Q: This year my husband and I bought a used artificial Christmas tree for a variety of reasons, including saving money over the long term, being environmentally conscious, and not cleaning up needles all the time. But we don’t have much storage space in our apartment. How should we pack up and store the tree after the holidays? We already keep some stuff in my parents’ barn, but my husband doesn’t think that is a good idea.
A: An artificial Christmas tree is a very good investment, both financially and for the environment, if you take care of it and re-use it for several years. Attractive new artificial trees can be expensive, and so you are extra-smart for buying a used one. Studies have shown that, over time, the impact of the materials and transportation that goes into making an artificial tree can generally offset the impact of buying cut natural trees yearly. It depends on what your priorities are.
Proper storage will certainly help protect your Christmas tree investment into the future. While insects and other pests might not be attracted to your artificial tree, dust and dirt certainly will if it’s not covered. Do you know who made your used tree? Most manufacturers and retailers have detailed instructions on setting up, taking down, and storing the trees they sell. Start there -- you could even buy new packaging that would work with your tree. Or loosely cover your tree or its pieces with a very lightweight sheet or fabric, taking care to not wrap it too tightly or bend the branches. If you have room, store it standing up rather than on its side to avoid getting flat spots.
In general, it’s better to store an artificial tree in a dry place where the temperature doesn’t vary. For example and depending on the house of course, a basement might be a better place than an attic that could get very cold or hot and humid. That goes for any of your treasures. Perhaps a local storage unit might be a better spot for the long term.