Customs of erecting decorated trees in wintertime can be traced to Christmas celebrations in Renaissance-era guilds in Northern Germany and Livonia. The first evidence of decorated trees associated with Christmas Day are trees in guildhalls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children. In Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia), in 1441, 1442, 1510 and 1514, the Brotherhood of Blackheads erected a tree for the holidays in their guild houses in Reval (now Tallinn) and Riga. On the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays, the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square, where the members of the brotherhood danced around it.[26]
The stand accommodates large capacity trees up to eight feet tall and six inches wide. The base holds up to one gallon of water, and is supported by a “spill catcher” for the occasional overwatering. To stay in place, the frame contains a stabilizing spike and steel nut screws for smoother assembly. Bonus: The five gold-tone screws are made of wear-resistant hardware, so their exteriors won’t be compromised as you use them through the years. Supplemented by a five year warranty, this is one tree stand that’ll last you for all the occasions to come.
After Victoria's marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became even more widespread[36] as wealthier middle-class families followed the fashion. In 1842 a newspaper advert for Christmas trees makes clear their smart cachet, German origins and association with children and gift-giving.[37] An illustrated book, The Christmas Tree, describing their use and origins in detail, was on sale in December 1844.[38] On 2 January 1846 Elizabeth Fielding (née Fox Strangways) wrote from Laycock Abbey to William Henry Fox-Talbot: "Constance is extremely busy preparing the Bohemian Xmas Tree. It is made from Caroline's[39] description of those she saw in Germany".[40] In 1847 Prince Albert wrote: "I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest [his brother] and I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be".[41] A boost to the trend was given in 1848[42] when The Illustrated London News,[43] in a report picked up by other papers,[44] described the trees in Windsor Castle in detail and showed the main tree, surrounded by the royal family, on its cover. In fewer than ten years their use in better-off homes was widespread. By 1856 a northern provincial newspaper contained an advert alluding casually to them,[45] as well as reporting the accidental death of a woman whose dress caught fire as she lit the tapers on a Christmas tree.[46] They had not yet spread down the social scale though, as a report from Berlin in 1858 contrasts the situation there where "Every family has its own" with that of Britain, where Christmas trees were still the preserve of the wealthy or the "romantic".[47]
The Christmas tree became very common in the United States in the early nineteenth century. The first image of a Christmas tree was published in 1836 as the frontispiece to The Stranger's Gift by Hermann Bokum. The first mention of the Christmas tree in American literature was in a story in the 1836 edition of The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, titled "New Year's Day," by Catherine Maria Sedgwick, where she tells the story of a German maid decorating her mistress's tree. Also, a woodcut of the British Royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in The Illustrated London News December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in Godey's Lady's Book. Godey's copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen's tiara and Prince Albert's moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene.[55] The republished Godey's image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America. Art historian Karal Ann Marling called Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, shorn of their royal trappings, "the first influential American Christmas tree".[56] Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850–60 than Godey's Lady's Book". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become even more common in America.[55]
People often overlook the fact that they’ll need to store an artificial tree for 10 or 11 months out of the year, Gurino pointed out. And lack of storage space is the main reason, he added, that city and apartment dwellers favor live trees. (He also noted that when live trees get thrown out, they often become free mulch for public parks—in effect, they’re recycled.) Our tree, after being packed up after the photo shoot, took up a corner of our test space for a month before we were able to send it off to another Wirecutter editor for long-term testing. So unless you have lots of storage room in your place, a live tree may make more sense.
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.
When it comes to Christmas trees the fakes are just as fabulous as real trees. Ingenuity coupled with modern technology has made most faux trees fantastic. Flocked, frosted, fiber-optics, solar power ? these are just a few of the technological advances coupled with quality craftsmanship and features like realistic needles which have made it difficult to impossible to distinguish the fakes from the real thing.
The Downswept Douglas Fir’s lights give off the intense colors characteristic of LEDs. With 750 bulbs on a 7½-foot tree, it exactly meets our 100-bulbs-per-foot recommendation. The all-white setting has a rich golden tone; the multicolor setting is bright and pure. To people used to the softer glow of incandescent bulbs, the effect may appear a little harsh. If you’d prefer the same tree strung with all-white or multicolor incandescents, you can usually find one for the same price or less, but you’ll get only three or four seasons of light life, whereas LEDs may run for a decade or more with normal use. (A string of 300 white or multicolor incandescents runs about $10 at Home Depot currently; you would need three strings, or about $30 worth, to meet the “at least 100 lights per foot of tree” guideline for our 7½-foot tree picks.)
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.
^ Stookey, Laurence Hull (1 December 2011). Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church. Abingdon Press. p. 107. ISBN 9781426728044. Beyond that the term "Chrismon" is used loosely to refer to symbols related to Christ, including the orb, crown, fish, star, anchor, and a wide variety of forms on the cross. All of these, often made in materials of gold and white, are used on a pine or fir tree in place of the more usual multicolored ornaments used on trees at home. Lights are also usually of clear glass rather than being colored.
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 tree stand is solid and durable, so it will provide superior support for your tree. Depending on how large your Christmas tree is, you can purchase one of three different sizes. The smallest size weighs four pounds, the medium size weighs five pounds, and the large size weighs nine pounds. You can use this stand inside or outside, but it's important to note that it's made for artificial trees.

