Maybe you don’t want to spend a couple hundred dollars on a tree stand. But maybe you buy huge, heavy trees. And maybe one year, that huge heavy tree fell down when your inexpensive and delicate stand broke. Maybe then you change your mind and get a Bowling’s. Made in Michigan since 1989, these steel stands can handle any tree you bring home. The classic, almost industrial design looks great even without a tree skirt, and the big reservoirs hold plenty of water, so you won’t have to refill it quite as often as other stands.
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. 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". 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.
For this guide, we defaulted to the most popular choices in our quest to come up with a tree that would please the most people. Our interview with the sales manager at National Tree Company yielded a few key facts about trends in the industry. The 7½-foot size is the most popular, as US home ceilings are usually 8 feet high, but we’ve also added several smaller (6½-foot) trees to this guide for those with smaller homes or apartments. People hugely prefer pre-lit trees, as well; to cover everyone’s tastes, we decided to look for a tree that could switch between all-white and multicolor. People also want artificial trees to appear convincingly lifelike. And although first-time tree buyers will probably be surprised at a good tree’s price, we knew we’d be in the mainstream range as long as we came in between $250 and $400, judging by the information we got from House of Holiday’s Larry Gurino, National Tree, and our own research. An artificial tree can easily last 10 or 15 years, so the amortized cost is a lot easier to swallow—the average price for a live tree as of 2016 was $51, according to CBS News.
Each year, 33 to 36 million Christmas trees are produced in America, and 50 to 60 million are produced in Europe. In 1998, there were about 15,000 growers in America (a third of them "choose and cut" farms). In that same year, it was estimated that Americans spent $1.5 billion on Christmas trees. By 2016 that had climbed to $2.04 billion for natural trees and a further $1.86 billion for artificial trees. In Europe, 75 million trees worth €2.4 billion ($3.2 billion) are harvested annually.
One particular model is worth describing in detail: the National Tree PEDD1-312LD-75X, a former pick in this guide. It’s a great tree, but we made a mistake about one feature in recommending it. This model lacks the company’s PowerConnect feature, in which the lights connect when the central pole connects. Instead, this model requires you to manually connect standard male/female plug connectors near where the segments of the tree come together. It’s perfectly convenient, but the PowerConnect feature is even better, and our top pick has that.
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.
That being said, this NTC tree was even easier to set up than the Best Choice Products tree. It was so easy, in fact, that two people could set it up in under 45 minutes. The hinged branches literally fell into place as soon as we snapped the the three sections of the tree together. Then we did some fluffing and it was ready to go! As mentioned, this tree also left our arms a little bit scratched up after the fluffing process.
The Krinner has a 2½-gallon water reservoir. Of the tested stands, only the runner-up Cinco is larger, with a 3-gallon capacity. But 2½ gallons is plenty large: A tree of roughly 6 to 8 feet in height has a trunk diameter of about 4 to 6 inches, and will usually take in 1½ gallons or less per day. In fact, you should even be able to relax a little about watering, as you may not need to each day. A gauge on the tank will tell you what the water level is between fillings.
You’ll want to make sure you have the right Christmas tree base. Keep in mind, the taller the tree, the larger the base. Also, the Christmas tree stand will add height to your tree, so plan to leave enough room between the tree and the ceiling to fit a Christmas tree topper. Surround the base of your tree with a Christmas tree skirt to create the perfect backdrop for presents. If you choose a real tree, the skirt can collect any fallen needles. For the final touch of holiday flair, shop The Home Depot’s huge assortment of Christmas decorations, including Christmas lights, ornaments and garland. And for after the holidays, be sure you have tree bags, organizers and plenty of storage options to get everything packed away neatly for next year.