Budgeting

Best Time To Buy A Christmas Tree

Are you real, or are you fake? No, I’m not talking about your personality. We’re sharing about Christmas trees here. Some people prefer the scent of fresh pine or balsam fir and don’t mind the little bit of work to keep a real tree. Others prefer a no-maintenance artificial tree, as many like to refer to it, a fake Christmas tree. Which person are you? Your answer will determine the best time to buy a Christmas tree. 

According to the American Christmas Tree Association (yes, that’s a real thing), eighty-two percent of Americans who displayed a Christmas tree last year went the artificial route. Practicality prevailed over the romance and nostalgia of the real thing. That’s the highest number since the artificial Christmas tree was first manufactured in the 1930s. 

Real Christmas trees have been around since the 16th Century. They were first seen in the United States in the 1830s when German settlers in Pennsylvania brought the custom with them. Many tales are told of families searching the forest for that perfect evergreen. Next, you’ll likely explore a nursery or tree farm. Read below for tips on how best to do that.  

Christmas Tree scene

Best Time to Buy an Artificial Christmas Tree

This may come as no surprise. The best time to buy an artificial Christmas tree is right after Christmas. Sure, they’re on sale during Black Friday and throughout the holiday season, but in January, you’ll see Christmas tree deals of up to 70% off. There’s no demand for them during the return season that follows hectic holiday shopping. If you can wait, you’ll get the best price for artificial trees.

Department stores (those that still exist) have a diverse selection of artificial Christmas trees on sale during the holidays. Late spring and early summer are great times to buy online if you’re outside the holiday shopping window. Most of Amazon’s selection is on sale right now, with savings ranging from thirty to fifty percent off. You can search there for the following. 

  • Christmas Tree Height
  • Christmas Tree Width
  • Artificial Tree Family (Fir, Pine, or Spruce)
  • Tree Color
  • Lighting Colors

Unless you’re going to a holiday specialty store like Christmas Tree Shops, you generally won’t find artificial Christmas trees or Christmas lights on display during the off-season. Fortunately, online retailers sell them year-round, so you can start shopping whenever you want.

However, if you go this route, visit only reputable websites and make sure you read the reviews to ensure you get only the best deals and save money. Consumers who skip that last part often end up with inferior products. Note that you can buy a pre-lit Christmas tree if you don’t want to decorate it yourself. You might get a good deal during Black Friday.

Christmas Tree

Best Time to Buy a Real Christmas Tree

Buying a live Christmas tree is a different process. If adequately watered, the average live tree lasts four to five weeks, so obviously, you can’t pick one up during the summer and save it for Christmas day. So Thanksgiving weekend, roughly five weeks before Santa Claus comes down the chimney, is the unofficial beginning of the Christmas tree shopping season. 

There are several challenges with buying a real tree early. If you bring one home too early in the season, it may be a dry husk with falling needles by Christmas Eve, especially if exposed to direct sunlight. If you wait too long, you might get stuck with the Charlie Brown Christmas tree that no one else wants. Timing is critical with real trees.

The clock is ticking from the moment you drive off the lot. Here’s what you’re looking at:

  • Concolor Fir: These are hard to find, but you’ll have no issue getting through the holidays if you can score one. The majestic blueish-green Concolor Fir smells like fresh oranges when you first bring it home and can stay vibrant for several months, making it the perfect tree. So, consider it when shopping for a Christmas tree this year.
  • Frasier Fir: More familiar than the Concolor Fir, the forest green Fraser Fir has a shorter shelf life. You can expect it to last about five weeks if adequately watered. 
  • Douglas Fir: If you’re looking for a brighter green and a softer, fluffier texture than the Frasier Fir, the Douglas Fir is comparable in price but usually maxes out at four weeks. The Douglas Fir is the most popular and best-selling Christmas tree in the United States, as agreed by the National Christmas Tree Association.
  • Scotch Pine: The Scotch Pine has blue-green needles and reddish-orange bark, making it one of the more colorful selections. Expect it to last roughly three weeks.
  • Spruce: The Spruce has a lower price tag and short life span. They’re different, but most Christmas tree sellers don’t carry them because they only last two weeks. 

An important point to note here is that the “life span” or “shelf life” of a real Christmas tree begins when the tree is cut, not when it gets to your house. So make sure you ask that question when you purchase your tree. If it’s been sitting on the lot for a while, you’ll be disappointed in a few weeks. To prolong its life span in the long run, make sure you immediately put your tree in water and keep it away from heating vents or in a site with direct sunlight. 

Another item to consider is price. Christmas tree sellers know they have to make their money quickly, so prices are high early on. They start to come down when sellers want to clear out their inventory. Wait until December 20th to get a great price. You’ll likely pay half of what you would have a few weeks earlier. Your tree’s life span will be shorter, but you’ll make it through Christmas. 

According to the American Christmas Tree Association, Christmas trees are in high demand more than ever since the pandemic. Also, extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest and supply chain issues in the U.S. have also affected Christmas tree sales.

Note that whether you are buying an artificial or live tree, you need a tree stand to keep it in place. Also, you’ll need decorating items like artificial snow, white lights, bells, etc. It is best to buy decorations before the holidays to avoid shipping delays caused by increased demand and get the best deal.

Finally, the average price for artificial and live Christmas trees varies yearly. It depends on several factors like the website or retailer you’re buying from and whether you buy early (you won’t get the best deal if you buy the week before Christmas).

green christmas tree in sofa

Christmas Trees for Non-Profit Fundraising

If you’re going to buy a real Christmas tree, find a local lot where the proceeds go to a non-profit. Churches, veterans groups, and fraternal organizations run Christmas tree sales to raise much-needed funds. You may have to wait until the weekend because the workforce is scarce for some of these groups, but you’ll get the best price when you shop with these groups, and you’ll be helping others.

If you’re involved in a non-profit and looking for a great fundraising idea, check out the numbers on buying wholesale Christmas trees. It would help if you planned a year, but mark-ups are typically around one hundred percent, so money should be made. You’ll need a parking lot or other open space to sell from and participation from members of your group. Tree lots are fun, well worth the effort you put into it, and a great way to spread Christmas cheer.

White xmas tree

Final Thoughts: Best Time to Buy a Christmas Tree

Whether you’re looking for an artificial or natural Christmas tree, there are good times to buy and save. Use this guide to learn the best time to buy a Christmas tree so you can save some extra cash for presents.

Are you looking to make some other home purchases outside of Holiday expenses? If so, you may also enjoy our articles on the best time to buy furniture and the best time to buy appliances.

Kevin Flynn

Kevin D. Flynn is a former financial professional with over ten years of experience in the financial industry. He has consulted for financial advisors, online sales reps, and fintech startups. Kevin holds a degree in accounting and finance and continues to expand his knowledge by attending classes and seminars. He commits several hours a day to market research so he can stay on top of the latest news and trends in the financial industry. Kevin's experience in the industry has fueled his successful writing career, which he now focuses on full-time. He currently resides in Leominster, Massachusetts with his wife Evelyn, two cats, and nine wonderful grandchildren.

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