Pricing out a Real vs Artificial Christmas Tree

Pricing Out a [Real vs Artificial] Christmas Tree

The holiday season is fast approaching. Kids are writing their letters to Santa, stores are stocking their shelves full of goodies, and others are wondering what kind of Christmas tree to buy. Are real or artificial Christmas trees better? Which type should you get? Well, that all depends on you! Let’s break down which (real or artificial) Christmas tree will deliver the most magic to you and your family this holiday season.


Let’s Talk Price


How Much are Real Christmas Trees? 

Right now, Home Depot sells 4’-6’ live trees ranging from $65-$110. A local Christmas tree farm will charge by height, with the national average price being $78 for a tree between 7’-8’ and increasing for a tree over 8’. In 2018, 32.8 million people purchased real trees, a 20% increase from 2017 . The National Christmas Tree Association reported a 17% increase in the price of real trees from 2015-2017 that stemmed from eco-conscious buyers looking to shop local.

Christmas Tree Farm


How Much are Artificial Christmas Trees?

Artificial Christmas trees range in price depending on height, quality and extras such as being pre-lit. In 2018, the average cost of a artificial tree was $104. Right now, Home Depot sells 7.5’ Pre-Lit LED trees at a minimum of $159 and increasing in price with the addition of the bells and whistles. Of course, one advantage to buying a artificial Christmas tree is when you buy it. Good Housekeeping says the biggest sales happen the first two weeks of December or end-of-season . According to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA), the cost of replacing a live Christmas tree every year is three times the cost of purchasing a single artificial Christmas tree. If cost is your main concern, it may be in your best interest to purchase a artificial tree.


Fake Christmas Trees

Other Things to Consider When Purchasing a Christmas Tree


Life Expectancy

When properly cared for, a real Christmas tree will last roughly four to six weeks. If your tree is not adequately hydrated or is placed in environmentally stressful situations (placed too close to a heating source, or it’s pre-cut and frozen for weeks before you bring it home) it can dry out much faster, exposing it to a higher risk of catching fire.

Pro-Tip: Water (and only water) is the best option for keeping your tree hydrated longer. Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources states that a 7’ tree will drink up to two quarts of water per day within the first two weeks of being cut and that mixing in additives or preservatives do not add life to your tree.

Most Americans plan to keep their artificial trees for ten years; however, the average usable lifespan is six years. It’s a good idea to research the company and product quality before making your purchase. Artificial trees can last for years and even come with 1-10-year warranties. Some warranties are more thorough than others so check with the retailer to find out exactly what’s covered.



Real trees can expose you to allergens from sap, pollen, or mold. If you don’t want a artificial tree but are worried about allergies, Leland Cypress do not produce pollen and may be a good option. Typically, though, artificial trees are the most hypo-allergenic option, since they are made from plastic and metal. 



When it comes to recyclability, real Christmas trees are better. Almost 93 percent of real Christmas trees are recycled each year. Biodegradable and renewable, you can dispose of it by recycling it in your own backyard for critters to munch on, have it chipped into mulch, or sink it into a pond or lake to offer smaller baitfish protection. Major cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York offer free tree recycling.   

Since artificial Christmas trees are often manufactured with metal, PVC and contain flame retardants, there is no way to recycle them. The chemicals found in the PVC could contain hazardous levels of lead, posing a potential threat to children and animals who may ingest dust or other materials from the tree.

Let’s Recap

Now that we’ve established the initial cost of a real and artificial Christmas tree is comparable, are real or artificial Christmas trees better? Let’s look at the other factors to keep in mind when trying to figure out how which tree is best for you.  Ask yourself the following questions:


Do you have time to water and care for a real tree?


Can you afford to spend $70-$100/year on a real tree every year?


Is the tree you choose going to give you any trouble with allergies?


Is it important to you if your tree can be recycled at the end of its life?


Whether you’re chopping it down or taking it out of the box, be sure your tree WOWs  your guests with the right mix of Christmas ornaments! Check out our selection of trending ornaments, including  Angel Ornaments, Cat Ornaments, Dog Ornaments, Nutcracker Ornaments. And as always, Happy Holidays from your friends at Old World Christmas!


What kind of Christmas tree are you putting up this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by

Rachael Mitchell

Rachael Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Washington, and has over 15 years of writing experience. She’d never be able to pick just one favorite ornament, but narrowed it down to the S’more and Tennis Ball. She always looks forward to s’mores in the summer with friends and family adding gourmet ingredients, and played 4 years of college tennis in the mid-west.


You’re ornaments are beautiful and since my son was born he has gotten an OWCO every year her will have 19 plus the others family has gotten him. 😊


100% Real Tree! Both my husband and myself grew up (in the 60s) with real trees! We have continued In this tree tradition until we had our first child, early 80s when a balsm became our “tree of choice! Tall and leaner, continues to be our style since we were married in the 80s! To me, personally, they are reminiscent of the “old fashioned” German Christmas trees, full of mixed “Old world ornaments and white (occasionally mixed colors) lights! These are our “tree traditions”, however, any real tree trimmed with lights and miscellaneous glass ornaments certainly exude warmth and tradition!

Diane Plucinski

Just bought an artificial tree from Balsam Hill :) can’t wait!! no more needles all over the floor and forgetting to water my tree.

Laura D O'Hare

I love the smell of a real tree, but have a concern regarding the typical sap that you will often encounter on a real tree. You have to worry about all your nice ornaments being exposed to the sticky and damaging sap. If there is a way to avoid it I would love to hear about it.

Ed Booms

While installing and decorating my client’s trees for the past 36 years, I have used numerous fresh cut and artificial trees. Each has its + & – factors.

Other than the shopping for, and the annual cost of a fresh tree, the biggest reason given for wanting an artificial tree is, the client doesn’t want to deal with the needle drop. Based on my years of experience, and contrary to belief, artificial trees also drop needles! The first few times they’re used, the needle scrap falls from the tree, same as a fresh cut tree, which amuses my team who never understood the customer’s concern since we’re the ones tasked with cleaning up any fallen needles, not the client. That’s why we always cover the floor with plastic sheeting before installing either type of tree. After the trees are decorated, the sheeting is neatly rolled up tight around the tree’s stand or water container base, leaving an opening for the fresh tree’s daily watering. Prior to “take-down” at the end of the season the plastic is carefully unrolled from beneath the tree to catch any “falling needles” as the tree is dismantled.

Over the years, the most common comment made after we install and decorate a client’s new artificial tree is, “I miss the Christmas Tree Smell.” No matter what canned spray, or other synthetic wick scent you use, nothing comes close to the wonderful natural fragrance of a real freshly cut Christmas tree. It’s that seasonal scent that puts everyone in the Christmas mood.

Of the hundreds of trees we’ve decorated over the past three-plus decades, less than 10% have been artificial. And we like it that way! When using the same decorations, a fresh tree will never look like the previous year’s tree because, no two trees are ever alike.

Similarly, no two artificial trees are alike— until they’re purchased and set up at home. Only then do artificial trees look alike. Exactly alike— year, after year, after year.

Now, if we could just get the Anaheim Hills Home Depot to bring in some 10-11’ Nordman or Turkish Firs for our tall tree clients in that area, all would be "Merry. "

And, if the fresh cut trees arrived “Pre-Lit,” all would be “Bright!”

Merry Christmas to all!


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