November 26, 2012 9:15:20 AM
Sarah Fowler - firstname.lastname@example.org
It's that time of year when the twinkling of Christmas tree lights can be seen in nearly every home. Trees decorated with tinsel and homemade ornaments, with presents nestled under the branches, are proudly displayed in living rooms.
On Sunday afternoon, families crowded into their local home and building supply store to wage the great debate that seems to come round every Christmas season -- whether to buy a real tree or an artificial one.
Lori and Ricky Hicks are among those who chose to buy a real tree this year. For Lori Hicks, Christmas isn't the same without the smell of pine throughout the house.
"It just smells like Christmas," she said.
The couple chose a Noble fir tree because they felt the branches were stronger than the Douglas fir.
"The limbs on this one held up better," Lori Hicks said. "It's better for ornaments."
Ricky Hicks was less concerned with the looks of the tree and more concerned with keeping his wife happy.
"We just get the one she likes," he joked.
Fran Herrick is a live nursery specialist at Lowe's and said that this year the tree of choice has been a Fraser fir.
"People are choosing the Fraser because they think it sheds less than the Douglas," she said.
A Douglas fir Christmas tree can cost anywhere from $19.98 to $37.98 and vary in height from five-to-six feet to seven-to-eight feet at Lowe's in Columbus.
Fraser firs range in price from $24.98 to $60 and are available as tall as eight-to-nine feet at Lowe's.
A Noble fir is available for $39.97 and is six-to-seven feet tall.
If customers don't want to choose from the hundreds of live trees, they can opt to purchase an artificial tree. In fact, in a Dispatch online poll, 79 percent of respondents said they planned to go with an artificial tree this year.
Artificial trees have come a long way from their aluminum start years ago. Shopper Ginger Wright was amazed at how real some of the artificial trees looked.
Wright was shopping for a new artificial tree that has a feature that has become very popular in recent years.
"We have an artificial but it doesn't have the pre-lit lights," she said. "It's a hassle to string the lights."
Wright also said she prefers an artificial tree because it doesn't lose its needles.
"It's not as messy,'' she observed. "The needles don't get on the presents."
Wright did not purchase a tree on Sunday, saying she is still comparing prices at area retailers.
Prices on artificial trees vary as much as the trees themselves.
On the high end of the price scale, a 12-foot pre-lit Balsam fir is $598. A six-and-a-half-foot pre-lit Walden pine is considerably less expensive at $128. In between the two, is a seven-and-a-half-foot pre-lit mixed pine at $298.
If some customers like the look of an artificial tree but prefer the smell of a real Christmas tree, manufacturers have created ornaments that smell like pine.
Scenticles are becoming popular with shoppers and, at $6.17 per box, are an inexpensive option.
Herrick said no matter which option people choose, shoppers are brimming with the Christmas spirit and ready to decorate their homes for the holidays.
"We did a few sales before Thanksgiving but after Friday is when we really get to selling,'' Herrick said.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.