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The Christmas Debate: Live Tree or Fake Tree?


The great debate has begun around here as we are all itching to decorate for Christmas. Should we have a fake tree or a live tree?

And we are going to make a decision the week we return from Texas. Can you help us decide?

Benefits of a Fake Tree

My whole life we had a fake tree. Then when I got out on my own, I purchased my own pre-lit fake tree. It was awesome!

No detangling light strands. No rearranging the light strands to make sure there were no holes. Just pop it up, plug it in and decorate.

That is, until a bulb went out and shut down a whole section of the tree lights. Or when I wanted white lights instead of color or vice versa.

And storing it was a pain. Getting it back in the box was always a trial. (My grandmother finds it such a chore, she leaves hers up all year in one of her extra rooms.) But then we could put it in storage and forget about it for the rest of the year.

Benefits of a Real Tree

There is nothing quite like the smell of a real tree. And not being pre-lit you can change the light colors as often as you’d like.

Not to mention, purchasing your live tree from the Boy Scouts of America is a great way to support the local troops in your area. (My little cousin is a Boy Scout, we purchased our tree from him last year.)

And storing it…not necessary. We just drag it out to the street when we are done and the trash collectors pick it up. Easy, peasy! Although we do have to store the tree stand we purchased last year, but that is much smaller than a Christmas Tree in a box.

The Cost of a Christmas Tree

I believe the one time cost of a real or fake Christmas tree is the about same. Obviously, there are cheaper ones or more expensive ones.

But over time, the real trees are going to cost more. I don’t see any way around this. Do you? Simply because you must purchase a new tree every year. And I don’t believe you have to replace fake trees very often. Am I wrong?

I suppose if you are looking at it from a money only perspective, the fake tree makes the most sense. But I am so drawn to having a real tree again this year.

Tell me about your Christmas Tree and why you chose a real or fake tree? We are going to put a tree up the week after Thanksgiving so I have to make a decision soon.



  • Reply Canan Onat |

    I would get a live tree with soil at the bottom and then plant it. If you are going to throw out a real tree away, please get a fake one instead. I cannot stand killing a living plant and then throwing it away.

  • Reply Meghan1227 |

    I would say, however much you were planning to spend on a tree – split it between a real and fake. Buy the fake tree after Christmas at half the cost you are finding it to cost now and save for next year and buy a smaller than you were planning to buy real tree this year.

  • Reply Susan Melvin |

    We just purchased an artificial tree for a relative who is getting back on her feet after several years of her life being a mess. I vote for an artificial tree vs. a real one because of the cost factor.

    True, you can spend hundreds of dollars on an artificial tree that looks a lot like a real one. Or you can spend $50-75 on a real tree from a tree lot.

    OR you can go to Wal-Mart where they have decent looking artificial trees for about $40. They come apart in two or three sections so they are easy to put back into the box. They come with no lights or pre-lit with white or colored lights.

    We bought a 6.5 foot artificial tree for our relative for $40. We chose the colored light pre-lit version because she is hopeful she will have her children on Christmas Day.

    I think, in spite of your current good financial situation, you should not buy a real tree because that is $50-75 used up quickly. A real tree in a pot which you can plant is $$$$. Get an artificial tree for about $40-50 and be done with it. You can use it again. If you miss the fresh pine smell, go to tree lots and ask for clippings that you can use to decorate your mantel or other areas of the house. Good craft idea to do with the Princess, in fact. Or, get a pine scented candle — they have Yankee candles at excellent prices at Ross, TJ Maxx, etc.

    Get an artificial tree this year.


    • Reply Susan Melvin |

      Also, I forgot to add … get the one pre-lit with white lights. If you want colored lights, just add them and you will have colored and white.


  • Reply Sue |

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our artificial tree – no needles to constantly vacuum, the cats leave it alone unlike the real thing, and it is such an easy put-up and take-down. We’ll NEVER go back to a real tree again 🙂

  • Reply Lisa |

    Pros for real tree: smell good
    fun picking it out if it is still standing
    Cons for real tree: one time use
    pine needles on floor
    watering every day
    cost of lights, tree stand (one time purchase hopefully)
    transporting tree to house and to wherever the dump station is
    Pros for fake tree: one time purchase for many years to come
    lights may be included or not depending on your wants
    no needles to vacuum
    we don’t have a hard time with it in storage… fits back in the box no prob
    Cons for fake tree: doesn’t smell as good
    the excitement of the hunt isn’t there
    may still need to buy lights if it isn’t prelit
    you may have less storage space than I do

    • Reply Mindy |

      This. 1000 x this. Having experience with both, I can say that in no way is a real tree cheaper or easier.

  • Reply Laura |

    Another vote for the artificial tree. I love how the the lights are so evenly distributed on a pre-lit tree. Don’t give up too quickly on a tree if one string is out. If a whole string goes out and checking for a loose plug doesn’t fix it, it might be that the string’s fuse bulb has blown. The trees usually come with spare bulbs and some of them are fuse bulbs. My pre-lit tree is going up for the seventh year and I love it so much that I’ve bought extra light strings of compatible bulbs to use as individual bulb replacements.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    We have a fake tree. I ‘m not a fan of cutting down trees and from a fiscal standpoint our fake tree is cheaper since we are on year 4 of our artificial tree. The only thing that might give me pause is storage. Our tree takes up shelf space in our shed and we are fortunate enough to have the shed. If I remember correctly you are not as fortunate in terms of space.

  • Reply Gail |

    Fake trees do have to be thrown away. When they no longer serve their purpose. Could be 5 years, could be 15. They will add to the abundance of plastic already in landfills.

    A real tree, if you’re buying from a tree farm, will replace that tree and probably add more. That tree will serve your purpose, and ultimately end up somehow back into the environment. Probably mulched somehow.

    That being said, we always have a live tree, and a very small fake tree. 🙂

  • Reply Lauren |

    Last year you spent $55 for a tree and $14 for lights. The cost of the stand was never disclosed, but you now say that it was purchased new as well. This was declared a frugal success.

    Talk of buying another tree and likely colored lights because you want the option of both, on top of a trip to Texas and gifts, doesn’t sound like it serves your “laser focused” debt pay off. A $55 fresh tree that gets drug to the curb after 4-6 weeks isn’t a low cost option, it is another thing that you *want* and don’t seem to be genuinely considering giving up.

  • Reply Christopher |

    Get a real tree for this year, make it your last one and then buy a fake tree right after Christmas on sale or used for future years.

    • Reply Hope |

      Thanks for the suggestion, Christopher! This is the route I decided to take. I am loving our real tree and am prepared to face after Christmas crazy to get a killer deal on a fake Christmas tree that we will enjoy for years to come!

  • Reply Officiant Guy |

    I can tell you that if I didn’t have kids who like the tradition of getting a tree, I would opt for NO tree. When my wife and I were younger we skipped it. Who says you have to one?

    • Reply Hope |

      I completely agree. I didn’t have a tree at all before I had kids too.
      And also I don’t know if I will give it up as long as kids come home for Christmas. But I certainly won’t do a big tree when they are not coming. But that’s probably several years down the road.

So, what do you think ?