Peanuts had become a phenomenon worldwide by the mid-1960s, and the special was commissioned and sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. It was written over a period of several weeks, and animated on a shoestring budget in only six months. In casting the characters, the producers went an unconventional route, hiring child actors. The program's soundtrack was similarly unorthodox: it features a jazz score by pianist Vince Guaraldi. Its absence of a laugh track (a staple in US television animation in this period), in addition to its tone, pacing, music, and animation, led both the producers and network to predict the project would be a disaster preceding its broadcast.
We tested the Krinner on two trees: a 6-foot-8 tree, which we put up unassisted, and a bigger 8-foot-4 tree, which was easier with a second person. As long as you can heave the tree into the Krinner’s open jaws, you may be able to manage it on your own. This is a huge distinction between the Krinner and basically every other stand, which forces you to get down on your belly to tighten individual bolts. Even for a smaller tree, that’s nearly impossible to do without help.
The pint-sized Home Accents Holiday – 5 Foot Pine with Clear Lights comes pre-trimmed with clear lights. It arrives in two pieces that you slide together. Then you fluff it, plug it in and it’s ready for ornaments. Most reviewers shared that this entire process took them less than an hour. This little tree is compact and festive, especially for the sub- $50 dollar price point. One big negative? The bulbs are incandescent. However, there are a good amount of them for such a small tree, and we found that they cast a nice warm glow when we examined this tree in person.
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.
Melendez had previously worked for Warner Bros. and Disney, and working on Peanuts-related material gave him a chance to animate a truly flat cartoon design. The movement of Schulz's characters, particularly the Peanuts gang, was very limited. The character of Snoopy, however, proved the exception to the rule. "He can do anything – move and dance – and he's very easy to animate," said Melendez.
When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas paegent. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus' help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is. Written by Kenneth Chisholm
As Allen was in Europe, the duo received no feedback on their pitch for several days. When Allen got in touch with them, he informed them that Coca-Cola wanted to buy the special, but also wanted it for an early December broadcast, giving the duo just six months to scramble together a team to produce the special. Mendelson assured him – without complete confidence in his statements – that this would be no problem. Following this, A Charlie Brown Christmas entered production.
Wirecutter has been researching and testing Christmas tree stands since 2012. In that time, we’ve thoroughly vetted more than 35 stands and done hands-on testing with five. We’ve also read everything we can about Christmas tree stands, from a comparison in the The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) to a Christmas-themed blog called Miss Bee’s Christmas Tree (although not a professional reviewer, Miss Bee is pretty serious about tree stands). We’ve also scoured user reviews on the websites of several major retailers and perused a variety of “best of” lists (most of which, alas, rely mainly on those same websites, with little, if any, testing.)
“I recently purchased a seven-foot vintage aluminum Christmas tree that was missing its stand, so I bought this hoping it would do the trick. I was pleased that it not only fit the tree perfectly, it is also much sturdier and higher quality than the plastic tree stands that come with most artificial trees. I may eventually spray-paint this to match my silver tree, but the tree skirt I have covers it nicely. My cat also enjoys sleeping under the tree and using this thing as a chin rest, so there’s that.”
People often overlook the fact that they’ll need to store an artificial tree for 10 or 11 months out of the year, Gurino pointed out. And lack of storage space is the main reason, he added, that city and apartment dwellers favor live trees. (He also noted that when live trees get thrown out, they often become free mulch for public parks—in effect, they’re recycled.) Our tree, after being packed up after the photo shoot, took up a corner of our test space for a month before we were able to send it off to another Wirecutter editor for long-term testing. So unless you have lots of storage room in your place, a live tree may make more sense.
In the past, Christmas trees were often harvested from wild forests, but now almost all are commercially grown on tree farms. Almost all Christmas trees in the United States are grown on Christmas tree farms where they are cut after about ten years of growth and new trees planted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's agriculture census for 2007, 21,537 farms were producing conifers for the cut Christmas tree market in America, 5,717.09 square kilometres (1,412,724 acres) were planted in Christmas trees.
Along the lower Rhine, an area of Roman Catholic majority, the Christmas tree was largely regarded as a Protestant custom. As a result, it remained confined to the upper Rhineland for a relatively long period of time. The custom did eventually gain wider acceptance beginning around 1815 by way of Prussian officials who emigrated there following the Congress of Vienna.
“Let’s face it, this tree stand is made for people who LOVE Christmas. They love it so much that they want to enjoy every minute of it, not ruin it with the stress, squabbles, broken ornaments, broken dreams, and broken relationships that come with putting up a real Christmas tree in one of those pathetic screw-based stands that just flat-out suck. For the past four years, we’ve gotten our 10- to 12-foot trees up, straight, and secure in the German-engineered-and-built Genie XXL in under TWO MINUTES each time. True story. If you insist on a live tree to make the most of your Christmas season, insist on a Krinner Genie XXL to put it in. You won’t be disappointed!”
A creative and relatively easy-to-work assembly: Slide a little cone-shaped piece on the trunk of the tree, then pick up the tree and drop that into the base. Tap the lever in the base with your foot to allow you to adjust the tree until it’s straight, then lock it in position. This base has a small diameter of 19.25 inches, since it doesn’t have the long arms of other options. Just be warned: It can’t take trees with trunks larger than five inches in diameter, and the water reservoir is tough to fill, since you have access only at the little slot at the top of the stand.
Puleo is Larry Gurino’s favored brand at House of Holiday; like National Tree, it’s a New Jersey–based, family-run business. Unfortunately, Puleo is not as widely available as some other brands, but its quality ranks among the best. Gurino has sold Puleo trees for 20 years, and they were some of the nicest-looking trees we came across in our search. If you find one you like, you can be confident in your purchase.
