Hundreds of praying mantises, dozens of spiders, owls, a squirrel, an opossum, and a partridge in a Christmas tree. Save for the partridge, the others are all critters content creators on TikTok have documented finding within their live Christmas trees.
Leading up to the holiday, horror stories documenting what people are finding within their real trees are taking over users’ For You Pages. Some users on the video platform say the videos are dissuading them from getting a real tree. Others say the videos at least have them convinced to give their trees an extra thorough shake before setting them up inside.
Still, experts say the surge of anti-real-tree content doesn’t necessarily represent consumer trends.
In fact, several reports suggest Gen Z and millennials may actually be fueling real Christmas trees’ popularity this year compared to older generations.
According to UK-based live tree seller B&Q, a study of 2,000 adults found that 22 percent of Gen Z respondents and 18 percent of millennials were more likely to select a real fir tree, compared to a combined total of 25 percent for Gen X and Baby Boomers. B&Q reported that almost two-thirds of those in the older generations rely on artificial trees.
A report released by the Real Christmas Tree Board last month affirmed that Gen Z and millennials are more likely than Gen X to be first-time real tree buyers. The pro-real tree board’s survey — which focused on first-time tree purchases — said of its 1,500 survey respondents, ages 21 to 54, one in five planned to buy a real tree. Gen Z’s and millennials accounted for over half of those, compared with 14 percent for Gen Z.
A consumer habits report from Trees.com also said that out of 1,000 respondents, higher percentages of Gen Z and millennials were buying real trees versus artificial trees compared to older generations.
Of course, this isn’t to say artificial trees are going away any time soon.
According to the American Christmas Tree Association, 77 percent of people planning to celebrate Christmas will opt for an artificial tree, citing reasons like easy set up, less maintenance, and convenience. Still, prices for both real and artificial trees are on the rise because of factors like inflation and an increasing demand.
Annie Wu Henry, 27, is a Philadelphia-based social media strategist who earned prominence as John Fetterman’s “ TikTok whisperer “ during his Senate campaign. She shares a mix of personal anecdotes and political commentary with her more than 80,000 followers.
She purchased an artificial tree this year, and admitted it was more expensive than she expected, paying close to $1,000.
“I had no idea what to expect (regarding cost), but I thought it would be like a few hundred (dollars),” she told The Inquirer. “But, that’s also getting older and buying stuff — like rugs. Everything is expensive.”
Henry said ultimately an artificial tree was a better fit for her extremely tall (13 feet) ceilings. “Also, I travel so [a real tree] would definitely die,” she added.
Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for the number of Christmas tree farms, according to the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association. The Commonwealth has more than 1,400 farms accounting for nearly 31,000 acres and about a million cut trees each year.
Still, local farmers warn, if you’re choosing a real tree this year it’s better to do it sooner than later.
Droughts and heat over the years impacted this year’s supply of Douglas and Fraser firs, farmers nationwide said.
“We were having trouble getting the transplants that we needed,” Roger Unangst, who owns Unangst Tree Farms in Bath, Pennsylvania, told KYW-TV, the local CBS affiliate. “They just seem to be going faster and faster each year.”