Most artificial trees are made of recycled PVC rigid sheets using tin stabilizer in the recent years. In the past, lead was often used as a stabilizer in PVC, but is now banned by Chinese laws. The use of lead stabilizer in Chinese imported trees has been an issue of concern among politicians and scientists over recent years. A 2004 study found that while in general artificial trees pose little health risk from lead contamination, there do exist "worst-case scenarios" where major health risks to young children exist. A 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency report found that as the PVC in artificial Christmas trees aged it began to degrade. The report determined that of the 50 million artificial trees in the United States approximately 20 million were 9 or more years old, the point where dangerous lead contamination levels are reached. A professional study on the life-cycle assessment of both real and artificial Christmas trees revealed that one must use an artificial Christmas tree at least 20 years to leave an environmental footprint as small as the natural Christmas tree.
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.
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.
The 6.5 ft. Snowy Pine is an Artificial The 6.5 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
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.
Both setting up and taking down a Christmas tree are associated with specific dates. Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve (24 December) or, in the traditions celebrating Christmas Eve rather than the first day of Christmas, 23 December, and then removed the day after Twelfth Night (5 January); to have a tree up before or after these dates was even considered bad luck, and that to avoid bad luck from affecting the house's residents, the tree must be left up until after the following Twelfth Night passes.
The Christmas tree was first used by German Lutherans in the 16th century, with records indicating that a Christmas tree was placed in the Cathedral of Strassburg in 1539, under the leadership of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Bucer. In the United States, these "German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravians put lighted candles on those trees." When decorating the Christmas tree, many individuals place a star at the top of the tree symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, a fact recorded by The School Journal in 1897. Professor David Albert Jones of Oxford University writes that in the 19th century, it became popular for people to also use an angel to top the Christmas tree in order to symbolize the angels mentioned in the accounts of the Nativity of Jesus.
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.
More than a decade ago, the only material used in trees was polyvinyl chloride. Now, on good trees, PVC appears only as the obviously fake filler branches near the tree’s trunk. PVC is cheaper to produce than PE, and it’s also a lot lighter, so the mixed materials help to balance beauty, cost, and weight. All the trees we considered for this guide consisted of realistic PE branch tips around a lighter, cheaper PVC core. Even though all-PVC trees are still widely available, we don’t recommend them. From a distance they look like trees, but up close they look terrible. On the plus side, however, they are cheap: A 6-foot tree shouldn’t cost more than $100. Also, what was once a genuine health concern—the use of lead as a PVC stabilizer—is no longer an issue in most artificial trees sold in the US, according to National Tree Company and the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents artificial-tree companies.
Real vs. fake. Which is better? It’s a highly-contested topic each holiday season, and it’s one that the American Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the artificial tree industry) and the National Christmas Tree Association (the organization representing the real tree industry) take seriously. Both groups make their cases for selecting either a real or faux tree, and we used them to inform our comparison.
“I wanted a little tabletop tree strung with only blue lights for a kind of retro look in my remodeled contemporary reading/puzzle/coffee room. The quality of the tree is excellent. The silver is nice and shiny, as well as soft. The branches are easily bent into place. The stand was easy to assemble. It is exactly what I wanted and a great value for the money. Very happy with my purchase.”
Under the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union, after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations—along with other religious holidays—were prohibited as a result of the Soviet anti-religious campaign. The League of Militant Atheists encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, among them being the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays, including Easter; the League established an anti-religious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement. With the Christmas tree being prohibited in accordance with Soviet anti-religious legislation, people supplanted the former Christmas custom with New Year's trees. In 1935 the tree was brought back as New Year tree and became a secular, not a religious holiday.
The giving of Christmas trees has also often been associated with the end of hostilities. After the signing of the Armistice in 1918 the city of Manchester sent a tree, and £500 to buy chocolate and cakes, for the children of the much-bombarded town of Lille in northern France. In some cases the trees represent special commemorative gifts, such as in Trafalgar Square in London, where the City of Oslo, Norway presents a tree to the people of London as a token of appreciation for the British support of Norwegian resistance during the Second World War; in Boston, where the tree is a gift from the province of Nova Scotia, in thanks for rapid deployment of supplies and rescuers to the 1917 ammunition ship explosion that leveled the city of Halifax; and in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the main civic Christmas tree is an annual gift from the city of Bergen, in thanks for the part played by soldiers from Newcastle in liberating Bergen from Nazi occupation. Norway also annually gifts a Christmas tree to Washington, D.C. as a symbol of friendship between Norway and the US and as an expression of gratitude from Norway for the help received from the US during World War II.
Despite the popularity of the strip and acclaim from advertisers, networks were not interested in the special. By April 1965, Time featured the Peanuts gang on its magazine cover, perhaps prompting a call from John Allen of the New York-based McCann Erickson Agency. Mendelson imagined he would sell his documentary, and blindly agreed to Allen's proposal: an animated half-hour Peanuts Christmas special. The Coca-Cola Company was looking for a special for advertising during the holiday season. "The bad news is that today is Wednesday and they'll need an outline in Atlanta by Monday," Allen remarked to Mendelson. He quickly contacted Schulz, and the duo got to work with plans for a Peanuts Christmas special. The duo prepared an outline for the Coca-Cola executives in less than one day, and Mendelson would later recall that the bulk of ideas came from Schulz, whose "ideas flowed nonstop." According to Mendelson, their pitch to Coca-Cola consisted of "winter scenes, a school play, a scene to be read from the Bible, and a sound track combining jazz and traditional music." The outline did not change over the course of its production.
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.