Real vs. fake. Which is better? It’s a highly-contested topic each holiday season, and it’s one that the American Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the artificial tree industry) and the National Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the real tree industry) take seriously. Both groups make their cases for selecting either a real or faux tree, and we used them to inform our comparison.
At only 2 ft. tall the Crestwood Spruce At only 2 ft. tall the Crestwood Spruce Tree is great for tabletop display or for adding holiday cheer to children's or secondary rooms. Trimmed with silver bristle pine cones red berries and glitter this tree is pre-lit with 35 energy-efficient and long lasting multicolor LED lights. It features battery ...  More + Product Details Close

With 1,867 lifelike polyethylene branch tips, this Downswept Douglas Fir model is thickly covered and shows no gaps. And at 37 percent polyethylene, it has a higher proportion of realistic foliage—and lower proportion of fakey PVC “pine needles”—than our GE and Home Accent Holiday picks. It’s also priced competitively with models offering similar quality and similar height, girth, and tip-count specs. Note, however, that the price of the Downswept Douglas Fir varies considerably between retailers; we’ve seen it listed for as low as $400 and as high as $800. It may ease the sting to remember that you’re making at least a 10-year investment.
“We bought this for my 90-year-old in-laws who had recently moved into a retirement community and needed a compact Christmas display. The Charlie Brown tree is nostalgic to all of us who grew up waiting to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special come on the tube (back when they were literally tubes). They seem to love it, and now we’ll need to find a couple Peanuts figures to put around it next Christmas.”
Typical plastic stands won’t hold up to several years of holiday cheer. This Steel Arm Plastic Live Tree Stand is easy to move and pack but built to last. With 2 sizes in one you can be sure to fit any tree size up to 9 feet tall. Impact grade plastic construction makes this stand strong and durable. For a lighter, easy to store stand the steel arm has it all.

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After writing the original version of this guide in fall 2016, we carefully disassembled and packed our pick at the time—a very similar National Tree model, the PEDD1-312LD-75X—in its original box and shipped it to Los Angeles for long-term use. After the long journey (in which the tree was jostled enough that it arrived with its top spike and branches sticking out of a corner of the box), it sat on a garage shelf for about 10 months, enduring temperatures over 100 degrees and gathering a little dust and grit without any plastic seal around the box or the contents. (Yes, we fell short of following our own advice on storage.)