Unlike other models, this stand doesn’t come with screws or assembly required. To use, simply place the tree in the stand, hold it and then pump the foot pedal until the claws grasp the tree into place.This patented structure is designed to hold trees up to 12 feet tall securely in place with only a few minutes of assembly required. Plus, its automatic water level indicator retains up to two-and-a-half gallons of liquid, so can you rest-easy knowing your accent will be watered — even on the days you forget!
Join the tree skirt revolution and take the ironing out of hiding the base of your Christmas tree. Plastic tree collar assembles in just minutes by lining up the patent-pending magnetic connection points. The collar features a basket weave pattern to add depth and character and is fully washable and waterproof. Disassembles for easy post-Christmas storage.
There are many, many more competitors than what we list here. Given the way artificial trees are produced (described in How we picked), it’s not uncommon for companies to buy trees “off the shelf” and rebrand them under their own names. So if you can’t find one of our picks or a comparable tree from the makers listed here, you can still find an excellent tree. Here’s how.
Most artificial trees are made of recycled PVC rigid sheets using tin stabilizer in the recent years. In the past, lead was often used as a stabilizer in PVC, but is now banned by Chinese laws. The use of lead stabilizer in Chinese imported trees has been an issue of concern among politicians and scientists over recent years. A 2004 study found that while in general artificial trees pose little health risk from lead contamination, there do exist "worst-case scenarios" where major health risks to young children exist. A 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency report found that as the PVC in artificial Christmas trees aged it began to degrade. The report determined that of the 50 million artificial trees in the United States approximately 20 million were 9 or more years old, the point where dangerous lead contamination levels are reached. A professional study on the life-cycle assessment of both real and artificial Christmas trees revealed that one must use an artificial Christmas tree at least 20 years to leave an environmental footprint as small as the natural Christmas tree.
Ideally, you want a mixture of plastic and metal. The best Christmas tree stands that we tested used metal for the moving parts and plastic in the interior. You don't want metal all the way through because trees have to be water and that can corrode steel. The exterior should be made of either metal or high-density plastic. Both of these materials resist impact and scuffing so the stand can last for years to come.
Because we advised against pre-lit trees (as you typically can’t remove the lights from the tree even if they burn out), we chose to focus our research on unlit trees. That being said, we know that the convenience of a pre-lit tree is sometimes irresistible. And we have to admit, they make festive night lights. So, we’re still sharing our favorite pre-lit pick.
Material and flocking: Consider whether you want a tree flocked with fake snow (or glitter) or if you want something more realistic. You may also want to choose a tree that’s made with more Polyethylene (PE) than PVC, since PE is thought to pose less health risk. If you read the fine print, many tree companies will tell you what percentage of PE their tree is made with (if any).
Bring the beauty and sweet scents of nature to your front door with wreaths crafted of fresh, farm-grown flowers, herbs, fruit branches and more. Rustic and contemporary wreaths welcome visitors to your home and a fragrant live wreath is a great seasonal accent to brighten up the indoors. Each piece is grown and harvested with care by a small family-operated farm in Northern California, who create each one to reflect warmth and individuality.
The Cinco Express fits in the mid-sized tree stand range. It is ideal for real trees up to ten feet tall with a trunk diameter of up to seven inches. This stand is made of heavy-duty plastic. The base features three galvanized pins in its center to hold the tree in place before final adjustments. A push-pull ratchet mechanism makes it easier to set up and take down your tree. The base has an overall diameter of 20 inches and fits two gallons of water.
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.
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.
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.
Nicole is a Senior Content Specialist whose writing passion ranges from national recycling initiatives to how to find the perfect Christmas tree. She loves her dog more than most people, and she subsists almost entirely on iced coffee. When she’s not copy editing and researching for Your Best Digs, she’s usually curled up in bed with a good book or outside exploring nature.
“This is a beautiful tree! When you first receive it, you might be worried that it’s too sparse, but it is packed very well, so you must take the time to fluff out each branch. Once we put the lights and ornaments on it, there were no open spaces to see between the branches. I liked that it was not as wide at the bottom as our previous tree. It took up less space width-wise and used fewer ornaments, but still has a very full look. It also doesn’t shed.”
Pre-lit wreaths have lights strung into them that are often permenently attached. You can choose between white and multicolored lights, as well as bulb types with various LED and incandescent bulb options. LED bulbs are known for their energy efficiency and longevity, while incandescent bulbs tend to provide a warmer glow than their LED counterparts. Keep in mind, pre-lit wreaths tend to be slightly heavier than the unlit variety so be sure to hang them from supportive wreath hooks or stands.
The Black and Decker BD3037 Smart Stand came in last in our roundup. The design looks very domineering and that's actually a problem. It sticks out like a bear-trap-like thumb. It also doesn't work that well. The advertisements tout a ten-second setup time and we did find that to be true. What you do is that you lock the three pongs into place and force the tree through them. The problem was we couldn't get our tree straight or stable.
Finally, we tied a length of twine to each tree, in each stand, at a consistent spot about a third of the distance from the top. Using a force gauge (a simple cylinder with a calibrated spring), we pulled on each tree to see how much force was required to make it tip over. Our gauge maxed out at 50 Newtons, which anyone with a physics background can tell you is not a lot of force—but, in most cases it was enough to tip over our test trees and not far beyond what you’d cause with an accidental bump into the tree. Only the exceptionally sturdy stands could resist it, and the exercise objectively helped us identify the best products in our test.
The tree was traditionally decorated with "roses made of colored paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, [and] sweetmeats". In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garlands, baubles, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem, respectively, from the Nativity. Edible items such as gingerbread, chocolate and other sweets are also popular and are tied to or hung from the tree's branches with ribbons.