Fresh Christmas Tree V. Artificial Tree

Updated on November 14, 2008
M.C. asks from Ann Arbor, MI
10 answers

Hi Moms,

I have never had a fresh Christmas tree and am seriously considering getting one this Christmas. I've heard some terrible stories about getting a fresh tree--like all the needles falling off or catching fire. How many times a week do you need to water the tree? Any particular type of tree easier to care for than another? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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So What Happened?

Wow, I am surprised at how many moms prefer artificial trees over the fresh ones. All the bad things I've heard are true. I thought for sure that more people would prefer fresh over artificial. I figured there was something special about picking out a fresh tree and having the smell in the house. LOL: But, I guess it's not worth it!!!! Well, I'm gonna stick with the artificial tree, I may just buy my self a new "real" looking one. Thank you all for responding--you made my decision an easy one!

Featured Answers



answers from Detroit on

Fake trees are fake, EHW!
The real tress are fun to cut down, they smell great.
We like the blue spruce, very pretty color.
You do need to water the tree daily, but if you keep it watered the needles stay on pretty good, because it's fresh. When you carry the tree out, drain any ramaining water, and wrap it in a shetet to easily carry it out.

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answers from Saginaw on

We've always had a fresh tree. There are a couple of important safety notes:

On no account, put open flames on or near any tree you will spend any moments of your life not actually looking directly at. Yes, everyone's grandmother had candles directly on the trees (short candles, in small pans filled with water, in the only room in the house apart from the bedrooms, and only lit when they were at home!) Lots of people's grannies burned their homes down anyhow. You can do it, you just have to know that you're going to have to babysit it more diligently than an air traffic controller watches planes over O'Hare.

Use the newest electric lights you have. The newer the lights, the less heat they give off, and the less heat they give off, the lower your risk of lighting it on fire. Buy new ones if yours get hot at all. The new LCD lights emit no heat at all (and are super-cheap to power, in case the power bill in December is a problem).

Be aware of where you're putting it up. Keep it away from heat registers and air vents that will dry it faster than it will already be drying. The dryer the tree, the more of a candle you're getting.

Cut the bottom 1/2 inch off the trunk just before you put it into water - like all other cuttings, the cells close over when exposed to air, so they stop absorbing moisture through the stems while they keep losing it through the leaves.

You need to keep the reservoir of water full at all times. Depending a lot on the temperature of your home and the humidity, that may mean you have to water it twice a day, or only once every three days. If the reservoir dries up, the cells will close over and it will no longer absorb any water at all.

Wait. Do not put up a live tree at the end of November and expect it to still be a tree at New Years. That's like cutting roses in December and expecting them to still look like roses for Valentine's Day. The tree is dead already -- watering it just stops it looking dead for a few weeks.

The fresher the tree, and the later you put it up, the fewer needle falls you will have by Christmas. Traditionally, trees were put up on Christmas Eve and taken down before New Years. If you want to do that, you can frankly dispense with the watering completely.

Some people are allergic to the turpines that trees emit, and having them in heated, indoor air makes this a whole lot worse. Be prepared to remove the tree from your house if anyone shows symptoms that are a problem.

Select varieties that don't drop needles much. Scotch pines are better for holding their needles than some, as are the weirder varieties that look like Charlie Brown trees. Get your tree advice from a local nursery (instead of the grocery store or Walmart), even if you don't buy a tree from them.

I happen to like Balsam Fir, partly because I like the blue-grey needles better than the yellowish-gree ones, but also because the trunks are covered with sap blisters that you can pop to make the tree smell fresh again at any time, the boughs are far apart which gives space for dangling things to be visible, and the sap blisters stop our cats from climbing the trunks. We have hardwood floors, so I'm not overly concerned about needles, but balsams don't drop a lot of them (compared to the Douglas Fir which seem to create tons more than you can see!)



answers from Detroit on


We get a Fraser Fir every year. There's nothing like walking into a home with a real Christmas tree!

We water ours everyday and I vacuum fequently, but it's worth it to us. It's so fun to go pick out the perfect tree every year! It's one of my favorite family experiences.

The only time we had a problem was when we got a cheap, dried out, balsam fir. It lost a ton of needles and they were super sharp. Other then that, we've always had good luck!



answers from Detroit on

real trees are very messy and can catch fire. I did see a really cool tip from Rachael Ray the other day though. She suggested buying a fire detector and putting it in the tree with a large star attached to mask it. That way you get a much quicker warning if it does start on fire.