In the late 1800s, home-made white Christmas trees were made by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches creating the appearance of a snow-laden tree. In the 1940s and 1950s, popularized by Hollywood films in the late 1930s, flocking was very popular on the West Coast of the United States. There were home flocking kits that could be used with vacuum cleaners. In the 1980s some trees were sprayed with fluffy white flocking to simulate snow.
Despite the popularity of the strip and acclaim from advertisers, networks were not interested in the special.[5] By April 1965, Time featured the Peanuts gang on its magazine cover, perhaps prompting a call from John Allen of the New York-based McCann Erickson Agency.[2] Mendelson imagined he would sell his documentary, and blindly agreed to Allen's proposal: an animated half-hour Peanuts Christmas special.[5] The Coca-Cola Company was looking for a special for advertising during the holiday season. "The bad news is that today is Wednesday and they'll need an outline in Atlanta by Monday," Allen remarked to Mendelson.[6] He quickly contacted Schulz, and the duo got to work with plans for a Peanuts Christmas special.[2] The duo prepared an outline for the Coca-Cola executives in less than one day, and Mendelson would later recall that the bulk of ideas came from Schulz, whose "ideas flowed nonstop."[7] According to Mendelson, their pitch to Coca-Cola consisted of "winter scenes, a school play, a scene to be read from the Bible, and a sound track combining jazz and traditional music."[8] The outline did not change over the course of its production.[9]
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Although the tradition of decorating churches and homes with evergreens at Christmas was long established,[32] the custom of decorating an entire small tree was unknown in Britain until some two centuries ago. At the time of the personal union with Hanover, George III's German-born wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children in 1800.[33] The custom did not at first spread much beyond the royal family.[34] Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with it and a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote:[35]
We had hands-on time with the Tree Genie XXL Deluxe, which matches our main pick spec for spec with a couple exceptions. First, there is a bell on the end of the foot pedal that dings and locks the pedal automatically when the stand’s claws are fully tightened. Also, the claws on the XXL Deluxe loosen on the tree one pedal lift at at time, instead of releasing all at once. These are nice features, but they’re not necessary, and they add about $10 to the total cost.
A unique design makes clamping a tree in the Krinner far easier than any kind of stand we’ve found. The Krinner grips the tree trunk with five claws that you tighten by stepping on a ratcheting foot pedal, instead of turning a set of bolts into the bottom of the tree trunk, like nearly every other tree stand. This means average-size and smaller trees, around 6 to 7 feet tall, can be set up with just one person. No other tree stand does anything like it. The Krinner can handle a wide range of trunk diameters (even very small ones), it’s extremely stable and it’s attractive, and the enclosed 2½-gallon reservoir has a gauge to show you its water level. Priced at around $100, the Krinner is not cheap, but it’s so superior to the competition, we feel it’s worth the investment.
National Tree Company’s 7½-foot Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir with dual-color LEDs (PEDD1-D12-75) is our pick among artificial Christmas trees. It’s very full and highly realistic, and its 59-inch girth will nicely fill the corner of most living rooms. The lights can switch from multicolor to all-white (actually more of a soft “golden” white), giving it versatility. It’s widely available, too: If you’d like to see it in person, Home Depot, Kohl’s, and many holiday stores typically carry it.
The 50th anniversary broadcast aired on November 30, 2015, and it featured a full two-hour time slot that was padded by a special, It's Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown, which was hosted by Kristen Bell, and featured musical performances by Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Morrison, Sarah McLachlan, Boyz II Men, Pentatonix, David Benoit, and the All-American Boys Chorus.[35] It also included documentary features.[36]
After writing the original version of this guide in fall 2016, we carefully disassembled and packed our pick at the time—a very similar National Tree model, the PEDD1-312LD-75X—in its original box and shipped it to Los Angeles for long-term use. After the long journey (in which the tree was jostled enough that it arrived with its top spike and branches sticking out of a corner of the box), it sat on a garage shelf for about 10 months, enduring temperatures over 100 degrees and gathering a little dust and grit without any plastic seal around the box or the contents. (Yes, we fell short of following our own advice on storage.)
Classic Needles Balsam Hill's Classic Needle foliage has soft, flat and flexible needles with a more classic artificial look. These needles are made from thin sheets of PVC that are cut into fine strands to resemble evergreen needles. We use these resilient, flexible needles as the primary foliage of many of the trees in our very affordable Traditional trees. It is also used as filler for most of our Realistic and Most Realistic Christmas trees because of its superior ability to block light and create a "full" look for the tree.
At the end of the Middle Ages, an early predecessor appears referred in the Regiment of the Order of Cister around 1400, in Alcobaça, Portugal. The Regiment of the local high-Sacristans of the Cistercian Order refers to what may be considered one of the oldest references to the Christmas tree: "Note on how to put the Christmas branch, scilicet: On the Christmas eve, you will look for a large Branch of green laurel, and you shall reap many red oranges, and place them on the branches that come of the laurel, specifically as you have seen, and in every orange you shall put a candle, and hang the Branch by a rope in the pole, which shall be by the candle of the altar-mor."[21]
The most significant factor that sets the Krinner apart is the unique fastening mechanism that’s far simpler and easier to use than that of any other tree stand available. You simply set the tree in the stand, press several times on a foot pedal, and then five very sturdy plastic claws, looped together with a heavy-gauge metal wire, tighten down against the tree trunk to set it in position. The final pushes on the pedal snug up the claws and hold the tree securely. A sliding red button on the pedal locks it in place, but if you need to make further adjustments, it’s really no big deal to unlock the claws and reset the tree. (A slightly more expensive Deluxe version even rings a bell when the tree is secured.)
In addition to different materials and levels of realism, Balsam Hill offers four Signature artificial Christmas tree collections, including Aspen Christmas Signature, Vermont Signature, Napa Christmas Signature, and Smoky Mountain Christmas Signature. All 12 foot and under Christmas trees in these collections even come with our 3-year limited warranty. So, you can rest assured that your Balsam Hill artificial Christmas tree will look flawless all season long, and for years to come!
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