7 tips for first-time Christmas tree buyers

Everything that you need to know about buying your first Christmas tree

A split image of a real Christmas tree and an artificial Christmas tree
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If it's your first time decorating on your own, you need to know these tips for first-time Christmas tree buyers. If you're excited to finally decorate your very own space, you’ll want to ensure that you know all of the best ways to pick a Christmas tree as a first-time buyer. 

Admittedly, picking out a Christmas tree for the first time can be a little more complicated than you might think, particularly deciding whether to opt for a real Christmas tree or an artificial alternative. 

The fact is that when it comes to choosing a Christmas tree to combine with your other Christmas decoration ideas, it’s not always easy to know where to start, especially when you’re picking out your first-ever tree. To make the process a little easier to navigate, we’ve spoken to a range of experts, including an interior designer and a DIY expert, and rounded up their advice. 

Expert-approved advice for choosing your first Christmas tree

Whether you’re all about a real Christmas tree or you’re happy to opt for a faux alternative, when it comes to actually choosing a Christmas tree it can feel like a big deal. You’ll want to ensure that you know what it takes to pick out the perfect Christmas tree as a first-time buyer. The question is: what are the top tips for first-time Christmas tree buyers?  

1. Decide between a real or artificial Christmas tree

Christmas tree in neutral living room

(Image credit: Target)

The first step that you need to focus on is choosing between a real and an artificial Christmas tree. 

Zara O’Hare, Interior Design Consultant, says: “Selecting the right type of tree is crucial. Artificial trees are convenient and can be reused, while real trees bring a natural fragrance. 

"If opting for an artificial Christmas tree (like this faux Christmas tree from Amazon that has just under 6000 five-star reviews from shoppers), consider pre-lit options (like this six-foot pre-lit tree from Amazon) for easy setup. For real trees, ensure they are fresh by checking for vibrant green needles that don't easily fall off.”

If you're leaning towards a real tree, you need to think about factors like how long real Christmas trees last and how to care for a real Christmas tree

Zara O’Hare
Zara O’Hare

Zara O’Hare is an Interior Design Consultant for Landofrugs.com. 

2. Think about your budget

When choosing your first Christmas tree to decorate, it’s essential that you take your budget into account. 

Michael Dinich,  Financial Advisor and Founder of Wealth of Geeks, says: “The first thing to consider when budgeting for a tree is size. People are often tempted to get the biggest tree that fits, but a smaller six or seven-foot tree costs way less than a really tall ten-footer. Measure where you'll put the tree before going to pick one out. That helps ensure you don't end up with a tree that's too large and costs more than needed.”

Dinich also recommends looking out for discount days as it gets closer to Christmas and explains that: “Places will try to sell the last trees by lowering the price by five or ten dollars each. With some flexibility on size and type, you could save waiting for these end-of-season sales when demand slows down.” 

Michael Dinich
Michael Dinich

Michael Dinich is a financial advisor, a personal finance expert, and the founder of Wealth of Geeks, a rapidly growing personal finance and pop culture website. In addition to that, he's a podcaster, YouTuber, and journalist who loves to share his expertise with others. 

3. Measure your space

a tabletop christmas tree next to a window with white blinds and in front of a dark orange wall and wooden accent piece

(Image credit: Getty Images/Kseniya Ovchinnikova)

It's vital that you take the time to measure the amount of room you have for a Christmas tree. So that, regardless of how big or small your space is, you're able to fit in a Christmas tree without it over-taking the room. Believe it or not, even if you live in a teeny tiny box, it's still possible to fit a Christmas tree into a small space

Clay Cary, Consumer Trends Analyst, says: “Start by measuring where you'll put the tree so you know the right size. A huge tree may not leave enough room in a small living room and don't forget space for the tree stand and tree topper too. Stability is important with kids or pets, so pick a tree not likely to tip over easily.” 

O'Hare says: “Before purchasing a Christmas tree, measure the space where you plan to place it. Take into account the height and width, ensuring it fits comfortably in the designated area. This prevents the tree from looking too overpowering or cramped.” 

