General Question

canidmajor's avatar

What's your tree? (please see details)

Asked by canidmajor (21395points) December 7th, 2014

After a conversation last night among friends, I thought about opening the discussion to strangers on the Internet.
What kind of a holiday tree do you have every year?
Natural or artificial?
What are the pros and cons for your choice?

Thank you.

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45 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

When we used to bother, we simply pruned our mature white pines and brought a few boughs inside for some decorations and lights. Then we used the boughs for mulch.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Coloma's avatar

No trees the last decade or so after divorcing and my daughter moving out. I do decorate with lights, and have several small, decorative trees. One is a Pier One red beaded, pointy topped, table top tree. Also red light up plum blossoms I strung on a carved, black, shinto screen in my living room and various ornaments I hang from lamps and other spots.

I just strung some really cool blue LED lights IN the house, I love the blue lights.
One year I decorated a large potted palm tree with yellow glass duckling ornaments and purple glass balls. I’m a creative, out of the box, type and don’t cling to traditions once their useful life has worn out. I’m all about keeping it simple but elegant these days.

JLeslie's avatar

When I got engaged to my husband I thought I would finally get a Christmas tree. Then he announced he was going to convert to Judaism, nothing we had ever discussed before really.

If I did put up a tree it would be artificial with lots and lots of white lights. There would be some sort of color theme most likely. It would depend on my mood or my decor in my house what color it would be. Never blue, blue for me is Chanukah. When I see blue lights I assume the people are Jewish. That is unless I was doing some sort of Chanukah decorations.

canidmajor's avatar

Were my details insufficient?

I am specifically interested in what kind of tree, natural or artificial and why you chose one or the other.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor What do you mean? Are you talking to me? I’m telling you about the tree in my minds eye. Maybe one day I’ll have a Christian in my house and will have the excuse to actually put the tree up.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Small artificial tree ,quick and easy, we quit the gift giving a few years back and opt for a shopping trip after the madhouse rush is over and some great sales are on.
If it were up to me I would do nothing, but Mrs Squeeky likes to do a bit of Christmas decorating.
As for the little fake tree, pro quick and don’t have to kill a live tree. pro easy to take down, no having to take it somewhere for disposal.
con,no fresh tree scent but you can still get that with an airfreshener.

canidmajor's avatar

I’m talking to the first four responders. I wanted to know why one made the choice of artificial or natural.

Thank you, @SQUEEKY2.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I usually get a small fir. I find artificial trees tacky, and they get dusty – how does one even clean that? And, obviously, a fir smells good – more so to me than either pine or spruce (which I always think is an odd choice).

muppetish's avatar

My parents always used artificial trees. It’s more cost-effective since we don’t need to buy a new one every year. They replaced the tree they had since they first got married a couple years ago since it was: (1) too big, (2) not collapsible so it took up more space, (3) covered in cobwebs by the end of its run. The new one folds up easily and fits in our garage better.

Now that I live on my own in an apartment, I need something cost-effective too. So I’ll probably buy a small, artificial tree from a thrift shop and use that for the next few years. I won’t even be here on Christmas since I’ll be flying home, so it makes even less sense for me to buy a real tree and do it up proper.

Maybe I’ll light a fir candle :P

ucme's avatar
I tackled this question already just last week, about half way through that thread.

JLeslie's avatar

Mine would be artificial because I like being able to just pull it out of my closet. If I had the space I would leave it all put together with the decorations on it and everything and just slide it in the closet. I also care about the impact on the environment cutting down all those trees. Maybe there is some positive about cutting them down I don’t know. Artificial would be cheaper in the long run too. Plus I can’t imagine my husband putting a tree on or in any if our cars. We have a trailer now we could haul it on, but it would be a hassle. I guess it would fit in the back if our truck, so it would work while we have a truck.

I have a friend who has a tree up all year and they decorate for each holiday. Easter, July 4, Xmas, and others.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I haven’t made my Christmas tree choices according to environmental impact, partly because there seem to be studies supporting both sides… and also because there are so many other choices we make with far greater impact. Partly, I choose to buy a real tree because it supports local industry, rather than buying a mass-produced thing that probably came from far away. But if I’m honest, it’s mainly about aesthetics.

When considering the impact of the tree purchase, think about the materials used, how they are processed, how much fuel was involved in moving materials and the final product to where you bought it, and what will happen to its components when you eventually toss it into a landfill.

From a recent article that cites a couple of studies talking about such impacts:

“In 2009 an independent study by Quebec-based Ellipsos found that fake trees are generally made of a synthetic resin called polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which can produce carcinogens during manufacturing and disposal.

