Best Artificial Christmas Tree
Everyone enjoys getting into the holiday spirit and for most, decorating the tree and the home is a big family tradition. As everyone works together to decorate the tree, many an old memory of past Christmas celebrations comes forth, with each decoration and ornament inspiring a new story to tell.
More and more families have moved away from cut Christmas trees to artificial trees over the years which offer several advantages over real ones, even if they don’t smell as good. Artificial trees are environmentally friendly, don’t leave needles all over the floor and over the course of years, they can be considerably cheaper, as you don’t need to buy a new one every year. Another nice thing about artificial trees is that you can adjust them to fit your needs, without having the problems of gaps or overfilled areas to make them hard to decorate.
Today, there are a wide variety of artificial Christmas trees on the market. Many are made to look like real trees, much more realistic than the artificial trees of a few decades ago. While more complex to manufacture, the additional cost for many of these trees isn’t as much as one would expect. Our buyer's guide provided below talks about the differences and what you should look for.
GKI/Bethlehem Lighting 7-1/2' Pre-Lit Glacier Christmas Tree with Pinecones
National Tree 7 1/2' "Feel-Real" Downswept Douglas Fir Tree, Hinged (PEDD1-503-75)
National Tree 7-1/2’ Prelit North Valley Spruce Tree
Vickerman Flocked Alaskan Clear Pre-lit Christmas Tree
Brookstone 6’ Pre-Lit Pull-Up Christmas Tree
Vickerman 7.5 Foot Flocked Slim Utica Fir Unlit Christmas Tree
Vickerman 7.5 Foot Camdon Fir Christmas Tree
Vickerman 7 Foot Vienna Twig Unlit Christmas Tree
Vickerman 5.5 Foot by 18 Inches Durham Pole Pine Tree
Vickerman Frosted Alpine Berry Unlit Christmas Tree
Vickerman 9’ Flocked Utica Fir Artificial Christmas Tree with LED Lights
GKI Bethlehem Pre-lit 7-1/2 Foot Slim Green River Spruce
Vickerman 6.5’ Pre Lit Frosted Edina Slim Artificial Christmas Tree
GKI Bethlehem 6 Foot Pallisade Pre-lit Christmas Tree
Commercial Bargains 7 Foot Pre-Lit Multi-Color LED Fiber-optic Artificial Christmas Tree
For those who have a high ceiling, this is a truly beautiful tree that looks so real, people will probably be touching it to see. At 7 1/2 feet tall, it’s ideal for a nine foot ceiling height. The branches are down-swept, as a real pine tree would be, with a total of 4,671 tips. That will give places to hang even the most extensive ornament collection. The branches are heavy-duty wire as well, meaning they won’t bend under the weight of the ornaments. The base of the tree measures 70 inches in diameter, giving it a nice overall shape. It comes complete with 850 clear mini lights already mounted, each with a locking base to prevent the lights from working their way loose. Decorative burr cones are also included. The tree’s carton is intended to be used for storage. Also available in 4 1/2 foot, 6 1/2 foot and 9 foot heights.
National Tree probably makes the widest assortment of authentic tree look alikes. You can get any type of pine tree you can imagine from them, whether Carolina Pine, Dunhirr Fir or this Douglas Fir. The branches and needles of this tree not only look real, but feel real as well. The tree comes with 750 multi-colored lights already pre-wired and attached to the tree. The bulbs used have a bulb lock to keep them from falling out of the sockets. As a hinged tree, it is extremely easy to set up. The carton is designed to allow storage of the tree for next year. Comes with spare bulbs and fuses.
This Valley Spruce from National Tree doesn't have as many points as the Douglas Fir, mostly because the needles are longer. The tree is hinged, making for quick and easy setup. The 550 clear lights are pre-strung on the tree, saving you the work. Each light has a lock on it to prevent it from coming out. The tree has a 52-inch base diameter. The storage carton is designed to protect your tree for next year, making it just as easy to store as set up.
This tree is 6 1/2 feet tall, rather than the 7 1/2 foot tall trees we've been looking at. It’s also pre-flocked, as well as pre-lit, for those that prefer a flocked tree. Branches are hinged for easy set up and storage. It comes pre-wired and pre-lit with clear Dura-lit lights for long life. There is also a convenient on/off foot switch for lighting the tree. This same model is available in 3 foot, 7.5 foot, 10 foot and 14 foot sizes.
