Christmas trees: real or artificial?

December 17, 2019

Artificial Christmas trees are simpler and smarter than real trees

Audrey Taylor
Artificial Christmas trees are easier to decorate than real trees because most trees are sold with lights pre-strung throughout the tree. This feature eliminates the hassle of stringing lights and guarantees that they will be evenly distributed throughout the branches. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The holidays are already stressful, so why add a real tree to the mess? Fake trees allow for easy set up and are cheaper than purchasing a new tree each year. 

When it’s time to decorate for the holidays, there is one element that stands above the restthe Christmas tree. It’s the center of the room, covered in lights and ornaments with a star or angel watching down from the top. However, this magical moment is cut short from the begrudging task of getting a real Christmas tree. After picking out the perfect tree, the magic dissipates, and you are left with stress and tears while you try to mount the tree, tie it, take it back down, move it inside, and set it up in the right location. However, the joy doesn’t end there. You still have to clean up the needles, untangle the mess of lights, and decorate the tree. 

While some people may find the smell of a real tree worth the hassle, I prefer the easy assembly of a fake Christmas tree. Artificial trees don’t look fake at all. They are typically greener and fuller than a real tree. To set up the tree, all that is required is to attach the parts and spread the branches. This technique allows the owner to shape the branches however needed to accommodate for large ornaments or fill any gaps. Fake trees also eliminate the struggle of tangled lights because most trees come with lights attached to the branches, correctly distributed throughout the tree. 

Another perk of an artificial tree is that it doesn’t shed. My family uses a tree skirt for decoration, but we can see ours because there aren’t pine needles covering the floor. Not only are these needles annoying to clean, but they can also be harmful when there are pets or small children in the house that could stumble upon them. 

After Christmas, the tree has done its job and is no longer necessary. With a fake tree, you can pack it away for next year, but with a real tree, you have to dispose of it. This unfortunate reality creates the sad sight of rows of rotting tree corpses at the end of driveways come Jan. 1. When getting a real tree, you have to account for how long the tree will stay fresh. However, with aartificial tree, it can be put up as early and taken down as late as desired. Or if you happen to procrastinate and wait until the weekend before Christmas to put a tree up, there isn’t a concern of trees selling out because your tree is already in the attic. 

I initially didn’t like the idea of having a fake tree because I was young, and I only knew the fun parts of having a real tree. However, after a year or two, I began to love our tree. It has lasted ten years and decorating it is of my favorite parts of preparing for the holidays. We got this tree because my mom is allergic to pine, and it’s an excellent alternative for others with allergies or an aversion to strong scents. Since artificial trees are a onetime purchase, if they last for many years, it is cheaper than buying a real one every year. 

For some people, the idea of a fake Christmas tree is insane, but in the end, it is the cheaper and easier option. A concern for buying an artificial Christmas tree is that you won’t have the Christmas smell. I solve this problem by baking gingerbread cookies. That way you get the best tree option, your house smells like Christmas and you get to eat the cookies. 

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Real Christmas trees are irreplaceable

It’s the week before Christmas. You walk into your house and see all the decorations beautifully set up and you sit down to watch a classic holiday movie with your family – but something is missing. Looking at your tree, you are struck by the fakeness of it. It is almost too perfect, with none of the character that real trees have. Your house is lacking the enticing aroma of pine that comes with real Christmas trees.  

Every year, my family and I go on a hunt for the perfect tree. Not perfect in the typical sense – with no blemishes and perfect branches – but perfect in that it feels right, and fits with our home. Looking around together to find the ideal tree is part of the holiday fun. Despite the fact that we live in Florida, looking for a tree is something we can do that makes it feel more like the true holidays.  

But if someone were to propose that we buy a fake Christmas tree and set it up year after year – the same exact tree, with no individuality – I’d say that doing this removes an aspect of the holidays that my family looks forward to every year. What is the point of even having a Christmas tree if it isn’t one that you picked out?  

The smell of a true pine tree is a necessity that I could never give up. Fake trees just don’t have that smell, and no air freshener can compare to reality. Having the aroma of the holiday spirit fill your house is something that can’t be replicated by a manufactured spray. 

There are also environmental benefits of supporting the farms that grow Christmas trees. According to The National Christmas Tree Association, the trees often grow on land that is unable to support other crops, and the trees work to stabilize soil, protect wildlife and secure water supplies. 

Christmas trees are also obviously biodegradable, whereas fake trees, which are created in primarily Chinese factories using petroleum-based materials, are used for six to nine years and then sit in landfills for centuries without decomposing.  

Decorating is also less enjoyable without a real tree. Setting it up is an experience that the whole family can participate in and creates a time for bonding. With a fake tree, this is less authentic, and it ruins the sense of holiday spirit.  

People might say that fake trees have upsides like being less trouble to set up, and not having branches that fall off onto the ground, creating a mess.  

But these things are part of the experience too. Rather than pulling a fake tree out of your garage and putting it together, the real adventure is going to a place that sells the trees, sorting through and finding the one, getting it tied on your car and going home to put it up and making sure it’s not crooked.  

These are things my family has done for my entire life, and Christmas just wouldn’t feel the same without them.  

Jessie Larrinaga
Real Christmas trees have environmental benefits that fake trees don’t offer. This is one of many reasons why having a real tree is superior to using a fake one. Every year of my life, my family has picked out a real tree and set it up, and it is a tradition that I would never give up. Photo courtesy of WIkimedia Commons.
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