This is the typical scene around my apartment the weekend after Thanksgiving: Mariah is blasting, the Yule log is streaming, garland is shedding and I’m ready to bask in all things Christmas for the next four weeks. But if you, unlike me, spent your post-Thanksgiving weekend relaxing rather than sprucing your home for the holidays, there’s good news — you’re probably making a money-savvy move by waiting.
According to Square’s 2016 data on Christmas tree spending, average Christmas tree prices are highest on Black Friday, at $66 a pop. Prices dip a little by the Saturday after Thanksgiving but continue to fluctuate for a few weeks. If you hate crowds, definitely avoid the first Saturday of December — that’s when lots are busiest and nearly 90% of sales happen. Instead, the sweet spot to get a good deal on a tree without battling other shoppers is around Thursday the second week of December and into the weekend. From there, both prices and crowds trend downward.
But beware, waiting too long can backfire. Christmas trees take seven to 10 years to mature, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, meaning the Douglas fir you’re strapping to the roof of your car was planted right around the height of the Recession. At that time, fewer people were buying trees, so farmers didn’t have as much room on their lot to plant new ones — plus, many growers were exiting the business due to the financial crisis. That means this year’s harvest, as it was in 2016, will be smaller than in years past. Lower supply, meet steady demand — and shelling out more green for your Yuletide cheer for the next few seasons.
So if you’re worried about getting the absolute best tree, consider making your pick early in December (before the crowds) and be prepared to pay a few bucks more. On the other hand, if you’re really willing to try your luck, you could get the very lowest prices on a tree just hours leading up to the holiday — average tree prices drop to $30 each on Christmas Eve. Sure, it might look like Charlie Brown’s tree, but think of the money you’ll save on ornaments.