Building A Better Christmas Tree

For the past five years, the Lynch family celebrated Christmas with an artificial tree – but not this year, reports CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith. The Lynches came to a New Jersey tree farm to cut down a real one.

"We miss that smell in the mornings and the mornings leading up to Christmas," said Cheryl Lynch. "It's just so much more special with a real tree in the house."

But for the past few years, sales of real trees have fallen to the point that 70 percent of trees put up this Christmas are artificial. And that has growers turning to science in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

Penn State University horticulturist Rick Bates has been using grafting techniques to genetically enhance the quality of Christmas trees. Improvements include resistance to bugs and needles that won't fall off so quickly.

"The improved seed sources generally are going to provide the grower a more uniform tree, a tree that's going to grow faster," Bates said.

The makers of artificial trees have been tweaking their trees too.

"They're much easier to handle. The poles are thicker, the wires are stronger. They're made a lot better. It's a perfect tree," said Anthony Pirano of Harrow's, which calls itself the New York area's largest Christmas superstore.

While artificial upside-down trees and fiber optic ones have been hot-sellers this season, CBS News asked style expert Carolyn Sollis if it's the tree or what you put on it that makes it stylish?

"I think what makes the perfect Christmas tree is just something that when you come home, you turn on the lights, you've got the right decorations, your house feels festive, your family's excited and it's just what's really left in your heart," said Sollis, style director at House & Garden.

Something the Lynches seem to agree with.

"We'd buy a fake tree and we realized that it really didn't have that special feeling that we would get from getting a real Christmas tree," said Danny Lynch.

And after much searching, they seem to have found what they've been looking for.