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The Christmas tree debate: real or artificial?

Today we put the finishing touches outside our home to get it ready for Christmas. While I wanted to share more photos, the weather has been extremely unhelpful! No light (barely there sun) and, currently, lots and lots of rain. I should not complain however. The lights are up and so we join the rest of the neighbourhood in sending out a festive message: Christmas is just around the corner!

Is your home ready or are you still contemplating which Christmas tree to go for? A lot of friends have been asking me whether this year I have a real tree up. So, I thought I should share my thoughts in a post.

Real or fake for me?


The truth is, I am not really bothered about it. There are so many trees that look just like the real deal as well as many alternative trees (white trees, pink trees, upside down trees, wall trees), there is definitely something for everyone. So if you don't want to get a real one, there's still plenty to choose from.

I have tried both and in my view both have their pros and cons. But since moving to a bigger home, we have been getting a real tree that is usually 7-8ft high. We buy them locally and what's important, we have the space and tools to cut it down afterwards. We keep the wood in our garage where it dries out and then give it to one of the neighbours that have a wood burning fireplace when winter comes again. So this year it is real for us!

Correction (Nov 2016) - we now have an outdoor fire pit so we will no longer be giving the wood away but burn it when the time comes for some smoky burgers!

Think the trees above are real? Think again!

Why should you buy a Real tree


The pros...

  • Christmas trees are grown in plantations; they're not cut down from forests so when you buy a real tree you help small farms and the nurseries and support your local economy.

  • Real trees smell divine! But you can always get a candle with pine perfume!

  • They look better than fakes, but not always. Apparently, artificial trees are gaining in popularity every year.

  • Nordmann Fir is the most popular tree that has a good retention of needles, so you can use it from the 20th November all the way to the New Year without any problems. They are well shaped and full.

And the cons..

  • You have to bring it home. Somehow. Do you have a car and stong arms?

  • You have to dispose of it. Make sure you know the dates your local council will come around collecting trees for disposal. Or do what we do: cut it down and use in your fireplace or give to the neighbours.

  • The needles on the floor. Need I say more?

  • They say a lot of pesticides are used to grow these trees even in plantations. Do you really know where your tree has come from?

  • Remember that a real tree may come with a wooden base if it is up to 3-4ft but anything bigger and you will need a base; a base that you can fill with water costs upwards of £15.

  • Lights are extra. AND you have to untangle them. Good luck.

Why you should go for artificial


The pros...

  • Have you been to a nursery recently? There is too much variety and you have to choose your tree from the lot. Whereas you can get a fake tree from the comfort of your sofa with a few clicks.

  • You spend only once on the tree and you can re-use it. You can then spend more on family gifts!

  • They conveniently come with lights, depending on the price. No more untangling the fairy lights!

  • They are easy to assemble and store away.

  • They come with their own base, included in the price.

  • You can find them in all heights and they can also come with "snowy" effect, something you cannot replicate on real trees without a mess. One of my favourite is this Snowy Fir Tree.

And the cons...

  • Who needs extra plastics at home?

  • You need to have somewhere to store it afterwards.

  • Best to see it up close before buying. If it's not "The ONE" you are stuck with it!

Skye Snowy Fir Christmas Tree, John Lewis, £140

Now this is one good looking artificial tree. It would look great with the wicker basket below.

If you are looking for something minimal, I would recommend going for a twig tree. John Lewis has a wonderful selection of paper trees, shown below, all pre-lit.

John Lewis Pre-Lit Paper Birch Christmas Tree, White, 4ft, from £40

John Lewis Pre-Lit Snowy Twig Christmas Tree, White, 6ft, £64

Another favourite of mine, from the John lewis Croft collection, this 7ft Silver Forest Spruce Christmas Tree. At £156 it will take 3 years to pay off.

John Lewis Croft Collection Silver Forest Spruce Christmas Tree, 7ft

You can combine in with the John Lewis Extra Large Willow Tree Skirt, which is also from the Croft collection. This woven willow tree skirt will provide a natural and attractive covering for the base of your Christmas tree, whether real or artificial.

But a tree on its own does not Christmas make! So here are a few more products that will make your room even more special!

Snowdrift Deerhead Candle, White, £9.60

Noel Christmas Light Sign, Soft White, £70

Get cosy with luxury throws and winter cushions. I particularly love the Highland cow shown below (2) and which costs only £11.25. You can find the Kew Gardens 12 Days of Christmas Scented Candle Gift Set (1) here. The Snowdrift Glass Bell with Hanging Pinecones clear Bauble (3) is so unique! Get it here.

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