Sure, you can pare down on presents, but you can’t skip out on buying a Christmas tree. It’s the pièce de résistance of the holiday.
There are plenty of ways to save money on your Christmas tree, though, whether you prefer the fresh-cut smell of a Fraser fir or choose a no-fuss artificial.
The following tips will ensure you land a tree for less.
1. Opt for artificial
In the long run, an artificial tree is the most economical option.
Shoppers paid an average of $78 for a live tree versus $104 for a new artificial tree in 2018, according to a survey from the National Christmas Tree Association, a trade group that represents the live Christmas tree industry. So, an artificial tree pays for itself after two seasons.
Going with an artificial tree will also give you more options, particularly if you buy it online. Just take a look at the selection on Amazon, for example.
2. Cut your own
If you’re willing to make like the Griswolds, you can get one of the best deals on a Christmas tree.
The U.S. Forest Service issues permits to harvest trees for personal use as Christmas trees. For example, trees from Oregon’s Mt. Hood National Forest are only $5, and one household can cut up to five trees that are up to 12 feet tall.
Contact your nearest national forest to ask about your options.
3. Look for a wholesale dealer
You might save money by skipping the middleman and buying directly from a tree wholesaler. Not every dealer will sell to individual customers, but some do.
To find wholesale dealers in your state, visit the Christmas Tree Farm Network’s website.
4. Call around
As with any type of shopping, calling around to various businesses and comparing prices is a great way to get a good price on a live Christmas tree.
Stop by the National Christmas Tree Association website and use its tree locator tool to find tree farms and lots in your area. Then, start dialing around for the best deal.
5. Pick a popular species
While all Christmas tree varieties offer unique and desirable features, you’ll likely get the best deal on more popular picks.
For example, the Douglas fir, with its pleasant aroma and bountiful branches, is one of the top Christmas tree species in the U.S. At Brown’s Tree Farm in Muncy, Pennsylvania, the wholesale price for an 8- to 10-foot Douglas fir is $39. Compare that with $51 for a concolor (white) fir or a Fraser fir.
6. Bring your best offer
Negotiating is not out of the question at a tree lot.
If you fall in love with a tree that’s slightly out of your price range, you should make an offer on it. Or make an offer simply because you have nothing to lose by trying. Maybe there’s an awkward gap in the branches or minor discoloration you can leverage.
7. Size down
You’ll do best picking the smallest tree for your home.
Cut-your-own farms like Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, New Jersey, charge per foot. Even pre-cut trees are priced based on size. So, if you can settle on a 6- or 7-footer or smaller, you stand to save significantly.
8. Hold out for a while
Grocery stores and once-vacant parking lots start to fill with Christmas trees in early November. But some sellers have been known to slash prices as the holiday draws near.
9. Shop after the holidays
If you’re considering an artificial tree, timing is everything. January is a great time to stock up on Christmas decorations, including artificial trees — with clearance discounts as high as 85% off.
As we noted in “9 Things to Buy in January — and 3 to Avoid“:
“We’re not all organized enough to shop for next year’s holiday decor in January, but you’ll get the very best deals at this time. Lowe’s knocked a flat 85 percent off all seasonal items toward the end of the month last year …. Also check the sale sections at Home Depot and Walmart, as both stores generally slash prices on all holiday items. That said, any retailer with seasonal stock will be trying to get rid of it.”
What’s your favorite way to cut the cost of a Christmas tree? Share it by commenting below or on Money Talks News’ Facebook page.