Christmas Tree Pricing: Is Pine Worth It?

12 trees of Christmas
••• Tim Macpherson/Getty Images

It’s that time of year when people are purchasing their Christmas tree, and if you haven’t purchased one in a while you might be wondering how much a Christmas tree costs.

Well, prices for Christmas trees depend on several factors:

  • Whether the tree is fresh cut or artificial
  • Width and height of the tree
  • Type of fresh cut tree
  • Location where the tree is purchased

Prices for Christmas Trees Vary

The size of a fresh cut tree can cost as little as $20 for a small 3 or 4-foot table-top sized tree. A larger fresh cut tree of 6 to 10 feet can cost anywhere from $75-$350 depending on where the tree is purchased.

For example, in New York City, the cost of a 12-foot tree may be as high as $1,000, but in other parts of the northeast, you might be able to find a 6-to-7-foot tree for $30 to $60 dollars.

Accessibility to fresh cut trees by sellers is the major factor in how much a tree will cost. This simply means that in areas where these fresh cut trees grow abundantly, prices will be lower, especially if there is an option to allow buyers to cut their own trees from a tree farm.

Prices for Artificial Trees

Prices for artificial trees depend on manufacturing quality. A lesser quality artificial tree of 6 feet in height with an average number of needles costs around $60. A high quality artificial tree of the same size and needle number may cost $250.

Pre-lit artificial trees can cost an additional $50 to $100 depending on the number of lights. Some of today's most attractive artificial Christmas trees are sold with lights and other ornamentation so they only require set up. These ready to use artificial Christmas trees are priced as high as $150 for a 6-foot tree to $400 for a 10 or 12 foot tree.

Fresh Cut or Artificial Christmas Tree

Personal preference dictates whether to choose a fresh cut or an artificial tree. When choosing a fresh cut tree, ask when the tree was cut. This will determine the freshness and longevity of the tree.

Another way to do this is to look closely at the branches and cut the base of the tree. These should be sticky with sap. The drier the cut base, the faster the branches will dry out. This makes adding electrical lights to a fresh cut tree more flammable.

Note that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that more than 200 home fires each year start with a Christmas tree.

Those fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in property damage annually, according to NFPA's most recent reports.

Definitely make sure the tree has plenty of water to prevent a fire. If the tree is well supplied with water, it can last up to a month on average.

The most popular choices of fresh cut trees are Balsam fir, Scotch pine, Eastern white pine, and Blue Spruce. Availability of these depends on the area in which trees are sold.

Artificial trees are a good choice for busy people who do not have time to care for a fresh cut Christmas tree. The specific choice depends mostly on personal preference.

Some artificial trees are found in a variety of colors from classic dark green to snowy white and pastels like pink, blue, lavender, gold, and silver. To choose artificial trees, there are several features to consider:

  • Number and thickness of needles and branches
  • Height and width
  • Unlit or pre-lit
  • Assembled or unassembled

Each of these features will affect the price you should expect to pay.

Christmas Tree Prices––Then and Now

Older buyers recall the days of the 1950s when Christmas tree prices hovered around $10 for a 7-foot tree to $20 for a 12 foot fresh cut tree.

Prices began to rise on Christmas trees around the 1990s when most trees came from Alberta, Canada. That rise in price was due to the rise in the cost of transportation to all regions of the U.S.

By 2015, the average cost of a Christmas tree was around $65 compared to 2018's average of $77, if purchased before Christmas Eve.

Time will tell if Christmas tree prices continue to fluctuate, but hopefully, the joy of Christmas will continue on regardless of price fluctuations!