How to buy the right Christmas tree while staying on budget

For many, the yearly adventure of picking the perfect, fresh-cut Christmas tree has long been a family tradition not to be missed. But Christmas is also a big business, and when it comes to purchasing all things that make the season bright, costs can add up quickly.

The Fraser fir, Noble fir or the Douglas fir? With so many choices, how do you go about choosing a Christmas tree? Buying a Christmas tree requires research and knowing how much you are willing to spend so you can stay on budget.

Global News turned to Wim Vander Zalm, owner of Art Knapp in Port Coquitlam for answers.


Before bundling up and trudging off to find the right Christmas tree, Vander Zalm says you first need to consider size.

“Often the tree doesn’t look so big necessarily in the lot but when you get it home you think – is that going to fit in there now,” he says.

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There’s the Noble fir, the Fraser fir, Grand fir and the Douglas fir, just to name a few. When it comes to quality, not all Christmas trees are equal and that often is reflected in the price.

Noble Fir

The most expensive tree, the Noble Fir, takes the longest to harvest, roughly six years and is known for its’ sturdy branches and longevity. The price ranges anywhere from $39 to $99 within the five to nine foot range. It’s a higher maintenance tree that requires more shearing and more fertilizer.

“It’s a nice, strong needle that holds ornaments well. And also retains its needles very well. One of the best ones actually as far as needle retention goes,” says Vander Zalm.

The Noble fir generally has a green top, a blue undertone and firm stem. It also has the longest life when compared to other Christmas trees in the market.

Grand Fir

The Grand fir is quicker to grow than the Noble fir and ranges in price anywhere from $49 to $69. It’s one of the tallest trees and it has longer needles with a citrus fragrance.

“A little bit more affordable than the Noble Fir,” says Vander Zalm.

He says there’s a drop in price compared to the Noble fir because it takes less time to grow.

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“This is about the second longest tree to get to a six-foot height.”

Fraser Fir

If you live in an apartment or smaller space, Vander Zalm recommends the Fraser fir, which is a little more narrow in stature.

It too has long lasting needle retention and is just as resilient as the Noble fir and comparable in price to the Grand fir. Depending on the size, prices range from $49 to $79.

Grand fir tree. Global News
The Charlie Brown tree.
Tree lot at Art Knapp in Port Coquiltam, B.C.

Douglas Fir

The most commonly sold Christmas tree is the Douglas Fir.

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“It is the quickest tree to harvest. About three years to get to a six-foot height, ” says Vander Zalm.

The Douglas fir doesn’t retain needles, and it also doesn’t have the longevity of other trees, but it is more affordable. Prices range from $35 to $60.

“Good bang for your buck,” says Vander Zalm.

The Charlie Brown Tree

If you’re looking for a tree under $20, Vander Zalm recommends the iconic ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas Tree.

“It’s very thin , it is not cultured but it is a Christmas tree. It’s a nice alternative if you are budget sensitive. ”

Tips to maintain a Christmas tree

For most people, the thing they tend to worry about the most with a freshly, cut tree is how long the needles are going to last.

A Christmas tree will lose water naturally through its needles, but without roots it can’t replace what’s lost.

“As the tree starts to dehydrate, the needles start to dehydrate and what’s going to happen is eventually those needles are going to drop,” says Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm says it’s critical to keep a tree as moist as possible to prevent needles from shedding especially in the first two days. A tree will absorb 80 per cent of its water in the first two days. Before you take it in, cut half an inch off the butt to open up its pores. Have a proper tree stand that holds lots of water so that you can keep water in the stem.

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Think about where you are going to place your tree ahead of time and remember not to place it next to a fireplace or heat register as that will dry it out quickly. It’s also important not to keep it next to a ceiling fan because blowing air is another way to dry the tree.

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