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.


^ Senn, Frank C. (2012). Introduction to Christian Liturgy. Fortress Press. p. 118. ISBN 9781451424331. The Christmas tree as we know it seemed to emerge in Lutheran lands in Germany in the sixteenth century. Although no specific city or town has been identified as the first to have a Christmas tree, records for the Cathedral of Strassburg indicate that a Christmas tree was set up in that church in 1539 during Martin Bucer's superintendency.
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).
We found the Home Accents Holiday – 3 Foot Unlit Tacoma Pine to be the best small artificial Christmas tree. This festive little tree is a holiday steal at under $20. Much like its description says, it can fit just about anywhere. No pre-strung lights on this one mean you don’t have to worry about a burnout before you’ve gotten full use of your tree, either. Reviewers also loved how easy it was to put together. Notably, it felt softer and less-synthetic to the touch than it’s 5 foot older brother. Perhaps because it’s lacking lights that illuminate its tips, it also looks a bit more lush and realistic.
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.
A Balsam Hill artificial Christmas tree brings all the holiday cheer of a live tree to your home without the hassle or messes that come with them. With our hinged branches and lightweight, collapsible stands, setup is simple. Your Christmas tree will be ready to decorate in no time! We also offer both prelit and unlit options, so you can choose to whether you prefer the convenience of never having to set up lights or keep the option to change what type of lights you use from year to year.
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