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.)
In the early 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia. Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg introduced the Christmas tree to Vienna in 1816, and the custom spread across Austria in the following years. In France, the first Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by the duchesse d'Orléans. In Denmark a Danish newspaper claims that the first attested Christmas tree was lit in 1808 by countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg. It was the aging countess who told the story of the first Danish Christmas tree to the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen in 1865. He had published a fairy-tale called The Fir-Tree in 1844, recounting the fate of a fir-tree being used as a Christmas tree.
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.
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.
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.
Balsam Hill's designers carefully craft our trees to mimic nature using site visits and cutting from live trees to guide them. We offer three types of foliage options that are made from either PE or PVC material. While some trees use one type of foliage exclusively, others may use mix of foliage types to achieve a particular look. The specific mix is specified on each product detail page in the section that describes the tree's foliage.
The Krinner has a 2½-gallon water reservoir. Of the tested stands, only the runner-up Cinco is larger, with a 3-gallon capacity. But 2½ gallons is plenty large: A tree of roughly 6 to 8 feet in height has a trunk diameter of about 4 to 6 inches, and will usually take in 1½ gallons or less per day. In fact, you should even be able to relax a little about watering, as you may not need to each day. A gauge on the tank will tell you what the water level is between fillings.
Number of branch tips and shedding: If you’ve already started perusing through faux trees online, you’ve noticed that many companies specify the number of branch tips on their trees. This is because there’s a direct connection between number of tips and realism. More tips yield a more realistic tree. And just like real Christmas trees, these branch tips are also bound to shed some needles. This is especially true the first time you take the tree out of the box and set it up. The best fake Christmas trees will shed less with each year of use.
Nicole is a Senior Content Specialist whose writing passion ranges from national recycling initiatives to how to find the perfect Christmas tree. She loves her dog more than most people, and she subsists almost entirely on iced coffee. When she’s not copy editing and researching for Your Best Digs, she’s usually curled up in bed with a good book or outside exploring nature.
A Charlie Brown Christmas became a Christmas staple in the United States for several decades afterward. Within the scope of future Peanuts specials, it established their style, combining thoughtful themes, jazzy scores, and simple animation. It also, according to author Charles Solomon, established the half-hour animated special as a television tradition, inspiring the creation of numerous others, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) and Frosty the Snowman (1969). (Earlier animated specials such as Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ran a full hour.) USA Today summarized the program's appeal upon its 40th anniversary in 2005: "Scholars of pop culture say that shining through the program's skeletal plot is the quirky and sophisticated genius that fueled the phenomenal popularity of Schulz's work." Beyond its references to religion, unheard of on television at the time, the special also marked the first time children voiced animated characters.
We had hands-on time with the Tree Genie XXL Deluxe, which matches our main pick spec for spec with a couple exceptions. First, there is a bell on the end of the foot pedal that dings and locks the pedal automatically when the stand’s claws are fully tightened. Also, the claws on the XXL Deluxe loosen on the tree one pedal lift at at time, instead of releasing all at once. These are nice features, but they’re not necessary, and they add about $10 to the total cost.
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The tradition was introduced to North America in the winter of 1781 by Hessian soldiers stationed in the Province of Québec (1763–1791) to garrison the colony against American attack. General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and his wife, the Baroness von Riedesel, held a Christmas party for the officers at Sorel, delighting their guests with a fir tree decorated with candles and fruits.
For one, several of this GE tree’s specs are favorable when 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 (2,073 versus 1,867). Like our top pick, the GE lets you switch between white and multicolor lighting modes; additionally, the lights connect automatically through the central pole as you assemble the three sections of the tree, a handy (but not vital) feature. But we especially love the way GE’s LED Christmas lights look—in our test of Christmas lights, we found GE’s tones closest to the familiar warm glow of incandescent bulbs. That’s not to say anything against National Tree’s lights: We found them very pretty, especially the pale gold of the white-light setting. But if you seek something close to the incandescent look, the GE tree may be your ticket.
^ Johannes Marbach (1859). Die heilige Weihnachtszeit nach Bedeutung, Geschichte, Sitten und Symbolen [The holy Christmas season for meaning, history, customs and symbols] (in German). p. 416. Was ist auch eine deutsche Christenfamilie am Christabend ohne Christbäumchen? Zumal in der Fremde, unter kaltherzigen Engländern und frivolen Franzosen, unter den amerikanischen Indianern und den Papuas von Australien. Entbehren doch die nichtdeutschen Christen neben dem Christbäumchen noch so viele Züge deutscher Gemüthlichkeit. (English: What would a German Christian family do on Christmas Eve without a Christmas tree? Especially in foreign lands, among cold-hearted Englishmen and frivolous Frenchmen, among the American Indians and the Papua of Australia. Apart from the Christmas tree, the non-German Christians suffer from a lack of a great many traits of German 'Gemütlichkeit'.)
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.
A final drawback: The Krinner is expensive. At about $90, it is definitely on the high end of the tree stand price scale, but it’s significantly better than all the other stands we tested. We feel its multiple advantages make it worth the price—and a lot of the positive Amazon reviews are written by customers who hesitated to spend so much but ultimately felt it was worth it.
