User Amazon Queen found the Tree Genie much easier to use than screw-in varieties: “For years I’ve bothered with the wobbly screw-in versions…‘a little to the left, a little to the right.’ We put the tree into the stand, pumped the arms in and the tree stood straight and firm the first time in under 1 minute!” Other reviews consistently praise the stand for simplifying a difficult task, working quickly, preventing arguments, and otherwise saving Christmas. Robert Smith summed up the feelings of many reviewers with his “Marriage Saver” post, saying, “I’ve been putting up trees for 10 years, and this year is the first time my wife and I haven’t wanted to kill each other half way through.”
In a design common to modern artificial trees, the Downswept Douglas Fir’s branches are all permanently mounted on hinges on the center pole (older artificial trees required you to attach branches individually via sockets), and like most trees its height, it comes in three sections. As you set the tree up and the branches fold out, you need to fluff them: Just pull the individual tips apart into spreading clusters, adjust the arrangement of branches to close any gaps, and generally prettify the tree. House of Holiday’s Larry Gurino strongly recommends fluffing as you go—do the bottom section first, then put the middle section in place and fluff it, and finally top and fluff. This technique makes the job much easier than trying to fluff the whole thing at once. We followed his advice when setting up our Downswept Douglas Fir for our photo shoot, and we had the whole thing put together and looking great in less than 15 minutes.
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.
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“I was VERY impressed by this affordable little tree!! Came in perfect condition, set up in less than two minutes, lights worked perfectly, and it has a very sturdy, dependable base. It breaks down into a box that a short stack of large dinner plates could fit into. All in all, I would consider it my best-valued decoration in my home to date, as far as price goes. It definitely makes a beautiful holiday statement and I’m sure I will be displaying it for YEARS to come! I may add some more LED lights myself for a more profound look at night, though.”
Many other stands didn’t offer the minimum water capacity of 1½ gallons, including a smaller stand made by Emerald Innovations, Bowling’s Last Stand, Krinner’s smaller Tree Genie M, and the Swivel Straight. We passed over several for having ultracomplicated fastening systems, like the Standtastic Stand, which requires you to screw wood screws into the tree (a huge pain if you need to adjust the tree after setting it up). The E.Z. H20 and the Omega Tree Stand have poor Amazon reviews.
That being said, this NTC tree was even easier to set up than the Best Choice Products tree. It was so easy, in fact, that two people could set it up in under 45 minutes. The hinged branches literally fell into place as soon as we snapped the the three sections of the tree together. Then we did some fluffing and it was ready to go! As mentioned, this tree also left our arms a little bit scratched up after the fluffing process.
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.
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.
Cost: The cost of artificial Christmas trees varies dramatically. And, while it’s true that higher cost is usually synonymous with a higher branch tip count and better looking tree, there are some bargains out there that look pretty realistic for an affordable price. The trees on our list run the gambit in cost, starting at about $20 (for a tiny apartment-sized tree) to over $100 for one of our top contenders. Though all of our picks fall under $200, it’s not unheard of to drop nearly half a grand for a tree.
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!"
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.
Tinsel and several types of garland or ribbon are commonly used to decorate a Christmas tree. Silvered saran-based tinsel was introduced later. Delicate mold-blown and painted colored glass Christmas ornaments were a specialty of the glass factories in the Thuringian Forest, especially in Lauscha in the late 19th century, and have since become a large industry, complete with famous-name designers. Baubles are another common decoration, consisting of small hollow glass or plastic spheres coated with a thin metallic layer to make them reflective, with a further coating of a thin pigmented polymer in order to provide coloration. Lighting with electric lights (Christmas lights or, in the United Kingdom, fairy lights) is commonly done. A tree-topper, sometimes an angel but more frequently a star, completes the decoration.
A final drawback: The Krinner is expensive. At about $90, it is definitely on the high end of the tree stand price scale, but it’s significantly better than all the other stands we tested. We feel its multiple advantages make it worth the price—and a lot of the positive Amazon reviews are written by customers who hesitated to spend so much but ultimately felt it was worth it.
Although the tradition of decorating churches and homes with evergreens at Christmas was long established, the custom of decorating an entire small tree was unknown in Britain until some two centuries ago. At the time of the personal union with Hanover, George III's German-born wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children in 1800. The custom did not at first spread much beyond the royal family. Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with it and a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote:
Several cities in the United States with German connections lay claim to that country's first Christmas tree: Windsor Locks, Connecticut, claims that a Hessian soldier put up a Christmas tree in 1777 while imprisoned at the Noden-Reed House, while the "First Christmas Tree in America" is also claimed by Easton, Pennsylvania, where German settlers purportedly erected a Christmas tree in 1816. In his diary, Matthew Zahm of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recorded the use of a Christmas tree in 1821, leading Lancaster to also lay claim to the first Christmas tree in America. Other accounts credit Charles Follen, a German immigrant to Boston, for being the first to introduce to America the custom of decorating a Christmas tree. August Imgard, a German immigrant living in Wooster, Ohio, is said to be the first to popularize the practice of decorating a tree with candy canes. In 1847, Imgard cut a blue spruce tree from a woods outside town, had the Wooster village tinsmith construct a star, and placed the tree in his house, decorating it with paper ornaments, gilded nuts and Kuchen. German immigrant Charles Minnegerode accepted a position as a professor of humanities at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1842, where he taught Latin and Greek. Entering into the social life of the Virginia Tidewater, Minnigerode introduced the German custom of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas at the home of law professor St. George Tucker, thereby becoming another of many influences that prompted Americans to adopt the practice at about that time. An 1853 article on Christmas customs in Pennsylvania defines them as mostly "German in origin", including the Christmas tree, which is "planted in a flower pot filled with earth, and its branches are covered with presents, chiefly of confectionary, for the younger members of the family." The article distinguishes between customs in different states however, claiming that in New England generally "Christmas is not much celebrated", whereas in Pennsylvania and New York it is.
You’ll want to make sure you have the right Christmas tree base. Keep in mind, the taller the tree, the larger the base. Also, the Christmas tree stand will add height to your tree, so plan to leave enough room between the tree and the ceiling to fit a Christmas tree topper. Surround the base of your tree with a Christmas tree skirt to create the perfect backdrop for presents. If you choose a real tree, the skirt can collect any fallen needles. For the final touch of holiday flair, shop The Home Depot’s huge assortment of Christmas decorations, including Christmas lights, ornaments and garland. And for after the holidays, be sure you have tree bags, organizers and plenty of storage options to get everything packed away neatly for next year.