For those who can’t afford the high dollar trees that we’ve been looking at, perhaps this “pull-up” tree is more what you need. The tree collapses flat for easy storage. When you’re ready to set it up, simply pull up on it to expand it out of its storage shape. The tree is six feet tall, with a 36-inch diameter. It is pre-lit with 400 colored lights. Everything is weather-proofed so that the tree can be used indoors or outdoors. Branches are multi-toned for added visual appeal. While this treed doesn't look as realistic as some of the others, its convenience makes it a great find.
Vickerman makes a great line of Christmas Trees, including several slim models. This 7.5 foot tall model has a base that’s only 43 inches in diameter, more than two feet less than others in this size range. The tree is flocked, giving the appearance of having just having been snowed on. The elegant look of the flocking makes for a great background for whatever ornaments you are going to attach. The branches are hinged for easy set up and storage and it comes with its own metal base. Styled after a Utica Fir, it has 1019 points to hang your ornaments on. Like all Vickerman’s trees, this one is high quality and backed by a 10 year limited warranty.
For those that don't like flocked trees, Vickerman offers this unflocked tree. A Camdon Fir, it actually has more points than the flocked one does; with a total of 1,438 points. It is 43 inches in diameter, making it just a touch bigger around than the flocked one is. Nevertheless, it is very comparable in all other regards. This particular tree is very full, leaving no "gaps" between branches for people to look through. That makes it a very attractive tree to put in your living room, whether you have lots of ornaments or just a few.
The Vienna Twig fir tree is so named for the very short needles it has, making the branches look like twigs. That makes for a lot of open space in the tree; in fact, you can easily look right through it. One way to look at that is that it provides lots of room for your ornaments and the tree won’t be detracting from them. With a total of 818 tips there's room for plenty of ornaments too. The tips are two-tone, brown with green tips for greater realism. The tree is 46 inches in diameter.
If you're really tight on space, or looking to create a "forest look" with several trees, this one may be the tree for you. At only 18 inches in diameter, you could put this tree just about anywhere. It’s a little shorter than others, at only 5.5 feet tall, but that makes it a good second tree in a cluster. Even with it being so small, it still has lots of room to hang ornaments, as the points are very small. Basically, the tree looks like the points are coming right out of the trunk, so all you see is a mass of points. Great for decorating.
This is another unusual tree, as well as being another great one to use in a cluster. Not only is it very thin, but the branches start a couple of feet off the floor. If you have crawling babies or puppies that like to chew, that could be a great advantage. The tree is frosted, so it looks like it is covered in ice crystals. Frosted berries start the decorating for you. The trunk of the tree is visible through openings in the branches, but colored and textured to look like real wood. The one drawback to this tree is that the base is made for permanent mounting, such as would be done in a commercial application. However, you could easily attach it to a piece of plywood, giving it a wider base.
I’ll have to say, I was excited when I found this tree. This is the first true LED Christmas Tree I’ve seen. With LEDs instead of those pesky little lights that everyone uses, you don’t have to worry about your nice, expensive tree dying in a couple of years. This one will last for a long time. The 550 LEDs on this tree provide a warm white light. Flocking makes the tree look like it has been standing out in the snow. I’m not sure how many points it has, but it seems to be about midrange; so not as many as some, but still plenty to go around. This tree is a true winner all around.
GKI Bethlehem makes a nice selection of Christmas Trees; some of the best on the market. This particular tree is patterned after a Green River Spruce, so it has a good number of points on it. It’s pre-wired and pre-lit with 500 multicolored lights. The lights are on a lock-in base, so you don’t have to worry about them coming loose. They also stay lit, even if some of the bulbs go out. It stands 7-1/2 feet high, but is only 41 inches in diameter, able to fit into any home.
While this tree is from the same manufacturer as my number one pick, it doesn’t have the LED lights that the other one does. The tree is lit with 400 dura-lit clear lights. The tree itself has 1,045 branch tips, providing plenty of places to hang ornaments. It is also frosted, giving the tree the appearance of having a light dusting of snow or of having water freeze on it. That’s much less messy than flocking, while still having the tree give that visual impression of winter. Pine cones and frosted berries complete the effect.
