“Been waiting for years to get an artificial tree, and I chose the right brand and style! It looks fabulous when fluffed out. Granted it takes at least 45 minutes to get it from the box to fluffed out, more if you are symmetry OCD like I am, but it is well worth the time. Pack-up is very easy into the reusable box to store for next Christmas. Love it. Well-designed and well-made. Great value for the money.”
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).
In the Western Christian tradition, Christmas trees are variously erected on days such as the first day of Advent or even as late as Christmas Eve depending on the country; customs of the same faith hold that the two traditional days when Christmas decorations, such as the Christmas tree, are removed are Twelfth Night and, if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations.
Schulz's main goal for a Peanuts-based Christmas special was to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. He desired to juxtapose this theme with interspersed shots of snow and ice-skating, perhaps inspired by his own childhood growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota. He also created the idea for the school play, and mixing jazz with traditional Christmas carols. Schulz was adamant about Linus' reading of the Bible, despite Mendelson and Melendez's concerns that religion was a controversial topic, especially on television. Melendez recalled Schulz turned to him and remarked "If we don't do it, who will?". Schulz's estimation proved accurate, and in the 1960s, less than 9 percent of television Christmas episodes contained a substantive reference to religion, according to university researcher Stephen Lind. It could also be worth noting that the Linus's recitation of Scripture was incorporated in such a way that it forms the climax of the film, thus making it impossible to successfully edit out.
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.)
“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.”
^ The story, not recounted in the vitae written in his time, appears in a BBC Devon website, "Devon Myths and Legends", and in a number of educational storybooks, including St. Boniface and the Little Fir Tree: A Story to Color by Jenny Melmoth and Val Hayward (Warrington: Alfresco Books 1999 ISBN 1-873727-15-1), The Brightest Star of All: Christmas Stories for the Family by Carrie Papa (Abingdon Press 1999 ISBN 978-0-687-64813-9) and "How Saint Boniface Kept Christmas Eve" by Mary Louise Harvey in The American Normal Readers: Fifth Book, 207-22. Silver, Burdett and Co. 1912.
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’s 7½-foot, unlit Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-503-75) is a great tree at a great price, if you don’t need lights included. It’s the same size as our main pick, with the same generous branch count (1,867), sporting that same full, room-filling form. It’s identical in construction, too, with the same realistic polyethylene tips, hinged branches, and three sections. You’ll have to string the lights yourself, of course. If you already own enough lights for a 7½-foot tree (roughly 700 bulbs, per the 100-per-foot guideline), choosing this tree is a no-brainer, since you’ll save a chunk of money. Or if you simply prefer to string your own, even if it means spending down those savings, go for it—check out our recommended set of LED Christmas lights, or pick up three 300-bulb strings of incandescents for about $30. And for smaller homes and apartments, we think the 6½-foot version of this tree also makes a great pick.
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.
Balsam Hill is the top-selling artificial-tree brand in the US, and it offers an extraordinary array of top-quality trees in three ranges of realism. After viewing and handling examples in person, we consider its Realistic line comparable overall to National Tree’s Feel Real series. Both have a mix of realistic PE branch tips and plasticky PVC filler branches. And both do a great job of fooling the eye. An exact apples-to-apples comparison isn’t possible (due to differences in lighting options, for example), but Balsam Hill’s trees tend to feature more branch tips and light bulbs at a given height-width combination.
The special influenced dozens of young aspiring artists and animators, many of whom went on to work within both the comics and animation industries, among them Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas), Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E), Jef Mallett (Frazz), and Patrick McDonnell (Mutts). The show's score made an equally pervasive impact on viewers who would later perform jazz, among them David Benoit and George Winston. More directly, the special launched a series of Peanuts films, TV specials (many of them holiday-themed) and other works of entertainment.
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.
The show's glowing reviews were highlighted with an ad in trade magazines; one thanked Coca-Cola, CBS, United Features Syndicate, and the show's viewers. Fantasy released the special's soundtrack the first week of December 1965, coinciding with the special's airdate. United Feature Syndicate pushed hard to promote the special, while Word Publishing issued a hardcover adaption of the special. CBS promptly ordered four additional Peanuts specials. A Charlie Brown Christmas was awarded the Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program in 1966. "Charlie Brown is not used to winning, so we thank you," Schulz joked.
The National Tree Folding Tree Stand comes in six sizes with the most popular sizes being the 16-inch leg span (accommodates trees 4 to 6 feet tall), 24-inch (6.5- to 8-foot trees), 28-inch (7.5- to 8-foot trees), and 32-inch leg span (for 9- to 10-foot trees). The stand holds artificial trees with center poles of about 1.25 inches in diameter. The tree stays in place thanks to a thumb screw. The stand is made of sturdy steel and weighs about two pounds. The legs fold flat for easy storage.
Other trends have developed in the early 2000s as well. Optical fiber Christmas trees come in two major varieties; one resembles a traditional Christmas tree. One Dallas-based company offers "holographic mylar" trees in many hues. Tree-shaped objects made from such materials as cardboard, glass, ceramic or other materials can be found in use as tabletop decorations. Upside-down artificial Christmas trees became popular for a short time and were originally introduced as a marketing gimmick; they allowed consumers to get closer to ornaments for sale in retail stores and opened up floor space for more products. Artificial trees became increasingly popular during the late 20th century. Users of artificial Christmas trees assert that they are more convenient, and, because they are reusable, much cheaper than their natural alternative. They are also considered much safer as natural trees can be a significant fire hazard. Between 2001 and 2007 artificial Christmas tree sales in the U.S. jumped from 7.3 million to 17.4 million. Currently it is estimated that around 58% of Christmas trees used in the United States are artificial while numbers in the United Kingdom are indicated to be around 66%.
However, once the branches are in place, they stay formed exactly how you set them. The Best Choice tree branches also sit higher off the ground than the NTC tree, meaning that you can easily slide gifts underneath. It had minimal shedding when we set it up, requiring just one quick sweep of a broom to undo the damage. And at less than $90, this tree is also one of the best deals of the holiday season.