Artificial Christmas Tree Buying Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Christmas Tree for Your Home
As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, one item sets the stage for your seasonal decorating and that is the Christmas tree. Nothing infuses your home with holiday spirit more than this festive staple trimmed with your favorite ornaments, garlands, and lights. To help you choose the right tree for your home, we compiled some information to make your tree buying task easier and a joyful part of your Christmas holiday preparations.
Quick steps to buying the perfect Christmas tree:
- Decide between a live or artificial tree
- Determine the correct height for your room
- Choose the tree’s profile
- Pick the needle type and tree variety
- Select pre-lit or unlit
- Choose a color
- Pick your ornaments and accents
- Remember storage options
Benefits of an Artificial Christmas Tree versus a Real Tree
Although some people prefer the look, smell, and feel of a real pine Christmas tree, artificial trees have come a long way from the cheap versions of decades ago, looking as realistic as their live counterparts. More and more people are choosing an artificial Christmas tree for these benefits:
- Easier to set up and take down
- Have a realistic look and feel (add a spritz of pine scent to give it the aroma of a real tree)
- Flame-retardant for better safety
- A environmentally friendly choice if you keep it for five years or more
- Hypoallergenic for allergy sufferers
- Come in a wide range of sizes, styles, colors, and designs
- Pre-lit varieties save the time and effort of hanging lights
- No watering required
- No messy needles to clean up
- Saves you money on the initial purchase and costs less than real trees in the long run
- Last for 10-20 years and let you extend the holiday season
Christmas Tree Height Guide
Before you buy your tree, you will first need to decide where you will place it to determine the size needed based on the ceiling height and space available in that room. You want your Christmas tree to be a focal point for your holiday decorations, but don’t want it to overwhelm your space or become an obstacle to foot traffic. When choosing tree height, we recommend selecting a Christmas tree that is at least 6”-12” shorter than the height of your ceiling. Doing so will allow room for a tree topper as well as ensure your tree doesn’t hit the ceiling. Here are some of the most common artificial tree heights:
- Under 5 feet: Miniature trees that are designed for small spaces, tabletop placement, and as secondary trees in other rooms of your home.
- 5 Feet: These smaller trees are great for rooms with low ceiling and limited space including apartments, mobile homes, and dorm rooms.
- 6 Feet: These trees are designed for room with low ceilings and are a safe bet for most rooms.
- 7 Feet: These popular standard-sized trees are ideal for rooms with 8- to 9-foot ceilings.
- 8 Feet: These taller trees work well in larger rooms with high ceilings.
- 9 Feet: These tall trees are perfect for rooms with vaulted ceilings or foyers with high ceilings.
- 10 Feet and Over: These trees are great for public spaces and large rooms with vaulted ceilings.
Christmas Tree Profile
Along with height, the tree’s shape or profile will give you a general idea of how much space it takes up in your room. Choose full-profile trees for spacious areas and slim profile trees for limited spaces. It’s a good rule to allow at least 3” of space between the branches and the walls around them.
- Full: The most popular shape, full-profile trees offer the classic, dense profile of natural Christmas trees with a gradual slope and plenty of surface area to fill with decorations.
- Slim/Pencil: These narrower profile trees are ideal for smaller rooms, tight areas, to tuck into a corner, or for homes with limited space since they have a smaller footprint and a sharper slope.
- Half/Flatback: These space-saving half-profile trees have a full profile on one side and a flat back on the other, allowing them to rest against a wall or corner. They’re great for studios and small apartments.
- Upside Down: They may look quirky, but upside down trees (either on stands or hung from the ceiling) provide a reduced footprint to save space, offer more floorspace underneath for presents, and deter pets and small children from climbing them or reaching for ornaments.
Tree Needle Type
The majority of artificial trees consist of foliage made from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), PE (Polyethylene), or a combination of both. Some also have flocked tips to re-create the look of newly fallen snow on the branches. Other trees eschew the realistic look and go for sparkle and shine with needles made of tinsel in an array of bright colors.
- PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): The vast majority of artificial trees have needles made from PVC. These classic trees have a full look and are more economical in price, but the flat shape of the individual needles is not quite as realistic as the newer PE branches.
- PE (Polyethylene): Higher-quality trees feature needles made of injection molded PE that mimics the shape of those from actual trees to create more authentic-looking needles and branches.
- Mixed: Some trees will have a mixture of both PVC and PE branches to give you the best of both worlds. They will feature more realistic PE outer branches with thicker PVC branches closer to the stem to add thickness and fullness.
- Flocked: For those who love the look of frosted pines in the forest, a flocked tree is for you. These trees have needles sprayed with a white coating to give them the look of snow-covered branches.
- Tinsel: If you love glitz and glamor, the shine and sparkle of trees with needles made of metallic Mylar tinsel will appeal to your sense of style. Though not realistic, these festive trees are bright, colorful, and fun.
Tree Varieties (Species)
Like their real-life counterparts, artificial trees come in a variety of conifer species to mimic the types that grow naturally in a forest. The three basic types are fir, pine, and spruce with several varieties found within each category.
- Fir - Fir trees have needles that sprout individually on the stem, creating dense branches with flat, flexible needles. They tend to have a fuller, more complete appearance. Some varieties of fir include:
- Balsam Fir
- Douglas Fir
- Fraser Fir
- Noble Fir
- Pine - Pine trees have thinner needles that are attached to the stem in clusters of two, three, or five. They have sparser branches around the trunk.
