Real Christmas Tree Prices Are Going Up This Year—Here’s How to Save Money on Yours
Have your heart set on a real tree? With these expert tips, you can get the best Christmas tree prices for a truly happy holiday.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
This year, we’ve felt the pinch of inflation on everything from gas and groceries to services and utilities. Unfortunately, there’s no reprieve in sight as we roll into the Christmas season. In addition to higher prices on Christmas gifts, holiday airfare and food, you can expect higher Christmas tree prices as well, according to a new survey from the Real Christmas Tree Board. With as many as 85% of shoppers already worrying about inflation this year, the fact that one of your favorite Christmas traditions is going to be more costly brings anything but tidings of comfort and joy.
So, just how much of an increase might you see on those real Christmas trees? We have the details, along with some ideas on how you can still save money as you deck your halls, so don’t give up on those Christmas tree ideas or festive Christmas tree toppers just yet!
Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more holiday, humor, cleaning, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.
How much are real Christmas tree prices going up this year?
Enough that you’ll feel it. According to Consumer Reports, the average cost of a real Christmas tree in 2020 was $81, and things didn’t change much in 2021. In August 2022, however, the Real Christmas Tree Board surveyed 55 wholesale growers of real Christmas trees across the United States. A whopping 71% of these growers, who supply more than two-thirds of the country’s real Christmas trees, cited a likely wholesale price increase of 5% to 15% compared with last year. Approximately 11% of growers anticipated increasing their wholesale prices by no more than 5%, while another 11% anticipated increases of 16% to 20%. Only 5% expect to increase prices by 21% or more, while fewer than 2% said they don’t anticipate any price increases.
So, what does this mean for you? That $81 tree could cost you close to $100 this year, if your retailer increases prices by 20%. A $150 tree could go up to $180. And so on, with those prices scaling exponentially, depending on the size of your spruce and the usual cost in your area.
Why are real Christmas tree prices going up this year?
Simply put, Christmas tree suppliers saw their own costs increase this year, and those increased costs will be passed on to consumers. That’s one of the big reasons some other things will be more expensive next year as well. All the growers surveyed by the Real Christmas Tree Board estimated their input costs (the cost they incur to supply real Christmas trees) have increased compared with last year. As personal finance expert Tara Murphy points out, tree farmers and wholesale growers have paid more for raw materials, labor and distribution. Since they may not be able to absorb those increased costs, they need to roll out price increases for consumers.
On the bright side, you don’t have to worry about supply chain issues throwing a wrench in your plans to snag a real Christmas tree. “The real Christmas tree industry met demand last year,” says Marsha Gray, executive director of the Real Christmas Tree Board, “and it will meet demand this year.”
How can you save money on a real Christmas tree this year?
Willing to pay higher prices to get the perfect tree, even if you do so begrudgingly? You’re not alone. The Real Christmas Tree Board also surveyed consumers, who said they’d be willing to pay more this year, if necessary, to keep this tradition alive. Still, there are ways you can save a few dollars.
A little research goes a long way when it comes to Christmas tree prices. “Whether you plan on buying your tree at a retailer or tree farm, you want to investigate the prices of different types of trees ahead of your trip,” says Murphy. “That way, you’ll avoid impulse buying on the spot.” The Real Christmas Tree Board makes it easy to find a retailer in your area, whether you want to buy from a choose-and-cut tree farm, a garden center, a home improvement store or a general retailer. Once you have the info on the top shops, call ahead to find the best prices and tailor your trip accordingly.
Consider where you’re buying your tree
While it’s always nice to support a local farm or small business, keep in mind that prices will vary based on inventory levels. According to Murphy, big retailers are generally able to absorb wholesale costs better than smaller retailers. That means they can typically afford to sell trees at lower prices.
Opt for a smaller tree
The larger the tree, the more you’ll spend. Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch suggests choosing one that’s a little smaller. Not only will it cost you less, but it will also require fewer decorations, which could offer additional savings.
Wait to buy
Cars with Christmas trees tied to the roof are a common sighting those first few days after Thanksgiving. But if you’re really looking to save money, you’ll find the cheapest trees in the last few days just before Christmas when suppliers are trying to offload their inventory. Of course, the best time to buy anything is when demand is lower. Call around to see who still has trees and who is offering the best Christmas tree prices. Just keep in mind that if you go this route, you run the risk of being limited to a selection of Charlie Brown–style trees, so it can be a gamble.
Make your real tree last longer
Stretch your dollar by learning how to keep your Christmas tree fresh for way longer. If cared for properly, a real Christmas tree can last for several weeks. Here are a few simple ways to make your real tree last as long as possible:
- If you purchased a pre-cut tree, add a straight, fresh cut to the trunk as soon as you get home, or ask the lot to do it for you before taking the tree home. This allows the tree to better absorb water.
- Place your tree in water as soon as you get it home.
- Refill the water every day.
- Do not put your tree too close to a heat source like a radiator or fireplace. Doing so can cause your tree to dry out faster.
- Keep the room cool. Lower temperatures will help slow the drying process.
- Choose lights that produce less heat, like LEDs or miniature lights.
Get an artificial tree instead
We know, we know—it’s not a real tree. But artificial Christmas trees have come a long way, and the best ones make it almost impossible to tell whether the tree is real or fake. You might pay more up front for a fake tree, but with proper care and storage, an artificial Christmas tree can last for years. Plus, you won’t have to worry about daily maintenance, daily cleanup (those fallen needles are the worst!) or even removing the lights once the holiday is over if you get a pre-lit tree. It’s truly a no-muss, no-fuss option, and you’ll end up saving in the long run.
- Forbes: “Inflation Will Impact How Holiday Shoppers Buy, and Who Gets Gifts”
- Consumer Reports: “The Best Time to Buy Your Christmas Tree in 2021”
- PR Newswire: “Wholesale Growers of Real Christmas Trees Offer a Market Forecast with Few Surprises”
- National Christmas Tree Association: “How to Care for Your Farm-Grown Christmas Tree”
- Tara Murphy, personal finance expert
- Andrea Woroch, money-saving expert