An artificial tree with a life span of six years is three times worse for climate change, resource depletion and human health than a natural tree, the study found.

Natural trees, however, are four times worse for ecosystem quality, because real trees often require fertilizers and pesticides, according to the study.”

“Ultimately, the greenest option is to buy a tree from a local tree farm, according to research.”

gailcalled's avatar

My answer seemed clear; availablity of materials, since we prune the pine boughs anyway and then recyclability, since we would mulch them anyway. The large piles of old pine boughs also provide homes for many small woodland creatures.

I have never and would never use an artificial tree.

canidmajor's avatar

@dappled_leaves: that’s exactly what I was wondering about people’s choices. There are pros and cons on both sides, compelling arguments for each, I was interested in those.
This subject can cause yelling and carrying on among friends, I wondered what strangers would say. Thank you. :-)

canidmajor's avatar

@gailcalled, your answer was very clear, just not for this Q. I didn’t know why you did that, now I do, but I still have no idea if you ever even put up a tree.

gailcalled's avatar

We considered this to be the equivalent of a tree. When my kids were young, thirty years ago, and we lived in Philly, we bought the traditional live tree and kept it up until the needles fell off.

ibstubro's avatar

Once I had a Christmas tree. It was real, and only about 3” tall so it could sit on the end table.

39 years, and that notion is still out of my system.


dappled_leaves's avatar

@canidmajor You’re welcome.

I can’t help but point out, though, that you didn’t say in your question that you were asking specifically about evergreen trees or even indoor trees. @Coloma‘s potted palm and @gailcalled‘s white pines are their holiday trees. I thought their responses answered the question very well.

canidmajor's avatar

Yes, well obviously my bad. Which is why I then asked if my details were insufficient, and tried to clarify. And somehow, I had the idea that this crew could infer from context, especially that the point was about natural vs artificial and the pros and cons of that.

Coloma's avatar

To be 100% specific I choose artificial decor over real as I see no purpose in killing a tree to decorate my home with anymore as well as ease and simplicity

Pros: No watering, no shedding needles, no need to chop up and compost.
Cons: None, minus the alpine scent that only lasts a few days anyway til the tree dries out.
I used to have a Xmas tree farm on my old property 22 years ago, I drove by recently and was thrilled to see that the owners had let most of the trees grow. They were all 20 feet tall now and made a stunning display on the hill

@canidmajor Allowing people the freedom to express themselves in their own way is, well..freeing. I think I was clear when I said after divorcing and my only child moving out that I no longer felt the need to put up a traditional Xmas tree.

gorillapaws's avatar

Pretty cheap artificial tree here. Real trees are messy, potentially dangerous, and expensive to buy every year. If I had children, then it would be worth the hassle to have “the real thing,” but no kids yet=fake tree. Artificial trees are kind of tacky, but they’re still festive.

Part of me feels bad about cutting down all of those trees too. I know you can get a live tree, but that’s a really big pain. Maybe when I get kids, I’ll see how that works out.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I did a tree, I always bought a real one. I like the smell.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@gorillapaws “Part of me feels bad about cutting down all of those trees too.”

This is one criticism I’ve never understood… a Christmas tree lot is absorbing lots of carbon while the trees are growing – it’s a nice, happy, productive place. When the trees are cut, they’re replanted to grow Christmas trees for another year.

If the owners of that lot were not growing Christmas trees on their land, I’m willing to bet that it wouldn’t be natural forest. It would simply be another kind of crop.

canidmajor's avatar

@Coloma: the question is in General, indicating that I didn’t want some freeform decorating discussion, but a specific type of comparison.

longgone's avatar

Mine is artificial.

– no needles to clean up
– easier to decorate (less prickly)
– money saved – it was as expensive as two of the local trees and will definitely last longer
– better for the environment (as far as I know)

@dappled_leaves I always thought tree farms were harming the environment because evergreen trees actually absorb very little carbon?

– no tree scent (I don’t mind that)
– needs storage during the year

I’d like to add that my tree doesn’t get notably dusty at all, and I have never heard this complaint from anyone else, either. I’m sure there is dust after the tree was up for a few weeks – but I put mine up last week, and it was perfectly clean. I guess the re-packaging gets rid of any dust.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
prairierose's avatar

We have an artificial tree because it can be used from year to year. We store it in garbage bags, it is just small, 3 or 4 feet tall. The live cut trees are too messy and I feel bad that they were once living and now aren’t. The live trees that have root balls attached are better, I think, because you can plant them outdoors when Christmas is over.

syz's avatar

Cut Frasier fir, for the smell. I’d buy a live tree and plant it, but there aren’t any good choices that would survive in my area. After it’s use, we donate it to a local big cat preserve that gives them to the cats for enrichment (they enjoy the smell, too).

