Christmas Tree Survey 2019: Millennials Are the Most Likely Generation to Choose Live Trees Over Artificial Ones

Are millennials more traditional than older generations when it comes to Christmas? ValuePengiun's survey found that millennials are choosing live Christmas trees at the highest rate of any generation — beating out Gen Xers and baby boomers.
Millennial picking Christmas tree

Key takeaways:

  • Millennials are 82% more likely to choose a live Christmas tree than baby boomers.
  • On average, those celebrating with an artificial tree keep that tree for seven years and spend about $100.53 on the purchase, translating to just $14.36 per year.
  • Choosing an artificial tree over a real tree is $513 cheaper on average over a seven year span.
  • Men are 68% more likely to have a real Christmas tree in their home than their female counterparts.

Live vs. fake Christmas trees: Millennials and men are the most likely to choose real trees

Despite the impression that millennials are obsessed with all things modern, our survey found that when it comes to Christmas, the traditional approach of getting a live tree lives on. This generation showed the strongest preference for live trees over artificial ones, beating out Gen Xers and baby boomers by 15% and 82%, respectively. Additionally, we found that men are 68% more likely to choose a real tree than women.

Graph of the trends in Christmas tree preference by generation.
Graph of the trends in Christmas tree preference by generation.

Our survey found that where you're from plays a big part in what kind of tree you plan on having, with the West having the highest rate of respondents, 42%, who plan to get a live tree. Westerners will have live trees in their homes this holiday season at a rate that is 82% greater than people from the Midwest, the most likely region to get artificial trees.

Region% artificial treeAvg. cost% live treeAvg. cost
Midwest70%$108.7023%$101.50
Northeast56%$105.8035%$93.00
South68%$101.1025%$83.50
West54%$94.2042%$77.70

Over a seven-year span, an artificial Christmas tree can save you as much as $659

From a financial standpoint, we found that artificial trees are much cheaper than live ones when considering the upfront cost and the seven-year average span during which artificial trees were reported to be reused by respondents. This amounts to a total cost difference of $513 on average across all of our survey respondents, and as much as $659 for Midwesterners.

Chart of the average per year cost of real vs. artificial Christmas trees.
Chart of the average per year cost of real vs. artificial Christmas trees.

Mess is the top reason people avoid real Christmas trees

Despite the significant savings that choosing an artificial tree represents, cost wasn't the top reason that people are choosing artificial trees. The reduced mess and hassle of artificial trees were the top two factors that respondents said influenced their choice. Our survey found artificial tree owners were more than twice as likely to cite these two factors as their reasons for going with an artificial tree as they were to say they do so to be environmentally friendly.

Artificial treeReal tree
Reason% of respondentsReason% of respondents
Less mess54%Enjoy the experience of selecting a tree62%
Less hassle51%Feels more festive48%
Less expensive41%Tradition46%
Safer28%Like the smell46%
More environmentally friendly24%Like the visual appearance32%

Christmas tree hazards

Putting up a Christmas tree can be surprisingly hazardous, according to our survey. About one in every eleven respondents says they have been injured while putting up a Christmas tree. Over half of the injuries sustained by putting up Christmas trees were serious enough to warrant medical attention. The good news is that if someone is injured at your house over the holidays, it will likely be covered by the personal liability insurance coverage that is part of your homeowners insurance policy.

Adding to the potential hazards that go along with the Christmas season is the fact that most Americans will end up leaving their lights on overnight. Over two-thirds of our respondents that plan on having a tree this holiday season admit that they have left their lights on overnight at least once — with males being 22% more likely to do so than their female counterparts.

According to Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) reports, there are about 200 Christmas tree fires each year that account for 10 deaths annually. Among the recommendations to reduce the risk of fire are to make sure artificial trees are flame resistant, use lights that are in good working order and turn off lights at night and when you leave the house. Additionally, ensuring that you maintain a renters or homeowners insurance policy that covers damage caused by fires — most standard policies do — can help you avoid financial ruin caused by a Christmas tree fire.

Adding to the hazard of picking up a live tree each year is that fact that improperly secured Christmas trees are a serious risk that leads to thousands of crashes each year. Studies estimate that over 50,000 traffic accidents caused by road debris — which includes objects like improperly secured Christmas trees — occur annually.

Methodology

ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,029 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded November 1-4, 2019.

Bailey is a Research Analyst at ValuePenguin, covering insurance. He graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. Bailey's analysis has been featured by CNBC, the Houston Chronicle and the National Transportation Bureau Safety Board.

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