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. Which person are you? The best time to buy a Christmas tree will be determined by your answer.
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. Apparently, 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 1930’s.
Real Christmas trees have been around since the 16th Century. They were first seen in the United States in the 1830’s when German settlers in Pennsylvania brought the custom with them. Many tales are told of families searching the forest for that perfect evergreen. You’ll likely explore a nursery or tree farm. Read below for tips on how best to do that.
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 deals of up to 70% off. There’s simply no demand for them during the return season that follows hectic holiday shopping. If you can wait, you’ll get the best price.
Department stores (those that still exist) have a diverse selection of artificial Christmas trees on sale during the holidays. If you’re outside the holiday shopping window, late spring and early summer are great times to buy online. 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 on display during the off-season. Fortunately, online retailers sell them year-round. If you go this route, visit only reputable websites and make sure you read the reviews. Consumers who skip that last part often end up with inferior products.
Best Time To Buy A Real Christmas Tree
Buying a real Christmas tree is a different process. The average tree lasts four to five weeks if properly watered, so obviously you can’t pick one up during the summer and save it for the holidays. Thanksgiving weekend, roughly five weeks before Santa Claus comes down the chimney, is the unofficial beginning of Christmas tree shopping season.
There are a several challenges with a real Christmas tree. If you bring one home too early in the season, it may be a dry husk with falling needles by Christmas Eve. If you wait too long, you might get stuck with the Charlie Brown Christmas tree that no one else wants. Timing is critical. 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 if you can score one, you’ll have no issue getting through the holidays. The majestic blueish green Concolor Fir smells like fresh oranges when you first bring it home and can stay vibrant for several months.
- Fraser Fir: More common than the Concolor Fir, the forest green Fraser Fir has a shorter shelf life. You can expect it to last about five weeks if properly watered.
- Douglas Fir: If you’re looking for a brighter green and a softer, fluffier texture than the Fraser 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.
- 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. Make sure you ask that question when you buy your tree. If it’s been sitting on the lot for a while, you’ll be disappointed in a few weeks. To prolong life span, make sure you put your tree in water immediately and keep it away from heating vents.
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 and you’ll pay half what you would have a few weeks earlier. Your tree’s life span will be shorter, but you’ll make it through Christmas.
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 every year to raise much-needed funds. You may have to wait until the weekend, because manpower is scarce for some of these groups, but you’ll get a good price 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. You need to plan a year in advance, but mark-ups are typically around one hundred percent, so there’s money to be made. You’ll need a parking lot or other open space to sell from and participation from members of your group. It’s fun, well worth the effort you put into it, and a great way to spread Christmas cheer.
Final Thoughts: Best Time To Buy A Christmas Tree
Whether you’re looking for an artificial or real 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.