Siobhan Alvarez-Borland, lifestyle and DIY expert, adds: "Opt for a tree that fits comfortably in your home without overwhelming the room. A lot of people like to opt for a larger tree, but remember that a tree that complements and appropriately fits your space will not only look charming but will also make decorating a joyous and stress-free experience for the entire family."

Clay Cary
Clay Cary

Clay Cary is a discount trends analyst/consumer trends analyst and financial trends analyst, as well as the lead analyst at Coupon Follow. He is obsessed with data, and his job is to research and forecast emerging financial and shopping trends. He has also been featured on Go Banking Rates, Nerd Wallet, and Nasdaq.

Siobhan Alvarez-Borland
Siobhan Alvarez-Borland

Siobhan Alvarez is the founder of She Shines Media, the parent company behind the websites Mimosas & Motherhood (a family and lifestyle blog focusing on pregnancy, postpartum and parenting through the little years); Fun Family Meals (focused on easy, affordable recipes for families); and Budget Baby Budget (focused on empowering families towards financial freedom). She is a mom of three boys.

4. Research the tree varieties

If you decide to opt for a real Christmas tree it’s important not to just pick up the first one you come across. Instead, take the time to be a little more selective about the tree that you choose, taking into account the Christmas tree decorating ideas that you want to implement. 

Cary says: “When shopping, know that tree types like Fraser Firs and Douglas Firs generally stay fresh-smelling and full-looking longer. Gently test branches before buying - not many needles should come off. Look also for firm needles and sticky sap at the bottom as signs of freshness. After getting it home, trim a bit off the bottom of the trunk so it can take in water well once in the stand.

“For an eco-friendly choice, potted Norfolk Island pines or certain fir and spruce varieties can become a Christmas tree. Make sure the pot has good drainage too.”

Christina Chrysostomou, acting head ecommerce editor, says: “When picking out a Christmas tree go for a no-drop one, otherwise you’ll be constantly vacuuming up needles all the time.” 

Christina Chrysostomou
Christina Chrysostomou

Christina Chrysostomou is acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. 

5. Look at trees from every angle

It's also a good idea to view your real Christmas tree from every angle before deciding on whether to purchase it or not. Ideally, you want to opt for a Christmas tree that's well-shaped, even, and stands straight.

Don't make the mistake of picking out a Christmas tree that comes pre-netted as this won't allow you to assess the shape and aesthetic of the tree. Instead, when choosing a real Christmas tree make sure to look at it from every angle. 

6. Learn how to care for a real Christmas tree

If you're going to treat yourself to a real Christmas tree, it's worth taking the time to learn how to keep a real Christmas tree alive. This is especially important if you're worried about how long your Christmas tree will last and want to extend its lifespan to ensure it remains looking its best throughout the festive season. 

7. Know how to source the perfect artificial tree


What should you consider when picking a real Christmas tree?

When it comes to picking out a real Christmas tree, it's important to consider factors like size and shape of your tree, as well as the variety of tree. While some cut Christmas trees don't drop their needles, others do and will leave you constantly needing to vacuum (this mini handheld Black and Decker vacuum from Amazon is ideal for this). 

It's also worth considering whether you want a cut tree or a potted tree. If you opt for a potted tree rather than a cut Christmas tree, the needles are far less likely to drop. Plus, you can reuse the tree year after year, as long as you look after it, that is. 

What do you need to think about when choosing an artificial Christmas tree?

When choosing an artificial Christmas tree, take the time to consider what size, shape and style of tree you would like. For a smaller apartment, you might prefer a slimline tree, like this pre-lit pencil Christmas tree from Amazon. Whereas, for a larger space, you might want to opt for a bushier, larger tree, like this extra tall Christmas tree from Amazon

It's also worth thinking about how realistic you would like the tree to look, but keep in mind that the more realistic the tree, the more expensive it will probably be. 

When it comes to buying your first Christmas tree, knowing where to start and how to select that perfect tree can be somewhat challenging

While you might think it’s simply a case of visiting a Christmas tree farm or heading to your favorite home decor store to pick out an artificial tree, there are various factors that it’s worthwhile taking into account. 

Starting with choosing between a real Christmas tree and a faux one, while also taking into account the size of the space that you have, your budget, and the overall aesthetic of your Christmas decoration style

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.