Real or cut trees are used only for a short time, but can be recycled and used as mulch, wildlife habitat, or used to prevent erosion. Real trees are carbon-neutral, they emit no more carbon dioxide by being cut down and disposed of than they absorb while growing. However, emissions can occur from farming activities and transportation. An independent life-cycle assessment study, conducted by a firm of experts in sustainable development, states that a natural tree will generate 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) of greenhouse gases every year (based on purchasing 5 km (3.1 miles) from home) whereas the artificial tree will produce 48.3 kg (106 lb) over its lifetime. Some people use living Christmas or potted trees for several seasons, providing a longer life cycle for each tree. Living Christmas trees can be purchased or rented from local market growers. Rentals are picked up after the holidays, while purchased trees can be planted by the owner after use or donated to local tree adoption or urban reforestation services. Smaller and younger trees may be replanted after each season, with the following year running up to the next Christmas allowing the tree to carry out further growth.
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A good stand can hold the tree up and make it look straight, even if the tree itself is a bit crooked. To create stability, the stand needs a heavy base to lower the tree’s center of gravity and keep it balanced. For size, it should have an opening wide enough to accommodate a roughly 4- to 6-inch trunk diameter—that’s the ballpark thickness of your average Christmas tree, which has a height of 6 or 7 feet, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.
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.
While traditional green wreaths are readily available, there are many other not-so-traditional colors to choose from. Flashy gold or silver wreaths pop with a sparkle. While winter white is also a popular choice, but you can certainly go for a fire red berry wreath if you wish. Many of the wreath designs exude a quality, handmade appearance with natural-looking pine cones or berries.
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.
A feature that’s available only with LEDs is the ability to toggle between all-white and multicolor light—but most artificial trees are still sold with only one color mode or the other. Our pick is one of the relatively few that come with color-switching lights (and we made sure that all our other picks in this guide have this ability, too). We think this versatility is a big selling point for a tree you’ll have around for several seasons, and possibly multiple settings and occasions. For example, you could use all-white for a more sophisticated look during a grown-up holiday party and use the multicolor mode when the mood is more festive. Or you could just do something different from year to year so that it doesn’t seem like the same tree every Christmas.
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