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.)
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.
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While they're growing, Real Christmas Trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and emitting fresh oxygen. The farms that grow Christmas Trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts. Often, Christmas Trees are grown on soil that doesn't support other crops. See what the experts say about Real Christmas Trees.
“This little tree is absolutely perfect for our downsized Christmas display this year. The base is sturdy and heavy; the burlap covering is traditional and innocuous. The tree itself was fun to ‘fluff out.’ Our tree looks just like the photo! There is plenty of greenery to give a realistic look, and generous spaces between the branches to hold our mercury-glass heirloom ornaments. The pine cones are sturdy and well-attached. The tree is on a small table to add height. We put some photos on Facebook, and have gotten great compliments! We’ll use this tree for years.”
We raised our concerns with the American Christmas Tree Association, which stated in response that leaded PVC is no longer used at all in its members’ products. We also asked National Tree Company about its products specifically, and representatives confirmed that the company uses entirely lead-free PVC. We have no reason to doubt those claims, but since no federal standards or tests for artificial-tree materials exist, we have no independent data to confirm or contradict them, either. In general, it seems wise to wash your hands after setting up and decorating your artificial tree, as well as to prevent kids and pets from playing underneath it or (obviously) chewing on the branches. But the risk of lead exposure from a contemporary artificial Christmas tree is likely to be minimal to nonexistent.
“Works great! Once you have a rotating tree stand, you’ll never want to go back to a stationary stand again. It makes decorating your tree easier, and best of all, the rotation allows you to view and appreciate all your ornaments. Note: You will need to wrap the excess cord around the base of the tree, otherwise it will loop around as it turns and will eventually pull the plug out of the wall socket. I wrapped it a few times around the base and held it with the green twist-tie from some celery I had bought at the market.”
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Size: The size and width of your tree is an important factor to consider when searching for Christmas tree stands. Standard Christmas tree stands support trees up to 7 feet tall. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to find out if a stand can accommodate taller Christmas trees. If you do have a taller tree, look for Christmas tree stands with a circular base. A stand with a wide, circular Christmas tree base provides better stabilization, preventing your room’s star attraction from tipping over while also keeping it perfectly aligned.
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.
For this guide, we gave ourselves a crash course in artificial Christmas trees. Wirecutter editor Tim Heffernan visited a fake-tree manufacturer’s New Jersey headquarters, shopped for trees at several big-box stores, and spent hours examining trees at House of Holiday—New York City’s largest holiday shop—whose owner Larry Gurino “love[s] to geek out over artificial trees.” Gurino’s deep knowledge greatly added to this guide, as did the time we spent shopping and researching the hundreds of options online. Wirecutter research editor Courtney Schley spent hours speaking with the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents artificial-tree makers, to understand the industry itself, including manufacturing processes, sales and design trends, and statistics.
Best Reviews included the Jack-Post model in its list of the best Christmas tree stands because the reviewers liked how it handled trees ten feet tall and larger. However, the stand lost points because the washers can get stuck inside the tree when you disassemble the unit. The Tree Stand rated this product 9.1 out of 10 because it is rust resistant, sturdy and durable, has a large water reservoir, and comes with a lifetime warranty. The10Pro also liked the metal bowl that keeps the tree steady and firm.
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.
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