If you want a rotating stand for a live tree, you don’t have many choices. This one from Northlight will hold trees smaller trees between 4 and 7 feet tall, and up to 65 pounds. You don’t even have to worry about the lights unwrapping from the tree, since this stand rotates 150 degrees one way, then 150 degrees back the other way. Just build in a little slack in the cord to account for that. A three-way switch lets you choose among the three settings: rotation, rotation with Christmas songs, and songs only.
Of course, wreaths are not just for Christmas, and are a lovely addition to give your house a cheerful and welcoming look at any time of year. Fall foliage makes for striking thanksgiving or autumn wreaths, artificial floral blooms in pastel hues are great for Easter, and fresh green leaves, eucalyptus, or cheerful summer flower wreaths are stunning during any of the warmer months.
The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas is an unorthodox mix of traditional Christmas music and jazz. The jazz portions were created by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Producer Lee Mendelson, a fan of jazz, heard Guaraldi's crossover hit "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" on the radio not long after completion of his documentary Charlie Brown & Charles Schulz, and contacted the musician to produce music for the special. Guaraldi composed the music for the project, creating an entire piece, "Linus and Lucy," to serve as the theme. When Coca-Cola commissioned A Charlie Brown Christmas in spring 1965, Guaraldi returned to write the music. The first instrumentals for the special were recorded by Guaraldi at Glendale, California's Whitney Studio with bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey. Recycling "Linus and Lucy" from the earlier special, Guaraldi completed two new originals for the special, "Skating", and "Christmas Time Is Here". In the weeks preceding the premiere, Mendelson encountered trouble finding a lyricist for Guaraldi's instrumental intro, and penned "Christmas Time is Here" in "about 15 minutes" on the backside of an envelope.
If the National Tree and GE are unavailable, the Home Accents Holiday 7.5 ft. Pre-Lit Grand Fir Quick Set Artificial Christmas Tree with Supernova Color Changing Lights is a worthy alternative. It’s not as widely available—Home Accents Holiday is exclusive to Home Depot—but in most parts of the country that still means you can find one easily enough.
Linus and Charlie Brown return to the auditorium with the tree, only to be scorned by Lucy for disobeying her instructions and mocked by the other girls who, along with Snoopy, walk off laughing. At his wit's end, Charlie Brown loudly asks if anybody knows what Christmas is all about. Linus says he does and, after walking to center stage, recites the annunciation to the shepherds from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 14, as translated by the Authorized King James Version:
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.
As for flaws, the Cinco is quite large. Huge, in fact. At about 2 feet in diameter and roughly 10 inches tall, it takes up some real estate and smaller tree skirts won’t be able to cover it. Because it has the capacity to hold a 12-foot tree, the screws on the Cinco don’t extend far enough to grip a tree with a trunk diameter less than 3½ inches (which, in our test, was about a 6-foot-8 tree). If you’re planning on having a smaller tree, Cinco also offers the C-148E, which has the same quick-release system, but is just sized down a little.
We also found the Best Choice tree really easy to set up. Simply click the three tree sections into place, fluff and you’re done. The only challenging part was the top third of the tree. Some of its branches were compressed so tightly against the center pole that we didn’t realize they needed to be pulled down at first. There were some complaints on Amazon about the top of this tree being too small, and we think that this could be why.
Consider using a two-piece wreath to adorn a double-door entry. Start with a wreath that has a sturdy base so it will hold its shape. We used a fresh evergreen here, but a grapevine wreath will work just as well. Cut the wreath in half lengthwise with sturdy wire clippers. Use florist wire to attach evergreen clippings, fruits, and ribbons. Securely hang half of the wreath on each door so the two meet in the center when the doors are closed.
The giving of Christmas trees has also often been associated with the end of hostilities. After the signing of the Armistice in 1918 the city of Manchester sent a tree, and £500 to buy chocolate and cakes, for the children of the much-bombarded town of Lille in northern France. In some cases the trees represent special commemorative gifts, such as in Trafalgar Square in London, where the City of Oslo, Norway presents a tree to the people of London as a token of appreciation for the British support of Norwegian resistance during the Second World War; in Boston, where the tree is a gift from the province of Nova Scotia, in thanks for rapid deployment of supplies and rescuers to the 1917 ammunition ship explosion that leveled the city of Halifax; and in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the main civic Christmas tree is an annual gift from the city of Bergen, in thanks for the part played by soldiers from Newcastle in liberating Bergen from Nazi occupation. Norway also annually gifts a Christmas tree to Washington, D.C. as a symbol of friendship between Norway and the US and as an expression of gratitude from Norway for the help received from the US during World War II.
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.
Best Reviews included the National Tree Company stand in its look at the best Christmas tree stands because of the small footprint afforded by the folding design. However, the reviewers didn't like that the locking mechanism sometimes snaps off. The Tree Stand liked this model because of its durability and stability. Top Guide Pro appreciated that it was easy to adjust and store.
A wreath on the front door is a welcome sign to visitors and a traditional way to decorate outdoors for the holiday. An average front door measures 36 inches across, so a 28-inch wreath could hang nicely centered on the door about a foot below the top with space on either side. To accent with an oversized look, hang a 36-inch wreath to adorn the full width of the door. If your front door is larger, you can go for a larger wreath or if you have double front doors place a matching wreath on each door for a truly festive feel.
The 12 ft. Snowy Pine is an Artificial The 12 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