Look beyond “premium” grade trees, which are perfectly proportioned, to lower grades that may have flaws, like a bare spot or two, Ms Sidebottom said. You can place the shaft so that the defect is facing a wall.
Different varieties of trees have different prices. So if a noble or Fraser fir is too expensive, consider a Scots pine, which may be cheaper.
Avoid extras like “flocking” or applying fake snow to the tree. Some tree vendors offer this for an additional charge. (DIY kits are available, but be prepared for some messes.)
While some shoppers like to visit a farm to pick out a tree, big box retail chains also sell Christmas trees and may offer lower prices to entice customers to make further purchases, Ms Sidebottom said. About 29 percent of trees purchased last year were purchased from chain stores, according to the association’s survey.
Some people prefer to skip the regular watering and wandering pine needles and buy artificial trees, which look more and more realistic. Prices range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand, but the tree can be used for years, and many come with built-in lights. Consumer Reports recently rated artificial trees.
Here are some questions and answers about Christmas trees:
Where can I cut my own Christmas tree?
Those who like to get outside can save money by cutting down a tree on US Forest Service land. You will need a permit, which costs $5 to $20 and is available online or at service offices. About 300,000 permits were sold in 2020, said Forest Service spokeswoman Janelle Smith. Some forests designate cutting areas, while others offer more flexible guidelines. “Kids love it,” she says.
Many “pick and cut” tree farms, where buyers select a tree that is cut for them, allow customers to cut, Ms Sidebottom said. You can search for locations near you on the Real Christmas Tree Board website.