One disclaimer about both The Best Choice and National Tree Company trees: like many artificial trees in their price range, they are made with PVC rather than PE. As we mentioned earlier, some people are dubious about the potential health risks of being around PVC. While finding a tree with less PVC and more PE (a safer alternative) is possible, it will typically cost you more.
For this guide, we gave ourselves a crash course in artificial Christmas trees. Wirecutter editor Tim Heffernan visited a fake-tree manufacturer’s New Jersey headquarters, shopped for trees at several big-box stores, and spent hours examining trees at House of Holiday—New York City’s largest holiday shop—whose owner Larry Gurino “love[s] to geek out over artificial trees.” Gurino’s deep knowledge greatly added to this guide, as did the time we spent shopping and researching the hundreds of options online. Wirecutter research editor Courtney Schley spent hours speaking with the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents artificial-tree makers, to understand the industry itself, including manufacturing processes, sales and design trends, and statistics.
Cost and realism go hand in hand. Using molds often taken from actual branches, artificial-tree manufacturers shape polyethylene, or PE, to produce highly realistic branch tips. More tips generally make the tree look fuller, with fewer gaps, and more tips cost more money. Similarly, a higher percentage of polyethylene in a tree’s construction generally equates to greater realism—and a higher price. Our pick, for reference, has 1,867 tips and is 37 percent polyethylene, and is convincingly lifelike even up close. You can get trees with far more eye-popping stats, though. This particularly lovely Balsam Fir from Balsam Hill’s most-realistic line of trees, for example, has almost 6,000 tips and is 70 percent polyethylene—and comes at a price to match that extravagance. As with real trees, overall bigger sizes come with bigger costs: House of Holiday, for example, carries more than two dozen trees measuring 12 feet or taller with price tags north of $1,000.
Whether you pick a blue spruce or a balsam fir, you put all that effort into finding and cutting down the perfect Christmas tree—don't let it go to waste. The right Christmas tree stand can help keep your tree stable, hydrated, and alive longer (not to mention, help you show off your tree's best side), so they're worth the investment—unless you plan to go the artificial tree route.
“This product does what it says it will do. The screw-in braces are very easy to use, and held an eight-foot tree without any problems whatsoever. I’m sure it would be fine with a ten-footer. I got another one for my parents-in-law, after I used their ancient tree stand, which took me an HOUR to get set up right! This stand should take no more than ten minutes to get your tree up and stabilized. Merry Christmas!”
Holiday wreaths are true signs of the season. A beautiful Christmas wreath always brightens a gorgeous home and makes guests feel at home for the holidays. Here, our editors share their ideas for how to choose and use festive Christmas wreaths to decorate your home for the holidays. Whether on your front door, windows, or inside your home, Christmas wreaths can be traditional or modern; they can be evergreen, succulent, or anything in between. For a sense of drama, you’ll see how to hang two wreaths, three wreaths, or even hang a Christmas wreath in front of a mirror. The Southern Living editors even suggest that you consider the shape of your Christmas wreath—you may want to choose an unusual shape. From squares to a Tree Form Wreath to one constructed from snowy pinecones, your Christmas wreaths can reflect your creativity and inspiration. Simply think of the splendor of the holiday, and let your Christmas wreath reflect the joy in your heart.
We unboxed and set up the tree over the Thanksgiving 2018 holiday weekend, and as we found the year before, it’s still in near perfect condition. The arms all fold down smoothly, the lights all work, no needles are bent or broken, the stand is still sturdy—we really have nothing to complain about. In the past two years, we’ve come to expect making some minor adjustments, including pulling branches into position, straightening the top stem, and positioning ornaments strategically to cover gaps, as you would with any tree. The cross-country truck ride in 2016 was more abuse than most owners are likely to put their tree through when simply hauling it in and out of storage at home. After seeing this tree survive the shipment unscathed, we’re fully confident in its ability to last the decade or so that most owners will keep it at home. It genuinely looks good, too: A 5-year-old seeing the tree for the first time in 2017 confidently declared that it was real (before he scooted underneath it mechanic-style and changed his mind upon a closer inspection).
Height and dimensions: Consider the height of the tree you’d like to purchase, bearing in mind that you’ll need to access the top of the tree for decorating. If the ceilings in your home are within the standard (American) eight to nine foot range, a 7.5 foot tree is probably ideal for you. The dimensions of the tree you purchase should be dependent on where you’re displaying it. If you’re placing it in a small corner, a narrow tree is best, whereas a tree with a wide girth is best for a front and center display.
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.
“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.”
This lightweight plastic stand weighs less than 3 pounds and holds trunks up to 7 inches. You’ll need two people to install your tree—and occasionally you’ll have to pick the tree up a second time in order to slam it back down into the stand with enough force to get the spikes in the base to dig into the trunk—but you can’t beat the price. The reservoir holds two gallons, so you might even be able to skip a day of watering with this thing.
“Been waiting for years to get an artificial tree, and I chose the right brand and style! It looks fabulous when fluffed out. Granted it takes at least 45 minutes to get it from the box to fluffed out, more if you are symmetry OCD like I am, but it is well worth the time. Pack-up is very easy into the reusable box to store for next Christmas. Love it. Well-designed and well-made. Great value for the money.”
When they get to the lot, filled with numerous trees fitting Lucy's description, Charlie Brown ironically and symbolically chooses the only real tree there (in disbelief that wooden Christmas trees still exist)—a tiny sapling. Linus is unsure about Charlie Brown's choice, but Charlie Brown is convinced that all it needs is some decoration and it will be just right. While those two get the tree, Schroeder tries to pass off "Für Elise" as a Christmas song, as Lucy tries to get him to play the perfect rendition of "Jingle Bells;" after two failed attempts, Schroeder tersely pecks the keys on his toy piano, which is exactly what Lucy seeks.
The stand accommodates large capacity trees up to eight feet tall and six inches wide. The base holds up to one gallon of water, and is supported by a “spill catcher” for the occasional overwatering. To stay in place, the frame contains a stabilizing spike and steel nut screws for smoother assembly. Bonus: The five gold-tone screws are made of wear-resistant hardware, so their exteriors won’t be compromised as you use them through the years. Supplemented by a five year warranty, this is one tree stand that’ll last you for all the occasions to come.
While traditional green wreaths are readily available, there are many other not-so-traditional colors to choose from. Flashy gold or silver wreaths pop with a sparkle. While winter white is also a popular choice, but you can certainly go for a fire red berry wreath if you wish. Many of the wreath designs exude a quality, handmade appearance with natural-looking pine cones or berries.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas. The modern Christmas tree was developed in medieval Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia) and early modern Germany, where Protestant Germans brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.