An artificial Christmas tree would have never happened in my hypothetical German household. It’s just not in my nature. In my family we have always had a real pine tree with real candles – cats and toddlers running around and never a problem. This being said, sometimes you have to make compromises as a wife. Lincoln comes from the opposite side of the Christmas tree spectrum. He was raised with an artificial tree with electric light strings. Can’t blame him, people prefer what they know.

So after long discussions I gave in to purchasing an artificial tree. The argument of long-term payback got me. But that’s it. As a compromise it was completely up to me to pick our tree for the next few years and off I went on a quest for the most real looking artificial tree. I had been stalking Craigslist posts for weeks, passed on one sad looking plastic tree that I found and finally had to bite the bullet and get a new one at Target for more than I wanted to spend. But my heart just wouldn’t have survived anything less real looking than this Virginia Pine with cashmere tips that is conveniently pre-lit with lots of lights:

At least it was on sale for 50% of the regular price, but those $100 better pay back over the next ten years. Considering that we would pay about $30 for a real tree each year, it has to last at least 4 years. More if it really wants to be a good investment.

When I started setting it up I almost wanted to send it right back. Not that there was anything wrong with this particular tree, but dealing with artificial trees was just not what I expected it to be. It was supposed to be convenient. Not take 3 hours to pick all the branches apart to create a nice shape. Not needle all over the place like a real tree. Stand up straight unlike a real tree, …

You can tell I am still not a believer. But, it is up now. And looks actually pretty good. We put up my ornament collection that I gathered / made for less than $25 and positioned it in front of one of the front windows. A timer turns it on every evening at 5 and off at midnight, so that we don’t have to worry about it and can enjoy it automatically.

Here is a sample of each ornament up close:

  1. About 15 fresh pine cones found behind our house. I glues a white bow on top of each to hang them
  2. Ten snowy pine cones. Thrifted at 2nd Ave for $1.90.
  3. Eight wooden snowflakes. Found at 2nd Ave for $1.90. And they came with the free paper snowflakes for the kitchen window.
  4. Six felt snowflakes. Found at Joann Fabric for $0.50 each.
  5. A bunch of epsom-salted silver balls. Made after this tutorial from ornament number 7.
  6. Some epsom-salted white balls, made from ornament number 8.
  7. Silver glass balls. Found at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet for $1.99 for 20 pieces.
  8. White glass balls. Found at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet for $1.99 for 20 pieces.
  9. Twine wrapped around and glued on some mismatched golden balls that I had found at Goodwill for $1.50.
  10. Yarn wrapped around some of the golden balls. I didn’t get further than this prototype, then the tree was full and I ran out of glue power.
For the top I got this frosty twig snowflake form Target. My original intention was to replicate it from twigs and epsom salt, but you know, I get lazy sometimes.
By the way, Milo has been really good with the tree so far. When he first approached it I told him not to touch it and ever since he doesn’t go near it. Just points at it five-hundred times a day saying “no, no”. I swear he thinks the word for Christmas tree is “no”.
So now that I officially experienced both worlds, I have to say I am still an emotional fan of real trees, but a pragmatic owner of an artificial one. Here is why:
Real tree Pros:
  • smells good
  • looks a 100% real > has the calming effect of mother nature
  • less hassle setting up
  • fun choosing / cutting the tree
  • cheaper at first
Artifical tree Pros:
  • Less waste of natural resources*
  • cheaper in the long term
  • no mess with sap or needles (except for a few fake ones when setting up)
  • holds up for more than 4 weeks > can be enjoyed longer
* As for the ecological argument I know that it is ambiguous because all Christmas trees are grown specially for this purpose anyway and you could buy the ones with roots and plant them afterwards. Manufacturing the artificial ones on the other hand uses natural resources as well. But I still believe that if you keep reusing the artificial one long enough the production cost is less than the every year freshly cut cost. At least I am telling myself that as the best argument next to the price factor.
Which one do you prefer?