Real Christmas trees can help end a difficult year with good memories

Nearly a quarter of survey respondents who put up an artificial tree last year – or no tree at all – say they are likely put up a real Christmas tree this year.
Real Christmas Tree Board shares the stories of the season: survey results, website upgrades, and environmental insights

HOWELL, Mich., October 27, 2020 – It may not be Christmas-as-usual this year, but despite – or perhaps because of – 2020’s unwelcome twists and turns, people say they’re optimistic about the holiday season. In fact, in a survey of more than 2,000 adults this summer, 92% expect Christmas to be different this year, and 91% of those folks believe it will be different in a good way.

A majority of respondents (72%) said it’s important to purposefully create good memories, and 86% agree that it’s possible to make good memories even during bad times. Physically, people want to make their home a more pleasant place (84%) and emotionally, they want to make this Christmas more memorable (82%) and make it the best Christmas for their kids (78%). Thirty-eight percent expect the holiday to be less hectic this year and 35% plan on creating new traditions.

More than half (61%) said the pandemic has increased their desire to spend money on experiences rather than things. Toward that end, more than three-quarters (76%) said they think of real Christmas trees as an “experience” (as opposed to just a “product”) and as “special,” (as opposed to “normal”).

By comparison, fewer feel the same way about artificial trees. In fact, 21% of respondents who put up an artificial tree (or no tree at all) last year said that they are more likely to put up a real Christmas tree this year. Many explained that their switch to a real Christmas tree is a response to the pandemic and a resulting desire to add more cheer to their Christmas as they close out 2020.

Of course, for many people the pandemic means less travel and smaller, perhaps masked and distanced, gatherings. Those accustomed to hosting extended friends and family may find things a bit quieter this year, and those accustomed to traveling over the river and through the woods might find themselves in a surprising holiday location: their own home. According to the survey, among those likely to celebrate in a different place or way this year, 39% report the change makes them more likely to buy a real tree.

Real Christmas tree retailers have planned for the likely increases in demand to ensure that there will be a Christmas tree for everyone who wants one this year. To help shoppers plan ahead and find a location that fits their shopping preferences, the Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTP) is debuting a new zip code-based retailer locator at An interactive map and search filters allow users to narrow the field by location and retail type, including choose and cut farms, seasonal lots, garden centers, general retailers, and home improvement stores.

To accommodate the potential influx of new buyers of real Christmas trees, the RCTB is unveiling a new species guide on its site as well. Featuring 20 species of real Christmas trees, it highlights the unique characteristics of each and helps shoppers entertain options they may not have previously considered as they prepare to bring some fresh Christmas cheer into their home.

It’s worth revisiting this recurring question especially for those thinking of converting from an artificial tree. Which is better for the environment? Well, consider three things:

  1. Natural – Real Christmas trees come from the earth and return to the earth; they are biodegradable, so they can be recycled or reused for mulch.
  2. Replenished — Real Christmas trees are grown to be harvested, just like pumpkins for Halloween or salad ingredients for dinner. For every real Christmas tree farmers harvest, they plant at least one new tree. There’s no harm in taking a real Christmas tree home to enjoy. That’s what they’re for.
  3. Easy on the earth — Research shows that real trees are much friendlier to the environment compared to artificial trees. Artificial trees have three times the impact on climate change and resource depletion. When disposed of, they sit in landfills for years.1

The CDC’s guidelines for safely celebrating Christmas and other holidays make no mention of real Christmas trees or any reason to be concerned they can transmit COVID-19. Sources such as the State of New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub and the American Floral Endowment state that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can infect a plant. Both make the point that plant cells differ from animal cells. Animals have cell membranes, which the COVID-19 particle can penetrate. Plant cells have very tough cell walls, which it cannot.

Meanwhile, months ago the National Christmas Tree Association appointed two committees to develop best practice recommendations (one for tree lot operators and one for choose-and-cut farms) to guide retailers on how to ensure as safe an on-site experience for shoppers as possible.

Going to pick out real Christmas trees is an event that creates family memories every year – and likely will be especially memorable this year. But best of all … real Christmas trees literally smell like Christmas.


About the Survey

TRUE Global Intelligence fielded a survey of 2,019 Americans adults ages 21 to 49 years from July 6th to July 10th, 2020. All respondents to the survey celebrate or observe Christmas and either decide or share in the decision of whether and what kind of Christmas tree to put up in their home each year or influence their home’s decisionmaker. The survey has a margin of error of ±2.2% and higher for subgroups

Know Your Sources

  1. Established in 2015, the Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTP) is a national research and promotion program whose mission is to share the benefits of fresh Christmas trees with consumers through promotion and public relations, while engaging in research to better serve our customers and growers. The USDA provides oversight of the RCTB to ensure transparency and accuracy in its communications. This press release was developed and distributed by the RCTP.
  2. The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) is the national trade association representing the Christmas tree industry. NCTA represents more than 700 active member farms, 29 state and regional associations, and more than 4,000 affiliated businesses that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide related supplies and services. The NCTA represents the Real Christmas Tree community with one voice to protect and advocate on the industry’s behalf.
  3. The American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) is a 501(c)(3) corporation run by CEO Thomas Harman. Harman is the founder of Balsam Hill, a seller of artificial Christmas trees.3 The majority of artificial Christmas trees are made overseas.4


1 Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of an Artificial Christmas Tree and a Natural Christmas Tree; Ellipsos, Montreal, Quebec, 2009; pages 6 & 8.