I don't need a big, flashy Christmas tree. Mostly because I don't have the time to set it up and decorate it, only to then undecorate and store it for most of the year. Plus, I have dogs. Who, will more than likely, take any sort of decorations off the tree...if not "water" the tree when I'm not looking. So, I went with the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. It isn't such a bad little tree.
We also found the Best Choice tree really easy to set up. Simply click the three tree sections into place, fluff and you’re done. The only challenging part was the top third of the tree. Some of its branches were compressed so tightly against the center pole that we didn’t realize they needed to be pulled down at first. There were some complaints on Amazon about the top of this tree being too small, and we think that this could be why.
The product holds trees up to 12 feet tall with trunks up to 7.5 inches in diameter. Quick Stands use a speed nut design that allows you to easily and quickly push stabilizing bolts into the base of the tree without tediously turning the bolt. Once the bolt makes contact with the trunk, simply tighten the bolt to secure and straighten your tree upright. It's easy as one, two, tree!
National Tree Company has a warranty for its realistic pre-lit trees taller than 6½ feet, like our pick, that covers manufacturer defects for five years from the date of purchase. The lights are covered for two years. You’ll need proof and date of purchase to file a claim, and you’ll need to have treated the tree and lights with reasonable care to have your claim approved. (Details here.) The 6½-foot version of this tree also falls under that warranty, and we recommend it for smaller homes and apartments.
Consider using a two-piece wreath to adorn a double-door entry. Start with a wreath that has a sturdy base so it will hold its shape. We used a fresh evergreen here, but a grapevine wreath will work just as well. Cut the wreath in half lengthwise with sturdy wire clippers. Use florist wire to attach evergreen clippings, fruits, and ribbons. Securely hang half of the wreath on each door so the two meet in the center when the doors are closed.
^ Stookey, Laurence Hull (1 December 2011). Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church. Abingdon Press. p. 107. ISBN 9781426728044. Beyond that the term "Chrismon" is used loosely to refer to symbols related to Christ, including the orb, crown, fish, star, anchor, and a wide variety of forms on the cross. All of these, often made in materials of gold and white, are used on a pine or fir tree in place of the more usual multicolored ornaments used on trees at home. Lights are also usually of clear glass rather than being colored.
The experts almost universally agree that the Krinner Tree Genie is the top stand on the market. The Sweethome (now Wirecutter) has picked it as the best Christmas tree stand for four years in a row because of its one-of-a-kind design that is versatile, secure, and easy to set up. WRAL, a new station in North Carolina, posted an in-depth test of the tree. The reviewers found it had no trouble supporting a twelve-foot tree and required minimal effort to set up. Galt Technology called it the most convenient tree stand because it was easy to assemble and "install" the tree.
Tree stands are designed for trunks of a certain length and diameter. Typically, you use a tree stand designed for a taller tree on a smaller one. The exception is when the trunk is too narrow. For example, a tree stand designed to take a 12-foot tree may only take a trunk that's down to three inches in diameter, any slimmer and you risk the tree falling over.
This product was built to keep trees up to 12-feet tall and six-and-a-half inches in diameter stationed in place for all the days of the season. Between the welded steel and the four reliable eye-bolts, the tree doesn’t stand a chance of tipping. Plus, the base is able to hold nearly two gallons of water, and is reinforced by zinc-dichromate hardware to prevent deterioration.
“A really nice heavy-duty stand. We buy seven- to eight-foot trees, and our previous stand would not accommodate the larger trunks, causing me to butcher the trunk to make it fit. We purchased the large stand and no longer will have a problem with an undersized stand. I weld for a living, so I can tell you that the welds are of top quality on this stand. A touch pricey, but the lesson is that you get what you pay for.”
For a solid stand at a lower price, we like the Cinco C-144E Express. The Cinco is similar to the Krinner in terms of stability, and both maxed out our force gauge. It uses a traditional bolt-tightening method, which is nowhere near as easy to set up as the Krinner, but a quick-release on the bolts makes the Cinco’s operation faster and easier than that of similarly priced competition. Think of this as a particularly good version of your basic tree stand—you still have to crawl underneath to secure the trunk while someone helps hold the tree from the top, but at least you’ll spend a little less time down there.
Much of the situation is due to the way artificial trees are manufactured: Almost all of them come out of a handful of factories in Taiwan and China. So while the companies selling the trees specify the details of their designs, the companies making the trees use similar materials and even many of the same basic components. That means you will be able to find a great artificial tree, even if it’s not our pick.
^ so in The Lutheran Witness, Volume 83 (1964), p. 548 "the Chrismon (from CHRISt-MONogram) tree", and in James Edgar, Ellen Edgar, A Chrismon Service (1981), p. 2. The word's actual etymology, from Middle Latin (Landulf of Milan, 12th century) crismon, is less than clear: George Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, The riddle of the 'Labarum' and the origin of Christian symbols, Allen & Unwin, 1966, p. 28; "I can find no roots, etymology or grounds for the adoption of the word adopted by some Christians, 'Chrismon', which is supposed to mean the 'Monogram of Christ', and which appears in some dictionaries (i.e. Funk and Wagnalis, 1922)."