In Italy, Ireland and Argentina, along with many countries in Latin America, the Christmas tree is put up on 8 December (Immaculate Conception day) and left up until 6 January. In Australia, the Christmas tree is usually put up on 1 December, which occurs about 2 weeks before the school summer holidays (except for South Australia, where most people put up their tree in November following the completion of the Adelaide Christmas Pageant, a time frame that has started to filter into other states as the official time Christmas decorations and in store Santa Claus start to appear) and is left up until it is taken down.[citation needed] Some traditions suggest that Christmas trees may be kept up until no later than 2 February, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Candlemas), when the Christmas season effectively closes.[83] Superstitions say that it is a bad sign if Christmas greenery is not removed by Candlemas Eve.[84]
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.
Featuring our exclusive Real Feel™ needles, our highly realistic trees mimic the texture and color of true evergreen foliage, allowing you to enjoy all of the advantages of an artificial Christmas tree without sacrificing the beauty of a real one. These realistic tree varieties look and feel so lifelike and natural, you can almost smell the familiar fragrance of snow-covered pine on Christmas morning. Its sturdy, evenly placed branches and tips offer plenty of room for your Christmas decorations, making it easier for all members of the family to hang their favorite cards and ornaments. From the lofty beauty of the Grand Fir to the sleek design of the Oregonian Slim that allows you to save decorating space, you can find a tree that fits your home and style perfectly.
Southern Living is part of the Meredith Home Group. © Copyright 2018 Meredith Corporation. Southern Living is a registered trademark of Meredith Corporation All Rights Reserved. Southern Living may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. | Privacy policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices | Your California Privacy Rights | EU Data Subject Requests
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.
The Wayfair Basic Folding Tree Stand is made of durable steel and is designed to fit artificial Christmas trees that measure anywhere from 6’ to 7.9’ tall. This popular stand includes three thumb screws, and its four legs fold flat so that you’re able to easily store it when the holidays are over. It's available in five different sizes, so you can find the best fit for your tree, no matter how big or small it might be.
A couple things that stopped this tree from being number one? The branch tips on this tree start relatively far from the center pole, meaning that from certain angles, you risk seeing a lot of bare metal hinges. Though, if you plan to decorate the tree with lights and ornaments, this becomes less of a problem. The branches also extend very low to the ground, which means it’s hard to slide sizeable presents underneath.
People often overlook the fact that they’ll need to store an artificial tree for 10 or 11 months out of the year, Gurino pointed out. And lack of storage space is the main reason, he added, that city and apartment dwellers favor live trees. (He also noted that when live trees get thrown out, they often become free mulch for public parks—in effect, they’re recycled.) Our tree, after being packed up after the photo shoot, took up a corner of our test space for a month before we were able to send it off to another Wirecutter editor for long-term testing. So unless you have lots of storage room in your place, a live tree may make more sense.

If you're looking for an American-made Christmas tree stand that just gets the job done, then you should check out the Cinco Express C-152E. We liked the fact the bolts had handles that saved our fingers from endless twisting. After setting up the tree, our testing showed that this stand excels at stability. When it struck, it barely moved an inch. The bottom has a lattice texture to help the stand grip the floor.


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.


The re-boxed artificial tree of this size is heavy (over 50 pounds), difficult to fit on most shelves, and has a volume comparable to a tank-style water heater. But if you have ample storage space, you don’t have to keep a tree in its original box. Rather, Gurino said, keeping it covered and dry is the main thing. You can separate the sections and flatten the branches as compactly as you can, or keep it whole; just don’t store it somewhere it’ll be trampled or moved a lot. Do cover it with a light plastic painter’s tarp or an old sheet to keep the dust off, or buy a tree bag. And a climate-controlled space (converted basement, storage closet) is always preferable to an attic or garage.
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:
“We bought this for my 90-year-old in-laws who had recently moved into a retirement community and needed a compact Christmas display. The Charlie Brown tree is nostalgic to all of us who grew up waiting to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special come on the tube (back when they were literally tubes). They seem to love it, and now we’ll need to find a couple Peanuts figures to put around it next Christmas.”

