How to Buy a Christmas Tree. Yes, really.

by | Dec 5, 2017

THIS POST MAY SEEM RIDICULOUS, BUT BEFORE YESTERDAY, I HAD NEVER BOUGHT A CHRISTMAS TREE. Growing up, I don’t remember ever going along on my dad’s annual trip to buy one, either. So, basically, I’m a total Christmas Tree novice.

As usual when I really don’t know what I’m doing, I went online to learn more.

 

What I needed to know, and what I found out

  • How much does a Christmas tree cost?
    • The average buyer spent about $75 on their Christmas tree in 2016, and cost was predicted to be higher this year. However, my experience this year was that trees were $8 – $14 a foot in person.
  • Can I buy a full-sized Christmas tree online?
    • Yes, but online pricing is quadruple the in-person figures listed above. If you’re still interested, here’s the cheapest online source for live Christmas trees I found: A Tree to Your Door
  • How do I find a Christmas tree locally?
    • Search Google Maps for “live Christmas trees”. In my experience, search results were current.
  • What type of Christmas tree do I want?
    • Pick from what’s available at your local lot/farm, or pick a lot/farm based on the type of tree you want.
  • Do I need straps or a roof rack to bring my Christmas tree home?
    • Nope, some twine will work fine for any type of car big enough to put a tree on the roof. You might want to bring a tarp or blanket to put under the tree if you’re placing it on a bare roof to lessen the sap or possible scratching your tree may cause.
  • How do I care for a Christmas tree once I have it?
    • Make sure the trunk is freshly cut, don’t let the water go dry. Water up to 1 gallon per day.
  • How long does a Christmas tree last before it’s ugly (dead)? 
    • If watered properly, about a month after the tree is initially cut.

 

My Experience

Buying a Tree

Buying Online is Possible, But it’s Expensive

The first thing my Millennial brain wondered was: Can I buy a Christmas Tree online? The short answer is yes, but if you want a normal (large) tree, it’s much more expensive to do it this way.

If you want to buy a little live tree, buying online can be a viable option. There are even some cute ones on Amazon:

 

I looked all over the internet, and even the cheapest options for buying a normally-sized Christmas tree got into the $200 – $300 range, with around $150 of that being shipping costs. Okay, that makes sense, so I won’t buy online. I’ll buy one in person. Back to Google.

Searching Locally for a Tree

If you search regular Google for “live Christmas trees near me”, you’ll get all kinds of confusing results, including Christmas Tree locations that are no longer open. I did it, and you can skip it.

Next, I searched Google Maps for “live Christmas trees”, which got me plenty of helpful results, sorted by proximity to me. The results seemed up-to-date. Great! But wait, do I need straps to secure the tree to my car roof? Do I need a roof rack on my car (because I don’t have one)? I didn’t know, so I packed up some ratchet straps and hoped for the best.

Once we arrived at the Christmas tree lot (located in a shopping center parking lot), everything went pretty smoothly.

Pricing

At our lot, the trees were priced by the foot (varying depending on the tree type), and the lot only accepted cash or checks, which is probably common, so be sure to have what you need to complete your tree purchase when you go to get it.

Pricing depends heavily on your specific area. I got my tree for lower than the average amount people spent last year (around $75), but your area may be different. 

 

Picking a Type of Christmas Tree

The lot had four types of trees, all with their own aesthetic, tactile and financial positives and negatives.

Originally, we wanted a Blue Spruce because they are, well, kind of blue. They look cool. We looked online, called some Christmas Tree farms and lots, and found that the Blue Spruce, while beautiful, is less available because of how heavy, prickly and difficult to compress for transport they are.

Okay, I can live without a Blue Spruce if it’s going to be difficult to find and transport. So, what else is there?

At the lot we went to, they had four types of trees available:

  • Fraser Fir (the most popular type)
  • Noble Fir
  • White Pine
  • Scotch Pine

Depending on your area, different types of trees will be available. If you want to play on hard mode, search Google for “types of Christmas trees”, find one you like, and call around. Otherwise, go to your nearest lot or farm and pick whatever jumps out at you.

So, all we had to do was pick a type, pick a height, and then select from the individual trees available.

We wanted a large tree with soft needles. So our pick was mostly based on whether the tree’s needles were prickly, and how the tree looked.

People also select trees for the strength of their branches (so more ornaments can be hung on them) and their level of fragrance (some people like a strong scent, other people are allergic).

 

Transporting Your Tree Home

Once we picked a tree, the tree guy wrapped it in plastic netting and placed it on the roof of my car. The tree guy wasn’t phased by my car’s lack of a roof rack, tying two lengths of twine over the tree, then under and through my car doors. Done.

As the twine was simply placed on top of the tree and tightened, not wrapped around it, I was afraid the tree was going to fall off on the ten-minute drive home. I drove carefully just in case, but I have a feeling that the tree guys know what they’re doing and that the tree was more secure than it looked to my inexperienced eyes.

 

Once Your Tree is Home

You Need a Tree Stand

If you’ve never had a Christmas tree before, you’re going to need a tree stand. I took a chance and bought one for $30 at the Christmas tree lot, but normally I’d think ahead and get one on Amazon. Mine turned out to be super solid, by the way.

Most of the highly-rated options are a bit on the expensive side, but they come with some fancy features to make sure your tree is straight with minimal effort, and they should last a while, so it might be worth getting a good one:

 

If Your Tree Isn’t Freshly Cut (or even if it is), Cut the Trunk

Christmas Trees need a freshly cut trunk or they can’t drink water like they need to. Some lots will make a fresh cut for you, but if not, you’ll need to cut it yourself. Here are some inexpensive saw options on Amazon if you don’t own one already:

Water Your Tree

Your tree can drink up to 1 gallon of water per day, so make sure to keep your tree stand topped off or your tree won’t last as long as it should. As time goes on, your tree will need less watering, because the cut trees don’t last forever.

Now You Need to Decorate it!

And that’s a topic for another post. 🙂