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How to Choose a Holiday Christmas Tree ~ If You Can Find One; Plus Fanciful, Creative Holiday Tree Options

Choosing a Christmas tree is a cherished family tradition that has changed little over the years. 

Every family had its own unique tree look.

That was half the reason for holiday visits. Folks would say, “Come over to see the tree!”

And of course, living near New York City, everyone made that pilgrimage to Rockefeller Center to see “The Tree.”

Nevertheless, tree traditions have been refashioned of late…From the need for sustainability, cost, availability or your own personal style. Let’s explore holiday tree options.

It used to be you chopped down a tree on your property or on a tree farm.

For a few years, my father chose balled and burlapped (B&B) conifers that he planted later in our yard.  

Pre-cut trees were the norm. You could purchase a variety of conifers that were usually sold by organizations looking to raise money for a charity.

Size always mattered. It seemed the bigger and fatter the better.  

Later, after I grew up and got married, we chose table-top trees or small ones that could fit more comfortably in a condo.

When we could accommodate a larger tree (after we moved to a bigger home), I determined I didn’t want the needles in the house so we now place it on the porch, just off the garden room where we can enjoy through the glass doors and see the NYC skyline twinkling just beyond its branches.  

In our Gotham apartment, it’s been faux and tabletop from the get-go. Ha. 

There, Christmas trees are delivered to your apartment from local bodegas. 


While I waited for a taxi, I saw the most adorable child leading the way to our building’s front door with her nanny, the delivery man, and the tree in tow. 

This is the tree in our Lobby they put up this week. 

Frankly, I was surprised to see so many available trees in town when we had such limited options out of the city.

Supply and Demand
After doing some digging, I learned that the reason for the shortage can be traced as far back as the 2008 financial crisis, when Christmas tree farms did not expand as much as they otherwise would have to keep up with rising demand.

“Christmas trees are typically planted in early spring and take about eight to 10 years – give or take depending on the tree species – to grow to a marketable height,” according to Tim O’Connor, the executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association, which is based in Littleton, Colorado.

O’Connor is quoted as saying that some Christmas tree farms might be facing drought-related losses of seedlings and saplings this year.

The National Christmas Tree Association says Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon have long been top producers of holiday saplings, and regions in each of these states are experiencing higher than normal temperatures, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor – a weather map produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Shirley Brennen, Executive Director of The Canadian Christmas Trees Association stated in news reports: “In 2008, people might not have expanded their farms because of the economy. And now we’re looking at a shortage because it takes anywhere between eight to 12 years once a seedling goes in, to make it marketable,” In addition, there are not enough tree farmers or land ~ we lost thousands of acres of potential Christmas tree farms.”

At the same time, the pandemic and post pandemic caused more demand because more people are staying close to home. And buying more trees.

It’s reported that tree farmers are offering thinner trees and more table-top trees in order to meet demand and with prices soaring anywhere from 10 to 30 percent, alternative price options.

Types of Trees:

According to the Christmas Tree Association, in the east, Fraser Firs and Douglas Firs are popular, whereas in the west, Noble Firs, Nordmann Firs and only some Douglas firs are popular.

Most folks prefer shorter needled conifers, according to the industry. And Balsam first for their glorious Christmas tree scent.

When choosing a tree, try to buy a local one. And consider what type of ornaments you’ll be hanging to make certain the branches can bear the weight.

Of course, you should consider the size of your space where the tree is going to be. Measure before you go tree shopping. And be sure to allow enough height for your tree topper. With a stand figured into your metrics.

And keep your tree watered accordingly to keep it fresh.

But What if, No Tree

But all this is just conifer cocktail party chatter if you can’t even buy a tree.

This year, I said to Bill and Mother that we should purchase our tree from the town because despite the higher prices, the monies raised from the sales go to first responders.

I saw them setting up on one of my Wellness Walks. I was all set to choose my favorite: the Blue Spruce.

And then, just like that, they were packing up on Monday. It was only December 5th!

The Rockefeller Center tree had just gone up, for crying out loud. Ok. Ok. They select their tree a year in advance. So of course they have no problem getting a tree. (wink).

This year, their 82-foot Norway Spruce is from the New York town of Queensbury.

