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.
National Tree Company "Feel-Real" Downswept Douglas Fir Artificial Christmas Tree - 7.5 Foot
National Tree Company North Valley Spruce Pre-lit Artificial Christmas Tree
Vickerman Flocked Utica Fir 6.5 Foot Pre-lit Artificial Christmas Tree
Vickerman 7.5 Foot Camdon Fir Unlit Artificial Christmas Tree
GKI Bethlehem 9 Foot Palisade Pre-lit Artificial Christmas Tree
Vickerman 7.5 Foot Flocked Slim Sierra Pre-lit Artificial Christmas Tree
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, Dunhill Fir, or this Douglas Fir. The branches and needles of this tree not only look real, but feel real as well. This particular model is unlit, leaving decoration limited only by your creativity. Another benefit of the unlit assembly is that burned-out lights can be dealt with on individual strings, as opposed to having to troubleshoot the entire tree. As a hinged tree, it is extremely easy to set up. The carton is designed to allow storage of the tree for next year.
This North Valley Spruce from National Tree Company 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 6.5 feet tall, rather than the 7.5 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 that prefer slim trees, Vickerman offers this unlit Camdon Fir with a total of 1,438 points. It is 43 inches in diameter, making it just a touch bigger around than a typical slim tree 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.
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. This tree is a bit taller at a whole 9 feet. If you have a tall tree topper, such as an ornament with a spike, high ceilings are a necessity. It is lit with 700 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 2,473 tips are arranged in subtle layers for decorating ease.
For fans of flocked pre-lit slim artificial trees, Vickerman offers one of the best options on the market. We're recommending the Slim Sierra in the 7.5-foot height, though this model is also produced in 4.5, 6.5, 8.5, and 10-foot sizes. Because it's equipped 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. The LEDs on this tree are multi-colored, providing a festive appearance. Vickerman also produces this tree with standard white lighting as well as an unlit version. Flocking makes the tree look like it has been standing out in the snow. It's got 1,228 points, putting it right about midrange; so not as many as some, but still plenty to go around. This tree is a true winner all around.
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 artificial trees 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.