I used to be a die-hard real Christmas tree fan. Growing up in California, my family would head to the Christmas tree lot every year and pick out a wonderful, pine-y smelling Christmas tree. It was a tradition we looked forward to each year.

When I grew up and got married, my husband, children, and I would either go to the Christmas tree farm or the woods and cut down our own Christmas tree. I couldn’t imagine Christmas any other way.

Christmas Tree

Then we had a chaotic year where my husband broke his finger right before Christmas and needed surgery. Between the medical appointments and the cast on his arm, cutting down our own tree wasn’t feasible. That’s when I did the unthinkable. I bought a fake Christmas tree.

I thought I’d hate it, but I’ve grown to love that big, fake tree. My daughter loves to decorate the house right after Thanksgiving, and I love not having to worry about a real tree drying out before Christmas! I also don’t miss pine needles all over my floor!

But which is the more frugal option? That’s a tough question to answer.

The Case for a Real Tree

If you live in the right place, you can find a real tree for very little money. In Oregon, a permit for cutting down a Christmas tree is only $5. That’s a pretty frugal option!

You also can’t really put a price on the whole tree hunting experience. If that’s been a part of your family tradition for years, it might not be worth it to buy a fake tree.

Finally, Christmas trees can be mulched down and are completely biodegradable. Real trees are more environmentally friendly than their artificial counterparts, which last for years in a landfill.

The Case for an Artificial Tree

For around $100 you can get a real-looking artificial tree. In some areas of the country, it’s almost that much for a real Christmas tree, making the fake tree the obvious frugal choice.

Artificial trees can last 10 years or more, so even though they cost more upfront, most of the time they’ll cost less in the long run.

There’s less of a fire hazard with an artificial tree, especially if you tend to put your Christmas tree up early.

In the end, there’s really no right or wrong choice. Real trees and artificial trees both have their advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to personal preference. So which do you prefer?

Photo by CJeppson.