Design Holidays & Celebrations

How to Make a Fake Christmas Tree Look Good—For Less

Transform your artificial tree—and make it look just as stunning as a real one—with these simple tricks.
Decorated Christmas Tree Near Fireplace at Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

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It’s hard to compete with the charm of a natural Christmas tree, but many opt for fake trees as a more practical alternative. Artificial trees don’t need water, don’t shed needles all over the house, and are ready to reuse year after year, making them much more affordable in the long run. Not to mention, an artificial tree is a better choice for allergy sufferers. But fake trees need a little extra love to look their best. From fluffing the branches to choosing the right decorations, these tips will trick everyone into believing you cut down that tree yourself.

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Choose the right size.

A-short-Christmas-tree-sits-in-the-corner-of-a-living-room-with-presents-and-winter-decor.
Photo: istockphoto.com

While it can be tempting to buy the biggest tree that can fit in a space, high-quality fake Christmas trees come with hefty price tags. If an 8-foot tree isn’t in your budget, consider getting a smaller model. This is also a good idea for people who have limited ornaments and decorations. Decorating a large fake tree sparsely can have an underwhelming effect, but a modestly sized tree is easier to deck out.

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Create the illusion of height.

The-base-of-a-Christmas-tree-sits-in-the-center-of-a-white-wicker-basket-collar.
Photo: istockphoto.com

If you end up opting for a slightly smaller tree, a few simple tricks can create the illusion of height. Place the tree stand on a solid, sturdy box that safely supports its weight. Cover the box with a festive tree skirt or collar to seamlessly integrate it into your holiday decor. This elevation will make a significant visual impact and allow the tree to have a larger presence in a space.

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Fluff the branches.

Close-up view of the hands of father and son trying to assemble the artificial Christmas tree together.
Photo: istockphoto.com

The most crucial step in making a fake Christmas tree look good is fluffing the branches thoroughly. When your tree comes out of the box, whether it’s for the first time or after sitting in the basement all year, the branches and needles might appear flattened and need a little love. Start at the base of the tree and work your way up, separating and shaping each branch to fill in gaps and create a natural, full appearance.

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Add more lights.

A-Christmas-tree-with-a-lot-of-multi-colored-lights-glows-in-a-living-room-with-a-fireplace.
Photo: istockphoto.com

One of the advantages of buying a fake tree is that many of them come prelit, so you don’t have to spend time (or money) adding string lights. But even prelit trees can benefit from additional lighting for a brighter and more eye-catching effect. Add a couple of strands of white or multicolored lights to create an illusion of fullness.

Maximize fullness with tree filler.

Christmas-tree-in-blue-and-white-theme-with-ribbons-and-floral-filler-branches-sits-between-two-blue-velvet-chairs.
Photo: istockphoto.com

To give a fake Christmas tree a fuller, more luxurious look, focus on the clever use of tree fillers. Try adding a faux pine garland, targeting spaces between branches where the tree looks sparse. Decorative mesh ribbons and garlands also can create volume. Weave them through the branches in a loose, zigzag pattern. This technique covers wider gaps and helps to create an elegant, cascading effect. Then strategically place lightweight ornaments and tinsel throughout the tree. These fillers add visual interest and help mask any bare spots effectively.

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Add a personal touch with DIY ornaments.

A-red-Christmas-ornament-is-painted-with-snowmen.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Christmas tree ornaments can be expensive, but DIY ornaments add a personal touch while also serving as a fun activity to do with friends and family. Creating homemade decorations can be a memorable holiday tradition. Create garlands from dried citrus or craft one-of-a-kind ornaments from salt dough. It’s also possible to purchase clear glass ornaments that you can fill with colorful glitter or artful paint pouring. This will let you add personality to your tree and create unique conversation pieces.

Bring out some flocking spray.

close view of Christmas tree with gold ornaments and frosted branches
Photo: istockphoto.com

One clever trick for making a fake tree look better is using flocking spray. These sprays add a white, snow-like texture to the branches, making it look like you’ve stepped into a winter wonderland. This technique can mask any imperfections on the branches and make them look denser.

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Incorporate natural elements.

A-Christmas-tree-is-decorated-with-pine-cones-and-other-natural-elements-in-a-log-cabin.
Photo: istockphoto.com

When using a fake Christmas tree, adding natural elements like pine cones and berries is a great way to make the tree look more authentic. These elements can be wired into the branches to break up the visual monotony of the green needles and add additional texture to the tree. You can even add in real pine tree branches to trick the eye into thinking the tree is real. Fake trees can benefit from some organic, rustic charm, and these decorations often are found for free in nature.

Trick the senses through scent.

burning candle Christmas decoration with flare lights in front of a Christmas tree
Photo: istockphoto.com

One thing that instantly distinguishes a real Christmas tree is the distinctive scent of pine needles. Since fake Christmas trees don’t come with this aroma, try adding some with scented candles, room sprays, essential oils, or even scented tree ornaments. This will create a more dynamic atmosphere and help to make it feel like the room hosts a real tree.