How lovely are those branches...unless you're bah humbugging over the price. Forking over a substantial amount of cash for a dying, shedding tree can kill Christmas spirit. But with some smart shopping tips you can enjoy those leafy fronds and still save money for the holiday ham.
Before getting started, you need to know some basics about the most popular trees and how to best select them. The National Christmas Tree Association has compiled the following list based on availability and annual sales:
1. Frasier Fir
This tree smells great and holds on to needles longer than the average fir. It has a nice, dark green color and travels well.
2. Douglas Fir
While it isn't exactly a true fir tree, the Douglas is a hugely popular option for folks with a reasonable budget. These trees are very dense and have much smaller needles than the average Christmas tree.
3. Balsam Fir
This pyramid-shaped tree has huge appeal with its flat and short branches that hold ornaments well. It's very fragrant too.
4. Colorado Blue Spruce
Often times this tree is sold with roots to be planted post-holiday season and is the official White House Lawn Christmas tree. The Colorado Spruce boasts bluish needles that rarely drop, unlike many of the fir varieties.
5. Noble Fir
These stately trees are known for being very symmetrical and their strong branches make perfect ornament supports. Branches are more widely spaced with allows for attractive display. Needles are more flat than most and almost sticky with a plastic feel.
The Living Tree Purchase
Your two most prominent options for buying the holiday tree are at a local lot or a tree farm. While going to a lot is much more expedient, getting the family together for a tree farm road trip is becoming a popular tradition. If you buy a tree from a lot keep in mind that it has been chopped for a few days. Look for trees that have few brown needles and don't drop a ton when you gently shake it. Although many trees are colored prior to lot arrival, it doesn't shorten the life span of it--just be aware that it's a common practice. Selecting your own tree from the farm is the only way to insure an absolutely fresh specimen.
I can't advocate buying a fake tree. It's just not part of my DNA. Although I grunt and grumble over the price of live trees, it's still mandatory that we avoid plastic and spray on tree "scent". But I understand the appeal of artificial--no dropping needles, cheaper long-term costs, and no water spills make it an easy sell. If you choose the assembly tree, be smart about your purchase. You won't get another chance to select a different shape or type for many years.