Holiday Study: America’s Christmas Tree Preferences

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree. How lovely are thy (artificial) branches? It’s that time of year again: dusting off the old boxes in the attic labeled “Xmas”, holding back neuroticism when your family member puts two of the same colored ornaments next to each other on the tree, and untangling lights for hours only to discover that half of them still work. Ah yes, Christmas! 

For many American households, Christmas trees mark the start of the holiday season. While 76% of Americans, over 94 million homes, will be participating in the fir fun, not all agree on how to decorate the tree. 

We surveyed 3,000 Americans to ask them how they decorate their trees- down to the type of tree to the ornaments used. After calculating the average for each Christmas tree factor, we then plugged the data into AI and asked it to create the “ideal Christmas tree” according to the findings. The results? Fir-tastic. 

Key Findings:

  • The ideal American tree is artificial, strung with beads, store-bought ornaments, multi-colored lights, and is about 5.8 feet tall.
  • Americans think the Christmas tree should be put up the day after Thanksgiving
  • 80% of the nation prefers a classy look to tacky for their Christmas tree

No fuss, no fir. Americans want artificial

As beautiful as they may be, Americans are saying no to the real thing. According to the American Christmas Tree Association, the price of our festive friends is up 10% from last year. The smell of a good spruce is going to have to be replaced with pine air fresheners and plastic because 77% of Americans are going with an artificial tree this year

Beads, tinsel…popcorn?

A naked Christmas tree, just can’t be. In the words of Linus, from A Charlie Brown Christmas, “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” The majority of Americans can agree that the best part of a Christmas tree is its decor.  

The red-and-green results are in. Americans are trimming the tree as such:

  • Tinsel- 55%
  • Beads- 40%
  • Popcorn- 5%
  • Other – >1%

The majority of Americans are decorating with tinsel, but honorable mentions go to those wrapping beads or the very laborious popcorn strings around the tree this year! And for the small portion of Americans that opted for paper chains, dried oranges, burlap…sleigh!

Homemade vs. store-bought ornaments

Unboxing “baby’s first Christmas” and popsicle stick reindeer is a part of the merry magic. With that said, some Americans choose to keep the memorabilia off the tree and opt for a more uniform look. 73% of Americans choose store-bought ornaments over homemade ornaments. Maybe next year, DIY angel, maybe next year.

Lights, camera, advent!

Nothing says holidays like halogen glow! We’re talking about Christmas lights. For the most part, Americans have clear winners for tree type, garland, and ornament types, but the nation is divided when it comes to the lights. Multi-color or classic white – we let the masses choose. A slim majority of Americans chose multi-colored lights by 59%, with 41% stringing up white lights. 

The lights analysis didn’t end there. Do they flash? Are they still? We needed answers. An overwhelming majority of Americans, 72%, said that they prefer still lights. Every 3 in 10 American households prefer a disco for their tree with flashing lights. 

Icing on the cake, err, topper on the tree

So the beads are up, the branches are teeming with ornaments, and every square inch of the Christmas tree is covered…except! The topper. The crème de la crème, the moment to polish it off, is the beloved Christmas topper. It would be but so naive to assume we, Americans, agree on that. Angels versus stars versus…Star Wars? Let’s unpack the nation’s favorite Christmas tree topper.

A staggering 62% of Americans put a star on top of their tree. Angels won second place with 21%. 7% said that they top the tree with a bow, just like the presents beneath it. Where it really gets interesting is the remaining 10%. Some stuck with classic holiday characters like a Santa topper, a reindeer figurine, a snowman, or the Grinch

Then things get a little…eccentric. Highlights include a lawn gnome, Luke Skywalker, a UFO miniature, a ceramic figure of E.T., and a disco ball. That really tops the competition.

But wait – there’s myrrh 

It’s not just about the tree itself. Just as Die Hard as a Christmas movie is a contested issue, so is the appropriate date for putting up the tree. Some Americans will fight for the right to put up the tree pre-Thanksgiving while others are adamant on a December start date. So what’s the right answer? 

46% of Americans agree that the day after Thanksgiving is when you should put the Christmas tree up. There you have it folks. Have a tree-mendous holiday season and happy tree decorating!


We surveyed over 3,000 Americans in November 2023 about their holiday tree preferences. The age range was between 18-65 with all participants residing in the United States. Just over half — 52% — were female, 42% were male, 4% identified as trans or non-binary, and 1% listed “other”.

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