We passed Rockefeller Center on the bus heading back downtown after our Metropolitan Museum visit on Thursday. The entire bus gasped with wonder…

The man responsible for all this magic is Erik Pauzé, Head Gardener at Rockefeller Center, who looks for each year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. He visits nurseries throughout the tri-state area and looks for unique backyard trees. Trees are also submitted for consideration through Rockefeller Center’s website.

Rockefeller Center usually selects a Norway Spruce as its holiday showstopper.

Once the tree comes down, the trunks are milled into two-by-four and two-by six beams that Tishman Speyer donates to Habitat For Humanity.

And the glamorous star topper is made of 3 million Swarovski crystals placed on 70 spikes. It’s worth an estimated $1.5 million. Just like your angel topper, it’s used every year.

You can read an interesting interview with the horticulturist, Pauzé from Rockefeller Magazine here. 

I love where he says he looks for a tree you’d want in your living room but on a grander scale. And to put a smile on kids’ faces. It’s happiness…” Just like the oohs and ahhs it elicited from fellow bus riders. 

Tree Alternatives

All this was giving me tree envy. But what if you really just can’t find a tree this year?

There are faux trees albeit at rather significant price increases just the same as live/real trees.

In a kind of curious twist, horticulturists often recommend and prefer the faux for themselves and clients because it’s sustainable.

You can choose from realistic looks that are akin to the real, evergreen conifers. There are also some widely styled looks ~ from hot colors ~ luscious bubble-gum pink glamour to electric blue and silvery sparkle; size ranges from pencil slim to upside down to big and fat.

photo: Such a Kitsch

But what about some other creative tree options?

Here are a few creative, fun alternatives.

I just read recently about a gum drop tree you can readily make

photo: Betty Crocker

photo: Amazon

Felt Trees

Garland draped artfully on the wall:

photo: HGTV

Cut Greens or Faux Greens on a wall:

42 Christmas Tree Alternatives for a Unique Centerpiece photo: The Spruce Unique Christmas Tree Ideas And Alternatives – Forbes Homephoto: Forbes

I’m not exactly sure what this is ~ cans? But why not use pots, or fragrance bottles, or….

Wall Christmas tree – alternative ideas for your festive decoration

Dowels or Planks can be your best tree ever!

Alternative Christmas Tree Ideas—Simple Tree Ideasphoto: Real Simple 

Pine Cones Tree

48 Amazing Christmas Tree Ideas - A Piece of Rainbowphoto: A Piece of Rainbow

And this was just hilarious! Pillows as a tree. Why not?  And if you’re too pooped from wrapping and baking all those cookies, you can just pull a layer or two from your tree and take a Santa nap!  Ha 

100+ DIY Christmas Tree Alternatives to Try in 2022

I do like this ~ A wall tree made from cards. I could use the pretty Christmas Cards we’ve received over the years. I still have almost all of them. I just cannot trash ones that have the children on them. This might be a nice memory tree… 

Wall Christmas tree – alternative ideas for your festive decoration

Seeing a kind of Memory Tree, I couldn’t help but think of one of my dearest friends: Dina. She surely is a Christmas elf. 

I long knew that she kept a Christmas tree up all year. That always intrigued me.

However, I just learned that she boasts a total of five Christmas trees during the Holidays, including the 365-Day Friends tree. Yes, five, faux, themed trees! 

I was going to add her creations to this Post but when I read her heartwarming story and saw her original Christmas creations, I figured it needed a separate Post devoted to her Christmas tree art.  

Made with the best ingredient ~ Love and Love of Family tradition, it’s an inspiring Christmas story. 

Here’s a sneak peek of the Friends Tree


And Bill and I made the cut ~ We’re on the Friends tree! Here I am dancing with her wonderful, generous, happy husband, Frank.   And there’s me with Dina and Bill.


How glorious to showcase your best buddies while sipping hot toddys or French 75’s made with whiskey. This is such a keeper of a holiday decorating idea.

You can’t get that kind of Holiday joy from tinsel!

Stay tuned for more Holiday tree love. 

1 Comment

  • Anonymous

    Amazing how much there is to a Christmas tradition. Enjoyed reading it. Thanks Leeann for all your information.

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