8 mistakes to avoid when buying a Christmas tree

These expert-approved tips will help you avoid the mistakes we can all easily make when buying a Christmas tree

An image of a Christmas tree with neutral colored ornaments in a bright living room surrounded by presents
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you about to go shopping and wondering how to avoid the mistakes you made last year when buying your Christmas tree? Whatever type of festive fern you’re hankering after, don't make these faux-pas. 

Whether you’re looking for a real Christmas tree or an artificial one, these expert tips will save you buyer’s remorse and wasted cash.

It can be challenging navigating the process of choosing a Christmas tree, especially when you want yours to last till the big day and beyond. Luckily, our experts are on hand to give you the lowdown on the mistakes to avoid making when buying a Christmas tree. 

Mistakes to avoid when buying a Christmas tree

Side-step the key mistakes catching out many shoppers ahead of handing over your cash by assessing first what size tree will work best in your space. It'll make putting up your Christmas decor a breeze.

1. Failing to measure your space before you buy

Christmas tree in a wicker basket against a white wall and book cabinet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you're buying your first Christmas tree or you're a seasoned pro, a great starting point is getting your tape measure out and making notes about the space where your new tree will stand proud.

Liz Ho, Outdoor and Nature Expert, says: “One big mistake is not measuring where the tree will go first. It's key to know both height and width to make sure it fits comfortably. Can you imagine bringing home a tree that's too tall or wide and won't even fit? That's not just inconvenient, it's a wasted tree." 

Liz Ho
Liz Ho

Liz Ho is an experienced camping guide, travel expert, and the founder of Camping Guidance. She also runs the Camping Guidance YouTube channel, where she provides authentic hands-on reviews, tutorials and robust product testing.

2. Overlooking the size of your chosen tree

Now you've got the measurements for your space down pat, don't forget to marry it with sizing up your prospective tree.

Jenny Dreizen, Co-Founder of Fresh Starts Registry, says: “Many people make the mistake of not considering the relational size of the tree and space when choosing a Christmas tree. Before making a purchase, measure the space where the tree will be placed to ensure it fits comfortably. 

"A tree that is too large for the room or obstructs pathways can create inconvenience for both residents and guests. Choosing an appropriately sized tree showcases consideration for everyone's comfort and safety.”

For a more compact space, consider opting for a slimline artificial Christmas tree instead of a bushier, big-ticket item. 

Jenny Dreizen
Jenny Dreizen

Jenny Dreizen is a modern day etiquette expert and COO of Fresh Starts Registry. She's well-versed in starting over in a new home and getting to grips with decoration all year round, and has been buying real Christmas trees for home and apartments for 20 years.

3. Failing to take sustainability into account

A large artificial Christmas tree with white ornaments and floral touches

(Image credit: Canva)

If you're opting for a real Christmas tree to decorate your rental for Christmas, it's worth taking the time to question the sustainability of your tree. 

Dreizen says: "When it comes to trees, you want to ensure that sustainability practices are in place. A common mistake is not considering this when purchasing a Christmas tree. 

"Check the tree you're buying is sourced responsibly, whether it's from a local tree farm that practices sustainable forestry, or an artificial tree made from eco-friendly materials.”

4. Not checking the quality of the tree

The last thing you'll want is to splurge on a Christmas tree, only to get it home and find it's starting to brown, stands a little wonky, or is dropping needles from the get-go. 

Ho says: “With real trees, make sure needles are fresh and green before you buy it, not coming off when touched. When checking over fake trees, look closely at the branches to see if they are full and sturdy enough to hold decorations without sagging. No one wants a sad, drooping tree on Christmas Eve.”

A great tip for picking out an artificial Christmas tree is to read buyer reviews online. If a Christmas tree has lots of rave reviews, like this Christmas tree from Amazon that has over 8000 five-star reviews, you know it's a safe bet, worth the spend, and will serve you for many Christmases to come.  

5. Not being mindful of tree type

A white home with a pink-hued Christmas tree with gentle glowy backlighting

(Image credit: Canva)

Don't forget that sometimes real Christmas trees are cheap for a reason. Different tree types offer different levels of quality. 

Ho says: “When getting a real tree, not all types are made equal. Some like Fraser Firs keep needles longer with sturdier branches, while others may wilt or shed quicker. Research ahead of time to pick a species that suits your climate and lasts through the season.”

If you don't want to overspend on a non-drop Christmas tree, opt instead for a tree in a pot, rather than a cut tree. Rooted living trees will suffer less needle drop.

6. Getting the cheapest artificial option

It's tempting to opt for the lowest-cost artificial Christmas tree option, but if you want yours to last, it may be worth spending a little more. 

Jackson Groves, Photographer and Nature Enthusiast, says: “With fake trees, it can be a mistake to get the cheapest option. You might save now, but a low-quality one could look bare or fail to last many seasons. Think of it as an investment - a good artificial tree stays beautiful for Christmases to come.”

Picking out a slightly pricier option, like this 7-foot Christmas tree from Amazon that comes with over 11,000 five-star reviews, could be a worthwhile consideration to make if you want your tree to last. 

Jackson Groves
Jackson Groves

Jackson Groves is a professional adventure photographer and nature enthusiast, drone pilot, and travel expert with a degree in journalism. He is a strategic thinker who plans ahead, making budgeting well in all seasons a core skill.

7.Failing to take care of your Christmas tree

An image of a Christmas tree in a neutral living room with wooden accents and a ceiling anchored swing chair

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to keeping a Christmas tree alive, it's important to take ongoing care into account. 

Groves says: “Real trees need water daily to stay fresh. It's best to switch off radiators near them, especially if it's in a small room, too. If you don't want that task, buying a fake one avoids any concerns about it drying out. No one likes a sad, droopy tree in the middle of your holiday display.” 

Self-watering Christmas tree stands like this self-watering Christmas tree stand from Amazon are a great way to keep your tree hydrated and looking majestic. 

8. Overlooking the base of the tree

Groves says: “Overlooking the tree base is an easy mistake to make too. A sturdy, stable base is important to keep your tree standing up straight, especially with little ones or pets around the house. Make sure it can firmly hold the weight of your tree.” 

A solid, heavy, stable base will also prevent it toppling over or causing any accidents at home.


What should you look for when buying a real Christmas tree?

It’s worth taking into account how easily the tree’s branches move and whether any needles fall off with the movement. If you notice a few brown needles falling from the tree this isn’t an issue, but if you see a cascade of needles falling off from a small shake, or if lots of green needles are falling off, this could be a sign that the tree is overly dry and not in great health.

What should you check for when buying an artificial Christmas tree?

When buying an artificial Christmas tree you should be clear on the dimensions of the space you're working with so once you get it home, you will have enough space to house it. You should also take into account the style, color, and shape of the tree so it gives you the aesthetic you're looking for. Learning about cut tree maintenance will help, as will understanding how to fluff an artificial Christmas tree to keep your ferns looking as beautiful as possible, for as long as possible.

With these tips, you’ll be clear on mistakes to avoid making when buying a Christmas tree. 

Whether you’re looking to purchase a real Christmas tree to fit into a small space or you’re hoping to pick out an artificial tree that'll stand the test of time, these Christmas tree shopping tips will save you from making an impulse buy you’ll later regret, and keep your tree the star of the season all the way through to the new year.

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.