With so many artificial Christmas trees on the market, choosing one can be an overwhelming task—so we put them to the test. Our testing team assembled and decorated today’s top artificial trees; rated how easy the trees were to set up and take down; and analyzed each tree’s stability, degree of realism, attractiveness, and value versus cost. Altogether, we researched a total of 47 artificial trees, then tested our top 15 choices.
This guide breaks down what to look for when shopping for the best Christmas tree and details the pros and cons of every tree we tested. Don’t pick an artificial Christmas tree before finding out more about the ones that earned a spot in our lineup—and see how the ones we tested look in real-home setups.
- BEST OVERALL: National Tree Company Full Downswept Christmas Tree
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: National Tree Company 6.5 ft. Artificial Full Tree
- BEST NOBLE: Home Accents Holiday Jackson Noble Christmas Tree
- SLIM PICK: National Tree Company Pencil Slim Christmas Tree
- BEST WITH PINE CONES: National Tree Company Carolina Pine Christmas Tree
- BEST ASPEN FIR: Puleo International 7.5 ft. Aspen Fir Christmas Tree
- BEST BLUE SPRUCE: Balsam Hill Classic Blue Spruce Christmas Tree
- BEST FLOCKED: Best Choice Products Snow Flocked Christmas Tree
- BEST ALL-WHITE: National Tree Company 7.5 ft. White Christmas Tree
- BEST LUXURY: Balsam Hill Fraser Fir Flip Tree
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: National Tree Company Artificial Slim Christmas Tree
- BEST FOR HIGH CEILINGS: National Tree Company 9 ft. Artificial Full Tree
- BEST TABLETOP: National Tree Company Prelit Artificial Mini Christmas Tree
- BEST HALF-TREE: The Holiday Aisle Chapel Pine Christmas Tree
- BEST UNLIT: Home Accents Holiday 7.5 ft. Wesley Pine
How We Tested the Best Artificial Christmas Trees
In curating the list of trees to test, we considered brand to an extent—manufacturers such as the National Tree Company and The Holiday Aisle have earned reputations for manufacturing a variety of high-quality Christmas trees. Still, we didn’t automatically eliminate artificial trees from lesser-known or niche companies if they were made from quality materials and rated highly by consumers. We finally narrowed our list of 40+ down to the 15 top performers in various categories to examine in person.
Our testing started with an inspection of the trees, noting whether they came with easy-to-understand assembly instructions, and then we set them up. As we went through the steps, we checked to see that the tree stand (if included) was made from substantial materials and whether it was a simple process to insert the bottom trunk of the tree and secure it. We set up each tree step-by-step, connected light strands if the tree came prelit, and then fluffed the branches and branch tips to give the tree a natural, filled-out look.
Aesthetics were also a top consideration in rating the trees—after all, buyers are looking for a beautiful artificial Christmas tree that looks like a real tree in various styles and sizes.
Throughout the testing process, we used a rubric and awarded points based on how well we felt the tree came together, how well the branches supported the ornaments, and how the tree looked when it was fully assembled. The better a tree performed on a specific test or stood out for a certain feature, the higher the points. When testing was complete—and the trees were decorated—we totaled the points and used them to help determine the categories and awards for each tree. For more information on selecting the right artificial tree, check out the “What to Consider When Choosing the Best Artificial Christmas Tree” section below our list of this year’s top picks.
Our Top Picks
Now it’s time to start shopping. The following artificial Christmas trees earned a spot in our lineup thanks to quality construction, realistic appearance, and good value. Each of these trees was tested and rated by a Bob Vila Holiday Team member. The following trees run the gamut in terms of size, style, and cost, and one is sure to be a standout in your home this holiday.
The National Tree Company makes some of the most realistic-looking artificial Christmas trees on the market, and this Douglas fir model is no exception. It comes in three sizes, and the 7.5-foot version has 1,183 branch tips for a full, lush look. That same size includes 750 lights that can switch from white to multicolor using a foot switch, which also offers several options for lighting actions.
We tested the 7.5-foot option, and this tree lives up to its reputation with its lifelike branches and full body. The 59-inch base diameter makes for a full, wide tree.
