If you don't care for the mess of a real evergreen, or if allergies prevent you from having a live tree, try choosing an artificial Christmas tree for your holiday decorating.

Christmas trees are a nearly universal element in holiday decorating. Some people don't like the fuss and mess of a live tree, while others have allergies that preclude them from having a real evergreen. If you're wondering how to choose an artificial Christmas tree, consider the size, accent, and height. Use these helpful ideas as a guide when purchasing your fake trees for the holidays. We'll show you how to choose the most realistic artificial Christmas tree with lights or without.

green silver and gold christmas tree decor
Credit: Adam Albright

Choosing Artificial Tree Accents

  • Prelit Fake Trees: Prelit artificial trees are a great way to minimize setup and cleanup (and avoid the holiday trauma of a giant ball of tangled lights). However, prelit fake trees are generally more expensive, and you can't change the size or color of the lights from year to year. Swapping burned-out lights for fresh ones may also be a challenge. If you choose a prelit fake tree, look for one that is labeled "continuous on" or "with burn-out protection." This means that if a single bulb on the strand burns out, the rest of the lights stay on.
  • Flocked or Accented Fake Trees: When an artificial tree is flocked, its branches look like they have been dusted with snow or glitter. You can choose how flocked you want your fake tree to be; some are dusted more heavily than others. Additional fake tree accents also may include natural-looking elements, such as pinecones and berries. Keep in mind that these items cannot be removed, so choose flocked or accented fake trees may not match your decorating style if it changes from year to year.

Selecting Artificial Christmas Tree Height and Width

Most artificial Christmas trees for the holidays come in one of three widths, generally labeled as full, slim, or pencil. Artificial trees also come in a range of heights, beginning at tabletop size and increasing usually in half-foot increments up to about 12 feet. To ensure the best fake tree for your home, measure the spot where you plan to display the fake Christmas tree and leave enough room to maneuver around it to decorate. Allow for at least 12 inches from the ceiling and six inches from the wall.

Christmas tree next to white sofa with gifts
Credit: Jay Wilde

Choosing Fake Tree Material

  • Types of Branches: Artificial trees come with two types of branches—hinged or hook-in. Hinged fake trees, which consist of just a few parts, have permanently affixed branches and are generally easier to set up. Hook-in branches are individually hooked into a specific spot on a central tree pole. These fake trees take much more time to put together and cannot be prelit, but they also tend to be less expensive.
  • Types of Material: Fake trees are made using one of two types of plastic: PVC or PE. The main difference in materials is in how the trees look. PVC needles are attached to the fake tree branches using wires. PE fake trees are fabricated, so both the needles and the branches better resemble those of a real tree. Branch tips may also be sculpted, which means they better replicate the look of a real evergreen.
  • Tinsel, Feather, and Other Artificial Christmas Trees: While many fake trees for Christmas are designed to resemble real evergreens, some of them are designed to fill a different decorating need. Tinsel and feather trees are two common examples; these are typically white, silver, or gold. While many are often used as tabletop trees, tinsel trees are available in full-size as well.

Editor's Tip: The density or tip count indicates how full your fake tree looks. When purchasing, evaluate your fake tree's branches for sturdiness; if you have lots of ornaments, you want branches sturdy enough to hold them.

flocked christmas tree
Credit: Courtesy of Lowe's

Additional Considerations When Choosing Fake Trees

  • Price: Just as fake trees can be found in all sizes, they can also be found in all price ranges. Ultimately, the quality of the tree and additional accents will affect the pricing. While off-the-shelf varieties are generally affordable, custom fake trees are also available but keep in mind that they come with a custom price tag.
  • What's Included: The general life expectancy of a fake tree is about 10 years, and some may come with a warranty. Stands are usually included; plastic versions may be less stable than those made of metal. Some fake trees also include additional accessories such as a storage bag. Your fake tree should also be fire retardant and fade resistant.
  • Lights: Consider whether a pre-lit tree is worth the added cost. Typically, pre-lit trees are more expensive, but having one will save you time and stress when it's time to decorate the tree. Plus, you don't have to worry about untangling the lights!
  • Decorating with Both Fake and Real Trees: Both artificial and live evergreens can be deftly worked into a variety of holiday styles and schemes. A small fake tree is a great tabletop choice to display a themed set of decorations or to complete a room's color scheme, in addition to a full-size live evergreen. A miniature tabletop evergreen can be used in a room where there isn't lots of space, such as the kitchen, for added fragrance.


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