Ahh, Christmas trees. One of those weird expenses that really don't contribute anything to the household except for a pretty decoration and wonderful smell for a month. For me, real Christmas trees bring back fond memories of my childhood--going to the tree lot with my whole family to pick out that perfect tree, unpacking my mothers crazy collection of vintage ornaments year after year, and, of course, the wonderful smell that filled the living room. I love real Christmas trees.
From a green perspective, I've heard the tree argument go both ways. Some people are intensely against cutting down live trees just to serve as a decoration for one month. I've also heard the argument that the trees are grown on land that isn't suitable for farming, so tree farms essentially save unusable land from being developed. Not to mention the effect that growing trees have on global warming (or cooling as I've been hearing about in recent news casts) and how beneficial recycling a live tree is.
From a frugal perspective, a real tree is just not that practical considering how expensive they are these days.
So what did we do?
We got....both. Ok, this wasn't totally on purpose. We picked up our tree the first weekend of December for $20, $30 including the stand with the water bowl. Not bad as fas a tree prices go, but then again, our tree is only 3ft tall.
This past weekend, we were driving downtown to my comapny Christmas party when I saw a really pretty setup in an apartment window. It was a pretty, white Christmas tree with white lights flanked by a couple large nutcrackers. I was a little shocked at how pretty I thought the fake tree looked and in that moment, I really wanted that white tree, so I said, "Maybe we should buy a fake tree."
A: Yes, we should
Me: Wow, you didn't even hesitate
A: Well, we'd be spending $60-100 now for the tree, but we could use the same tree for 10yrs or so. And I wont have to stand in the tree lot every year spinning trees for you to decide which one is the most symmetrical.
Me: Oh, ok.
A: We could always just spray it with something to get the smell you like.
Me:...why can't we just buy a small wreath or use someone else's clippings for a garland?
A: Or that.
And so it was decided that at the end of the season, we would buy a fake tree on sale.
Except if you've read more than one of my posts, you'll know that whenever I get an idea in my head, I research the heck out of it. I found that there are companies who specialize specifically in artificial Christmas trees and make wonderfully real looking trees for thousands of dollar a piece. There are also cheap, discount trees for $20-100 that look sparse and uber fake even to the untrained eye. Most of all, the research showed me the error in our thinking--artificial trees are cheapest right before Christmas, when families would get the least use out of it. These companies do nothing else (maybe not nothing, but you know what I mean) but make Christmas trees, so they really have no reason to discount after Christmas. After all, if someone bought a tree after Christmas, they would have it for the entire month of December next year.
And so, after a bit more comparison of # of branches and # of lights vs price, we picked up the best deal we could find for what we wanted.
I think we done good. :-)