“This little tree is absolutely perfect for our downsized Christmas display this year. The base is sturdy and heavy; the burlap covering is traditional and innocuous. The tree itself was fun to ‘fluff out.’ Our tree looks just like the photo! There is plenty of greenery to give a realistic look, and generous spaces between the branches to hold our mercury-glass heirloom ornaments. The pine cones are sturdy and well-attached. The tree is on a small table to add height. We put some photos on Facebook, and have gotten great compliments! We’ll use this tree for years.”

Just ask reviews who nominate this option as a dependable stand. They mention that assembly can be a bit burdensome (pliers are needed), but the screws in the base do a good job of keeping the holiday accent fastened securely. Well rated and priced right, it’s hard to find other models that hold the same qualities and value as The Good Tidings Cinco Express Tree Stand.


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.
The LED-lit Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-D12-75) has nearly 2,000 lifelike polyethylene branch tips surrounding a core of PVC “pine needles” (a construction used on all high-quality artificial trees). And at 37 percent polyethylene, it has a higher proportion of those lifelike branches than our other picks, creating a truly convincing illusion of a living tree. Its 750 LED bulbs fill its branches nicely, and the lights can switch from all-white to multicolor, giving it uncommon versatility. (The vast majority of pre-lit artificial trees are one style or the other, though all our picks can switch back and forth.) The light strings connect directly when you fit the tree sections together. At 7½ feet high and almost 5 feet across (59 inches to be exact), the tree is generously proportioned; it’ll fill the corner of almost any living room. Finally, it’s widely available, easy to set up, and competitively priced. (For smaller homes, we recommend the 6.5-foot version of this tree).
Every home needs a touch of red and green during the holidays. This year, we freshened the typical motif with a shapely wreath made from real Granny Smith apples wired to a florist foam wreath form with florist picks. Red hypericum berries and bay leaves fill out the rest of the wreath. The apples do make this wreath weighty, so hang it from a sturdy nail.
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).
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 Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
A unique design makes clamping a tree in the Krinner far easier than any kind of stand we’ve found. The Krinner grips the tree trunk with five claws that you tighten by stepping on a ratcheting foot pedal, instead of turning a set of bolts into the bottom of the tree trunk, like nearly every other tree stand. This means average-size and smaller trees, around 6 to 7 feet tall, can be set up with just one person. No other tree stand does anything like it. The Krinner can handle a wide range of trunk diameters (even very small ones), it’s extremely stable and it’s attractive, and the enclosed 2½-gallon reservoir has a gauge to show you its water level. Priced at around $100, the Krinner is not cheap, but it’s so superior to the competition, we feel it’s worth the investment.
After a lifetime of owning live trees, we found the National Tree model to be far more manageable to set up—no messy needles dropping, obviously, and it was also easier to assemble in its separate sections versus hoisting a 7-foot fir into position. Not having to water it or worry about its health is also a relief. The one missing element was that fresh piney scent filling the house (for the first few days at least), so we picked up a “balsam and fir” scented candle—problem solved, and highly recommended.
The product holds trees up to 10 feet tall with trunks up to 6 inches in diameter. They 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! It features a 1-gallon water reservoir and a wide drip lip at the base to prevent any water from getting on your floor if...

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.
Ultimately though, we think that the 7.5 foot Best Choice Products is the best artificial Christmas tree. (And we promise we weren’t just swayed by the name). It’s got 1346 long branch tips that give it a full and fluffy look, even with its 52 inch width. It also seems to be a slightly lighter green color than the NTC tree, which looks nice with the warm glow of string lights.
^ Encyclopædia Britannica. 2003. The modern Christmas tree ... originated in western Germany. The main prop of a popular medieval play about Adam and Eve was a fir tree hung with apples (paradise tree) representing the Garden of Eden. The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition, the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes. Candles, too, were often added as the symbol of Christ. In the same room, during the Christmas season, was the Christmas pyramid, a triangular construction of wood, with shelves to hold Christmas figurines, decorated with evergreens, candles, and a star. By the 16th century, the Christmas pyramid and paradise tree had merged, becoming the Christmas tree.
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.
There was an old pagan custom, associated with Koliada, of suspending a branch of fir, spruce or pine called Podłaźniczka from the ceiling. The branches were decorated with apples, nuts, cookies, colored paper, stars made of straw, ribbons and colored wafers. Some people believed that the tree had magical powers that were linked with harvesting and success in the next year.
×