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Tax and other gifts of the MAGI

Real vs. Fake: Christmas tree (and tax) considerations

Cutting the Christmas tree is a family affair at this tree farm. (Photo by Chris Briggs on Unsplash)

The first Christmas tree the hubby and I shared was a plastic one. A cheap plastic one. We were newlyweds on a budget, and we couldn't justify spending what even a small real fir cost back then.

So we got the artificial tree, trimmed it with our few ornaments, watched the cat find creative ways to attack it (and the items hanging from it), and had a very merry first married Christmas.

Our tradition was born.

As both our finances and artificial tree design and construction improved, we stuck with the plastic version. I enjoy being able to put up a realistic looking tree many (the hubby says too many) weeks before Dec. 25. Plus, we now have some very heavy decorations that sturdier wire limbs handle better.

Artificial trees gaining ground: Now, more than 500 years since the first holiday fir was decorated with artificial (yes, fake!) roses, manmade Christmas trees are common.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that imports of artificial trees have been climbing since the mid-90s. A survey done for the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) revealed that of the 94 percent of consumers who plan to display at least one Christmas tree this year, nearly 77 percent will put up an artificial tree.

Still, I totally get the appeal of a real evergreen. The trees' wonderful aroma is why we buy a couple of real wreaths to hang indoors.

This year's fresh greenery component to our otherwise fake fir Christmas decorations. (Photo by Kay Bell)

They're much better than scented candles, especially right after the daily spritz to keep them looking fresh for as long as possible. It makes for a nice combination of live and manufactured greenery in our house.

Environmental issues: Conservationists aren't buying any of our fake tree rationale. They argue that real trees are better for our world as we face increased climate change challenges.

High on the Nature Conservancy's list of reasons for a natural holiday tree is that real trees, despite being cut down to go into homes, actually help forests long-term.

Plus, the number of trees harvested for the holidays are only a small portion, around 30 million, of the 350-to-500 million grown on U.S. tree farms.

And for every tree purchased, farmers plant one-to-three seedlings in its place, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA). Yes, there are multiple tree associations.

That multiple replacement is just one factor, say real tree advocates who spoke with The New York Times, as to why Christmas tree farms are ecologically beneficial.

Holiday flora shout outs: It's also why on this eve of Christmas Eve, the ol' blog's Saturday Shout Outs go to the debate of real vs. artificial trees of the season.

The first shouts go to the Nature Conservancy and NYTimes links earlier in this post, as well as the also aforementioned NCTA's history of Christmas trees (the 500-plus-year reference).

Also getting a shout out are — 

Tree- and tax-related last-minute gifts: Regardless of which tree you choose, if you also want to help forests, consider a gift to one — or more, depending on how generous you're feeling — of the many environmental, forest, or wildlife related nonprofits.

You can make it for yourself, or donate in the name of someone, either a family member or friend who's around to say thank you, or in memory of a much-missed special person.

Such gifts are a great last-minute gift solution. They usually can be made online.

And in addition to helping organizations continue their work, the donations could provide you a gift next year as a possible tax deduction.

To claim any donation as an itemized tax deduction on your 2023 return, first make sure the groups that get your gifts are Internal Revenue Service approved 501(c)(3) public charities. My Giving Tuesday post has more on how to do this, as well as general charitable giving tax tips.

But most of all this holiday season, regardless of your celebration traditions, enjoy those who make your life special, and let them know how much you care. That's the best gift of all, whether you're giving or receiving it.

Addendum: I like Taylor Swift, but I'm not a Swiftie. That's my excuse for not discovering until today, via the magic Google machine, that the 2023 Person of the Year wrote and recorded back in 2019 the song "Christmas Tree Farm." You can catch the official video in my post Christmas Tree Farms, Song and Taxes at my tumblr blog Tumbling Taxes.

You also might find these items of interest:



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