Real vs. fake. Which is better? It’s a highly-contested topic each holiday season, and it’s one that the American Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the artificial tree industry) and the National Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the real tree industry) take seriously. Both groups make their cases for selecting either a real or faux tree, and we used them to inform our comparison.
A unique design makes clamping a tree in the Krinner far easier than any kind of stand we’ve found. The Krinner grips the tree trunk with five claws that you tighten by stepping on a ratcheting foot pedal, instead of turning a set of bolts into the bottom of the tree trunk, like nearly every other tree stand. This means average-size and smaller trees, around 6 to 7 feet tall, can be set up with just one person. No other tree stand does anything like it. The Krinner can handle a wide range of trunk diameters (even very small ones), it’s extremely stable and it’s attractive, and the enclosed 2½-gallon reservoir has a gauge to show you its water level. Priced at around $100, the Krinner is not cheap, but it’s so superior to the competition, we feel it’s worth the investment.
Both setting up and taking down a Christmas tree are associated with specific dates. Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve (24 December) or, in the traditions celebrating Christmas Eve rather than the first day of Christmas, 23 December, and then removed the day after Twelfth Night (5 January); to have a tree up before or after these dates was even considered bad luck, and that to avoid bad luck from affecting the house's residents, the tree must be left up until after the following Twelfth Night passes.
The Christmas tree was first used by German Lutherans in the 16th century, with records indicating that a Christmas tree was placed in the Cathedral of Strassburg in 1539, under the leadership of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Bucer. In the United States, these "German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravians put lighted candles on those trees." When decorating the Christmas tree, many individuals place a star at the top of the tree symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, a fact recorded by The School Journal in 1897. Professor David Albert Jones of Oxford University writes that in the 19th century, it became popular for people to also use an angel to top the Christmas tree in order to symbolize the angels mentioned in the accounts of the Nativity of Jesus.
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.
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For 100% hassle free setup. Just step on the foot lever until the claws firmly tighten the trunk. No cutting or sawing necessary. Straight every time. No assembly required, no screws to tighten. Holds up to 1.2 gallons of water. With fully automatic water level indicator that takes the guessing out of watering your tree. Fool-proof. 3 year warranty.
Testing came in three phases looking at assembly, usage, and stability. During the assembly stage, we always tried to set up the stands without looking at the instructions first. It’s not because all the testers were men–mostly. A Christmas tree stand should last for years and from season to season, instructions get lost. Intuitive design is a must. We used a seven-and-a-half foot tall Fraser fir. After surveying our office and researching the average ceiling height for American households, we decided to get a tree that was no taller than eight feet, but not shorter than seven.
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As we set up each tree with each stand (in the pouring rain), we noted how difficult it was to get the tree into the stand, position it, and fasten the tree inside. We also looked at how hard it was to make adjustments to straighten the tree. We then filled the stand’s reservoir with 1½ gallons of water (or the stand’s maximum, if it was less than this amount), and noted how difficult it was to fill, and how likely it was to overflow or spill onto your floor.
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.
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.
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.
Unlike the impostors of the past, the best of today's imitation trees could pass as the real thing. Another big improvement: Most artificial Christmas trees come pre-lit, so you can skip the temper-fraying ritual of distributing lights evenly around the branches and focus on these Christmas tree decorating ideas instead. Whether you're looking for something classic with no-frills tree or a unique eye-catcher, there's an artificial Christmas tree here for you.
More than a decade ago, the only material used in trees was polyvinyl chloride. Now, on good trees, PVC appears only as the obviously fake filler branches near the tree’s trunk. PVC is cheaper to produce than PE, and it’s also a lot lighter, so the mixed materials help to balance beauty, cost, and weight. All the trees we considered for this guide consisted of realistic PE branch tips around a lighter, cheaper PVC core. Even though all-PVC trees are still widely available, we don’t recommend them. From a distance they look like trees, but up close they look terrible. On the plus side, however, they are cheap: A 6-foot tree shouldn’t cost more than $100. Also, what was once a genuine health concern—the use of lead as a PVC stabilizer—is no longer an issue in most artificial trees sold in the US, according to National Tree Company and the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents artificial-tree companies.
