Comparing Real and Artificial Trees | The Great Christmas Debate

Decorating a Christmas tree is the highlight of the season for many people.  Seeing it stand filled with lights, ornaments, and garland instantly adds holiday cheer to any home. Whether you choose a real or an artificial tree, I hope this post inspires you to choose the best tree for you that you'll enjoy seeing all month long.



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If there is any topic that gets people taking sides during the holidays, it is about their preference concerning Christmas trees.  Some have their feet firmly planted on the side that real trees are the only way to go, while the others will choose only artificial. Rarely do I find someone who wavers back and forth from year to year.


I've grown up in a 100% faux tree household, although I do believe there is a sort of holiday magic that seems enticing about taking a trip to a Christmas tree farm, choosing the "right" one, and bringing it home to care for it over the next month or so.  I think there are pros and cons on both sides of this debate.





This year I decided to do a little experiment and find out which really is the better choice for me - real or faux.


I enlisted the help of my cousin Lynn (who resides on the real tree side of the debate) to help me in choosing a tree since I've never done it before.  And for comparison purposes, I choose an artificial tree from Balsam Hill, a company that prides themselves in creating the most realistic version of different species of Christmas trees.   (I'm never bothered by anything faux from flowers to "burning" candles as long as the fake looks as real as possible!)


For the sake of consistency, I got a 7 1/2 foot sized Fraser fir variety in both. I'm also setting them up in the exact same location so that you can easily judge the shape, size, and color.





I'm really grateful for the opportunity to work with Balsam Hill again this Christmas. You may remember I participated in their Holiday Housewalk a couple years ago and really love their products.  And while I did receive a free tree for this post, all of the opinions and comparisons expressed here are completely my own.




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Now for a side-by-side look at the two types of trees.....




A COMPARISON OF REAL CHRISTMAS TREES AND BALSAM HILL ARTIFICIAL TREES





OVERALL SHAPE


While both versions are very full, you can see that the Fraser Fir from Balsam Hill completely fills in the corner. The real tree is more narrow from top to bottom and isn't as full at the top.

Many times a real tree will have dead areas close to the trunk or especially at the base of the tree. But by choosing an artificial tree you are getting fullness from branch tip to trunk. It is more consistent and provides plenty of space for hanging your beautiful ornaments.

A real Fraser fir has branches that bend upward and you can arrange the branches of the artificial tree to do the same.



     

FEEL OF THE NEEDLES


The needles of a real fir tree are short and soft, rather than prickly.

And because Balsam Hill uses molds made from actual trees, their needles feel (and look) very similar in texture. (They call it True Needle Technology)  The trees even have hand-painted stems with varied colors to mimic the look of the real version. In the case of the Fraser Fir, the branches are a vibrant green with silvery undersides.



     


COLOR


Looking up to the top of the tree you can see how similar the colors of the two different trees really are.

Also, it really isn't noticeable in the image below due to the angle it was taken at, but the branches of the artificial tree are wrapped to mimic the look of a brown branch with the green needles.



     




A few other things to consider:


  • Obviously a real tree is going to have a fresh scent that you aren't going to get with any artificial tree (although many companies, including Balsam Hill, manufacture oils and scents that will make you think you've got the real thing.)

  • The cost of an artificial tree will always be more than a real tree.  But when you weigh the rising costs of real tree purchased each year verses a quality faux version that will last many years, the artificial tree actually will cost less in the long run.

  • If you like to begin decorating early, having an artificial tree is convenient both because you can take it out of the box whenever you're ready to immediately begin decorating and because you don't have to worry about having to keep the tree alive for a longer period of time in a warm house.





  • A faux tree does require fluffing each year to make it look it's best and that first fluffing out of the box will take awhile to do right.  It's actually a task I enjoy when decorating for the holidays, though, and Balsam Hill makes it easier by including special gloves that you can wear to protect your hands from shaping the branches.

  • The part of tree decorating that always seems to take the longest is stringing the lights on the tree.  But you can get artificial trees that are already loaded with lights, saving you time so that you can get right to making the tree pretty.  And this Balsam Hill version is made with a connection between each section of the tree that allows it to light automatically without even having to plug in individual cords.






After the opportunity to experience both types of trees, I realize that enjoy the benefit of having the look of a real tree while not having to spend my precious time during the holidays on the care and cleanup those trees require.


And as the perfectionist that I can sometimes be, I really do appreciate knowing that I can move branches here and there for better ornament placement!  Then at the end of the season, in a few moments, I can take the three sections of the tree apart and store them with the stand until I'm ready again next year.


And for those of you concerned about a fresh tree being cut down for nothing, have no fear.  My cousin was happy to accept the real tree to enjoy in her own home for the holidays!  No trees were harmed in the making of this post.







SOURCE LINKS

Fraser Fir Christmas Tree
Brilliant Bordeaux Christmas Tree Ornament Set
Snowflake Ornament Set
Snowflake Tree Topper
Juliette Tree Skirt
Silver and Red Mercury Glass Shatterproof Ornaments
Resin Rocking Horse (Similar Version)



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