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Why Christmas trees may be harder to find this year (and what you can do about it)

Smoke from the Bond Fire billows above Peltzer Pines Christmas tree farm in Orange County, Calif., on Dec. 3, 2020. Extreme weather and supply chain issues could make Christmas trees harder to come by this holiday season.
Smoke from the Bond Fire billows above Peltzer Pines Christmas tree farm in Orange County, Calif., on Dec. 3, 2020. Extreme weather and supply chain issues could make Christmas trees harder to come by this holiday season.

Updated November 4, 2021 at 12:10 PM ET

We don't want to be Grinches, but we do want to give you a heads-up about some important holiday news: Christmas trees may be harder to find than usual.

Jami Warner, the executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, tells NPR that both environmental and economic factors are to blame.

Extreme weather events like wildfires, droughts and floods have made this an especially challenging season for growers. Such events are driven by climate change and could become more common as the Earth warms.

And even artificial trees are feeling the burn, thanks to ongoing global supply chain issues.

"The great majority of our artificial Christmas trees are manufactured in China, and Christmas trees and pretty much every other consumer good is languishing either out at sea or hasn't shipped yet," Warner explains.

Experts expect the bottleneck at U.S. ports is to get even worse during the holiday season, exacerbated by Americans' online shopping.

All of this means that you can expect to pay at least 20% more for your Tannenbaum, whether real or artificial.

It's not all bad news

But don't despair. It's still worth holding out hope for a Christmas miracle.

Warner says there are bound to be bargains and online sales out there. And she's officially giving you permission to act fast and claim your tree early.

"I think it's very important for consumers to, if they see something they like, to buy it right away," she advises.

And it doesn't have to be the tree of your dreams, she adds. After all, there are many other sources of Yuletide joy — especially this season, with vaccinations making it safer for people to travel and gather.

"This year, I think people will be able to celebrate Christmas with their families again and with their friends, and no one is going to notice if you don't have that very, very perfect Christmas tree," Warner says. "Really, there are no such thing as bad Christmas trees — they're all beautiful."

The audio version of this story was produced by Taylor Haney and edited by Kelley Dickens.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.