic and excitement of a real tree. The evocative scent of a real tree is absent (although you can now buy convincing scented decorations to use in your home instead), and up close few artificial trees are realistic enough to pass for the real thing. Environmentally they are less favourable; a Canadian study estimated you would need to keep your artificial tree for 20 years in order to offset the carbon impact compared to buying a real tree each year. Most are made from plastic of some sort, and shipped from overseas resulting in a much larger carbon footprint than a locally grown real Christmas tree. And when their time is up (nothing lasts forever, after all) their only contribution is to landfill sites.
Is there an alternative?
Perhaps you’re not sold on artificial, but think that a real tree is just too much hard work? There are a few alternatives that could work for you.
- Don’t have a Christmas tree. Yes, that’s right; break the mould and decorate a collection of beautifully shaped twigs or an impactful houseplant instead. Or use evergreen wreaths to add some festive greenery to your home.
- Hire your Christmas tree. You need to plan ahead, but some companies specialise in renting out real Christmas trees. They deliver a tree to you for the festive season, and collect it when you no longer need it.
- Use a potted Christmas tree from your garden. If you have green fingers and are up for the challenge, you could cultivate your own tree, keeping it in the garden, and cleaning it up and bringing it in every Christmas.
What do you think? Do you fake it, or is a real tree the only way to go? Would you forgo a Christmas tree altogether and if so why?