The tree comes in three separate pieces, plus the base. It features hinged branches, which makes setup a breeze. The most time-consuming part of setting up the tree was fluffing each branch. Each branch features crush-resistant tips that are strong and sturdy, and we were able to hang our heaviest ornaments with no issue and no worry of sagging. Once fluffed, this tree has a beautiful shape and looks real.
- Height: 6.5, 7.5, or 9 feet
- Tree type: Downswept Douglas fir
- Lighting: Prelit
Get the National Tree Company Douglas fir artificial Christmas tree starting at $449 at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Prices listed here are accurate as of the last update on December 2nd, 2022.
This National Tree Company Dunhill fir is crafted to replicate a stately fir tree, and with 2,514 individual branch tips, it provides a realistic Christmas tree effect. The tree comes in 10 sizes, from 4 feet to 14 feet, providing options that will suit most homes without breaking the bank. The tree separates into three sections to make storage easier, and because it comes unlit, users can decorate it however they like.
The lifelike faux-fir foliage of the Dunhill fir Christmas tree gives it the appearance of being freshly cut. The 2,514 branch tips, however, made for a time-consuming setup. In our test assembly, achieving the attractive dense look required about 2½ hours of assembly and fluffing. Adding 600 lights for the photo increased setup time by another half hour.
We especially like the full taper of this tree. The foliage spreads to a diameter of 50 inches, beginning 11 inches above floor level and leaving plenty of room for decor and gifts beneath the tree. It holds its fullness well all the way to the top, where the foliage near the tip measures 8 inches across. The density of branch tips makes this tree most suitable for small and medium-size ornaments, and it has adequate strength to support glass baubles and other heavy pieces.
- Height: 4, 4.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 9, 10, 12, or 14 feet
- Tree type: Dunhill fir
- Lighting: Unlit
Get the National Tree Company 6-Ft. Dunhill fir artificial Christmas tree starting at $120 at Amazon or a 7.5-foot option at The Home Depot.
The Home Accents Holiday Jackson Noble Christmas tree offers a traditional look in a number of different sizes, including 7.5, 9, and 12 feet. For our test, we chose the 7.5-foot version since it’s both a common and ceiling-friendly tree size.
The initial assembly was relatively quick and straightforward for a tree of this size. There were three sections plus a separate stand that all fit together in the center. Getting everything out of the box and assembled took less than a half hour. Like any artificial tree, this one did require some initial fluffing, but the branches were easy to shape—taking an additional half hour to fluff—and held their form after we got it decorated.
One of the major pluses of the tree is the prelit look the 1,200 LEDs provide without any additional lighting. For the 7.5-foot version we tested, the lights provided a nice uniform look while still leaving plenty of space on the branches for ornaments and other decorations. Connecting the lights together was also quick during assembly since the power cords of each section are built into the pieces of the trunk.
The tree earns a lot of points in the design department except for one major area: the stand. Two of the four legs on the stand were slightly shorter than the others, making the stand uneven on hard surfaces. The tree wobble wasn’t too noticeable, but it might be a concern in households with pets or little children running around.
Despite this miss, the overall design and quality of the tree make it a great option to consider for a traditional, prelit look.
- Height: 7.5, 9, or 12 feet
- Tree type: Noble fir
- Lighting: Prelit with 1,200 LEDs and 8 presets
Get the Home Accents Jackson Noble artificial Christmas tree starting at $299 at The Home Depot.
Those with limited floor space may not have room for a tree with a 5-foot diameter, but could be well served by a slim model like this one from the National Tree Company. It’s 7.5 feet tall but only 32 inches across, which means it can be tucked into a corner without taking up too much space. Because of its slim design, it has fewer lights than other models, but its 350 prestrung bulbs offer a warm white glow.
Assembly of this tree was quick and easy. It came in three sections, with each section labeled. The tree is prelit, so when adding each section it was important to line up the light plug so it would properly plug into the previous section.
The tree has realistic molded tips at the front of each branch, and closer to the trunk of the tree it features PVC tips. After fluffing, this tree was incredibly full without any bare spots. We did find that the tree leaned a little to the left, but with proper twisting of the affected section, we were able to straighten it so it wasn’t not noticeable.
- Height: 7.5 feet
- Tree type: Douglas fir
- Lighting: Prelit
Get the National Tree Company Pencil Slim artificial Christmas tree starting at $139 at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Another excellent option from the National Tree Company, the Carolina pine tree, which comes in five sizes ranging from 4.5 feet to 9 feet, also includes decorative pine cones built into the design. The 7.5-foot version features 1,399 branch tips, creating a full, lifelike effect. It includes 750 pre-strung lights for a classic neutral appearance.
