Christmas tree selection is a personal preference, and the artificial-versus-live tree debate is not one to be settled any time soon.

If you're trying to decide which kind of tree should light up your home this year, here are some pros and cons you should know first.

Live Trees


  • Have a fresh scent.
  • Many unique selections are offered.
  • Benefit the environment. Real trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases, and emit fresh oxygen.
  • Are renewable.
  • Are grown on farms just like any other crop. To ensure a constant supply, Christmas tree growers plant one to three new seedlings for every tree they harvest.
  • Christmas tree farms help sustain the rural economy and provide jobs.


  • Require constant maintenance.
  • Can become a fire risk if not correctly maintained.
  • Shed needles.
  • Can only be left up for a limited time.
  • Transporting and disposing after use can be difficult.

(Source: The National Christmas Tree Association)

Artificial Trees


  • Remove the hassle of having to choose a tree from the lot.
  • Do not require watering or other maintenance and there are no needles to drop off.
  • Can be enjoyed for a longer period of time.
  • Are rot free, safe and fire retardant.
  • Make for easier decorating with no prickling needles.
  • Are reusable, cost effective and can last for 10 to 20 years, if properly cared for.
  • Are real looking, and easy to assemble and store.


  • Can look phony and synthetic.
  • Are made from a nonrenewable resource — petroleum.
  • Require storage space in the home.
  • Insects may get into the carton while it is stored, if not packed properly.
  • For safety reasons, lights should be replaced every four to five years.

(Sources: Dave Allergro, Taylor Township, Pa., fire chief, Dan Zippie, manager of Kraynak’s in Hermitage, Pa., and The National Christmas Tree Association)

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