Lets talk about Christmas trees. (At the end of this article is a funny video from Jay Leno)...
What kind to get?
Artificial trees have an expensive initial cost but then you don't have to buy another tree for many years. Wait for a sale. Arts and crafts stores, hardware stores, and places like Home Depot and Lowe's tend to have the best prices. Check their websites for printable coupons. Figure out what height you want and do some comparison shopping. Think about how much you spend in 2 or 3 years on a real tree and then use that as your highest price for choosing a fake tree.
Advantages of fake trees is that the branches are strong and can hold up those heavier ornaments, you don't have to water them or worry about pets drinking up the water/chemicals, there are no "holes" that you have to strategically place against a wall, and you don't have to go out in the freezing cold to find one. If you live somewhere that really gets cold, many of the cut trees are wind and cold damaged - already dropping needles. And that brings me to the final advantage - no dropped needles to constantly be vacuuming up.
The disadvantages are you have to break artificial trees down, organize the brances by length and store them somewhere after the holidays. One or two big Rubbermaid storage boxes work great for this. Also, there is no pine smell but placing a bowl of pine pot pourri under the tree solves that problem. Finally, in some circles, fake trees are considered tacky.
Real trees have their advantages and disadvantages, too. If it's not too cold outside, a trip to a tree farm is fun. Many sell coffee and hot chocolate and offer hay rides. The adventure of walking through the trees, cutting down your own tree and driving home with it roped to the roof of your car is fun (maybe a little more fun for the kids than adults).
I recommend visiting tree farms over getting your tree from a lot. Fresh trees last the longest and are sometimes cheaper than lot trees plus you are supporting the local farmer who set aside part of his or her land for trees.
You don't know when lot trees were cut or what weather they've been in during transit. At the lot, they are sitting out in the cold with no water to rehydrate them. Many of these trees are already dropping needles before they are even bought. However, if purchasing a lot tree helps out a local organization like the scouts, then go ahead and get one. Just don't let me hear any whining about having to vacuum everyday or that your tree is going bald. Personally, I do buy wreaths from the scouts and I hang my wreath outside so dropped needles are not an issue.
If you do get a real tree, upon arriving home, get out the saw and cut an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk and let your tree stand in a pail of warm (not hot) water, preferably with a small amount of anti-shock or transplanting liquid added in. After several hours, bring your tree inside and set it up. Check the water twice a day and continue to use tree/flower preservative. A stand with a big, deep well is best. If there are any heater vents nearby, close them up! They dry out your tree!
And now, as your reward for reading all of this, I invite you to visit a website - it's from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It's about those scary demonstations about how real trees can catch fire. Let's just say the chances of your tree catching fire is the same chances as your courch catching fire and some of those warning videos are doctored - check out the video for a good laugh! Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9dNS5WPncU It's not the tree that's the problem, it's the candles!