What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than by killing a tree and cramming it into your living room for a month? While any green thing found at the shady parking lot Christmas tree shop will do, arming yourself with a little tree knowledge will help you make the right non-deciduous decision.
So here’s a little rundown of the types of Christmas trees so you know what to buy to impress your family, friends and, most of all, Santa. Just don’t forget to leave him out a plate of these cookies.
The Most Common Different Types of Christmas Trees
A classic shape. A classic color. A classic look. There are many reasons why the Fraser Fir is in the running to win our “Best Type of Christmas Tree” award, from its sturdy branches (able to hold even the heftiest “I Like Wine” ornament) to its soft needles that are more brush-like than porcupine-esque.
But the big reason Fraser is popular? It’s an uptight prude. This tree won’t go dropping needles and revealing its sexy naked trunk at the slightest gust of wind. When watered and cut properly, the tree should remain full well past Christmas day.
And as a bonus, you can let everyone know that the Fraser Fir is named after 18th century botanist John Fraser. (We hear that factoid is how Jay-Z first impressed Beyoncé!)
Colorado Blue Spruce
It’s okay to have a blue Christmas. This tree’s bluish tint will make the room feel chillier and help you forget you chose to wear a thick, wool turtleneck sweater to a crowded, warm party.
The Colorado Blue Spruce is a great choice for a Christmas tree. Its hearty branches and the perfect pyramid shape (it’s our fancy way of saying it looks like a triangle from the front) that looks so good you may even think it’s fake. And, if you don’t chop down the tree, it can grow for up to 200 years! (So do the eco-friendly thing and buy a live one at your local gardening or hardware store and plant it outside after Christmas! It’ll grow in USDA hardiness zones 2-8. Sorry, Florida, none for you.)
The Colorado Blue Spruce is the state tree of Colorado (duh!) and was also the state tree of Utah until 2014 when Utah realized it was just stealing Colorado’s style. The Utah state tree is now the Quaking Aspen, which sounds like it could be a tree, a snowboard trick, or the name of a pet stricken with palsy.
Balsams have a rich, dark green color, sturdy branches, and smell like rich mahogany. Er, Christmas. The lovely odor will fill you with Christmas cheer and make every day feel like a Hallmark Christmas movie starring some actor you vaguely remember from that other thing!
But don’t you dare say it smells like a pine tree.
Firs and pines are different. Just like a turtle is not a tortoise, a monkey is not an ape, and a kangaroo is not a “doggie” no matter what your niece shouts. To tell the difference between a pine and a fir, look closely at the needles until someone shouts, “Who are you? Get away from that pine [or fir] tree!”
(What is the difference? Pine needles are attached to clusters that attach to the branches, while fir and spruce needles attach directly to the branches. Spruces have needles that are square and can be rolled between your fingers, whereas fir needles don’t roll. Like that, anyhow.)
At first, you may think the beautiful White Pine would be an ideal type for Christmas. It is the largest of the pine trees.
However, the branches are a little flimsy, and heavy ornaments will droop and look sad. But all is not lost! They’re one of the best trees for making wreaths and other holiday crafts.
If the Scotch Pine were a movie, the tagline would be: “If looks could kill (or at least scratch).” Scotch Pines are gorgeous trees…in the wild.
But handling the sharp, dagger-like needles requires thick gloves and cup of Christmas cheer (they’re called Scotch trees for a reason). It’s a shame the tree is so defensive and prickly, as the needles are great at staying on the tree even after you forget to water it for a week.
The Douglas Fir is the most popular Christmas tree, due to its shape, size, color, and availability.
The Douglas Fir needs a lot of water to keep its needles, but if you want a traditional tree for a traditional Christmas this is your conifer. It’s simple. It’s good.
That said, some of the branches may be too closely packed to fit your entire Star Trek collection. So you’ll need to pick a different tree or come to terms with the fact that your dying Spock Hallmark ornament has to stay in its box.
Today’s artificial trees use state of the art manufacturing processes to mimic the look of genuine Mother Nature. The downside, there’s no piney scent, and the more lifelike they look, the more they cost, with top-of-the-line fake trees costing upwards of $19,000.
On the plus side, they will outlast a standard tree and you won’t need to vacuum the needles. Also, the metal and synthetic materials used these days are less likely to go up in flames should your lighting get a little…excessive.
Because everything has to be Pinterested, it’s no longer enough to place a standard tree in your home. You’ve got to flip it upside down!
The inverted Christmas tree is actually a tradition from the Middle Ages, and can fit way more of Santa’s loot underneath it.
If you choose to decorate your home with upside down trees, secure them properly and get ready to tackle questions of, “Why is the tree upside down?” and “Who the hell do you think you are?” and “Ugh. Really?”