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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.
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.
^ Ingeborg Weber-Kellermann (1978). Das Weihnachtsfest. Eine Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte der Weihnachtszeit [Christmas: A cultural and social history of Christmastide] (in German). Bucher. p. 22. ISBN 3-7658-0273-5. Man kann als sicher annehmen daß die Luzienbräuche gemeinsam mit dem Weinachtsbaum in Laufe des 19. Jahrhunderts aus Deutschland über die gesellschaftliche Oberschicht der Herrenhöfe nach Schweden gekommen sind. (English: One can assume with certainty that traditions of lighting, together with the Christmas tree, crossed from Germany to Sweden in the 19th century via the princely upper classes.)
Wirecutter has been researching and testing Christmas tree stands since 2012. In that time, we’ve thoroughly vetted more than 35 stands and done hands-on testing with five. We’ve also read everything we can about Christmas tree stands, from a comparison in the The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) to a Christmas-themed blog called Miss Bee’s Christmas Tree (although not a professional reviewer, Miss Bee is pretty serious about tree stands). We’ve also scoured user reviews on the websites of several major retailers and perused a variety of “best of” lists (most of which, alas, rely mainly on those same websites, with little, if any, testing.)
With 1,867 lifelike polyethylene branch tips, this Downswept Douglas Fir model is thickly covered and shows no gaps. And at 37 percent polyethylene, it has a higher proportion of realistic foliage—and lower proportion of fakey PVC “pine needles”—than our GE and Home Accent Holiday picks. It’s also priced competitively with models offering similar quality and similar height, girth, and tip-count specs. Note, however, that the price of the Downswept Douglas Fir varies considerably between retailers; we’ve seen it listed for as low as $400 and as high as $800. It may ease the sting to remember that you’re making at least a 10-year investment.
Several other species are used to a lesser extent. Less-traditional conifers are sometimes used, such as giant sequoia, Leyland cypress, Monterey cypress and eastern juniper. Various types of spruce tree are also used for Christmas trees (including the blue spruce and, less commonly, the white spruce); but spruces begin to lose their needles rapidly upon being cut, and spruce needles are often sharp, making decorating uncomfortable. Virginia pine is still available on some tree farms in the southeastern United States; however, its winter color is faded. The long-needled eastern white pine is also used there, though it is an unpopular Christmas tree in most parts of the country, owing also to its faded winter coloration and limp branches, making decorating difficult with all but the lightest ornaments. Norfolk Island pine is sometimes used, particularly in Oceania, and in Australia, some species of the genera Casuarina and Allocasuarina are also occasionally used as Christmas trees. But, by far, the most common tree is the Monterey pine. Adenanthos sericeus or Albany woolly bush is commonly sold in southern Australia as a potted living Christmas tree. Hemlock species are generally considered unsuitable as Christmas trees due to their poor needle retention and inability to support the weight of lights and ornaments.
Unlike other models, this stand doesn’t come with screws or assembly required. To use, simply place the tree in the stand, hold it and then pump the foot pedal until the claws grasp the tree into place.This patented structure is designed to hold trees up to 12 feet tall securely in place with only a few minutes of assembly required. Plus, its automatic water level indicator retains up to two-and-a-half gallons of liquid, so can you rest-easy knowing your accent will be watered — even on the days you forget!
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.