The Sweethome (now Wirecutter) listed the Cinco Express as the runner-up for best tree stand. They liked that the reservoir has an overflow basin to catch drips and that it's easy to fill. Thoroughly Reviewed also ranked this model as one of its top three Christmas tree stands because it is convenient, stores easily, and involves effortless installation for live trees.
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.
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).
If the National Tree and GE picks are unavailable, this Home Accents Holiday tree is a worthy alternative. It’s only 21 percent polyethylene—barely half our pick’s percentage—and up close, the fakey PVC needles that make up most of its foliage are pretty obvious. But its high branch-tip count (2,602 versus our pick’s 1,867) gives it a full, realistic appearance when viewed from across the room, and its greater girth (68 versus 59 inches) will fill even the largest living space. Like our other picks, its lights (750, same as our top pick) can switch between white and multicolored; and as on our GE also-great pick, the light strings connect automatically when you assemble the tree.
And even if you have room to store an artificial tree, bear in mind that, as Gurino noted, it won’t easily go back into its original box: “Once you fluff it, it’ll never fit exactly.” After we were done with our photo shoot, I spent about half an hour painstakingly collapsing each branch of our tree, one by one, as tight as I could against the central pole, to prep the tree for shipping. My best advice: Start from the top (the shortest branches) and end at the bottom (the longest branches). First pinch the branch tips together into a sort of bundle; then fold up the branch itself. Even after I did that, though, it made some obvious bulges in the original shipping box.
In the late 1800s, home-made white Christmas trees were made by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches creating the appearance of a snow-laden tree. In the 1940s and 1950s, popularized by Hollywood films in the late 1930s, flocking was very popular on the West Coast of the United States. There were home flocking kits that could be used with vacuum cleaners. In the 1980s some trees were sprayed with fluffy white flocking to simulate snow.
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.