By Jocelyn Kaplan
A Christmas tree is a common centerpiece to the American Christmas experience. Getting a Christmas tree is more nuanced than it may seem, as it involves several aspects. The buyer must contemplate when to purchase the tree, the price, and whether an artificial tree or a living tree suits their needs best.
Many Vermonters agree that the best time to obtain a tree is in the beginning of December. CVU senior Anna Arsovski agrees that anytime before December 1st is too early, “If you get your tree too early, it’ll be dead before Christmas.”
Country Living agrees with Anna, stating, “Typically, real Christmas trees last five to six weeks if they are looked after properly.” Many Vermonters follow Country Living’s advice and get their tree three weeks before Christmas.
CVU seniors Julia Hunt and Maggie Whitman both wait until after the Thanksgiving festivities to end before getting a tree. Julia Hunt discusses how her family wants the healthiest tree for Christmas: “Most of the Christmas magic comes from the tree, and one you get too early in the season will be droopy and sad.”
While many Vermont families get their tree the second December rolls around, getting a tree is a several hour process that does not easily fit into everyone’s busy schedules. Robert Kaplan, a Vermont attorney, gets his Christmas tree two days before Christmas every year. “It’s the first real time I have off to spend several hours picking and transporting a tree. In a perfect world, I would get it early and have it up all season, but it’s not feasible for my family.”
The economic factor that comes with buying a tree is a big consideration of when families get their tree. According to Time Magazine, the busiest day to get a tree is the first Saturday of December. The weekend after Black Friday is when Christmas tree prices skyrocket.
Prices can reach as high as $80 during the first weekend of December, and fall as low as $30 right before Christmas eve. Maggie Whitman’s tree purchased from a tree farm in Huntington was $60. Robert Kaplan’s tree was only $35 on the Wednesday before Christmas last year.
If getting a cheap tree is a priority, waiting until as close to Christmas as possible would be the best option. Another financially secure option are artificial trees.
Artificial trees eliminate the hassle of buying a tree every year and worrying about the tree dying, but they are an investment. According to Consumer Reports, the average artificial tree purchased in 2019 was $104, but due to pandemic related supply chain issues the new average price for an artificial tree is $131. While artificial trees are initially expensive, the overall cost is cheaper as they are only purchased once.
Owning an artificial tree is a less common option, but it is a very legitimate replacement to a traditional tree, along with several surprising benefits.
Lindsey Auriemma, a CVU senior, switched last year from a real tree to artificial. “I think my parents were sick of cleaning up the needles on the ground. Also we always know it’s going to fit in the house, which isn’t a guarantee with real Christmas trees. One year our tree scraped the ceiling and there was serious damage.”
Daynara Galvez, a CVU senior, has always had an artificial tree. “My mom thinks they’re prettier and also more manageable. It’s expensive initially but the investment pays off every year.”
While an artificial tree is manageable and prevents the mess a Christmas tree brings, the buying of article trees impacts small tree farm businesses. A Christmas tree farmer interviewed by the Huffington Post says, “Farmers plant millions of Christmas trees every single year, and without the business to sell them, they could lose thousands of dollars spent on the tree care.” An artificial tree may be cheaper in the long run, but it hurts the businesses around the community.
Overall, Vermont citizens appear to get their trees early in December and while the tree is in good condition for Christmas, they have to deal with the hefty price tag. The ideal time to get a tree based on cost would be Christmas Eve, but the cheapest long-term option would be investing in an artificial tree. Getting an artificial tree does impact small businesses, so if able to buy a living tree from a Christmas tree farm that would be the best option.