This tree is a bit shorter at only 6 feet. If you have a tall tree topper, such as an ornament with a spike, and standard height ceilings, that would be a necessity. It is lit with 400 clear mini lights in lock-in sockets to keep them from coming loose. Even if one does come loose or burn out, the string will keep lit. A total of 1,210 tips are arranged in subtle layers for decorating ease. GKI Bethlehem’s trees are designed and manufactured to look real, even to the point of having “new growth” needles at the ends of the branch tips.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this tree, but it definitely deserves mentioning. This is another LED tree, although the LEDs aren’t on the branch tips, like the one in our number one slot. This one is using fiber-optics to carry the light from the 120 LEDs to the branch tips. The lights change color, with eight different programmable effects, providing a wonderful light show. The tree only has 220 tips, so you can’t put as many ornaments on it. It is depending upon the fiber optics for its beauty, rather than the ornaments you add on.
Artificial Christmas Tree Buyer's Guide
Good artificial trees look like the real thing, rather than a mere approximation of a tree as manufacturers have come a long way since the first artificial trees came out. Today’s options are excellent reproductions of the real thing. Particular tree breeds can be chosen to match the trees that grow in your area or simply because you like how that tree looks. Families that use multiple trees will often have different types, simply to increase the variety in their Christmas display.
Selecting a Tree Size
The first thing that most people need to think about is the size of the tree they’re going to buy since the larger the tree, the more impressive it looks in your home. However, there are limits. A tree should be at least one foot to a foot and a half shorter than the ceiling height, which is eight feet in most homes. That leaves room for some sort of tree topper.
In homes with cathedral ceilings, a taller tree usually looks better, as the high ceilings will make the tree appear shorter than it actually is. While putting in an 18 foot tall tree is impractical for most families, an 8 or 9 foot tall tree will fill the area better.
Number of Points
One of the things that realistic looking trees provide is more "points" than older models of artificial trees did. The points are the individual twigs that the ornaments are hung on. In many cases, there are more than 1,000 points on a tree, providing ample space for families that have the biggest ornament collections.
Most tree manufacturers provide information on how many points their trees have. This helps in picking a tree that works well with your decorating style. Families that use themed trees will not need as many points on the tree as families which have large collections of assorted ornaments to put on their tree.
Regular or Slim?
Traditionally, Christmas trees are made to a ratio of about 5:3. That means that a tree which is ten feet tall will be six feet across at the base. This works in some homes, but many people have trouble fitting a wide Christmas tree into their living room, even if they have the ceiling height for a tall one. The problem is worse for people with high ceilings, as a short tree doesn't look as impressive.
The solution to this problem is to use a slim tree. Slim trees are made to a ratio of about 5:2. While that may not sound like much of a difference, it means that a ten foot tall tree will only be four feet across at the base. In a full room, this arrangement is much easier to work with.
Pre-lit trees are becoming more and more common, taking over the market from unlit trees. The great advantage of these is the time that they save in not having to string the lights yourself. The problem with standard lights on trees is they only last a few years and after that, you end up having to replace them or string lights on the tree yourself; either option isn’t all that attractive.
Many of the better brands of trees have switched over to using dura-lights which keep on burning, even if some of the bulbs burn out. Your tree will keep on looking good and not have a dark section where all the lights are out. There are even a couple of artificial trees out now which have long-lasting LED lights on them, rather than the traditional incandescent bulbs. In fact, your grandchildren may end up using the same tree without having to replace the lights.
Artificial trees are also available which are pre-flocked. This gives the illusion of the tree standing in the woods, covered with snow. The flocking used on these trees is much hardier than what you used to have to spray on the trees yourself. However, it will still need some touchup after a few years of use.
Safety and Convenience
All artificial Christmas trees are required by law to be flame retardant so you can rest easy knowing your artificial tree will be safe without creating any safety risks for your family. The branches on most artificial trees are also hinged, making setting them up and taking them down fairly easy. They may also come with boxes which are designed for long-term storage, so you can safely tuck your artificial tree away until the following year.