National Tree Company’s 7½-foot Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir with dual-color LEDs (PEDD1-D12-75) is our pick among artificial Christmas trees. It’s very full and highly realistic, and its 59-inch girth will nicely fill the corner of most living rooms. The lights can switch from multicolor to all-white (actually more of a soft “golden” white), giving it versatility. It’s widely available, too: If you’d like to see it in person, Home Depot, Kohl’s, and many holiday stores typically carry it.
The GE 7.5’ Just Cut EZ Light Frasier Fir Dual Color LED has many favorable specs compared with our top pick from National Tree. It’s the same height and width, but it has more branch tips for a fuller appearance (2,076 versus 1,867). Like our top pick, the GE lets you switch between white and multicolor lighting modes; in addition, the GE model’s light strings connect automatically via the central pole as you assemble the three sections of the tree, a minor but handy feature that our top pick lacks. But we are especially fond of the way GE’s LED Christmas lights look—in our test, we found them to come closest to the familiar warm glow of incandescent bulbs. However, the GE has 600 lights, versus our top pick’s 750, meaning it falls just short of our recommended 100 bulbs per foot of tree. And at 30 percent polyethylene, versus 37 percent on the National Tree pick, the GE tree has a lower proportion of ultra-realistic branch tips—and a higher proportion of fake-looking PVC “needles.” You’ll never notice a difference from across the room, but up close you may find the GE slightly more artificial-looking.
We started our quest for the best artificial christmas tree to buy by researching the artificial Christmas tree market. While there are quite a few brands out there, many of the trees that are sold are almost (if not completely) identical in material and composition. Many of them are just renamed for different brands. We also found that some stores, like Walmart, sold multiple brands online but only had their in-house brand in our local brick and mortar stores.
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%.
The most significant factor that sets the Krinner apart is the unique fastening mechanism that’s far simpler and easier to use than that of any other tree stand available. You simply set the tree in the stand, press several times on a foot pedal, and then five very sturdy plastic claws, looped together with a heavy-gauge metal wire, tighten down against the tree trunk to set it in position. The final pushes on the pedal snug up the claws and hold the tree securely. A sliding red button on the pedal locks it in place, but if you need to make further adjustments, it’s really no big deal to unlock the claws and reset the tree. (A slightly more expensive Deluxe version even rings a bell when the tree is secured.)
Linus and the others, realizing they were too hard on Charlie Brown, quietly follow him to Snoopy's doghouse. Linus admits he always liked the tree while gently propping the drooping branch back in its upright position and wraps his blanket around its base, and when the others add the remaining decorations from Snoopy's doghouse to the tree, Lucy agrees. They start humming "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". Charlie Brown returns, surprised at the humming and the redecorated tree, and the gang all joyously shout "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" They all begin to sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and Charlie Brown joins them as the special ends.
Pope John Paul II introduced the Christmas tree custom to the Vatican in 1982. Although at first disapproved of by some as out of place at the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Christmas Tree has become an integral part of the Vatican Christmas celebrations, and in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI spoke of it as part of the normal Christmas decorations in Catholic homes. In 2004, Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. This very ancient custom, he said, exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the "tree of life" of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity. In the previous year he said: "Beside the crib, the Christmas tree, with its twinkling lights, reminds us that with the birth of Jesus the tree of life has blossomed anew in the desert of humanity. The crib and the tree: precious symbols, which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas." The Catholic Church's official Book of Blessings has a service for the blessing of the Christmas tree in a home. Likewise the Protestant Episcopal Church in The Anglican Family Prayer Book, which has the imprimatur of The Rt. Rev. Catherine S. Roskam of the Anglican Communion, has long had a ritual titled Blessing of a Christmas Tree, as well as Blessing of a Crèche, for use in the church and the home.
The 6.5 ft. Snowy Pine is an Artificial The 6.5 ft. Snowy Pine is an Artificial Christmas Tree from Fraser Hill Farm. This model features a traditional full silhouette with extremely lifelike foliage and all-metal hinged branch construction. A heavily flocked finish was designed to resemble freshly fallen snow that is true to season and produces a natural ... More + Product Details Close