The Christmas Tree Debate: To Go Real or Artificial

For many families who celebrate Christmas, there is an all too common debate that they must revisit every year: whether to buy a real or artificial Christmas tree that year.


Probably many of us remember the debates our parents had when we were children, or we have at least heard of them. One parent was raised with an artificial tree and the other a real tree at Christmas, and neither can bear the thought of changing.


The debate can get surprisingly heated!


So, if you are anticipating yet another Christmas tree debate this year at Christmas, let us help you out by spelling out the pros and cons of each option.


The Real Deal: Live Christmas Trees


For folks on the “real Christmas trees only” team, they tout many factors for why a real tree is the only Christmas tree for them.


The most common supporting point for this side is the wonderful fir-tree smell. Smells are one of the biggest things that establish strong memories in our brains. So, naturally, when someone grows up smelling a real Christmas tree every year at Christmas, their fond memories of the season are unrelentingly tied to the smell. It simply doesn’t feel like Christmas without it.


Another factor for real tree fans is the process of going to pick the tree out as a family. Many families start the Christmas season by going together to hunt for the perfect tree. The whole process of pulling the trees out, turning them to check for bare spots and broken limbs, is all a part of building the season’s special feelings.


This is especially true for those who like to go to actual Christmas tree farms to find and cut down their own tree. Such activities for many are necessary to recreate the Christmas cheer that they experienced as children. They are tradition.


However, there are of course down sides to living Christmas trees. For one, they will require much more maintenance, including watering and fertilizing them as long as you keep them up, else they will turn brown and start to shed their needles.

Real trees are also very messy, even if you keep them well maintained. The sap manages to get everywhere, as do the needles.


Finally, it is not exactly easy to get or dispose of the real Christmas tree, especially if you do not have a very large vehicle. And disposal often requires a special trip to the land fill.

Here are all of the pros and cons we could think of for a quick reference:



  • Wonderful, seasonal smell from the fir tree
  • The festive tradition of picking out and even cutting down the tree
  • Every year there is a different tree to make new memories with
  • They are never pre-decorated, so your family will also make memories decorating a new tree every year


  • Live trees are difficult to transport if you don’t have a big car
  • They make quite a mess with their sap and needles
  • They take a lot of work to care for (watering and providing “Christmas tree food”) to prevent them from browning
  • Even with good care, they can die and turn brown before the season is over
  • Not easy to get rid of when Christmas is over

The Artificial Option



For those who believe artificial Christmas trees are the best, they also have just as strong opinions on the matter.


For many artificial tree supporters, convenience and idealism are their strong points of argument.


As far as convenience goes—there is no yearly trip to the store or tree farm and the complicated process of transporting it home. There is also no mess from needles or sap.


Some take the convenience a step further and purchase trees that already have lights and decorations already on the tree. For those who have little time, or those without children or with grown children, these trees create the festive spirit without all of the demanding work.


With regards to idealism, artificial trees are usually perfectly symmetrical and filled in. There are no gaps, broken limbs, or awkward angles. The trees look perfect enough for a post card. And for the trees that come with lights already on them, the lights are evenly distributed, which is great for those who are not gifted in the art of lighting a tree.


Still wondering about the fir-tree smell, though? Artificial tree fans have an answer for that too—plug ins and candles that spread the fir scent all through the house.


Here are all the pros and cons for artificial trees:



  • Absolutely no mess (no needles, no sap)
  • No maintenance—tree doesn’t need to be watered to stay green
  • Easy to put up and pack up
  • Can come already lit and decorated for ultimate convenience
  • Perfect tree every time



  • No (natural) fir-tree smell
  • No tradition of trekking out to find the perfect tree
  • Miss out on lighting and decorating your own tree each year (which may be a pro for you…)
  • Same tree (and possibly lights and decorations) every year


Hopefully our run-down helps you and your family make a unified decision this year!

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