“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.”
National Tree Company’s 7½-foot, unlit Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir (PEDD1-503-75) is a great tree at a great price, if you don’t need lights included. It’s the same size as our main pick, with the same generous branch count (1,867), sporting that same full, room-filling form. It’s identical in construction, too, with the same realistic polyethylene tips, hinged branches, and three sections. You’ll have to string the lights yourself, of course. If you already own enough lights for a 7½-foot tree (roughly 700 bulbs, per the 100-per-foot guideline), choosing this tree is a no-brainer, since you’ll save a chunk of money. Or if you simply prefer to string your own, even if it means spending down those savings, go for it—check out our recommended set of LED Christmas lights, or pick up three 300-bulb strings of incandescents for about $30. And for smaller homes and apartments, we think the 6½-foot version of this tree also makes a great pick.
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.)
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.
The issue was two-fold. First, the TA503068 relies on a stout spike in the middle of the stand. To keep the tree stable, you should bore about a half-inch hole in the bottom of your tree. Many stands utilize some sort of impaling measure, but few require the usage of a drill. The second issue we had was with the shallow design. The bolts grip the trunk at around the four-inch mark–that's not a lot of purchase. When struck, our listed to one side. The website lists that it can handle an eight-foot tree, but we won't put anything nearly that tall in this one.
After Victoria's marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became even more widespread 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. An illustrated book, The Christmas Tree, describing their use and origins in detail, was on sale in December 1844. 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 description of those she saw in Germany". 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". A boost to the trend was given in 1848 when The Illustrated London News, in a report picked up by other papers, 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, as well as reporting the accidental death of a woman whose dress caught fire as she lit the tapers on a Christmas tree. 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".
^ Friedrich Amelung (1885). Geschichte der Revaler Schwarzenhäupter: von ihrem Ursprung an bis auf die Gegenwart: nach den urkundenmäßigen Quellen des Revaler Schwarzenhäupter-Archivs 1, Die erste Blütezeit von 1399–1557 [History of the Tallinn Blackheads: from their origins until the present day: from the testimonial sources of the Tallinn Blackheads archive. 1: The first golden age of 1399–1557] (in German). Reval: Wassermann.
“This is a lovely tree; it is so realistic-looking that it has to be touched to confirm that it’s not real. Substantial branches don’t sag, except with the very heaviest ornaments. I like lots of lights, and the way these lights are mounted gives the appearance of having more lights, even with ornaments. It was easy to assemble; though you should plan on spending a lot of time ‘fluffing’ since there are many, many branch tips! I bought this one for my mother; and we liked it so much, I’ve ordered the 7.5-foot-tall one as a gift for my daughter’s family!”
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.
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.
Since the early 20th century, it has become common in many cities, towns, and department stores to put up public Christmas trees outdoors, such as the Macy's Great Tree in Atlanta (since 1948), the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City, and the large Christmas tree at Victoria Square in Adelaide. The use of fire retardant allows many indoor public areas to place real trees and be compliant with code. Licensed applicants of fire retardant solution spray the tree, tag the tree, and provide a certificate for inspection. Real trees are popular with high end visual merchandising displays around the world. Leading global retailers such as Apple often place real trees in their window displays. In 2009, Apple placed two Fraser fir trees in every one of its retail establishments.
Next, we consulted review sites like Wirecutter and cultivation sites like New York Magazine to get a more well-rounded view of the trees on the market. And finally, we browsed home decorating sites like Good Housekeeping to see which artificial trees they liked best. From there, we charted all of the trees and their specs (like height and material) to compare and contrast which ones were best.
Pre-lit trees make up 90 percent of the artificial trees sold in the US, according to the American Christmas Tree Association; incandescent bulbs still dominate, but LEDs are rapidly making inroads. LED bulbs cost a bit more up front but should last longer than incandescents, in both lifespan and durability terms. However, modern incandescents are more reliable than those of the past, and one burned-out bulb no longer necessarily causes the whole string to go dark. On pre-lit trees, you want roughly 100 bulbs (or more) per foot of tree height; less than that looks a bit sparse. Finally, you shouldn’t pay extra for the fancy flashing patterns that are increasingly common, unless you know you’ll use them. As Larry Gurino of House of Holiday confided to us, “Most people don’t use them—they just want to see them [advertised] on the box.”
By the early 1960s, Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts had become a sensation worldwide. Television producer Lee Mendelson acknowledged the strip's cultural impression and had an idea for a documentary on its success, phoning Schulz to propose the idea. Schulz, an avid baseball fan, recognized Mendelson from his documentary on ballplayer Willie Mays, A Man Named Mays, and invited him to his home in Sebastopol, California, to discuss the project. Their meeting was cordial, with the plan to produce a half-hour documentary set. Mendelson wanted to feature roughly "one or two" minutes of animation, and Schulz suggested animator Bill Melendez, with whom he collaborated some years before on a spot for the Ford Motor Company.
“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.”
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.
Tree stands are designed for trunks of a certain length and diameter. Typically, you use a tree stand designed for a taller tree on a smaller one. The exception is when the trunk is too narrow. For example, a tree stand designed to take a 12-foot tree may only take a trunk that's down to three inches in diameter, any slimmer and you risk the tree falling over.
In order to help ensure your Christmas tree lasts through the holidays, you need to do your due diligence. Before you purchase a tree, make sure to give it a smell test. A fresh pine tree should have pliable needles and exude a strong scent. The bark is another indicator of freshness. If you run your hand along the trunk and you feel sticky sap, that is a sign that the tree is still in good shape.
