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.
The special opens and closes with a choir of children, culled from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California, performing "Christmas Time Is Here" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". One of the singers, Candace Hackett Shively, went on to become an elementary school teacher, and sent a letter of gratitude to Schulz after he announced his retirement in 2000. In the letter, she recalls recording the choir at Fantasy Studios and going out for ice cream afterwards, while also noting that she tells the story to her grade-schoolers each holiday season. The recording sessions were conducted in late autumn 1965, and were cut in three separate sessions over two weeks. They often ran late into the night, resulting in angry parents, some who forbade their children from returning; consequently, numerous new children were present at each session. The children were directed by Barry Mineah, who demanded perfection from the choir. Mendelson and Guaraldi disagreed, desiring the "kids to sound like kids"; they used a slightly off-key version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" in the final cut. Children were paid five dollars for their participation. In addition, the children recorded dialogue for the special's final scene, in which the crowd of kids shout "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"
Several sites that review Christmas tree stands list this Good Tidings model among their top picks. The Z9 gave it high ratings because it is rustproof, has a large reservoir, allows for quick installation, and the polypropylene body is durable and reliable. DeWhiteHome, a site specializing in everything Christmas, ranked this stand as the top tabletop stand because of the strong, rustproof screws.
The Christmas tree became very common in the United States in the early nineteenth century. The first image of a Christmas tree was published in 1836 as the frontispiece to The Stranger's Gift by Hermann Bokum. The first mention of the Christmas tree in American literature was in a story in the 1836 edition of The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, titled "New Year's Day," by Catherine Maria Sedgwick, where she tells the story of a German maid decorating her mistress's tree. Also, a woodcut of the British Royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in The Illustrated London News December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in Godey's Lady's Book. Godey's copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen's tiara and Prince Albert's moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene. The republished Godey's image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America. Art historian Karal Ann Marling called Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, shorn of their royal trappings, "the first influential American Christmas tree". Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850–60 than Godey's Lady's Book". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become even more common in America.
The Downswept Douglas Fir’s lights give off the intense colors characteristic of LEDs. With 750 bulbs on a 7½-foot tree, it exactly meets our 100-bulbs-per-foot recommendation. The all-white setting has a rich golden tone; the multicolor setting is bright and pure. To people used to the softer glow of incandescent bulbs, the effect may appear a little harsh. If you’d prefer the same tree strung with all-white or multicolor incandescents, you can usually find one for the same price or less, but you’ll get only three or four seasons of light life, whereas LEDs may run for a decade or more with normal use. (A string of 300 white or multicolor incandescents runs about $10 at Home Depot currently; you would need three strings, or about $30 worth, to meet the “at least 100 lights per foot of tree” guideline for our 7½-foot tree picks.)
Many of our wreaths, garland, and swags also offer the option of pre-strung lighting or permanent decorations. Pre-decorated wreaths and garlands add a lot of warmth and character to a space and can create a polished, cohesive look with their coordinating style. These also spare you the effort of decorating the greenery yourself and painstakingly attaching décor to every swag, wreath, and teardrop.
With this in mind, the trio set out to cast the characters, which proved to be a daunting process. Casting for Charlie Brown proved most difficult, as it required both good acting skills but also the ability to appear nonchalant. The producers picked eight-year-old Peter Robbins, already known for his roles spanning television, film, and advertisements. His godmother, famous Hollywood agent Hazel McMillen, discovered Christopher Shea, who would become Linus in the special. His slight lisp, according to Mendelson, gave him a "youthful sweetness," while his emotional script reading "gave him power and authority as well." Tracy Stratford played the role of Lucy, with the creators being impressed by her attitude and professionalism. Kathy Steinberg was the youngest of the performers, just six years old at the time of recording. Too young to read, the producers had to give her one line at a time to recite. Robbins remembered Melendez did this for him as well, joking that he also mistakenly copied his Latino accent. Mendelson desired to have non-actors (not "Hollywood kids") perform on the special, and he sent tape recorders home with his employees for their children to audition.
Wirecutter senior editor Erica Ogg’s parents, Steve and Debi Ogg, tested the Krinner for a year and they reported that it was “probably the best Christmas tree stand we’ve owned.” Steve was especially impressed with the easy setup, saying, “I’ve never been able to set up a Christmas tree by myself. I’ve always had to have someone else hold it up, while I’m down there [trying to screw in bolts].” With the Krinner, “I could hold it in and use the foot ratchet thing, didn’t need anyone else.”
The simple to set up and store option, saving you from having to purchase a new tree every year. With slim and small artificial Christmas trees for rooms short on space to full size firs and spruce trees, artificial trees are a great choice for any home. Artificial Christmas trees are also hypo-allergenic and don’t shed needles, making them ideal for families with pets or small children. Plug in a fir needle, spruce or eucalyptus scented oil air freshener or light a holiday scented candle to create that authentic Christmas tree smell. Whether you prefer traditional, rustic Christmas trees or trendy, pink Christmas trees, we can help you find the right fit.