Real vs. Fake Christmas Trees: Designers Weigh In

christmas tree in living room

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If you're in the market for a Christmas tree but are unsure whether you want to go the real tree route or purchase something faux, you'll want to keep reading. There are many pros and cons to both options, after all. What are designers' feelings on live trees versus artificial ones? The pros weigh in below!

Consider Whether You Crave Change Often

"Tree preference is a very personal decision and there is no 'right' solution, each option offers different benefits and drawbacks," notes Lauren Grumbles of Lauren Grumbles Interior Design. That said, Grumbles notes that real trees can be enjoyable as "you can change the size and species of your tree from year to year as your preferences change." On the other hand, if you enjoy trimming your tree in the exact same manner year after year, perhaps a fake tree is best for you.

Consider Your Decor Style

When going the fake tree route, there is more of an opportunity to find the perfect tree for your exact aesthetic, explains Annie Kersey, lead interior designer at Purple Cherry Architects. "You can buy a tree that fits your unique style and décor," she explains. "A high quality fluffy pine look might be right for the classic traditional home, but for a more rustic or traditional home, you might opt for a flocked tree.

Think About Whether You Actually Enjoy Decorating the Tree

Decorating a Christmas tree is fun in theory, but in reality, it can be quite a lot of work! "Personally, I think that real trees need less decoration than a fake tree," Grumbles comments. "Their natural beauty and fullness don't demand that every bough be covered with lights and ornaments." So if you haven't amassed an expansive ornament collection or just don't feel super eager to get your decorating on this year, going the real tree route may be in the cards. But if it's hanging lights that gets you down, a fake tree may be the best move, Kersey notes, as many of these come pre-lit.

They're 1,000 times easier to decorate because you can manipulate the branches how you'd like in order to best display your ornaments.

On the other hand, though, some feel as though fake trees make the decorating process more simple. "They're 1,000 times easier to decorate because you can manipulate the branches how you'd like in order to best display your ornaments," Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design says of faux evergreens. And, as she points out, there are so many different colors to choose from when going the fake tree route. "Our household will have several fun trees this year—a white tree with sparkly pink ornaments in my daughter's room, a tall silver tree decorated with a mix of sea themed ornaments (inspired by the aquarium in the room), and...I'm doing a pink tinsel tree with all of my traditional Radko ornaments," she explains.

fake white tree

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Decide Whether You Want to Make Getting Your Tree a Family Activity

There's nothing like picking out a tree and creating some memories while doing so. "Picking out the tree is a tradition that I hold dear, whether it's at a farm or a stand," says Noel Gatts of beam & bloom. "It brings family and friends together for a moment in time that provides lasting memories." That said, picking out a tree is just one part of the process. As Gatts adds, "The tree trimming is the true star of the season, and a fantastic opportunity for creative expression, and holiday cheer whether the tree is fresh or faux!"

Think About the Upkeep Involved

Maybe you love the fragrance associated with a live tree but just aren't feeling inclined to do all that you need to do to ensure it thrives. "We all long for that natural fresh-cut Christmas tree, the smell in the house, the feel of the branches, but the mess and upkeep with daily watering is not for everyone," says Sandra Asdourian of Sandra Asdourian Interiors. "So when clients ask my opinion, I suggest a high-quality faux Christmas tree for ease of use, easy clean-up, and no daily watering. Plus, you have the tree for many years to reuse."

christmas tree in living room

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Note That You Can Always Select One of Each

If you really can't make a decision about a real tree versus a fake one and often place trees in multiple rooms of your home, you can always choose to embrace both! Notes Nina Dekay Grauer of Dekay & Tate: "Last year we helped a client select a fake tree for her family to decorate and a real tree to display her vintage garland collection.”