Deirdre Haber Malfatto/Stocksy
This has been a tough year for fans of natural Christmas trees. Prices are up 5 to 10 percent amid reports of a tighter supply of trees, and the California-based American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) says 81 percent of trees displayed this year will be artificial.
But the demand is still there for the real thing: Citing a survey conducted by the Nielsen Co., the association estimates that nearly 95 million households will display a Christmas tree this season. Nineteen percent of that figure is still about 18 million trees.
“Although there have been many reports of Christmas tree shortages across the country, the good news is that our seventh annual Christmas tree survey indicates that this has not stopped families from celebrating Christmas with their favorite tree,” ACTA Executive Director Jami Warner said in a statement.
But a natural tree requires some care. The National Fire Protection Association estimated that between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires annually that started with Christmas trees.
Those fires caused an average of six deaths and nearly $15 million in property damage annually, the association said. The group launches an annual “Project Holiday” campaign to educate consumers about fire dangers related to Christmas trees and other holiday activities (burning candles, holiday decorations and cooking, for example).
The group offers a number of tips to reduce the potential danger of natural Christmas trees.
- Choose a tree with “fresh green needles” that don’t fall off when touched.
- Cut about two inches from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in a stand.
- Keep the tree at least three feet away from any heat source.
- Add water to the tree stand daily.
- Use lights that are marked with the label of an independent testing laboratory, and replace any lights with worn cords or loose bulb connections.
- Turn out tree lights before going to bed.
Get rid of the tree — and that means putting it outside away from buildings, not in the garage — after Christmas. Many communities have recycling programs for Christmas trees, the association noted. If you can’t dispose of your tree at the curb, the Colorado-based National Christmas Tree Association, which represents tree growers, has some suggestions.