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.
A good stand can hold the tree up and make it look straight, even if the tree itself is a bit crooked. To create stability, the stand needs a heavy base to lower the tree’s center of gravity and keep it balanced. For size, it should have an opening wide enough to accommodate a roughly 4- to 6-inch trunk diameter—that’s the ballpark thickness of your average Christmas tree, which has a height of 6 or 7 feet, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.
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.
In many areas, it has become customary to set up one's Christmas tree at the beginning of the Advent season. Some families in the U.S. and Canada will put up a Christmas tree a week prior to American Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November), and Christmas decorations can show up even earlier in retail stores, often the day after Halloween (31 October). In Canada many families wait until after Remembrance Day, as to show respect to fallen soldiers. Some households do not put up the tree until the second week of December, and leave it up until 6 January (Epiphany). In Germany, traditionally the tree is put up on 24 December and taken down on 7 January, though many start one or two weeks earlier, and in Roman Catholic homes the tree may be kept until February 2 (Candlemas).[why?]
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.
When shopping for the right Christmas tree stand, there are a few specifications you must take note of. Most importantly, how large of a tree will the stand accommodate? If you like to make full use of your vaulted ceiling with a large real tree, make sure you can fit your 12-foot-tall tree in the stand base. Likewise, artificial trees generally have skinny poles that will only fit in specific models. We make it clear what type and size of tree are best for each stand.
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.)
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.
Charlie Brown quietly picks up the tree and walks out of the auditorium toward home, now determined not to let commercialism ruin the holiday. He stops at Snoopy's decorated doghouse, which now sports a blue ribbon for winning the display contest. He takes a large ornament from the doghouse and hangs it at the top of his tree, but the branch, seemingly unable to hold the ornament's weight, promptly droops to the ground. Believing he has killed the tree and that he has ruined everything as usual, Charlie Brown walks off in despair.
For even more convenience, purchase a pre-lit tree so all you have to do is add ornaments and garland and you’re ready to celebrate. To help save money on electric bills, try a Christmas tree with energy-saving LED lights and add a light timer to make sure your lights consistently turn off at the same hour each night. Even better, you can set up Remote Control Christmas Trees that let you change the color of the lights with just a click of a button. For more information on how to choose the right artificial tree for your Christmas décor, see our Artificial Christmas Tree Buying Guide.