Is Your Christmas Tree Swallowing Your Holiday Budget?

Did you know that keeping a Christmas tree with lights fully lit for roughly four hours a day throughout December can wind up costing you big bucks? According to SolarTek Systems USA, the energy cost associated with lighting a six-foot Christmas tree for a month amounts to $144 on average. That's assuming the tree is decorated with the average six hundred mini lights, which use approximately 25 watts of energy for each 50 bulbs. And that cost doesn't even include the initial price of your Christmas tree, let alone other decorations.

Here are some tips for reducing the cost of a Christmas tree with lights, thus freeing up some cash for other seasonal treats.

Artificial Christmas Trees vs. Live Christmas Trees.

The type of Christmas tree you put up has a big impact on your budget. While many Americans still value a live Christmas tree, many others are turning to artificial Christmas trees. In fact, according to the American Christmas Tree Association, 83% of American households displaying a Christmas tree this year are choosing an artificial tree over a live Christmas tree. With the average cost of a live tree landing around $45 and easily rising to $100 and more, an artificial Christmas tree has a certain appeal. True, it will cost you more in that first year (figure about $80 to $100), but if it lasts even more than a couple of years (and many consumers count on at least 10), think how much your savings mount year after year.

For families still craving the smell of a fresh, live Christmas tree, there is a cheap alternative. Start with an artificial Christmas tree and buy a few bundles of live Christmas tree branches (around 99 cents for 10 branches). Just stick them into your artificial tree and the piney smell will fill your house and help give the artificial Christmas tree a fuller look.

Christmas Tree Lights.

As noted above, the cost of a Christmas tree with lights can hit your holiday budget hard. SolarTek Systems recommends switching from standard lights to the new LED Christmas tree lights. These little electrical wonders use about 17 times less power and are safer in the long run because they give off less heat than the standard variety.

If you want to shave costs still further, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends turning the Christmas tree lights off by day and lighting them only in the evenings when you're home and awake. Doing so not only reduces your out-of-pocket energy expenses, it also helps your lights last longer – a win, win for you.

Christmas Tree Ornaments.

If you're short on cash this year and need ornaments to adorn your tree, here are a few suggestions:

  • Shop for ornaments at the dollar store, where you'll find a large and cheap selection.
  • Make your own ornaments, or better yet, have your kids make them. The little keepsakes will mean much more when hand-made by a child.
  • Scour the clearance bins in the two to three days leading up to Christmas when retailers start marking down holiday décor. If you're lucky you'll score a handful of Christmas tree ornaments for as much as half off.
  • Shop the day after Christmas for next year's Christmas tree ornaments. While no help for this year, consider how you'll feel next year when you hang brand new ornaments that you bought at a discount because you planned ahead.

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