We assembled and fluffed the Carolina pine tree in about 2 hours. The generous amount of synthetic pine-needle foliage and uniform length of the branch tips gave the tree a manicured tree farm–like appearance, as if it had been trimmed and shaped by hand. We really liked the lightly flocked synthetic pine cones. They enhanced the natural appearance, but a few of them were not attached tightly and had to be adjusted as we fluffed the tree.
The classic outline of this tree tapers from a base diameter of 60 inches to 10 inches just below the tree’s top branch. The lowest branches reach to within 10 inches of the floor, so it does not leave much space for gifts and decorations under the tree.
- Height: 4.5, 6.5, 7, 7.5, or 9 feet
- Tree type: Carolina pine
- Lighting: Prelit
Get the National Tree Company Carolina pine artificial Christmas tree starting at $269 at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Those looking for a tree that looks like something out of a Scandinavian forest will want to consider this artificial fir tree from Puleo International. It’s wide at the bottom and tapers into a more sparse branch pattern at the top, helping to create a realistic effect. It includes 700 white lights and 1,319 polyethylene branch tips.
We assembled and fluffed the Puleo International Aspen fir in about 1½ hours. The lower and middle branches hinged perfectly as designed, leaving only the lateral branches for shaping. However, the lights were attached so that the wires extended between adjoining branch tips in several places (instead of at the ends nearest the trunk), so we had to rework them. This increased the setup time.
Once it was assembled, the tree had an airy appearance and looked like a forest-grown tree, rather than a densely branched farm-raised tree. Its silhouette exhibited a tapered pillar shape, from about 60 inches in diameter at the base to about 20 inches near the top, with a few longish branches in the upper third that replicated wild new growth. It offered plenty of openings for larger ornaments and about 18 inches of clearance between the floor and the lowest branches for gifts or holiday decor beneath the tree.
- Height: 4.5, 6.5, or 7.5 feet
- Tree type: Aspen fir
- Lighting: Prelit
Get the Puleo International Aspen fir artificial Christmas tree starting at $299 at Amazon or The Home Depot.
This 7-foot tree from Balsam Hill is expertly crafted to look like a blue spruce; it features 2,366 branch tips for a full and abundant look. The 850 warm-toned lights can be controlled with a foot pedal, and the tree stand features scratchproof rubber feet to protect floors. Each purchase includes a storage bag as well as fluffing gloves to keep hands safe during setup and disassembly.
We were impressed by this tree from start to finish. Between the helpful accessories that were included and the quality and appearance of the tree, we were sold on it.
Even with the lights, the setup was straightforward and took about 1¾ hours; we only had to ensure that we plugged sockets into their correct outlets. The tree was also plumb right away, and no adjustments were required. As we fluffed the tree, we also found the branches were all very sturdy, yet flexible. We also immensely appreciated the gloves that came with the tree; after fluffing, our hands were scratch-free.
The branches were full and their proportions mimicked a natural tree, with just enough wispy, longer branch tips for a more organic look. And while the flat needles lacked realism, the rest of the aesthetics more than made up for it. The included LEDs also added to the beauty of this tree. The number of lights and their placement evenly and abundantly illuminated the tree.
Looks don’t mean much without durability, and this tree had both. In our testing we found this tree to be quite sturdy. We bumped into this tree more than a dozen times, pretended to grab gifts from underneath like excited children, and pushed on the trunk. The ornaments jingled and the top wobbled a bit, but the base held firm every time, eventually bringing all of the branches and ornaments back to stillness.
The sturdy branches easily supported both heavy ornaments and the topper as well. The branches resisted substantial sagging against the weighty ornaments, and the top branches still stood tall when we placed a star on them.
The foot pedal for the lights and the storage bag were nice add-ons with this tree. We liked not having to bend over to unplug the lights or turn off a floor switch. And the included storage bag was certainly better than a cardboard box, too; the sizable bag easily fit the tree as well as other included items.
For a great-looking tree that’ll likely last a long time, this Balsam Hill blue spruce fits the bill.
