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ARTIFICIAL 

VS. 

REAL CHRISTMAS TREES

The neighborhood Christmas tree lot and its newly cut pines may soon be a rare sight if a new national study is correct about the artificial competition's rising popularity. A decline of 36 percent was reported for real tree sales - according to the National Christmas Tree Association, sales dropped from 32 million to 23.4 million between 2000 and 2003.

Nine million artificial Christmas trees were sold in 2004 according to the Association, up from 7.3 million in 2001. On average, an artificial tree lasts about six years. A fake tree on the Internet runs anywhere from $100 to $1500, a real tree at Home Depot costs from $25 to $50. For many families, cutting down a Christmas tree is an annual tradition. A real tree also adds something to Christmas that a fake tree can't: a scent.

Putting up and decorating Christmas trees is a time-honored tradition, and many families are faced with choosing between artificial and real trees each year. Here are a few things to remember when choosing which type of tree would be best suited for your needs:

  •  Artificial trees remove the hassle of having to choose a tree from the lot.

  •  Another good thing about artificial trees is that they do not need to be watered and the needles will not drop off and make a mess in your house.

  •  The cash you save by buying an artificial tree can be spent on more gifts for your family or perhaps other types of decoration.

  •  Fake trees won't bother you if you are allergic to the smell of pine.

  •  Fake trees can't rot like real trees can.

  •  Artificial trees are easy to assemble and store away.

In 2005 El Pasoans said they had seen less lots compared to years past. A more handy, safer and cost effective version may have taken their place. The Home Depot in that community reported a rise in the sale of prelit artificial trees. They said the Friday after Thanksgiving they ran out of trees and had to order more. Experts also say fake trees are safer because many of them are fire retardant.

Artificial Christmas trees can be set up much earlier and left up longer. Buying artificial helps prevent the cutting down of a live tree. Artificial trees are safe and flame retardant. Coarse needles will never prick you; so artificial trees are easier to decorate. The needles on your artificial tree will never shed. Artificial trees have a fuller, classier look. They also last for years, which makes them more economical. 

Do you really need a real tree to decorate your living room? Is it right to cut down a living tree just because it looks and smells better? 

There are a variety of arguments for and against buying a live or an artificial Christmas tree. Indeed, there are good and bad things about each type of tree. Here are the pros and cons of each:


conifer trees in situ

Live Christmas Trees

Pros Cons
  • Fresh scent
  • Need Constant maintenance
  • Lots of unique selections to choose from
  • Can become a fire risk if not correctly maintained
  •  The traditional choice
  • Shed needles
  • Take in carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases and release fresh oxygen into the air.
  • Can only be left up for a limited time
  • Christmas tree farms help sustain the rural economy and provide jobs
  •  Less economical
  •  Another tree is planted for each one harvested to ensure a steady supply year after year
  • Transporting the tree and disposing of it after use can be difficult

Artificial Christmas Trees

fir tree

Pros Cons
  • More cost-effective
  • Can look phoney and synthetic
  • Flame retardant
  • Made from a non-renewable resource: petroleum
  • No maintenance necessary
  • There is no advantage to the home economy, as a lot of fake trees are made abroad
  • Can be left up for as long as you like
  • Time required to assemble the tree
  • No mess from needles
  • Requires storage space in the home
  • Huge assortment to select from
  • Insects may get into the carton while it is stored if not packed properly

The First Christmas Trees

Christmas trees haven't always been a Christmas tradition. It is generally agreed that the Germans started using the tree as part of the Christian Christmas celebration over 400 years ago. The Christmas tree was brought to America by the Hessian armed forces that were paid to do battle for the British during the Revolutionary War. One in five American families decorated trees during Christmas by 1900, and by 1930, the tree had become an almost universal part of the American Christmas. 

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, when you can order any type of artificial tree you want, in a huge variety of genus and species. Even better, you can get an artificial unlit Christmas tree, a flocked tree, a specialty tree, a commercial tree, and garlands and wreaths to match. 

pre-lit christmas tree Artificial trees in the past looked nothing like the real thing, but now they continue to look more and more like genuine Christmas trees. Most are made to look like different species of firs and pines.

The prelit artificial Christmas trees save time and money, both of which are at a premium during the holiday season. 

Seventy percent of Americans have an artificial Christmas tree, although many still argue that they look too fake or too plastic. The first artificial Christmas trees were tabletop models made from green-dyed goose feathers. The modern version of the artificial Christmas tree started to appear by the 1940s and 1950s. Choose a tree with a high branch tip count to find the most realistic looking tree possible.


An Emerging Custom

Live Christmas trees could be a disappearing tradition in the USA: just don't tell Santa. The industry blames shifting demographics, changes in supply and pricing, customer irritation with perceived messiness and competition from ever more realistic and over time cheaper,artificial trees. In 2004 the industry mounted an aggressive advertising drive to overturn the trend. 

People continue to fight with the real/fake tree problem, and it has only become harder recently as artificial trees have progressively improved. The new trees come in easy-to-assemble pieces complete with lights already in place, a far cry from older artificial trees that required a road map to determine the placement of the branches. Some decorate with small trees, even a foot tall, all over the house. And retro styles such as the aluminium tree with the spinning color wheel (popular in the 1950s and 1960s) are making a comeback. 


Garlands and Wreaths 

Complete the Look

Christmas wreath

Artificial garlands and wreaths are two of the most adaptable of holiday decorations. Garland has a lot of artistic and stunning uses, whether it's indoors or outdoors, draped around the Christmas tree or stair railings. Tinsel not your style? Try bead garlands. The more spectacular uses of Christmas garlands don't involve the Christmas tree. Swathe a classic pine bough garland along the hearth mantel for a traditional look. Add velvet ribbons for an extra splash of color. 

Wreaths have long been a staple of Christmas decorating. The custom of using wreaths as Christmas decorations dates to 16th century Germany, where Lutherans created the Advent wreath. While traditional Advent wreaths can still be found, they're less fashionable in today's more secular world. Evergreen wreaths rank among the more popular styles. Wreaths can be hung throughout the house, but most people hang theirs on the front door.


TIP

Instead of complaining about pine needles falling, I suggest they get swept up and used in the garden, they are supposed to have excellent fertilizing properties.

Daphne Lunda



 

 


 

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