Photo: Six Christmas tree options

A real tree might just afford the same health benefits as forest bathing!(Credit: Theresa Hannah)

Real, fake, potted, planted — I've tried out many a holiday tree.

Three years ago, I accidentally killed a potted cedar. Last year, my houseplant, a Norfolk Island pine, did the trick. (It's still alive.) This year, I have a real table-top tree (toddler-sized) destined for the chipper.

Bringing a tree into your home seems kind of weird. But it has occurred to me why people prefer a real one:

  1. They're eco-friendlier than fake trees.
  2. That smell. It's a form of forest bathing — breathing in natural substances, called phytoncides, or wood essential oils, can help fight cancer!
  3. Contact with nature reduces stress and blood-sugar levels and makes people happy.
  4. You own an indestructible vacuum.

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Here are six options for holiday trees:

Real Christmas trees

  1. Buy local.
  2. Choose trees from farms that minimize (or do without) pesticides and herbicides.
  3. Support tree lots that donate a portion of the funds to community causes.
  4. Cut your own. Visit a tree farm or get a provincial permit, from lands that must be kept clear anyway. In many provinces, hydro rights-of-way have to be kept clear.

Artificial Christmas trees

  1. Avoid PVCs — the grinchiest of plastics — that are used to make most artificial trees. Not only are these hard on the environment, they're bad for your health.
  2. Make it last 20 years!

Note: Watch for recycling options. They don't exist yet, but they could in 10 to 20 years.

Potted evergreens

If you have the space, start a Christmas tree forest!

How to care for a potted tree:

  1. Don't keep the tree inside for much more than a week (two max).
  2. Water generously.
  3. Place the tree outside in the yard until the spring thaw, and then plant it.

Indoor potted pine

Buy a Norfolk Island pine to keep indoors, year-round (and improve the air quality in your home). This is a great option for those who live in small spaces!

Rent a tree

You order it, they deliver it, you enjoy it and they pick it up! I'm aware of two B.C. examples:

  1. Evergrow Christmas Trees Co.
  2. Carbonsync

DIY Christmas tree

Make a tree from items you already own — books, scrap paper, metal coat hangers, felt, etc.

Did I miss an option?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

December 18, 2014

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Jan 11, 2017
12:05 PM

I hung Christmas ornaments on our jade tree this year.

Dec 09, 2016
7:47 AM

I think Christmas is a communal event as Christianity is a communal religion. So, why not communally decorate outdoor trees without cutting them. It solves the whole problem. It helps us to think of our community instead of just being individualistic (a fancy word for selfish).

Nov 29, 2016
11:58 AM

If you do cut your own: “cut ‘em off at the knees” — meaning pick a tree slightly taller than you want and cut leaving a few large branches at the bottom. This way the tree doesn’t die, and the strongest branch will grow upwards and take over as the new trunk. We’ve been cutting them this way for years, and have actually harvested the same tree twice.

If you have access or can get a permit to cut under hydro lines, take the family or some friends and make a day of it! My family has always gone out to family property in S. Alberta and cut our own — it’s a great family tradition that has made some of my fondest memories.

Dec 19, 2015
9:29 PM

we have a fake one. The fake one we have has never been “undecorated.” It goes into storage every year with the same ornaments on it. As new ornaments are added… They stay. We have lived in three different homes and this tree has stayed the same. 10 years now, and it’s been a perfect tree.

Jan 10, 2015
12:11 PM

I live in a small apartment. This year I had a chance to take the branches pruned from my parents tree home. I’ve set it up in a vase and added some decorations. Using all of the tree and bringing that great scent and atmosphere in.

Dec 31, 2014
2:22 PM

Great options! I was hoping to be able to grown my own potted tree and bought one of those kits last year. I was very excited when the seed sprouted and I started to get a little pine tree that looked about 1 cm tall! However, it is now only about 2 cm tall so I don’t think it’s going to be our Christmas tree for many years still…

Dec 19, 2014
5:53 PM

I don’t mind having a great meal with family at Christmas time but I am offended that people chop down tree’s for one day. I don’t use a real tree, and this year I won’t be putting one up…but, I will have a great dinner with my son.

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