- Height: 4.5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 9, or 15 feet
- Tree type: Blue spruce
- Lighting: Prelit LEDs
Get the Balsam Hill blue spruce artificial Christmas tree starting at $399 at Amazon or Balsam Hill.
This stunning white-tipped tree from Best Choice Products comes in multiple sizes, and we tested the tallest version—a 9-foot tree that arrived in a box weighing more than 50 pounds. The tree came in three sections, plus a stand to hold it. At first, the stand looked a little on the wimpy side, but we changed our opinion once the tree was set up; the stand held it securely.
We assembled and fluffed the tree, and the entire process took nearly 2 hours, although we took a short eggnog break. Our 9-foot version came with more than 2,000 branch tips that needed fluffing, so it took a while to get it looking good. It didn’t come with lights, so we added our own before putting the ornaments on.
A significant positive with the Best Choice Products tree is that the final look (after fluffing) is stunning. The tree was even more beautiful in our room than its photo in the online advertisement. The branch shapes and configuration made it look natural, and the snow-like flocking added the perfect finishing touch. We found the individual branches and branch tips were plenty strong enough to hold ornaments; we even stuck a real birdhouse in the branches, and they didn’t sag a bit.
Still, it wasn’t an entirely positive experience because after we finished fluffing the tree, our clothing, hair, and skin were flocked as well, and we were coughing from inhaling flocking dust. Would we set this tree up again? Absolutely! We’d be smarter, though: We’d wear caps and dust masks. This is one of the prettiest artificial trees we’ve ever seen. It really looks so much better in person than in the photos.
- Height: 4.5, 6, 7.5, or 9 feet
- Tree type: Snow-flocked pine
- Lighting: Unlit
Get Best Choice Products Flocked artificial Christmas tree starting at $219 at Amazon or Target.
Designed to resemble a pine tree in shape, this all-white artificial Christmas tree is a statement-making alternative to traditional green holiday trees. The 7.5-foot model we set up has a 60-inch diameter at the base, 1,198 branch tips, and 500 LED lights. It came in three sections that we found easy to assemble. We followed standard assembly protocol—installing the lowest section first, then the middle, and finally the top. We fluffed as we went, starting at the bottom to ensure all the branch tips looked evenly dispersed.
One caveat: While this tree is pure white, the tips are covered in silver glitter that gets all over floors, clothing, and faces during the setup process. We learned, too late, that putting an old tarp or blanket down might have saved on vacuuming later.
The branch tips on this tree are relatively stable; we found they would support most lightweight ornaments, but they sagged a bit when we tried to hang ornaments heavier than 8 to 10 ounces. In addition, we’ve never had a prelit tree before, but we discovered the lights aren’t installed on the branches as we thought they would be. Instead, they’re just LED lights on cords wound around the branches. Knowing this, we would probably purchase a nonlit tree next time and wind our own lights around the branches.
Still, this is a striking tree that demands attention in any room. We suggest putting it in a prominent spot where it can serve as a focal point for additional decorations.
- Height: 6, 7.5, or 8 feet
- Tree type: White pine
- Lighting: Prelit
Get the National Tree Company Winchester artificial Christmas tree starting at $215 at The Home Depot, Hayneedle (6.5-foot), or Overstock.
Made for those who cherish the beauty of a real tree, this Balsam Hill Fraser fir offers a natural-looking aesthetic with its molded polyethylene (PE) needles. Its abundance of included LED lights highlight the tree’s striking realism, and a remote control provides easy light adjustment. To top it off, Balsam Hill’s proprietary flip technology makes setup and takedown a breeze.
Ease of setup with this tree was not just marketing hype; we were able to set up the tree in less than 10 minutes. Of course, fluffing took more time, but once we were done we found the tree itself to be quite lovely. Not only did it have an ample amount of foliage, but the foliage itself beautifully imitated real fir needles. This faux fir’s needles are molded, lending a pristinely lifelike look to this tree. Plus it boasts more than 3,400 branch tips—a considerable amount more than the 2,500 branch tips on the comparably sized National Tree Company Dunhill fir (which, incidentally, is also a good-looking tree). The 900 LEDs on our 7.5-foot test tree also illuminated all those gorgeous needles with a perfect glow.