- Rocky Mountain Pine
- Scotch Pine
- White Pine
- Spruce - Similar to fir trees, spruce have rough branches with needles that grow individually on the stem. Unlike firs, spruce tree needles have four sides and sharp points. Luckily, artificial spruce needles are less pointy than the needles on natural trees.
- Colorado Blue Spruce
- Vermont White Spruce
- Yukon Spruce
Another important factor to consider when buying your artificial Christmas tree is how the frame is constructed and how the branches are attached to it. The type of construction will affect its durability, ease of set-up and knock-down, and amount of space that is needed to store it after the holidays.
- Hooked branches: On trees with hooked branches, you will need to attach the branches individually to the core pole. While easy, it takes a little more time during set up.
- Hinged branches: Hinged branches come pre-connected to the pole, so all you need to do is unfold them out and fluff the branches.
- Multi-piece assembly: Some trees come in two or three separate sections that easily connect for quick set-up. Usually, these trees have hinged branches so all you need to do is connect the pole sections, unfold the branches, and fluff them.
- Pre-assembled: Fully assembled trees are more expensive but require less effort to set up. Some come attached to the pole in an inverted storage position via a hinge mechanism and have a wheeled stand. You just roll it into place, flip the tree into position, and fluff the branches.
Pre-Lit versus Unlit
A Christmas tree isn’t a Christmas tree without lights. With artificial trees, you have the option to select one that comes pre-lit with lights already wrapped around and within its branches; or you can choose an unlit trees so you can add your own strings of lights. Pre-lit trees shorten the set-up time by eliminating the hassle of untangling the lights from storage and adding them to your tree. These trees come in a wide range of light types and color options. Many offer the convenience of remote control or foot-pedal operation too, so you don’t have to keep unplugging and plugging in the lights.
Unlit trees cost less and allow you to add the type, number, and color of lights you want. You also have the option to change out your light selection from year to year to match your décor preference and style.
Types of Christmas Lights to Consider
When buying a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree, you have several lighting options to consider. Choices for lights include incandescent, LED, clear, multi-color, mixed clear and multi-color, and color changing. Additional options include multi-function lights that allow you to select from steady, chase, or twinkling modes. For a modern look, you can also buy a tree with fiber optic lighting.
- Incandescent: Incandescent lights cost less than LEDs and have a warm glow.
- LED: LED lights use less energy and operate at cooler temperatures for safety. They last longer than incandescent and come in both warm and cool-glow varieties.
- Clear/White: Clear or white Christmas lights have a timeless look. Some give off a warm yellow glow, while others have a bluer tint.
- Multi-color: Colored lights are fun and festive and can be coordinated to create complex designs.
- Color-changing: Some trees come with a mix of clear and colored lights so you can use one or the other or a combination of both to suit your mood.
- Steady, chase, and twinkle: Animated lights create a captivating display. Trees with these options let you select from steady lights, chase (look like they are traveling through the strand), or twinkling modes to add a little flair to your holiday festivities.
- Fiber Optic: These trees are energy efficient and economical. They give out only light, not heat which makes them safe around children and pets. Plus, they offer a retro, festive, and colorful look.
Artificial Christmas Tree Colors
Whether you prefer traditional green, white, or retro colors, there’s a tree to suit your tastes.
- Green: Traditional green trees are the most popular choice as they offer the most realistic look to mimic the color of fresh-cut pine trees. The shade of green can vary depending on the species of tree you select.
- White: Christmas trees with classic, all-white branches provide a more neutral base for making colorful ornaments and tree trim pop. Faux white trees can help you create a romantic or magical look to your holiday décor.
- Colored: Colored trees come in a wide range of bold and vivid hues including red, blue, purple, pink, gold, silver, and more. They add a bright pop of color to your room, let you express your individuality, and offer a non-conventional look for your seasonal displays. It’s time to trim the tree.
Once your tree is selected and up, now comes the fun part—decorating! Along with lights, make sure you have plenty of colorful ornaments in glass, shatterproof plastic, and other materials to add style to your tree. Top it with a traditional angel figurine, classic star, or whimsical contemporary tree topper of your favorite design. Use a tree skirt or collar to disguise the stand, protect your floor, and add a decorative finishing touch to your tree. Consult our Christmas Decorating Tips for more inspiration.
Make it a holiday tradition to gather round to trim out the tree with a variety of ornaments and tree toppers. You can choose sets based on a theme, color, or mix it up with both family heirloom ornaments and newer pieces.
Tree toppers can take many forms. The most common shapes are a star (representing the Star of Bethlehem), an angel, a finial, Santa Claus, a white dove (a symbol of peace), or a festive bow. Others can run the gamut from woodland animals to sunbursts, rosettes, and pop culture figurines.
Tree skirts and collars cover up the metal posts and stands and create an overall more attractive appearance. Fabric tree skirts also partly cover the floor to protect it along with providing a backdrop for your wrapped gifts.
Faux Christmas Tree Care and Storage
Keep your Christmas tree protected from dust and damage so that you can continue to enjoy its beauty for years to come. Storage options for artificial Christmas trees range from sturdy boxes to convenient carry bags to keep your tree safe and securely stored when the holiday season is over.
At Riverbend Home, you’ll find a wide selection of artificial Christmas trees to suit every budget, space, and decorating style.