dad and daughter decorating christmas tree.width .jpg

3 Ways to Save at Least $20 on a Christmas Tree

A smiling dad holding up his laughing daughter while they decorate a Christmas tree.

Image source: Getty Images

It’s the time of year when many people look for the perfect piece of nature to bring indoors and decorate. But with higher inflation still holding steady (3.2% over the last year; while the Federal Reserve seeks to keep the inflation rate at 2%), the odds are good you’re looking to pay as little as you can for your Christmas tree.

The average cost of a real Christmas tree has more than doubled since 2012, according to a chart showcased in the subreddit r/dataisbeautiful created using data from the American Christmas Tree Association, National Christmas Tree Association, Bloomberg, and Finder. Last year, the average cost was $85, so it stands to reason that you’ll pay a little more than that this year if you head to your local tree farm and get one that way.

Another factor to consider is climate change; according to an article in Spectrum News for Central New York, this year’s hotter and drier weather has had an impact on tree farmers, and if trees are scarcer than usual, they’ll likely cost more. The law of supply and demand exists, after all.

Here’s the good news: There are a handful of ways to minimize the hit to your checking account and save at least $20 (and possibly a lot more) on your 2023 tree. Let’s take a closer look at them.

1. Buy a smaller tree

I know, I know — you want a full-sized tree, right? Well, stay with me here. A smaller tree won’t just be cheaper in money, but it will also take less time to decorate, and if you have pets, having a tree that fits on a small table or a shelf can save you a lot of space and hassle. (Trust me on this — I have cats.) But as far as the money goes, I hopped over to the Target website to see how much small artificial trees are going for.

Among Target’s selection of two- and three-foot artificial trees, there are many attractive and well-reviewed options for under $60. If you’re willing to go small, savings can be yours. The same is also true of a real tree, if you opt for a farm that charges by the foot.

2. Head to a national forest

If you’ve got a pioneering spirit and want to recreate the opening scene of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (without the mayhem), you can purchase a permit to go cut your very own Christmas tree in a national forest. Head on over to first to find a forest near you. many are scattered throughout the Western states, but even East Coasters like yours truly have a few options.

Closest to me is the Green Mountain National Forest, in the beautiful state of Vermont. I could pay $5 (plus a $2.50 reservation fee) for a permit and be allowed to cut down two trees up to 20 feet tall! That is an absolute steal in exchange for doing the heavy lifting (but also getting a pretty drive). Just $7.50 and your sweat equity for a Christmas tree — imagine that.

3. Go all in on artificial

I mentioned artificial trees earlier, but now we’re going to take a deeper dive. It’s likely that you will actually spend more, rather than less, for the upfront cost of a nice artificial tree. For example, you can score a 7.5-foot pre-lit Amelia pine artificial tree at Home Depot for $299. This tree is well reviewed, and if you take care of it (meaning, pack it up carefully every year and store it in a safe place), it’ll last for years.

You may prefer a tree without lights, however, as the fewer bits there are to break, the less likely it is you’ll need to replace the tree before its useful life is over. If so, you can score a well-reviewed unlit 7.5-foot Dunhill fir tree for $227.99.

Let’s say the average cost of a real tree is $90 this year. If you keep your Dunhill fir for three years or your Amelia pine for four years, you’ve saved money ($228 or $299 versus at least $270 to $360; everything else is going up in price, and we already know Christmas trees have more than doubled in cost in the last decade).

The winter holidays are an expensive time of year, and you may be resigned to a higher credit card tab with all the spending you’re doing. But when it comes to your Christmas tree purchase, consider thinking outside the box to save money.

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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Target. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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