Thanks to its weighty pole that flips, this tree was also quite stable. After pushing on the pole, bumping into it, and reaching under it, we found it to be a sturdy tree. The top branches were particularly sturdy, too. We easily slid a wire star topper over the tallest branch tip and it supported the topper without us having to adjust it in any way.
While it excelled in holding a topper, it was less than great at holding heavy ornaments. No matter where on the branch tips or which branch tips we tried, the branches sagged quite a bit. We found that our best bet for hanging weighty ornaments on this tree was to place them toward the bottom where longer, thicker branches supported the ornaments from below.
Included extras like the gloves, storage bags, and wheeled base made for super-easy setup and takedown. As with the other Balsam Hill tree on the list, we greatly appreciated the gloves, which once again saved our hands from scratches. This model also comes with wheels on the base. These were a game-changer, as we could move the tree easily while fluffing and decorating.
We took this tree down and put it in its included storage bags in about 10 minutes. Though we didn’t have to compress the branches much, we had to move them to either side of the pole to ensure that the tree locked into place.
While it is a bit of a splurge, this tree truly offered a stunningly realistic look and a unique, time-saving setup.
- Height: 6.5, 7.5, 9, or 10 feet
- Tree type: Fraser fir
- Lighting: Prelit LEDs
Get the Balsam Hill Fraser fir artificial Christmas tree starting at $1,299 at Balsam Hill.
The size and shape of this tree were a pleasant surprise. While “slim” often means “small” for an artificial Christmas tree, the 5-foot version we tested truly provided something that fit into a tight space while offering plenty of surface area for decorations.
Like larger options, this tree came in three separate sections—plus a stand—packed inside a 3-foot-long box. Putting together the tree was quick, taking us just about 11 minutes to get the sections and stand out of the box and together. Shaping the tree, unfortunately, was a different story. While there isn’t as much to fluff on this tree as there is for larger options, the sharp PVC needles made the branches difficult to hold.
The tree comes with 50 white LED lights attached to the branches. While we liked the prelit look from certain angles, the lighting was bare and uneven in areas. The tree also lacks cable management, leaving a potentially tangled mess of power cords to snake through the branches instead of through the trunk.
The fully assembled tree definitely provided a slim form—maxing out at 24 inches in diameter—with a look we found ourselves describing with words like “scrappy” and “sparse.” In other words, the final look might not be for everyone. The branches look great individually, but they leave a lot of the small brown trunk exposed. Despite their slender appearance, the branches did hold their shape under the weight of large decorations.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tree, but we found this slender hickory cedar to be a great choice for small spaces or a less-typical look.
- Height: 3, 4, or 5 feet
- Tree type: Hickory cedar
- Lighting: Prelit with 50 white LEDs
Get the National Tree Company Hickory cedar artificial Christmas tree starting at $73 at Amazon or The Home Depot.
We were a bit concerned upon receiving this tree, as the shipping box had a decent- size hole in it. Fortunately, our concerns were allayed as we began assembling this sizable faux fir. Each of the four sections and the branches were in fine shape, and it took us about 2 hours to assemble and fluff the tree.
Once we finished, we really liked the fullness of the branches. We also appreciated that they didn’t look entirely uniform. Some branches extended beyond the otherwise uniform silhouette of the tree, giving this fake tree a more natural look. However, the spaces between the layers of branches were more pronounced toward the bottom, though it was slightly less noticeable once we decorated the tree.
On the other hand, as we decorated the tree we were impressed with its overall stability, particularly for its 9-foot height. It was solid and stood straight. We even bumped it quite a few times, just for good measure. The branch tips handily held heavy ceramic ornaments, and though the very ends of the branch tips drooped significantly, we just moved the ornaments a bit farther back and there was no sagging at all.
When it was time to take it down, this tree gave us nearly no issues, but we did have to use some extra muscle to pull the middle sections out; nothing out of the ordinary, though.
Overall, this sturdy tree offers a great value for its size and could certainly handle a busy household.
- Height: 4, 4.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 9, 10, 12, or 14 feet
- Tree type: Dunhill fir
- Lighting: Unlit
Get the National Tree Company 9-Ft. Dunhill fir artificial Christmas tree starting at $202 at Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Target.
Assembling this alternative Christmas tree takes only minutes—we had it up and decorated in under a half hour. The tree comes prelit and is entirely one piece with no sections to fit together or stand to attach. The only challenge during setup was straightening and fluffing the top section, which had been packed so tightly that some of the needles arrived bent at unnatural-looking angles.
