An honest review on the pros and cons of a real tree vs. fake tree for Christmas. The fake tree for this post was supplied by Balsam Hill but all opinions are my own.
People usually seem to be very staunchly in either the real Christmas tree camp or the faux Christmas tree camp. I grew up going with my parents every year to a Christmas tree farm to choose our tree and for the first several years that I was married and had babies that’s what my new family did too. I was actually a little judgy about faux trees to be honest, like I couldn’t believe people didn’t want a real Christmas tree. Why would you not want a real tree?!
Then I started blogging about decorating and home improvement and found I needed to start setting up my Christmas decorations earlier than most people do, and earlier than I ever did before, because I wanted to share it all with you right at the start of the typical Christmas decorating season. Since I had trouble finding a real tree that early, I got my first fake tree. Annnnnnnd just that quickly, I was converted. I’m now 100% fake Christmas tree all the way.
Nothing in this post comparing a real tree vs. fake tree is meant to shame you on your own Christmas tree choices or tell you my way is better than yours though! Real trees are beautiful. Good quality faux trees are beautiful. And I think I can give a really honest opinion about the benefits of each having loved both real trees and fake trees at different points in my life. Balsam Hill makes some of the most realistic and best quality faux trees you can find, and for the purposes of this real tree vs. fake tree comparison, they sent me one of their Frasier fir trees to compare to a real Frasier Fir tree, so I could lay it all out there for you.
You can see from these side by side photos (real tree on the left, fake tree on the right) that the shape of the two trees is very similar, with a classic, full Christmas tree silhouette. No question, the real tree is beautiful. I do like that you can control the uniformity of the shape with a fake tree (symmetry lover here) but other than the slight asymmetry of the real tree, the real and the fake are pretty much dead on as far as overall shape. I did have to spend some time zsushing the fake tree to get it really full, but that’s the case with almost all faux Christmas trees. The colors of the real and the fake are extremely similar and the needles of the Balsam Hill tree even have the distinct five-pronged branch tips of a natural Frasier fir. There is exceptional attention to detail in the design of this tree to make sure that it mimics the look of the real thing as closely as possible.
Looking at a closer view of the branches, again with the real tree on the left and fake tree on the right, you can see even more how the shape of the branches and the size of the needles on the fake tree are an excellent reproduction of the real thing. The spines of the branches, where the needles are attached, are green on the fake tree and have more of a yellow brown tone on the real thing, but that’s really the only discrepancy I noticed.
If you’re standing really close to the Balsam Hill tree, you can tell it’s not real. But this is my third faux Christmas tree and it’s the most realistic one I own or have seen anywhere. And it is a really, really good replica of a real Frasier fir.
The things that have ultimately led me to convert to the faux tree side in the real tree vs. fake tree debate are:
- Ease of use – no watering, no dropped needles to clean up, no finding someone to haul it away after Christmas.
- No stringing lights – a high quality faux tree, like this one from Balsam Hill, comes pre-lit, so you just put it in its stand and plug it in.
- Cost – while you need to put more money upfront to purchase a good quality tree (and a good quality faux tree is worth it), you’ll have it for a really long time. Based on the price of live trees around me, and the additional cost of paying someone to remove it after Christmas, I’d spend the same amount on a faux tree as I would after only a few years of buying real trees. And then it’s all savings after that.
- Timing – I can get that glow in my house as early as I want (or need) it!
This doesn’t have anything to do with a real tree vs. fake tree comparison but I was really impressed with all of the accessories that came with this Balsam Hill Frasier fir. It came with an off-season storage bag (I’ve always had to buy that separately with my other faux trees), extra bulbs and fuses, and two pairs of gloves for fluffing. If you’ve never had a faux tree before, the gloves may be confusing, but your hands get scratched the heck up when you’re fluffing a faux tree so the gloves are a really useful addition to the whole package!
All that said, a fake tree may still not be right for you. And, seriously, that is totally great. You’re probably much less irritable than I am about little messy bits and upkeep! But if you’ve been considering a real tree vs. fake tree, I would wholeheartedly recommend that you check out Balsam Hill’s selection of faux Christmas trees. They’re really superb.