National Tree Company’s 7½-foot Feel Real Downswept Douglas Fir with dual-color LEDs (PEDD1-D12-75) is our pick among artificial Christmas trees. It’s very full and highly realistic, and its 59-inch girth will nicely fill the corner of most living rooms. The lights can switch from multicolor to all-white (actually more of a soft “golden” white), giving it versatility. It’s widely available, too: If you’d like to see it in person, Home Depot, Kohl’s, and many holiday stores typically carry it.
In Russia, the Christmas tree was banned after the October Revolution but then reinstated as a New-year spruce (Новогодняя ёлка, Novogodnyaya yolka) in 1935. It became a fully secular icon of the New Year holiday, for example, the crowning star was regarded not as a symbol of Bethlehem Star, but as the Red star. Decorations, such as figurines of airplanes, bicycles, space rockets, cosmonauts, and characters of Russian fairy tales, were produced. This tradition persists after the fall of the USSR, with the New Year holiday outweighing the Christmas (7 January) for a wide majority of Russian people.
The tradition was introduced to North America in the winter of 1781 by Hessian soldiers stationed in the Province of Québec (1763–1791) to garrison the colony against American attack. General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and his wife, the Baroness von Riedesel, held a Christmas party for the officers at Sorel, delighting their guests with a fir tree decorated with candles and fruits.
Peanuts had become a phenomenon worldwide by the mid-1960s, and the special was commissioned and sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. It was written over a period of several weeks, and animated on a shoestring budget in only six months. In casting the characters, the producers went an unconventional route, hiring child actors. The program's soundtrack was similarly unorthodox: it features a jazz score by pianist Vince Guaraldi. Its absence of a laugh track (a staple in US television animation in this period), in addition to its tone, pacing, music, and animation, led both the producers and network to predict the project would be a disaster preceding its broadcast.
The special influenced dozens of young aspiring artists and animators, many of whom went on to work within both the comics and animation industries, among them Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas), Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E), Jef Mallett (Frazz), and Patrick McDonnell (Mutts). The show's score made an equally pervasive impact on viewers who would later perform jazz, among them David Benoit and George Winston. More directly, the special launched a series of Peanuts films, TV specials (many of them holiday-themed) and other works of entertainment.
Comparing the Cinco to our pick, Wirecutter general manager David Perpich actually finds the Cinco’s bolt-tightening work to be a benefit, as he likes to have a lot of control when positioning the tree. “My take,” he says “Krinner is easier to stand up solo. Cinco is easier to make adjustments. If someone is doing this solo and ‘good enough’ works, the Krinner is a dream. If someone has a partner or wants to ability to tweak and get it just right, cinco is way better.” We’d add the Cinco is likely to be better able to compensate for crooked trees or trees with knots or other odd shapes at the point where it attaches to the stand.
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.
The most significant factor that sets the Krinner apart is the unique fastening mechanism that’s far simpler and easier to use than that of any other tree stand available. You simply set the tree in the stand, press several times on a foot pedal, and then five very sturdy plastic claws, looped together with a heavy-gauge metal wire, tighten down against the tree trunk to set it in position. The final pushes on the pedal snug up the claws and hold the tree securely. A sliding red button on the pedal locks it in place, but if you need to make further adjustments, it’s really no big deal to unlock the claws and reset the tree. (A slightly more expensive Deluxe version even rings a bell when the tree is secured.)
As we set up each tree with each stand (in the pouring rain), we noted how difficult it was to get the tree into the stand, position it, and fasten the tree inside. We also looked at how hard it was to make adjustments to straighten the tree. We then filled the stand’s reservoir with 1½ gallons of water (or the stand’s maximum, if it was less than this amount), and noted how difficult it was to fill, and how likely it was to overflow or spill onto your floor.
Height and dimensions: Consider the height of the tree you’d like to purchase, bearing in mind that you’ll need to access the top of the tree for decorating. If the ceilings in your home are within the standard (American) eight to nine foot range, a 7.5 foot tree is probably ideal for you. The dimensions of the tree you purchase should be dependent on where you’re displaying it. If you’re placing it in a small corner, a narrow tree is best, whereas a tree with a wide girth is best for a front and center display.
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.
A layer of cork on the bottom of the stand protects your floors, which is nice if you have hardwood. The most innovative aspect of this stand is the vertical arms, which can be adjusted up or down to avoid issues with limbs. That’s a much better solution than just cutting them off and taking away some of the fullness of your tree. Santa’s Solution has a 1.5 gallon water reservoir and holds trees as tall as ten feet, with trunks up to 6.5 inches in diameter.
Pre-lit wreaths have lights strung into them that are often permenently attached. You can choose between white and multicolored lights, as well as bulb types with various LED and incandescent bulb options. LED bulbs are known for their energy efficiency and longevity, while incandescent bulbs tend to provide a warmer glow than their LED counterparts. Keep in mind, pre-lit wreaths tend to be slightly heavier than the unlit variety so be sure to hang them from supportive wreath hooks or stands.
The Christmas Tree Company makes a tree stand called Santa’s Solution. We enjoyed how festive this model was painted. We also liked how sturdy the construction is and that’s probably why the manufacturer is willing to back it with a lifetime guarantee. The exterior is made of steel, while the interior is lined with impact-grade plastic. The plastic tub on the inside can hold up to 1.5 gallons of water.
In addition to different materials and levels of realism, Balsam Hill offers four Signature artificial Christmas tree collections, including Aspen Christmas Signature, Vermont Signature, Napa Christmas Signature, and Smoky Mountain Christmas Signature. All 12 foot and under Christmas trees in these collections even come with our 3-year limited warranty. So, you can rest assured that your Balsam Hill artificial Christmas tree will look flawless all season long, and for years to come!