Lead serves as a stabilizer in some forms of PVC. The one serious study (PDF) we’ve seen on artificial Christmas trees, published in 2004 in the Journal of Environmental Health, found that the lead levels and risk of lead exposure were generally very low, and well below federal guidelines at the time; a few models were outliers, however, and one slightly exceeded the federal limits. Lead exposure occurred in two ways: direct contact with the branches—as may occur when people are setting the trees up and decorating them—and contact with PVC dust beneath the tree, the result of physical decomposition of the “pine needles,” a particular concern for crawling infants. Significantly, new trees (new in 2004, that is) generally showed much lower levels of lead than trees manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s. The authors concluded that while the proportion of trees made with lead-stabilized PVC had “decreased only modestly” in the 20 years preceding 2004, “the amount of lead stabilizer used has been reduced to a much larger extent,” suggesting a long-term trend toward low-lead or lead-free artificial trees.
A true classic, the festive red-and-white Christmas tree skirt helps you jingle all the way this holiday season. Protect your floors from needles and sap while showing off your Christmas presents. Go beyond traditional holiday colors with a luxurious white velvet tree skirt that’s adorned with a beaded, gold-tone nativity scene. For a more casual look, try a skirt that boasts snowflakes or a simple holiday message. Whatever your choice, you’re sure to bring some extra yuletide spirit to your tree all season long.
Best Reviews included the Jack-Post model in its list of the best Christmas tree stands because the reviewers liked how it handled trees ten feet tall and larger. However, the stand lost points because the washers can get stuck inside the tree when you disassemble the unit. The Tree Stand rated this product 9.1 out of 10 because it is rust resistant, sturdy and durable, has a large water reservoir, and comes with a lifetime warranty. The10Pro also liked the metal bowl that keeps the tree steady and firm.
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.
One disclaimer about both The Best Choice and National Tree Company trees: like many artificial trees in their price range, they are made with PVC rather than PE. As we mentioned earlier, some people are dubious about the potential health risks of being around PVC. While finding a tree with less PVC and more PE (a safer alternative) is possible, it will typically cost you more.
This Kurt Adler Musical Charlie Brown Tree is a fun, festive way to add to your holiday décor! This tree resembles the poor, bare tree Charlie Brown lovingly chooses for the Christmas play in the animated holiday classic, "A Charlie Brown Christmas". This musical tree is bent over with sparse needles on each branch, and has one red ball ornament hanging from the branches. It rests on a crossed brown stand. When activated, the tree plays the signature Peanuts theme song, "Linus and Lucy"!
^ 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.
^ Dunphy, John J. (26 November 2010). From Christmas to Twelfth Night in Southern Illinois. Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. 28. ISBN 9781614232537. Having a Christmas tree became so closely identified with following Luther's path that German Catholics initially wanted nothing to do with this symbol of Protestantism. Their resistance endured until the nineteenth century, when Christmas trees finally began finding their way into Catholic homes.
“I’ve never gotten a Christmas tree because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of picking it out, getting it home, cleaning it up, and disposing of it. But this year my mother-in-law convinced me to finally get one, so I went on Amazon and ordered this gem. It arrived in two days, and was the easiest thing ever. It comes in three parts and quickly clips together. The lights are already strung. So literally all you do is click it together, and plug it in. It’s very easy, doesn’t take long at all, and then there you have the perfect tree. We loved it. It looked amazing, and we will definitely put it up each year.”
Charlie Brown quietly picks up the tree and walks out of the auditorium toward home, now determined not to let commercialism ruin the holiday. He stops at Snoopy's decorated doghouse, which now sports a blue ribbon for winning the display contest. He takes a large ornament from the doghouse and hangs it at the top of his tree, but the branch, seemingly unable to hold the ornament's weight, promptly droops to the ground. Believing he has killed the tree and that he has ruined everything as usual, Charlie Brown walks off in despair.
“I was a little worried ordering a Christmas tree online sight unseen. However, based on all the great reviews for this tree, I bit the bullet and ordered. I am 110 percent satisfied with my tree. This tree is very well made and I believe it will last for many years to come. The branches are soft and I love that they are not plastic. All the trees we saw in the stores had plastic branches and were two or three times the price of this tree. It comes very nicely packaged to your door. The branches are all secured with red ribbon. Everything is labeled, so you can easily put it together. I cannot find any fault with this tree and am truly glad I purchased.”
The 30" round Christmas Tree Mat is composed of two non-woven fiber materials separated by a patented barrier media. It is lightweight and can be easily cleaned. It is designed to protect hardwood and carpeted floors from spilled live tree stand water and resulting stains as well as hardwood scratches associated with a trimmed tree during the holidays. Can be used with live or artificial trees.
But the definitive study on the subject (as reported by The New York Times, parent company of Wirecutter) gives the edge firmly to live trees. Artificial trees are made of petroleum-based plastics and are manufactured mostly in China, where environmental laws are less stringent. Live trees can be sustainably farmed and harvested, they absorb carbon while growing, and they provide some measure of wildlife habitat. Although live-tree farms contribute marginally to the consequences of fertilizer and pesticide use, they add value to land that might otherwise be valuable only to developers. But really, the study’s author says, your fake tree versus real tree choice is not a major way to make a difference for Earth: “If you exchange a couple of days of commuting by car with carpooling or riding a bicycle, you’ll completely overcompensate for whatever the impact of the [artificial] tree is. … It’s not such a big deal. Enjoy your tree, whichever one you prefer.”
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.
The John Wright company produced the L.L. Bean Heirloom Christmas tree stand so the frame is entirely made of cast iron. While this tree stand felt nigh indestructible, it didn't hold onto our Christmas tree well. On a side note, some consumers may take issue with the cast iron construction. It weighs around 20 pounds. Not an insurmountable weight, but enough that we wouldn't want to lug it in and out of the attic every Christmas.