Sunday, December 11, 2011

Random Giveaway #6: Christmas Trees - Live or Plastic?

The first Christmas Sam and I were together we were incredibly poor. We had both just lost our jobs and had no prospects, so it wasn't a particularly bright season. We were living on what little we had saved (which wasn't much because we were young and spent everything we earned), and neither of us had any Christmas decorations to speak of. We decided that we needed a tree to make us feel as though it was the holiday season though, so while we were out one day we found a fake tree that was on sale for $20 to put up at home. The only ornaments that we had were some that Sam's mom had made for us and a string of lights we found at a version of a dollar store. We still have that rather sad little tree and actually use it more Christmases than I thought we would, but this year we decided to get a live tree. Personally, I have fond memories of going out to pick out our live trees from my childhood, and I have enjoyed the smell from our tree this year. In some ways though, I feel guilty for getting a tree that will soon lose all of its needles and will at some point just end up in a mulch pile (which is of course, usable, so not necessarily a bad thing).
There's an interesting article here about live vs plastic trees, and is also the image source.
So, here is the question for this giveaway: When choosing a Christmas tree, what is your preference: live or faux, and why? I know this is very specifically Christmas-oriented, so I apologize to other seasonal holiday celebrators, but please do feel free to toss your thoughts in on the matter. All entries should be submitted via the comment form and must be received no later than Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. MST. The comment submission form will serve at the time stamp indicator, and all entries received after the cut off point will not be a part of the gift selection process. If you have not read the contest rules, please do so by clicking here.
The gift for this giveaway will be the wine bottle holder pictured above (Unfortunately, it does not come with a wine bottle - my apologies). It's actually kind of a fun little bicycle sculpture/useful item kind of thing though, so hopefully the winner will enjoy it.


  1. The faux christmas trees with the decorations ready-made are quite beautiful but... they look too much like the ones we see in hotel lobbies or restaurants or banks and are somewhat too "perfect". So we buy a natural (since they're no longer "alive") tree at the farmer's market and we decorate it ourselves as best we can on Christmas eve. This year we'll buy two smaller ones and install one in the living-room and one in the dining-room.

  2. In Australia it's more common for people to use plastic trees I think, but this year my step-mum wants to buy a potted pine to use and then plant it afterwards!

  3. I've never been away from my family during the holiday season, so it's usually up to them. But I think that when I do eventually spend the season away from them, I'll just decorate one of my potted plants. Fake trees are convenient, but you have to store them somewhere and the plastic-ness freaks me out. Live trees are nice (you can't beat that smell), but it seems silly to ship a tree half-way across the country so that I could stand it in my living room for a few weeks. I had a friend that worked with immigrant Christmas tree farm workers and he used to say that the working conditions are horrendous, and I can't help but think of that. :/

    This year is the first year my family got a live tree in years, and while we were putting it up everyone kept on commenting how "it looks just like the fake ones!" :)

  4. Giles - excellent point. The trees really aren't alive any longer by the time they are cut down (though ours is certainly taking water as though it is).

    Zoe - I like the idea of buying a potted tree and planting it afterwards. From what I've read, however, it can be difficult for the tree to survive indoor use for a few weeks and then be planted outdoors. I do like that it seems to be the in between choice though because I can have the natural tree, but it also doesn't have to die. Of course, for Australia it's summer season I believe, so perhaps it would have an easier time with the transition?

    Lauren - When buying natural trees (Giles, now you have me going on 'natural' instead of 'live'), there are some organic Christmas tree farmers who are local. I know we always bought from local farmers who practiced sustainable methods, so it's not the same as shipping a tree from fill-in-the-blank location. Of course, a lot of the plastic trees come from across the oceans too, so either way we could be doing more harm than good. I do think it's important to know where the goods we're buying are coming from, regardless of what we decide to purchase, and you make some excellent points.

    Can't wait to read more thoughts on the matter. Keep the entries coming! :O)

  5. I'm kind of conflicted on this, but if I have to choose one, I would choose a real tree. I absolutely love the smell of a beautiful Douglas Fir! Plus there's something special about the process of choosing a tree, bringing it home, and even cleaning up all the needles that fall on the floor!
    That being said, this is my first year ever to have an artificial tree. It's beautiful and convenient, especially since it's prelit. But I have to say the convenience of the artificial doesn't make up for the lack of smell! And my Bath and Body Works Christmas Tree room scent just doesn't quite cut it...
    Thanks for the chance to enter!

  6. G.E. said: […] a lot of the plastic trees come from across the oceans too, so either way we could be doing more harm than good.

    After reading your entry I looked at the underside of our electronics, at the little étiquettes on our clothes, our shoes, the china, where the books were printed, our bicycles, even the furniture… Almost all that we have in the house is made in China or Mexico or Europe… I'm all for international trade but I wondered what China or Europe bought from us: many things but mainly raw materials (ore, wood, scrap steel, etc.) and airplanes. I wonder how long we'll be able to maintain this kind of economy.

    So… I have a solution ! If more and more people ride bikes like they already do in Denmark and the Nederland for instance, and thus people won't travel long distances by car to buy everything, more local stores would open (or stay open) and local stores tend to buy locally made stuff. Q.E.D.

    I'm dreaming… but Christmas is the season of dreams.

  7. I prefer a live tree...I love the way the house smells when you have a live tree. At the same time, I really don't *need* to have a tree. I set up my ceramic lighted trees & some other decorations, and I'm good!

  8. I love a live tree, but hate wrangling it inside, especially since this time of year I have to do it in cold, damp weather. So, last Christmas, when I saw a nice artificial tree on sale, I bought it. I do plan to keep it for a long time, so it's not likely to end up in a landfill any time soon. It does make decorating easier, and the tree is pretty cute, but... I still feel tempted by the real trees I see at the grocery store.

  9. I had a live tree for many years and loved the tree and the tasks associated with getting it. . However, at some point the choosing of the tree, the ride from the lot to my house with the tree tied precariously to the top, the many attempts to get the tree to stand up straight, the sweeping up of the needles (for months), turned from an adventure to a chore.

    I now have a pre-lit artificial tree and put a live wreath over the fireplace for the smell.


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