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Choosing your Christmas tree

Benefits to buying a live tree this holiday season
Reasons people choose a real Christmas tree
Christmas trees grow 7-12 years before they are sold
Posted at 3:09 PM, Dec 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-13 17:01:53-05

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and that means it’s time to trim the tree and choose your holiday centerpiece.

According to research from the American Christmas Tree Association and Nielsen, Americans will buy 21.6 million real and 12.9 million artificial Christmas trees this year. So how do you decide which tree is the right fit for your family?

“That’s fall off your horse simple.”
Tim O'Connor

While it can seem intimidating to care for a real Christmas tree, there are some major benefits to doing so. Tim O’Connor is the executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association. He says there are a lot of reasons to buy a live tree. Those include benefits for the environment, local farmers, and your Christmas spirit. “The experience of a family finding the right tree. It's the thing that builds family memories,” says O'Connor.

For families that choose an artificial tree, ACTA and Nielsen survey results cite easy set-up, consistent appearance, and low maintenance as parts of the appeal. But O’Connor says a real tree is worth any extra money and effort, because of how much time went into its growth.

“It starts with a pine cone,” says O’Connor. “And inside the pine cone is a little seed.” It then takes seven to 12 years for most Christmas trees to grow, and a lot of works goes into that growing timeline. Still, for American farmers, O’Connor says the satisfaction isn’t just financial. “The tree ultimately is cut down to become the centerpiece of someone's family Christmas.”

Even with droughts, inflation, and other challenges, farmers across the country are dedicated to making sure there are enough trees to go around each year. O’Connor says they expect to offer plenty of options this holiday season, but you shouldn’t wait to select your tree.

“Find the tree that just speaks to you.”
Tim O'Connor

Once you’ve picked the perfect tree, O’Connor suggests you add a fresh cut to the bottom, then hurry home. The first two weeks are critical to making sure your tree stays hydrated and stays looking fresh. “Take care of it, enjoy it, and build family memories around it,” O’Connor says.

If your tree stays properly hydrated, it can last up to six weeks indoors.