Finally, we tied a length of twine to each tree, in each stand, at a consistent spot about a third of the distance from the top. Using a force gauge (a simple cylinder with a calibrated spring), we pulled on each tree to see how much force was required to make it tip over. Our gauge maxed out at 50 Newtons, which anyone with a physics background can tell you is not a lot of force—but, in most cases it was enough to tip over our test trees and not far beyond what you’d cause with an accidental bump into the tree. Only the exceptionally sturdy stands could resist it, and the exercise objectively helped us identify the best products in our test.
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.
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!
This Downswept Douglas Pencil Slim tree features Feel This Downswept Douglas Pencil Slim tree features Feel Real branch tip technology creating a tree with remarkable realism. These crush-resistant branch tips are molded from real tree branches for an authentic living tree appearance. This tree is pre-strung with 350 Dual Color lights that change from warm white to multicolor ... More + Product Details Close
“I wanted a little tabletop tree strung with only blue lights for a kind of retro look in my remodeled contemporary reading/puzzle/coffee room. The quality of the tree is excellent. The silver is nice and shiny, as well as soft. The branches are easily bent into place. The stand was easy to assemble. It is exactly what I wanted and a great value for the money. Very happy with my purchase.”
If you want to pay slightly less—or you just prefer to string your own lights—National Tree Company’s 7½-foot, unlit Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-503-75) is a great tree at a great price. It’s as tall and wide as our pick, with the same number of branch tips to give it that same full, room-filling form. It’s also identical in construction, with the same realistic polyethylene branch tips and PVC core. Simply losing the lights saves you more money than you might expect: This model is usually well over $100 cheaper than our main pick. But remember—if you don’t already own Christmas lights, you’ll eat up most of that savings buying them. (For smaller homes and apartments, we also recommend the 6½-foot version of this tree).
In case you haven't seen the movie, here is how it goes. Charlie Brown (a local boy who seems to fail in everything he does), is upset because no one has given him a Christmas card, plus all of his friends seem to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. All his sister wants for Christmas are toys, she says, "I want what's coming to me." Charlie buys a tiny Christmas tree for the Christmas play, but it's made fun of by his friends. Fed up with everybody, Charlie finally yells, "Does anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?" What happens next is one of the best scenes in a Christmas movie ever! Charlie's friend stands up and announces to everyone in the room the true meaning of Christmas, quoting from the Bible.
If our pick isn’t your cup of tea, the good news is, you generally get what you pay for in artificial trees, and you can rely on a few key specs when shopping. The price directly relates to the number of branch tips, the height, and the girth—an often-overlooked factor that Gurino emphasized in our interview—and all those details contribute to the tree’s general level of realism. Pretty much all trees come out of a handful of factories in China and Taiwan to be branded and sold here, with the same tree sometimes renamed. National Tree Company representatives told us on a visit to its New Jersey headquarters that the tree sold as the Bucks County Fir in Pennsylvania may be called something totally different in Connecticut. You may very well find another brand selling a different version of the Downswept Douglas Fir, disguised by some superficial finishing touches that could suit your style better. If one of the brands we recommend has something you like, and the specs and price seem in line with our reporting, you’ve probably found your perfect tree.
For example, the pre-lit 7½-foot-tall, 59-inch-wide version of its Rocky Mountain Pine (same dimensions as our top pick) has 2,764 branch tips (versus our pick’s 1,867) and 1,000 bulbs (versus 750). And it has 54 percent realistic polyethylene branch tips, versus 37 percent. On the other hand, you have to choose white or colored bulbs; the Balsam Hill Rocky Mountain Pine doesn’t come in a color-switching model like our pick. And the extra tips, percent-polyethylene, and bulbs come at a premium: The Rocky Mountain pine has a list price of about $860, and typically retails for roughly $520—historically, $100 or more than our pick. If that’s in your budget, go for it: It’s a terrific tree. To get a similarly specced Balsam Hill tree at a price close to our pick, you’re limited to the company’s Traditional line, which is made entirely of PVC.
Our designs offer a combination of the most popular artificial Christmas tree features at affordable price points. Whether you need a tree with a slim shape, LED lights, or realistic foliage, you will be able to find one that the whole family will love - no compromise required. For decorating inspiration and gift ideas, visit the Tree Classics blog. There we show you how you can maximize your tree and holiday décor with practical tips and tricks. When done browsing, easily place orders through our convenient online store.
The Cinco Express fits in the mid-sized tree stand range. It is ideal for real trees up to ten feet tall with a trunk diameter of up to seven inches. This stand is made of heavy-duty plastic. The base features three galvanized pins in its center to hold the tree in place before final adjustments. A push-pull ratchet mechanism makes it easier to set up and take down your tree. The base has an overall diameter of 20 inches and fits two gallons of water.
We unboxed and set up the tree over the Thanksgiving 2018 holiday weekend, and as we found the year before, it’s still in near perfect condition. The arms all fold down smoothly, the lights all work, no needles are bent or broken, the stand is still sturdy—we really have nothing to complain about. In the past two years, we’ve come to expect making some minor adjustments, including pulling branches into position, straightening the top stem, and positioning ornaments strategically to cover gaps, as you would with any tree. The cross-country truck ride in 2016 was more abuse than most owners are likely to put their tree through when simply hauling it in and out of storage at home. After seeing this tree survive the shipment unscathed, we’re fully confident in its ability to last the decade or so that most owners will keep it at home. It genuinely looks good, too: A 5-year-old seeing the tree for the first time in 2017 confidently declared that it was real (before he scooted underneath it mechanic-style and changed his mind upon a closer inspection).
There are many, many more competitors than what we list here. Given the way artificial trees are produced (described in How we picked), it’s not uncommon for companies to buy trees “off the shelf” and rebrand them under their own names. So if you can’t find one of our picks or a comparable tree from the makers listed here, you can still find an excellent tree. Here’s how.
For even more convenience, purchase a pre-lit tree so all you have to do is add ornaments and garland and you’re ready to celebrate. To help save money on electric bills, try a Christmas tree with energy-saving LED lights and add a light timer to make sure your lights consistently turn off at the same hour each night. Even better, you can set up Remote Control Christmas Trees that let you change the color of the lights with just a click of a button. For more information on how to choose the right artificial tree for your Christmas décor, see our Artificial Christmas Tree Buying Guide.