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Artificial Christmas Trees

Friday, 7 December 2007 | Tags: , , , ,

Though they lack the romance and spirit of picking out a real tree, fake trees definitely have their advantages. We find out what you need to know before buying an artificial tree.

The Basics

  • Artificial trees are designed in two different styles:

    • Hinged, where the branches are attached permanently and the tree opens up like an umbrella. Some hinged models even come with pre-attached lights.

    • Hooked, where the removable branches are attached to a centre pole

  • “Tree tips” or branches are a selling point on most models. The more tips, the more natural and full your tree will look, but the more expensive it will be. Make sure there are enough tips so you can’t see the centre pole, but not so many that it’s hard to decorate.

  • Artificial trees come in a variety of sizes. The most common size is 6.5-7.5 feet tall, which should accommodate most ceiling heights with enough room for the top ornament.

  • Typically, the larger the tree, the higher the price tag.

  • If your space is tight, there are slim versions and even half trees (no back) that fit neatly into a corner.

  • Stability is important. Since artificial trees are often lighter than real trees, they’re also easier to knock over by pets, kids, and guests. Look for as wide a stand as possible, but also consider your available space.

  • Flashy or novelty trees may be appealing this year and a big hit with kids. However, this is a purchase that should last you 10-20 years, so a more traditional tree may satisfy your long-term needs.

Other Considerations

  • Artificial trees can be used with both incandescent and LED light strings.

  • Artificial trees always go on sale after Christmas, so if you’re in the market, you can get a great deal for next year’s tree if you wait.

  • Always read instructions carefully before assembling your tree. It may look a little squished coming out of the box, but you can re-arrange the branches and fluff it up.

  • Keep the box for storing your tree for the rest of the year.

  • If you still want that special real tree aroma, arrange some fresh-cut boughs on your mantle or along your staircase banister.

TEST CRITERIA

We set up five artificial Christmas trees, three with lights included and two without, with a few strings added to them for fairness. We tested:

  • Nikko Mixed Pine (hooked branches): $89.97
  • Cashmere Spruce (hooked branches): $199.99
  • Pre-Lit Pine with Mini-LEDs (hinged): $169.98
  • Pre-Lit Fibre Optic with stars, balls, and a musical base (hinged): $229.00
  • Alberta Pre-Lit Pine by Martha Stewart (hinged): $499.99

Results

  • All of the trees were easy to put up and assemble. We didn’t mind the little bit of extra time it took to assemble the hooked-branch designs.

  • We didn’t mind adding our own lights to the unlit trees. If you’ve already got lights, you may not want to pay extra for a pre-lit tree. You also can’t rearrange the lights on the pre-lit tree.

  • Even though the Martha Stewart tree was heavy and came pre-lit, we really liked the shape. It was a really magnificent tree, but also the most expensive.

  • Our first choice was the Cashmere Spruce tree. We didn’t mind hooking the branches on. You could tell it wasn’t real but it looked very appealing all the same.

OUR TOP PICK

We liked the Cashmere Spruce tree. It had a good shape and was easy to assemble. We also prefer the trees without lights included since we like to be able to arrange our own.

 

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