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Canada Issue 655

Faux and Firs

Holiday Tree Selection Guide

Oh, good grief. Isn’t it busy enough without requiring a degree in ‘tree’? Whether you side with Charlie Brown (real tree) or Lucy (artifical tree), ‘tis the season for holiday tree selection and decoration. Here are our tips for taking home and trussing up your tree, whatever its DNA.

The Real Deal
If you’re taking the real-tree route, your kids will love to ‘cut their own tree’ at a local outdoor tree farm. Or go to IKEA, where they’ll give you a $20 gift card for future purchases when you buy a $20 tree from their tree lot (and they have cute, inexpensive decorations in-store, too).

Your city may also have delivery options: In Vancouver, environmentally-focused Carbonsync offers online tree ordering and delivery. And we’re very keen on the concept behind The Gift of Green who will bring a live potted tree (no tree stand required) to your home and then pick it up again after the holidays and plant it in the spring.

Care for a Scotch? Here’s a quick list of how the most common species of fresh trees differ:

  • Scotch Pine is the most popular Canadian Christmas tree, and holds its needles well, with stiff branches that make it easy to decorate. 
  • Fraser Fir trees have softer needles, good spacing between the firm branches for decorating and superb needle retention
  • White Spruce is known for being the most fragrant with the longest needles
  • Blue Spruce trees have wonderful colour and needle retention
  • Balsam Fir trees’ dark green colour and aroma are a bonus, but the needle retention is not as good as other trees


Everlasting Love
Yes, it’s OK to have those feelings for an artificial tree. Especially if you appreciate the ease of putting the tree up, the no-watering, no-needle factor, and the potential cost savings over the long term. Some of them even come pre-lit. Our savvy inside sources assure us the top seller and best value right now is the NOMA 6½-ft Pre-Lit Self-Shaping Pine Tree at Canadian Tire. We like the fact that the lights are already on the tree and assembly is almost as easy as taking it out of the box. There’s always a little fluffing required of the branches to make them look the way you like them though. 

Our top savvy tip for trees? If you have room for a second (small) tree in your home, pick one up for the kids to have as their own. They can adorn it with all of their own decorations and actually reach the branches! That way, everyone is happy—they can ‘own’ their own tree while yours remains perfectly decorated.

Whatever your preference, it’s hard not to get all sappy about holiday trees. They really do light up the season—and your home.

Tested by Alison R., Toronto
First published 2010.12.07