Real Christmas Trees vs Faux Christmas Trees

Find out whether you should buy a real Christmas tree or a faux Christmas tree this festive season.

A picture of a red bauble on a Christmas tree
(Image credit: Unsplash )

The question of whether to buy a real Christmas or a faux Christmas is a tricky one, as both options come with a long list of pros and cons that can easily divide opinion. Environmental and budgeting issues need to be considered. Read on to discover which option is the best for you this festive season.  

The Upfront Cost

A wooden tray with two burning candles in the shape of Christmas trees.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Real Christmas trees can often cost less to buy upfront. Prices can range from £24 - £160, depending on size, quality, and style. This price will take into account the growing and harvesting in special nurseries, the fact that it takes 7-10 years to grow a mature Christmas tree, and the labour that Christmas tree producers need to pay to ensure that the trees are well maintained. 

Harvesting Christmas trees is labour-intensive and is usually done by hand, meaning that the cost of labour is reflected in the price point. Furthermore, there’s normally a wide range of trees available to meet every budget - if you’re willing to sacrifice style for cost, it’s always worth choosing a miniature tree that won’t break the bank. 

Faux Christmas trees can often cost more to buy upfront. These artificial trees average around £80, but they can reach prices up to £1000 and beyond. However, while this may seem way beyond budget, it’s important to factor in the money you will save by using it in the years to come. 

In fact, a £90 faux Christmas tree would be paid off in around 1.5 years when comparing it to a £60 real tree, making it an excellent long-term investment. Good-quality artificial trees have an expected lifespan of around 5-10 years, meaning that they will be paying for themselves in the years to come. Just make sure you choose one of high quality to avoid investing in a plastic tree that falls apart before New Year’s Day.

Seasonal saving events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day are great times to shop for artificial Christmas trees, as many businesses will offer hefty discounts that can bring the price within budget. Check out this article for tips on buying Christmas gifts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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The average price of real Christmas trees vs faux Christmas trees
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Hidden Expenses

A wooden desk with a red mug containing a Christmassy hot chocolate with marshmallows, cream, and a candy cane.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s also important to remember that buying a Christmas tree can often come with hidden expenses, whether it’s real or fake. For example, it can be easy to buy a real Christmas tree at a lower upfront cost and forget about the other expenses you may have to fork out for. These hidden expenses can include the cost of delivery and removal, the price of a stand, the time spent selecting the perfect tree, and of course, the all-important decorations. These expenses, while being fun activities to get you in the festive spirit, can end up massively increasing the price of a real Christmas tree. 

The effort involved in transporting your tree home can also be difficult. You can choose between paying for delivery after selecting your tree in person or securing your tree to the car and driving it home yourself. Either way, there’s going to be fuel costs involved. 

However, a faux Christmas tree comes with fewer hidden costs. These trees tend to be easier to transport and store, meaning that you can fold them down to fit in the car or have them delivered directly to your address for a minimal fee. Furthermore, while you’ll still have to buy decorations, some artificial Christmas trees can be bought partially decorated. This means that you might not have to buy as many decorations, saving you money every year. 

Environmental Impact

Another point to consider is the environmental impact of having a real Christmas tree vs a faux Christmas tree. Real Christmas trees are often thought of as being the most environmentally friendly option, as they are bio-degradable and can be recycled. Indeed, Christmas trees in good condition can be replanted and used year after year. Buying a real Christmas tree also helps to keep farms in business, as your money helps them to supply trees every Christmas, as well as providing a source of habitat for the local wildlife. 

However, some Christmas trees are imported from countries such as Germany, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The use of insect pesticides and the carbon footprint associated with tree farming and transportation may suggest that real Christmas trees are not 100% environmentally friendly.

Faux Christmas trees come with their own environmental issues. The production and shipment of these trees produce much more intensive carbon emissions than natural evergreen trees. Artificial trees cannot be recycled, so will inevitably end up in landfill in the future. 

However, the long lifespan of artificial trees can offset their environmental effects. A 2018 study suggested that artificial Christmas trees are the greener choice if reused for a minimum of 5 years. This means that it’s more important than ever to make sure that you invest in a long-lasting, high-quality faux Christmas tree. 

If you’re after other ways to look after the environment, take a look at this article on how to live sustainably on a budget. 

Style

A woman holding a sparkly, gold Christmas tree ornament in front of her decorated Christmas tree.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, we’ve established that faux Christmas trees appear to be the thriftier option compared to real Christmas trees. However, one aspect that can’t be ignored is style preference. Whilst faux trees seem to be more practical and a better investment for the future, there’s no denying that real trees seem to perfectly encapsulate the magic of Christmas. 

Firstly, the smell of pine trees is really evocative. Even the Scrooges among us have to admit that there’s nothing quite as festive as a Christmas tree filling the house with scent. Also, the act of going out to choose your Christmas tree is a really family-friendly activity that never fails to get people in the festive spirit. Buying unique ornaments is also part of the fun, and decorating your tree every December is one of the firm favourites of the Christmas traditions. 

A faux tree, whilst much easier to buy, transport, and decorate, can sometimes lack the festive spirit evoked by pine trees. Yes, you won’t be finding pine needles in the months to come, but you may find your house lacks some of the warmth and cheer that is induced by a real tree. Furthermore, there’s something endearing about having a Christmas tree that is imperfect and unique; a wonky branch here and there only adds to its festive charm, whilst artificial trees can sometimes look slightly too uniform in shape and style. 

All in all, it has to be said that faux Christmas trees are the thriftier option. While the upfront cost may be higher than a pine tree, using it in the years to come will save you a substantial amount of time and money, as well as being less harmful to the planet. However, from a festive perspective real Christmas trees cannot be ignored; if you’re willing to sacrifice money for style, buying a real pine tree is probably the way to go.  

Mazy Wyeth
Editor

 

Hi there! My name is Mazy and I’ve been a part of the vouchers world since November 2022. After studying English Literature with Creative Writing at university, I realised that I would love to incorporate writing into my career - so here I am! 

You could say that I have a mild addiction to online shopping, specifically second-hand shopping; you probably won’t find me spending thousands on a brand-new outfit, but you will find me deep into a browse of my favourite second-hand clothing apps, including Depop, Vinted, eBay, Preloved and Vestiaire Collective.