What's your Christmas tree normally - fake or real?

Many people opt for a plastic version because they don't know how to buy a real Christmas tree. But don't fear, we've got some top tips to help you find the right one that'll see you through the festive season.

Why should I buy a real Christmas tree? 

A lot of people are put off getting a real tree because they think it will be too much effort but that’s not the case at all – the upkeep is easy when you know how!

In terms of being kind to the environment, real trees use about 10 times fewer materials and five times less energy than artificial trees, plus you can’t reproduce their divine Christmassy smell and what’s more - you can recycle it.

Where can I buy a real tree from? The Forestry Commission has Christmas tree sales centres across the UK - locations are listed on its website in November - and if you buy from them, you can be safe in the knowledge that whatever tree you pick has been grown in the UK in a well-managed way.

If you can’t find one of these sales centres nearby, try The British Christmas Tree Growers Association website, which has a list of suppliers based on postcode. Failing that, your local DIY store or garden centre should have a good stock.

How much should I pay for a real tree?

The price that you pay for your tree is completely up to you and it will depend on a number of factors.

If you shop in a city, you may find you’re paying a bit more than if you bought your tree in the suburbs, but the benchmarks are usually around £25 for a 6ft Norwegian Spruce and £40 for a Nordmann Fir.

One thing we will say – if you find a bargain of a tree, you may want to check that it’s FSC-certified, which means it has been managed according to the Forest Stewardship Council’s guidelines.

When should I start thinking about buying a real Christmas tree?

If you take good care of your Christmas tree, it can last up to six weeks, so you should be able to pick yours at the beginning of December and still have it looking green and smelling fresh come the New Year.

Should I buy my Christmas tree in person or online?

Choosing a tree in person can often be a really enjoyable experience, especially if you have young children who are already getting into the Christmas spirit.

Wrapping up and heading out into the forest to pick your own tree has become a festive tradition for many families, and it means that you know exactly what you’re getting and will have a better idea of how your tree will look once it’s in your home.

That being said, if you’re short on time, you can go online and buy a tree from the online Forestry Commission Shop and get it delivered to your home on a specified date - it couldn’t be simpler and delivery is free.

What should I consider when choosing a Christmas tree?

There are a few things to bear in mind, which are all dependent on who lives in your house and the room in which you’ll display your tree, so the best way to find your perfect tree is to flag your checklist to an expert at the sales centre.

It’s easy to see why so many families choose to buy their tree in person and make use of the expert staff’s advice. It’s helpful to know the characteristics of the most popular trees, so we asked the Forestry Commission to give us a brief overview:

Norwegian Spruce With its mid-green colour, fine delicate foliage and a distinctive Christmassy scent, this is the most traditional type of festive tree.

Nordmann Fir Getting into the Christmas spirit and cutting out the need for snow in a can, this species has bold green needles with a silver-white underside. Its shelf life is impressive too.

Lodgepole pine If you want to fill your rooms with a sharp pine fragrance throughout the festive period, the Lodgepole is for you. The bushy tree has a cheerful green colour, slightly tinged with yellow.

Scots pine A really fragrant native conifer, this tree has soft finger-friendly needles with an attractive blue-green foliage.

How to buy a real Christmas tree

Will my Christmas tree be delivered? 

Obviously if you choose to go to a sales centre and choose your tree yourself, you’ll probably want to take it home with you there and then. However, if you buy your tree online, you can usually organise home delivery down to a specific day.

Also, worth knowing... 

Forestry Commission sites will take back their trees after the Christmas period to be chipped and then turned into compost; just ask when you buy your tree to see if your site is able to do so.

What are your top tips for buying a real Christmas tree? Share them in the Comments box below.