With its 2-foot height, this little sapling is cute and compact but still features prestrung lights and an ultrarealistic look. The base is wrapped with a red cloth bag tied with a gold ribbon for aesthetic interest. It includes 35 white lights and has 71 individual branch tips. The design of the branches is unique, featuring two slightly different shapes that give the tree a more realistic overall look.
We were impressed with the quality of the branches, which were easy to manipulate and held their position, even under the weight of heavy ornaments. The exception here was with the topper—the only true topper it would support on its extra-tall center branch was our daughter’s kindergarten paper star.
Decorating this mini holiday symbol was quick, yet it still took slightly longer than anticipated, as most ornaments simply looked too large on such a small tree. Users might find a very minimal or even “au naturel” look most fitting.
The tree quickly became a favorite decoration in our small mountain-town condo. We loved the added holiday touch on our hearth (the needles are fire-resistant), but we ultimately lost the tree to the bedroom of our decor-loving teenager.
- Height: 2 feet
- Tree type: Fir
- Lighting: Prelit
Get the National Tree Company 2-foot artificial Christmas tree starting at $26 at Amazon or National Tree Company.
We weren’t sure we’d like a half tree, but after setting up this 5.5-foot version from The Holiday Aisle, we were sold. This is one of the smallest trees we tested, but it turned out to be one of our favorites because it doesn’t look like only half a tree. It measures just 37 inches from side to side at its branch base and extends just 19 inches from the wall to the outer edge. It comes with 250 warm yellow lights on cords prewound around its branches.
It took just 20 minutes to set up and fluff the tree. We positioned it on a small table and pushed it back toward the wall. The tree stood straight against the wall—it didn’t lean outward or sag to one side. One slight downside was that it could have come with more branch tips. Despite some creative fluffing, we still had a few areas that seemed sparse. We were able to camouflage these spots with decorations, however.
The nicest aspect is that this half-tree looks like an entire tree at a glance; it doesn’t look awkward or uncomfortable. This half-tree could be just the ticket for those who like the look of a full tree but don’t have the space.
- Height: 5.5, 7.5, or 9 feet
- Tree type: Pine
- Lighting: Prelit
Get The Holiday Aisle Chapel pine artificial Christmas tree starting at $249 at Wayfair.
The Home Accents Holiday Wesley pine replicates a stately pine tree. With 1,052 individual branch tips, it offers a varied texture, including dense greenery at the branch tips with open spaces between. The tree measures 7.5 feet tall and tapers from a base diameter of 50 inches to 9 inches near the top, providing an option that suits many homes. It is also available in a 9-foot size. The tree separates into three sections to make storage easier, and it comes unlit, allowing users to decorate it however they like.
We assembled and fluffed the Wesley pine in 1¼ hours. At just 37 pounds, this was one of the most lightweight trees we tested. It was easy to transport and set up, and it packed away into a smaller space. While the foliage texture appears slightly less realistic than that on more expensive trees, this unlit tree makes an excellent display piece for unique lights and ornaments. The branch spacing, with dense greenery at the tips and open spaces between, allowing for a mix of large and small decorations.
- Height: 7.5 or 9 feet
- Tree type: Fir
- Lighting: Unlit
Get the Home Accents Holiday Wesley pine artificial Christmas tree starting at $99 at The Home Depot.
Crate & Barrel LED 7-Ft. Birch Tree
We wanted to like this tree so much that we tested it twice, but both products we received were flawed. The first one leaned rather significantly. The second one leaned a little bit and the lights on one of the branches didn’t work. In both cases, we attempted to fix the lean by loosening the screw that held the tree in its base and adjusting the tree, but those attempts failed. We were truly disappointed, as we liked the simple silhouette and birch-tree printed paper that wrapped around the trunk and branches. With its slim design and neutral colors, it could have easily been a decoration that we kept up all winter, but at this price point, we shouldn’t have to keep returning it for one that works.
What to Consider When Choosing an Artificial Christmas Tree
While it’s easy to assume that all artificial Christmas trees offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the most realistic artificial Christmas tree for the home.
