A Christmas tree. It really is the quintessential Christmas tradition. As kids we loved the tree. The smell of pine. The glow of lights. The fun of hanging ornaments. The annual family feud about tinsel versus garland. I think most of have similar warm, fond memories of our Christmas tree. Yes?
This year, let’s create more of those wonderful memories while we trim our Christmas tree budget (bad, bad pun). I’ve got four ways to save on your tree – four ways for real tree lovers and four ways for fake tree shoppers.
If you’re a real tree person, I get it. You love the smell. You love picking one out. Nothing can replace those things. So, even though a fake tree makes much more financial sense in the long run, I won’t try to talk you into that. (But if you don’t really love the smell and experience of shopping for a real tree, then convert to a fake one ASAP.)
#1: Make a New Tradition
Starting this year, make Christmas Eve the day that you put up your tree (or the 23rd if it’s easier on your sanity). If you head to the tree lot 3-4 days before the holiday, you’re certain to save 50% or more. Then, leave it up through January 6. That’s the real 12th day of Christmas, also known as Three Kings Day.
#2: Shop Around
I’m always all about price comparing. It’s no different with Christmas trees. You’ll need to know what size and what kind of tree you want. Then invest 30 minutes to call hardware stores and big box stores to get some price quotes. Don’t forget to include a search for “Christmas tree” on both Groupon and LivingSocial to see what deals come up there.
You might find this National Christmas Tree Association’s guide useful in deciding which kind of tree you want.
If you go to a mom and pop lot, then negotiate. Even you, the one who hates negotiating, can do this. Here’s the question you ask: “Can you do better than the price you just quoted me?” In many cases those small tree lots have pricing latitude, whereas chain stores don’t.
#4: Bum the Branches
Many tree lots happily give away their leftover, cut branches. Using these branches to decorate your house will provide the Christmas tree aroma without the Christmas tree cost. If you’re crafty you could make a topiary. The rest of us could spruce up a mantel (pun intended).
Here are four ways to save on a fake tree:
#1: Settle for a Good-Enough Deal
If you want an artificial tree, then you already know that this is really the wrong time of year to buy. Yes, we know that trees will be half off on December 26. But, if you need a tree right now, then you can’t wait. Aim for 20% off an artificial tree and call it good enough. It’s better than full price, right?
#2: Go Charlie Brown
We bought a fake tree a few years back for $25 at Big Lots. It’s sort of paltry. Sort of Charlie Brown. And, it’s grown on me. I’ve decided that I actually like it (which is a big step up from my initial “I can barely tolerate this thing” sentiment). I don’t want to upgrade to a fancier tree now. This one has character. And, after we decorate it, it doesn’t look bad at all.
#3: Smaller is Better
Instead of an 8 foot monster tree, go for a 6 footer. You’ll use fewer lights (which is cheaper), be less tempted to buy more ornaments, and it’s much easier to get the angel on the top.
#4: Get a Used One
Ask around before you head to Target and pay retail price for a fake tree. Post on Facebook, “Hey, I’m looking for an artificial tree. Anyone have one they’d be willing to sell?” You’d be amazed at who says, “Yes, I normally put up 5 trees – one for each of my cats – and this year I decided to just do 4, so I’d love to sell you my amazing tree for $25.” You won’t know unless you ask.
Of course thrift stores are another option, although their selection might be picked over by now. Marco and I actually got a second tree at Salvation Army, but decided we like our Charlie Brown Big Lots tree better.
I hope these ideas help you this year and beyond, and that they get you thinking about how you can do your tree differently.
Your turn: What inventive ideas or unique tricks have you done to save money on your tree?
Got some holiday shopping to do? Consider taking a look at our current deals for some great gift ideas.