Here’s the basic fact: You can find plenty of great artificial trees these days. They come in dozens of “species” (assorted firs, spruces, redwoods, and pines); multiple heights and girths; multiple levels of realism (and many colors never seen in nature); versions that are bare-branched, or frosted or flocked with fake snow; and pre-lit and unlit variants with LED or incandescent options.
We looked at, but didn’t test, the Santa’s Solution Steel Extreme. This expensive stand accommodates trunks up to 7 inches in diameter and has a 2-gallon water well. The name is quite apt: The Steel Extreme is imposing, but it still uses only the traditional bolt design. If you can spend this much on a stand, save a few bucks and get the much simpler Krinner.
The GE 7.5’ Just Cut EZ Light Frasier Fir Dual Color LED has many favorable specs 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 (2,076 versus 1,867). Like our top pick, the GE lets you switch between white and multicolor lighting modes; in addition, the GE model’s light strings connect automatically via the central pole as you assemble the three sections of the tree, a minor but handy feature that our top pick lacks. But we are especially fond of the way GE’s LED Christmas lights look—in our test, we found them to come closest to the familiar warm glow of incandescent bulbs. However, the GE has 600 lights, versus our top pick’s 750, meaning it falls just short of our recommended 100 bulbs per foot of tree. And at 30 percent polyethylene, versus 37 percent on the National Tree pick, the GE tree has a lower proportion of ultra-realistic branch tips—and a higher proportion of fake-looking PVC “needles.” You’ll never notice a difference from across the room, but up close you may find the GE slightly more artificial-looking.
National Tree Company has a warranty for its realistic pre-lit trees taller than 6½ feet, like our pick, that covers manufacturer defects for five years from the date of purchase. The lights are covered for two years. You’ll need proof and date of purchase to file a claim, and you’ll need to have treated the tree and lights with reasonable care to have your claim approved. (Details here.) The 6½-foot version of this tree also falls under that warranty, and we recommend it for smaller homes and apartments.
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.
Puleo is Larry Gurino’s favored brand at House of Holiday; like National Tree, it’s a New Jersey–based, family-run business. Unfortunately, Puleo is not as widely available as some other brands, but its quality ranks among the best. Gurino has sold Puleo trees for 20 years, and they were some of the nicest-looking trees we came across in our search. If you find one you like, you can be confident in your purchase.
“I recently purchased a seven-foot vintage aluminum Christmas tree that was missing its stand, so I bought this hoping it would do the trick. I was pleased that it not only fit the tree perfectly, it is also much sturdier and higher quality than the plastic tree stands that come with most artificial trees. I may eventually spray-paint this to match my silver tree, but the tree skirt I have covers it nicely. My cat also enjoys sleeping under the tree and using this thing as a chin rest, so there’s that.”
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 Christmas tree was first used by German Lutherans in the 16th century, with records indicating that a Christmas tree was placed in the Cathedral of Strassburg in 1539, under the leadership of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Bucer. In the United States, these "German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravians put lighted candles on those trees." When decorating the Christmas tree, many individuals place a star at the top of the tree symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, a fact recorded by The School Journal in 1897. Professor David Albert Jones of Oxford University writes that in the 19th century, it became popular for people to also use an angel to top the Christmas tree in order to symbolize the angels mentioned in the accounts of the Nativity of Jesus.
The soundtrack for the special was recorded during these sessions, with decisions regarding timing and phrasing determined quickly. Guaraldi brought in bassist Fred Marshall and drummer Jerry Granelli to record the music, and spent time later re-recording earlier tracks, including covers of "The Christmas Song" and "Greensleeves." The eventual LP release credited Guaraldi solely, neglecting to mention the other musicians; Guaraldi was notorious for never keeping records of his session players. Nearly three decades later, in an effort to correct the matter, Fantasy surmised that the recordings with Budwig and Bailey were employed in the special, while Marshall and Granelli recorded the album. Despite this, other individuals have come forward claiming to have recorded the special's music: bassists Eugene Firth and Al Obidinski, and drummers Paul Distel and Benny Barth. Firth and Distil are noted as performers on a studio-session report Guaraldi filed for the American Federation of Musicians.
Real vs. fake. Which is better? It’s a highly-contested topic each holiday season, and it’s one that the American Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the artificial tree industry) and the National Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the real tree industry) take seriously. Both groups make their cases for selecting either a real or faux tree, and we used them to inform our comparison.
Please note that all tree heights indicated on our website include the tree stand. If you want the tallest Christmas tree your room will allow, we recommend buying a tree that is six inches shorter than your ceiling height to allow some clearance for a tree topper. For example, if you have a standard 8 - 9 foot ceiling, we would suggest a 7½ foot tree. Here are some more tips: