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Why You'll Probably Be Paying More for Your Christmas Tree This Year

Why You'll Probably Be Paying More for Your Christmas Tree This Year

Jed Oelbaum

The holidays are a financially taxing time, what with travel expenditures, presents, and the extra therapy (and booze) you’re going to need to deal with seeing your weirdo extended family. But if you feel a particular sense of depletion this December 25, it might not just be the eggnog working its way through your system—your Christmas tree will likely be more expensive this year, as droughts, wildfires, and other market forces dent the U.S. tree supply, causing a shortage.  

Dan Bolender, owner of Olympic Christmas Trees in Rancho Cucamonga, California told CBS Los Angeles that he’s seen a lot of growers leave the business recently. “We’ve never seen a shortage. Nothing like this at all,” he said. “I’m calling [growers] and they’re saying ‘we don’t have any more trees, Dan,’” he added.

In New York City, already a pricey place to jingle your bells, one Greenwich Village seller is asking as much as $1,000 for her best trees. “This 13-foot tree—a beautiful fir—is $750, and with delivery, installation with a stand and tip would be $1,000,” Heather Neville, “the NYC Tree Lady,” told the New York Post on Sunday.

(There are still downmarket options for the anemically financed gothamite; the same Post article reported finding cheaper choices in the area, including a tree for $100 with stand.)

Neville’s white firs having the same price tag as a ‘90s Ford Taurus might be an extreme example of inflated tree prices. But growers in Oregon, the country’s leading producer of Christmas trees, are asking for as much as 15 percent more this year. And there are reports of diminished Christmas tree supplies and higher prices in Tennessee, Virginia, California, and other areas around the country.

One of the reasons consumers balk at spending a bundle on their tree is the speed with which one’s green, glittering holiday centerpiece turns into a highly flammable, piney heap. It can feel wasteful, not just as you lug what was once a perfectly good tree to the curb, but when you’re later staring at your checking account balance and wondering where all your dang money went.

Image by Albedo via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Albedo via Wikimedia Commons

If Christmas tree prices stay high, we’ll probably see more people turning to the kitschy glory of artificial options, which cost more than most real trees upfront, but save funds with reuse each subsequent year. Though if you’re trying to have a green Christmas, maybe artificial trees aren’t the way to go: They’re generally considered less environmentally friendly than real trees, despite their reusability.

Trees might be more expensive than usual this year, but the price hike likely won’t make them unaffordable for most Americans. If you do live in NYC, or some other urban center, though, remember to have an exit plan—if you get a big tree delivered and can’t dispose of it yourself, you may end up having to pay even more money to have it taken away.

Just make sure your tree is going somewhere where it’ll be recycled. Some cities’ sanitation departments run special after-Christmas tree recycling programs and you can take your tree to be mulched at events like NYC’s MulchFest. And to really get your money’s worth for that overpriced tree, you can donate it to a local zoo, or big cat sanctuary, where you can watch lions and tigers gleefully tear your dried out Christmas fir to shreds.

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