A Charlie Brown Christmas was completed just ten days shy of its national broadcast premiere. All involved believed the special would be an unmitigated disaster. Melendez first saw the completed animation at a showing in a theater in the days before its premiere, turning to his crew of animators and remarking, "My golly, we've killed it." Melendez was embarrassed, but one of the animators, Ed Levitt, was more positive regarding the special, telling him it was "the best special [he'll] ever make [...] This show is going to run for a hundred years." Mendelson was similar in his assumptions of the show's quality, and when he showed the film to network executives in New York, their opinions were also negative. Their complaints included the show's slow pace, the music not fitting, and the animation too simple. "I really believed, if it hadn't been scheduled for the following week, there's no way they were gonna broadcast that show," Mendelson later said. Executives had invited television critic Richard Burgheim of Time to view the special, and debated as to whether showing it to him would be a good idea. His review, printed the following week, was positive, praising the special as unpretentious and writing that "A Charlie Brown Christmas is one children's special this season that bears repeating."
If our pick isn’t your cup of tea, the good news is, you generally get what you pay for in artificial trees, and you can rely on a few key specs when shopping. The price directly relates to the number of branch tips, the height, and the girth—an often-overlooked factor that Gurino emphasized in our interview—and all those details contribute to the tree’s general level of realism. Pretty much all trees come out of a handful of factories in China and Taiwan to be branded and sold here, with the same tree sometimes renamed. National Tree Company representatives told us on a visit to its New Jersey headquarters that the tree sold as the Bucks County Fir in Pennsylvania may be called something totally different in Connecticut. You may very well find another brand selling a different version of the Downswept Douglas Fir, disguised by some superficial finishing touches that could suit your style better. If one of the brands we recommend has something you like, and the specs and price seem in line with our reporting, you’ve probably found your perfect tree.
Pre-lit trees and type of lights: While deciding whether to buy a pre-lit tree is a personal decision, we suggest that you don’t. Though the quality of string lights has improved in the past several years, you still risk the lights on your tree burning out before you’ve gotten full use of the tree. Furthermore, you usually cannot remove the lights from the tree.
A reference to the animated television special A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) based on the comic strip Peanuts by American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000), in which the title character Charlie Brown picks an unattractive Christmas tree to decorate. The selection of the tree represents a protest against the commercialization of Christmas.
This presentation elevates premade grocery-store wreaths. They hang from fishing line that runs over the top of the door. Then, striped ribbon trails the fishing line. This allows the wreaths to move a bit, giving them a striking, free-hanging look. Sprays of fresh bay leaves, seeded eucalyptus, and large gray berzillia berries add tone-on-tone interest and texture.
Ultimately though, we think that the 7.5 foot Best Choice Products is the best artificial Christmas tree. (And we promise we weren’t just swayed by the name). It’s got 1346 long branch tips that give it a full and fluffy look, even with its 52 inch width. It also seems to be a slightly lighter green color than the NTC tree, which looks nice with the warm glow of string lights.
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.
Perhaps a good “starter tree” for a young family, it has all of the basic functionalities like quick-set technology and an included stand, lights and fuses. However, this tree’s comparatively low price point shows through in its branch tip count (just 1000 tips) and only 500 lights. Even less reassuringly, the lights are incandescent, which means you risk burnout before you’ve gotten the most out of your tree.
The Christmas Tree Company makes a tree stand called Santa’s Solution. We enjoyed how festive this model was painted. We also liked how sturdy the construction is and that’s probably why the manufacturer is willing to back it with a lifetime guarantee. The exterior is made of steel, while the interior is lined with impact-grade plastic. The plastic tub on the inside can hold up to 1.5 gallons of water.
For example, the pre-lit 7½-foot-tall, 59-inch-wide version of its Rocky Mountain Pine (same dimensions as our top pick) has 2,764 branch tips (versus our pick’s 1,867) and 1,000 bulbs (versus 750). And it has 54 percent realistic polyethylene branch tips, versus 37 percent. On the other hand, you have to choose white or colored bulbs; the Balsam Hill Rocky Mountain Pine doesn’t come in a color-switching model like our pick. And the extra tips, percent-polyethylene, and bulbs come at a premium: The Rocky Mountain pine has a list price of about $860, and typically retails for roughly $520—historically, $100 or more than our pick. If that’s in your budget, go for it: It’s a terrific tree. To get a similarly specced Balsam Hill tree at a price close to our pick, you’re limited to the company’s Traditional line, which is made entirely of PVC.
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.
In the early 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia. Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg introduced the Christmas tree to Vienna in 1816, and the custom spread across Austria in the following years. In France, the first Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by the duchesse d'Orléans. In Denmark a Danish newspaper claims that the first attested Christmas tree was lit in 1808 by countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg. It was the aging countess who told the story of the first Danish Christmas tree to the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen in 1865. He had published a fairy-tale called The Fir-Tree in 1844, recounting the fate of a fir-tree being used as a Christmas tree.
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