Christmas is fast approaching, and you and your family might be starting to think about that all-important centerpiece, the holiday tree. The lights, the ornaments, the tinsel, the presents under it.. those are all great, but first you have to pick the right tree.
This is where you have a couple decisions to make, like whether you want a live tree or an artificial one. Some families have extreme loyalties to one side or the other regarding this decision, but for others the choice may not be as clear cut (pun intended).
The Benefits of a Live Tree
So you get the kids all bundled up, throw a thermos of hot chocolate in the car, and head out to a tree farm or a tree lot. Not only does this get you outside and make some great family memories, but it also gives you some advantages over artificial holiday trees. A lot of people think of the idea of cutting down a live tree as terrible for the environment, but growing trees specifically for the holidays and then cutting them down in a responsible way isn’t necessarily bad. Holiday tree farms and the providers for tree lots know what they’re doing, and supporting these places is great for you local economy. And when you’re done with the holiday season, the tree can be turned into wood chips or can be disposed of in other natural, environmentally-friendly ways.
If you are the one cutting down the tree, you know exactly how fresh it is, and you can make sure it’s without water for the shortest amount of time possible. Live holiday trees that were pre-cut and have been standing around in the meantime might be more dry and brittle than one you know is fresh. If you get your tree from a holiday tree lot, there’s a few things you’re going to want to look for:
- Bendy Needles – Take a nice, green needle and bend it with your fingers. If it bends instead of snaps, the tree is more likely to be fresh and healthy. Brown needles or needles that snap like a celery stick can be signs of an old tree that has already started drying out and dying.
- Excessive Needle Loss – Give the tree’s branches a good shake. Some needles falling off is natural, but if the ground is suddenly covered in needles you should probably select a different tree (especially since you wouldn’t want to have to clean all those needles up off your living room floor!)
- Sparse or Brown Patches – Sure, if a tree has sparse or brown patches you can put that side facing the wall, but those might be a sign that the tree has already started dying.
- Have the seller of the tree cut a flat disk off the bottom of the trunk. This will help to get it to stand straight in your tree stand, and to get water flowing.
The Benefits of an Artificial Tree
Artificial holiday trees have come a long way in past years. Now they not only look indistinguishable from live holiday trees, but they can also come pre-lit to save you time, effort, and frustration. Treking out in the cold to chop down a live tree is great, but do you know what’s easier than that? Bringing an artificial one down from your attic. Then after the holidays you can just box it back up and put it away year after year. And to go along with the convenience factor, artificial trees don’t require any watering or nearly as much care as live trees. Artificial holiday trees may also cost more initially, but they usually end up cheaper than live holiday trees in the long run since you can use them for years and years. Artificial holiday trees may also be beneficial for people or families that suffer from allergies or asthma and don’t want to introduce unnecessary triggers into their home. Green clash with your decor? Artificial holiday trees can be found in many different colors to fit any home’s style.
For some more information on choosing your holiday tree, visit this article from the New York State Department of Conservation.