For this guide, we defaulted to the most popular choices in our quest to come up with a tree that would please the most people. Our interview with the sales manager at National Tree Company yielded a few key facts about trends in the industry. The 7½-foot size is the most popular, as US home ceilings are usually 8 feet high, but we’ve also added several smaller (6½-foot) trees to this guide for those with smaller homes or apartments. People hugely prefer pre-lit trees, as well; to cover everyone’s tastes, we decided to look for a tree that could switch between all-white and multicolor. People also want artificial trees to appear convincingly lifelike. And although first-time tree buyers will probably be surprised at a good tree’s price, we knew we’d be in the mainstream range as long as we came in between $250 and $400, judging by the information we got from House of Holiday’s Larry Gurino, National Tree, and our own research. An artificial tree can easily last 10 or 15 years, so the amortized cost is a lot easier to swallow—the average price for a live tree as of 2016 was $51, according to CBS News.
^ Blainey, Geoffrey (24 October 2013). A Short History of Christianity. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 418. ISBN 9781442225909. Many Lutherans continued to set up a small fir tree as their Christmas tree, and it must have been a seasonal sight in Bach's Leipzig at a time when it was virtually unknown in England, and little known in those farmlands of North America where Lutheran immigrants congregated.
In the past, Christmas trees were often harvested from wild forests, but now almost all are commercially grown on tree farms. Almost all Christmas trees in the United States are grown on Christmas tree farms where they are cut after about ten years of growth and new trees planted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's agriculture census for 2007, 21,537 farms were producing conifers for the cut Christmas tree market in America, 5,717.09 square kilometres (1,412,724 acres) were planted in Christmas trees.
In 2013, we took our top four stands to Adams Nurseries in Lancaster, New York, where the staff members generously loaned us a pair of trees to set up and take down. Both of our test trees were Douglas firs, one of the most common Christmas trees sold in the US. One was 6 feet 8 inches tall with a trunk diameter of 3½ inches, and the other was 8 feet 4 inches tall with a trunk diameter of 5½ inches—a fairly typical span between large and small, which let us gauge how well each stand could handle most people’s trees.
Lead serves as a stabilizer in some forms of PVC. The one serious study (PDF) we’ve seen on artificial Christmas trees, published in 2004 in the Journal of Environmental Health, found that the lead levels and risk of lead exposure were generally very low, and well below federal guidelines at the time; a few models were outliers, however, and one slightly exceeded the federal limits. Lead exposure occurred in two ways: direct contact with the branches—as may occur when people are setting the trees up and decorating them—and contact with PVC dust beneath the tree, the result of physical decomposition of the “pine needles,” a particular concern for crawling infants. Significantly, new trees (new in 2004, that is) generally showed much lower levels of lead than trees manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s. The authors concluded that while the proportion of trees made with lead-stabilized PVC had “decreased only modestly” in the 20 years preceding 2004, “the amount of lead stabilizer used has been reduced to a much larger extent,” suggesting a long-term trend toward low-lead or lead-free artificial trees.
Finally, with the tree all snug, we struck different parts of the tree using a 10-pound weight hanging from a three-foot length of cord attached to an adjustable frame. To keep the force consistent, we pulled the cord back until it was at a 45-degree angle and let gravity do the rest. After each swing of the weight, we measured how far each stand was pushed back.
A layer of cork on the bottom of the stand protects your floors, which is nice if you have hardwood. The most innovative aspect of this stand is the vertical arms, which can be adjusted up or down to avoid issues with limbs. That’s a much better solution than just cutting them off and taking away some of the fullness of your tree. Santa’s Solution has a 1.5 gallon water reservoir and holds trees as tall as ten feet, with trunks up to 6.5 inches in diameter.
After Victoria's marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became even more widespread as wealthier middle-class families followed the fashion. In 1842 a newspaper advert for Christmas trees makes clear their smart cachet, German origins and association with children and gift-giving. An illustrated book, The Christmas Tree, describing their use and origins in detail, was on sale in December 1844. On 2 January 1846 Elizabeth Fielding (née Fox Strangways) wrote from Laycock Abbey to William Henry Fox-Talbot: "Constance is extremely busy preparing the Bohemian Xmas Tree. It is made from Caroline's description of those she saw in Germany". In 1847 Prince Albert wrote: "I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest [his brother] and I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be". A boost to the trend was given in 1848 when The Illustrated London News, in a report picked up by other papers, described the trees in Windsor Castle in detail and showed the main tree, surrounded by the royal family, on its cover. In fewer than ten years their use in better-off homes was widespread. By 1856 a northern provincial newspaper contained an advert alluding casually to them, as well as reporting the accidental death of a woman whose dress caught fire as she lit the tapers on a Christmas tree. They had not yet spread down the social scale though, as a report from Berlin in 1858 contrasts the situation there where "Every family has its own" with that of Britain, where Christmas trees were still the preserve of the wealthy or the "romantic".
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.
^ The Christmas Tree: published by Darton and Clark, London. "The ceremony of the Christmas tree, so well known throughout Germany, bids fair to be welcomed among us, with the other festivities of the season, especially now the Queen, within her own little circle, has set the fashion, by introducing it on the Christmas Eve in her own regal palace." Book review of The Christmas Tree from the Weekly Chronicle, 14 December 1844, quoted in an advert headlined "A new pleasure for Christmas" in The Times, 23 December 1844, p. 8.
The Christmas Tree Company makes a tree stand called Santa’s Solution. We enjoyed how festive this model was painted. We also liked how sturdy the construction is and that’s probably why the manufacturer is willing to back it with a lifetime guarantee. The exterior is made of steel, while the interior is lined with impact-grade plastic. The plastic tub on the inside can hold up to 1.5 gallons of water.
Debi liked that the Krinner was “very solid” but said that the 18-pound weight made it, “a bit cumbersome” moving it up and down the stairs when taking it out and putting it away for the season. She also noted that filling the Krinner with water “was easier than previous stands we have owned, but not necessarily easy, since you have to practically lay on the floor to find the fill zone. But definitely not difficult, and it held a lot more water [than other stands], as I remember, which is nice.” Erica tested the similar Krinner Tree Genie XXL Deluxe (which has the same water reservoir) and said that, “the well is so huge that you just don’t have to water as much in general as you would with most tree stands.”
Over the years, other styles of artificial Christmas trees have evolved and become popular. In 1930, the U.S.-based Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles. Another type of artificial tree is the aluminum Christmas tree, first manufactured in Chicago in 1958, and later in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where the majority of the trees were produced. Most modern artificial Christmas trees are made from plastic recycled from used packaging materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Approximately 10% of artificial Christmas trees are using virgin suspension PVC resin; despite being plastic most artificial trees are not recyclable or biodegradable.
Wreath accessories are available to make your decorating experience easier. Consider round storage bags to keep your wreath fluffy and protected while it's stored away. For display, decorative wreath hangers made of wrought iron and other metals make hanging a wreath quite easy. If you want to display wreaths throughout your home or along a driveway, consider wreath stands. Simply hang a wreath from the stand's large hook for big decorative impact.
This holiday shop to find a tree that’s the perfect height, shape and type for your lifestyle. For traditional Christmas decor, consider a live tree. Starting in November, we have a huge selection of fresh-cut trees to choose from. Use our Real Christmas Tree Guide to learn more about different tree varieties and useful care tips on lighting and watering to keep your tree healthy and your home safe.