Also, if your children show any signs of seasonal allergies I'd stick with the fake. The tree could make the allergies flair up and they might be sick for the Holidays. Good luck with whatever you decide!



answers from Benton Harbor on

We have always had a real tree, but I am considering investing in a really good artificial. They are so real looking now and have the lights already in them! I HATE to put lights on!




answers from Grand Rapids on

I've used a real tree for 28 years! Last year I bought a fake one to use this year. I had finally had it with real ones. As much as I love the look and smell, I couldn't stand the needles and watering! I had to water it every day, mostly because I didn't want it to dry out too much due to fire hazard. The needles were dropping every day, so I had to vacuum at least three times a day around it...I have two kids under 3, so they would step on them or pick them up. I still have sap on my ceiling from a tree five years ago, because we can't figure out how to remove it. It has always been a pain putting the lights on it, taking them off, etc. Getting the tree into the base and making sure it's straight so it doesn't tip (which has happend to us) is a pain. I love real trees, but I don't think it's worth it to me. I don't know how my parents did it my whole childhood. I can't wait to set up my fake tree this year and have it be hassle free!



answers from Lansing on


Well, you didn't hear from this Mom about my preference, which is fresh, fresh, fresh! Nothing says Christmas better than the wonderful smell of a fresh fir tree. I am the manager of a local Christmas tree farm so I can give you some tips for keeping your tree fresh through the season. After you cut the tree sap will begin to form over that cut mark (the trunk) and can stop the trees ability to absorb water. You need to set your tree in a bucket of water soon after cutting it or set it up right away. If you can't do this then all you need to do is cut a small slice off the bottom of the trunk to reopen the wood to absorb water just before you set it up. I also recommend a tree stand for "drilled" trees. Your local tree farm should sell these and then will drill the tree for you which makes it very easy to slide onto a metal spike on the stand and hold the tree in place very well. Putting an aspirin in the water helps preserve your tree or you can purchase preservative tablets from the tree farm which also work to keep the tree fresh. With live trees you have such a variety to pick from if you like to decorate in a country or primitive style they are the best. Most farms will also have tree bags to put your tree in when the season is done and thus collect most of the needles that will inevitably drop. The preservative tabs and tree bags are mininal in cost, one or two dollars apiece. We also have tree trays to set your stand on to protect the carpet or hardwood floors. Trees are usually watered as needed, the more the better because then you know your tree is absorbing water. Evaporation will occure in our winter heated homes so you should check your tree at least weekly. And common sense will tell you to keep it away from a heat source although I have placed our tree beside the fireplace for 26 years without incident. Tree growers are working hard to make improvements so that fresh trees can be the Christmas staple of homes once again. Whatever you choose, Merry Christmas to you.




answers from Detroit on

My husband and I always had real trees and we just got a very nice artificial tree a couple years ago that looks very much like a real tree and we absolutely love it! I would never go back to having a real tree again. I don't miss cleaning up all the needles, the tree drying out after only a couple of weeks and the tree sap getting on my ornaments. The only thing I miss about having a real tree is the smell. I think if you really want to get one, you should, but be prepared for the mess that comes along with it. Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

oh I hate having fresh x-mas trees. They are impossible to decorate because the needles are always jabbing at you so you need gloves and long sleeve shirts that are thick so that way the needles cant get through the material. YOu are always watering it, and every time you hunch down to pour water in there you come out with a million pine needles all over your hair/clothes. If you have a dog, they might always be drinking out of the water too. Uggg i hated it. Artificial ones are just as nice in my opinion. And they are cost always have one every year!!



answers from Grand Rapids on

Artificial trees are made out of petroleum (I think I spelled it right). It is bad for the environment. Plus, artificial trees can hold germs, and do hold dust and mold. So every year, esentually, it gets worse for your health. As they age, they can give off lead in the air, and anyone knows how bad lead is. Plus, chemicals given off from them give kids adhd like symptoms... just something to consider...
We have a artificial tree right now, but I am hopeing to get a real one. Not just for health reasons. But after I am done with it, we can throw it in our woods, presto! rabbit brush pile home! :) I know that they are hard to decorate, my mother would never ever have fake! And the needles suck, but vaccum and you should be ok.
Look up facts on artificial trees, it is crazy!

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