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Question from Stacey

Hi Debra,

Just wondering if there are any new resources for artificial Christmas trees. We have gotten real trees in the past, but for various reasons, we prefer to get an artificial tree. However, I do not want a toxic tree. Any new recommendations?

Thanks so much!

Debra’s Answer

There are several types of artificial trees. I haven’t done an extensive study of all the types, but the plastic ones are most prevalent and most toxic.


Most plastic trees are made in China from polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC). Since it is a semi-soft plastic, it would outgas phthalates, like a PVC shower curtain.How much it outgasses is hard to say. Cheap artificial trees are most likely 100% PVC.

I called Balsam Hill , who advertises having the most realistic and beautiful Christmas trees, and their trees are made in China. They have three grades of trees. Their “traditional” is 100% PVC, and their “realistic” and “most realistic” are 70% nontoxic polyethylene and 30% PVC.

If you want a plastic artificial tree, your best choice is the Christmas trees sold at IKEA.

It turns out the Fejka trees at IKEA are made from polyethylene and polypropylene, two of the least toxic plastics available. Polyethylene is so nontoxic it is approved by GOTS to be safe enough to use to make a crib mattress. There are no other chemicals on these trees like fire retardants. I called IKEA and they said no. I asked them if, in general, ALL the materials are included on the tag and online and they said yes. So if it’s not on the tag, it’s not in the product. These trees are not sold online, only at local IKEA stores. But call first if you want one, as they are not available in all stores.

So if you want a plastic tree, be sure to check what type of plastic it’s made from. Avoid PVC, choose polyethylene.


Here is a solid hardwood trees made in New Hampshire by Festive Trees. I don’t know anything about the paint or finish, but they will last year after year. You may be able to get one unfinished and paint it yourself, or if you are handy or know someone who is, you could even make one in any size you want.

Ii you don’t want to buy a tree, consider finding or purchasing bare branches on which to hang lights and ornaments. Though the evergreen is the traditional greenery for winter as it symbolizes life continuing even in the dark days, bare branches can be beautiful and reflect the bare trees outdoors. Right now where I am living there is a beautiful persimmon tree with bare branches and bright orange permissions hanging all over it like Christmas tree ornaments.

merry christmas

One Christmas I was living in a rented room in someone else’s house and didn’t have room for a tree. But just before Christmas there was a big winter storm, and when I went for a walk the street was strewn with evergreen branches. So I gathered as many as I could carry and put them in a vase, and that was my tree.

Or trim whatever evergreens you have in your yard, put the trimmings in a vase, and decorate them.

There are all kinds of creative ways to come up with a Christmas tree by using various nontoxic materials and your imagination. You could easily make this tree below out of branches. For more inspiration on ways to make your own Christmas tree, see 25 Creative Christmas Tree Ideas.

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