Size and Shape
Artificial Christmas trees come in a wide range of sizes, from tiny tabletop models to towering options for homes with high ceilings. Measure the space before purchasing a tree to establish the right size for your home. Because the standard ceiling height in the United States is 8 feet, the most popular Christmas tree size is 7.5 feet. In many cases, this guide lists the details for the 7.5-foot option for consistency. Artificial trees also vary in shape. Tall, thin trees typically work best for small spaces, while fuller trees often look more realistic.
Style and Material
Seemingly endless options are available for artificial Christmas trees in style and shape. Most trees are designed to replicate the look of a real evergreen tree, such as a blue spruce, balsam fir, Douglas fir, or Fraser fir. Material is the primary consideration when constructing a convincing-looking artificial tree. The two primary materials used to create faux Christmas tree needles are polyethylene (PE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). For both quality and realism, PE is the better choice, but trees made primarily with PE typically have a higher price point. Even in higher-end trees, PVC is often used to craft the inner branches that aren’t as visible.
One of the primary advantages of artificial trees is that some of them come prelit, saving the installation of a string of lights. Most use energy-efficient LED lights, which last for months or years before needing to be replaced. For the best lighting effect, look for a tree that has at least 100 lights per foot of height. Some trees have white lights, while others feature vintage-style multicolored lights. Still others have the ability to change colors or introduce flashing lighting patterns with the push of a button.
Ease of Assembly and Disassembly
The larger the artificial Christmas tree, the more challenging it can be to assemble, due primarily to the added weight of the sections and the height. Use a sturdy step stool or step ladder when necessary to assemble the upper sections of the tree.
Most of today’s artificial Christmas trees come in manageable sections and feature a metal base designed to support the tree’s weight without tilting. Often, the manufacturer will label the sections, making it easier to assemble them in the correct order. If the sections aren’t labeled, fold out the bottom ring of branches and measure the diameter—the section with the largest diameter will go on the bottom, and so on. Adjusting the tightening bolts in the stand may be necessary to get the tree perfectly vertical. It’s usually a good idea to get the lower section straight and vertical before adding another section.
Prelit trees will have plugs at the bottom and top of each connecting section where the strings of lights connect to one another. Plug these in when installing each section before adding decorations.
The next step is fluffing, which is vital to make the tree look its best. See how to fluff an artificial Christmas tree below in the FAQ section below.
Disassembling an artificial Christmas tree requires a simple reversal of the setup process. After removing all decorations, unplug light strands between sections and then remove the sections one at a time, starting at the top. It may be necessary for two people to do this job: one to hold the lower part of the tree in place while the other pulls the upper section out.
While you now know more about artificial Christmas trees, there may be a few lingering questions about how to use them. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about artificial Christmas trees.
Q. Do artificial Christmas trees come preassembled?
While some small artificial Christmas trees come preassembled, most are shipped in multiple segments for easier storage.
Q. How do I fluff my artificial Christmas tree?
The most effective way is to fluff the branches at the same time you assemble the tree. Start at the inside of the lowest branches and fold the branch tips outward in a uniform manner. Fluff each layer of branches completely before moving on to the next layer of branches. After the tree is completely assembled and fluffed, step back and examine it. If you notice any bare spots, adjust the nearby branch tips to fill them in.
Q. How do I clean my artificial Christmas tree?
Working from top to bottom, use a soft-bristled brush or microfiber cloth to dust the branches.
Q. How do I store my artificial Christmas tree?
Consider purchasing a Christmas tree storage bag in which to safely store your tree during the off-season. A bag will also allow for enough room to keep the branches fluffed. It is a good idea to store your tree in a spot where it will not get knocked over or crushed.
Q. How do I make my artificial Christmas tree look more realistic?
When your artificial tree first comes out of the box, it might look a lot like a fake tree. Take time to fluff up the branches to make the tree appear fuller. More decorations tend to make a tree look more realistic, so feel free to go all out with baubles and ornaments.
Q: Are fake Christmas trees bad for the environment?
One thing that’s not so great, but PopSci reports that real Christmas trees also have their own problems, like the use of pesticides, such as Roundup, and fertilizers during growth. If you choose an artificial tree, focus on a tree that will last more than 6 years to avoid additional waste around the holidays.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with an expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Additional research and testing by Savannah Sher, Stephanie Cronk, Austin Fracchia, and Michelle Larson.
Prices listed here are accurate as of the last update on December 2nd, 2022.