(Of course, if it were up to me, I’d skip Christmas altogether – I’m Grinchy that way. But it’s important to my partner.)

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

We have an artificial tree. Real Christmas trees in Australia don’t have the conical shape of the Christmas trees I grew up with. I was very homesick at the time and I wanted things to feel like the Christmas I was used to, so we bought a fake tree. I’ve replaced that one since.

If I could buy a different species of Christmas tree, I would. I prefer real trees. I have thought of buying a small, slow growing tree in a pot that I can bring inside while it’s still of a manageable size, but I’ve not really investigated that yet. I think most species available would grow too big, too fast and then I’d have to plant it in the garden (which I don’t really want to do).

zenvelo's avatar

We just picked up a Noble Fir; we get them every year.

We like them because the ornaments can hang off them well, yet the tree is full. I like a real tree because they make the house smell nice and we put them out to be chipped and used as mulch in January.

canidmajor's avatar

I tend to have an artificial tree for a number of reasons.
It has lasted for years and years, and comes apart to be stored in a box, so no dust or cobwebs.
Never needs water, can be up and pretty for a longer time, no fire danger.
Is not appealing to the animals.

I really miss the smell.
I’m not supporting the small local tree farm.
It’s made from soul-sucking synthetics.

The fire danger is the main reason I don’t have a real tree, except on rare occasions, as I sometimes travel during the holidays. And my fake one still looks good after 12 years.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@canidmajor Out of curiosity, why do you consider a tree to be a fire danger? If you use LED lights, there’s no risk from the lights. I’m sure you have a house full of paper, wood, and all kinds of other flammables.

canidmajor's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit : I love both those trees! :-)

canidmajor's avatar

@dappled_leaves, maybe it’s not totally rational, but every year I see those news shots of stunning conflagrations from dry trees catching fire. I live in a very old house with old wiring, and paper and other flammables are not near any outlets, whereas a needle or two drifting into an outlet could cause a magnificent pyro event.
And yes, I know how unlikely that is, but I do think of it.

And to add another pro to the fake trees: the needles don’t fall off. When I vacuum up real tree needles they poke holes in the bag and dust flies out the back.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@canidmajor I hear you. Personally, I think the sorts of people who set fire to their Christmas trees might be in the same category as those who think it’s a great idea to heat their homes with candles overnight, or give themselves carbon monoxide poisoning by running outdoor generators indoors. Some people are just impervious to basic safety rules.

Also – most websites that talk about fire safety and Christmas trees make a point of saying that artificial trees are also flammable. Not that I think you’re at risk, but there does seem to be a perception that they’re somehow immune to fire.

canidmajor's avatar

Well, I guess it’s the “all things being equal” thing. There are other reasons that I like the fake trees, and sometimes I still get a real one.
After all is said and done, I have the tree each holiday that suits my needs for that year. I like having the options.
But, having a fairly new (to me) old dog in the house, this year I’m going with the “least interesting to animals” choice. ;-)

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I think I’d like to buy a Wollemi pine tree or two, dressing them and putting them outside the front door as additional Christmas trees. I like the history behind this tree.

filmfann's avatar

New house, so a new tree. 9 foot pre-lit artificial. Looks like a Nobel Fir.

Mare_Nubium's avatar

We have a pre-lit artificial tree. Sadly, I am allergic to the real ones. We have not put ours up yet, but will probably do so next weekend.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit The Wollemi pine is so cool! I saw one when I was in Australia in 2000, not that long after it was discovered. Like all Australian “pines”, it’s not really a pine at all, of course.

flutherother's avatar

We have a 7 foot artificial tree. It comes with its own stand, it doesn’t shed needles it is balanced and symmetrical and we can use it year after year.

smjunaidiqbal's avatar

I am not sure about holiday’s tree, but my favourite tree is date tree.

jonsblond's avatar

My tree this year is an 8 ft scotch pine that we bought at the small local nursery in town. The father of the owner of the nursery is our snow plow angel. He volunteers his time during snow storms to plow rural driveways. He’s saved us numerous times. We pay it forward by purchasing seasonal items from his daughter’s business.

I love nature and the outdoors and I look forward to this time of year when I can bring one of my favorite scents indoors. I can’t get the comforting feelings and natural scent that I long for during the holidays from a fake tree. I would have to be desperate to ever use a fake tree.

When we are done with our tree we take it outside and leave it near our wood pile over the winter. It provides winter shelter for critters. We chop the tree and use the wood for our first late spring bonfire.

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