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The cost of Christmas: Trees and decorations

One of the leading payday lenders in the UK, 247Moneybox.com, has some interesting thoughts in an internal memo to staff on the cost of Christmas and in particular the Christmas tree.

Summer is but a distant memory but the searing heat, whilst welcome (at the appropriate points of the week!), was not so good news for Christmas tree growers. The high temperatures have stunted growth and caused many trees to wilt so claim various reports out recently. So, if supply dips and demand stays the same then price rises, so says a GCSE economics text book. Drat. However, most people can't afford to spend a fortune on a tree. So, what is the low-down on this festive tradition? Why do we use decorations? Well, read on and find out!

Where did the Christmas tree tradition originate from?

Christmas trees are seen as a staple during Christmas time in many homes around the UK. While over here this tradition has only been around since the 1830s or 1840s, other European countries introduced it long before that.

Christmas tree

There are many stories about the possible origin of the Christmas tree, with most of them pointing towards early 1500s Latvia and Germany as the birthplace of this tradition. In 1841, a Christmas tree was set up for the first time in Windsor Castle by Prince Albert who had brought over the tradition from his home country Germany when he married Queen Victoria.

What are the UK's favourite Christmas trees?

You can choose from a range of Christmas tree varieties. They have slightly different characteristics (such as smell, shape, colour, longevity, needles) and it depends on everyone's own preference which variety they choose, although some are more easily found than others.

Some of the UK's most popular varieties are the Norway spruce and the Nordmann fir which are widely grown and sold across the country. The Norway spruce may have more of the typical Christmas tree scent than the Norman fir, but at the same time tends to lose its needles quicker. A classic or low maintenance tree, the choice is up to you.

Is there a shortage of Christmas trees following the 2018 heatwave?

Some Christmas tree farmers have been affected by the heatwave the country experienced earlier this year, with one of the hottest summers since records began. While some of them did not face any problems with their production, others have suffered heavy losses.

Older and stronger trees seem to have withstood the extreme conditions relatively well, however, the newly planted and younger trees exposed to the high temperatures were more vulnerable and many did not survive. This means that while the number of trees ready to be sold in 2018 may not be directly affected, the aftermath of the heatwave could be felt in following years due to a lower numbers of new trees successfully planted this year. Reduced quantity in coming years may result in an increase of Christmas tree prices.

How much do I have to pay for a fresh Christmas tree?

While visiting a Christmas tree farm to pick out a tree may be a tradition for many, it is also one of the more expensive options. You can easily spend up to £70 on a fresh Christmas tree, particularly at those farms affected by the heatwave as they try to make up for their losses. Similar prices can be expected when buying a tree from some department stores.

However, if you are not willing to spend such an amount of money on something that will last for just about a month before it inevitably gets thrown out, there are some alternative options out there. Some stores offer relatively cheap trees, albeit only in limited quantities so it may be wise to get your tree as soon as possible if you want to save some money this year. A quick search on the internet will reveal which retailers are offering fresh, real Christmas tree for a fraction of the price you would have to pay elsewhere. It could also pay off to consider which variety to buy, as, for example, the much loved Nordmann fir tends to be pricier than the Norway spruce.

Ultimately, for many it is not just the tree itself that is important to, but also the experience and tradition of getting the whole family together to pick out the right tree for the season. The high price to be paid may be justified when considering it is about more than the tree you are taking home. It is all about where your priorities lie and perhaps loans are not the answer.