The Best Time to Buy a Christmas Tree

Is there a perfect time to buy a cheap tree? Yes—December 26. Here’s the next-best time.
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For a great many people, celebrating the holidays means giving a large Christmas tree temporary residence in their living rooms. While some wait until after Thanksgiving to buy one, others may opt to visit a tree farm even sooner. Obviously, waiting until just a few days before Christmas will be the cheapest option—but only if you have the holiday warmth of the Grinch. So is there such a thing as the best time to buy a tree when you can maximize savings and still have weeks of tree admiration in front of you?

There is.

The Best Time to Buy a Real Christmas Tree

Typically, the most popular tree-buying time is the first weekend after Thanksgiving, making it the priciest by default. That’s due in some measure to the fact that families like to shop for trees as a group, and holiday weekends are a good time to do that. If money is no object, then this is the ideal window to score a fresh, fragrant tree at the market rate—in 2022, that was about $78. But if you want a better balance between cost and usefulness, you should wait until the first week in December.

An analysis of over 200,000 tree sales, which was coordinated by Square and the National Christmas Tree Association, found that the first week in December is the period when trees are perfectly priced. They’re not as expensive as on Black Friday, but you’ll still get weeks of enjoyment out of them. Waiting until the second or third week offers only minimal cost savings and means you won’t get as much time with your tree.

And by week, we mean going on a weekday, not weekend. Shopping for a tree during off-peak hours means reduced foot traffic and smaller holiday crowds.

There is a kind of cheat code to buying a tree, which is buying one early—think November—and then storing it in a garage until you’re ready to put it up. You’ll still need to give it ample water, and it may start to weaken before you’re done with it, but you may consider the trade-off worthwhile if you can find a pre-Thanksgiving deal.

The Best Time to Buy an Artificial Christmas Tree

Naturally, the best deals on artificial trees come during off-season months. But if you didn’t have the foresight to grab a tree over the summer, you can still save money. Unlike natural trees, retailers like to offer holiday sale promotions on faux foliage.

An even more affordable option is to do with an artificial tree what isn’t really feasible with a real tree: buy it secondhand. Markets like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and thrift shops will often have fake trees up for sale. If you go this route, make sure you’re taking proper safety precautions. Check to see that electrical cords aren’t worn or frayed and whether it’s an older model of tree. Some pre-lit trees might not adhere to modern safety standards. A UL tag means it’s been checked at the time of manufacture by a third party. You’ll still, however, want to inspect it for any bad wiring.

When to Dispose of a Christmas Tree

You’ve spent several weeks grooming, watering, and enjoying the tree in your den. It’s now December 26. So what happens when you finally get rid of this thing?

When the time comes, you don’t have to put it out to the curb. If you have a wood chipper, you can reduce it to mulch. Some regions have recycling plants that will accept trees. For maximum entertainment, you can also donate the tree to a local zoo and watch animals ravage it the way your kids tore into their presents.