Best Artificial Christmas Trees of 2020
An artificial Christmas tree provides the same festive experience as a real Christmas tree—without the added hassle. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best artificial Christmas tree to brighten your holiday season.
Deck the Halls: Your Guide to Artificial Christmas Trees
As you hang your Christmas stockings and drift off to the land of sugar plum fairies, what's at the center of your festive household? Why, the Christmas tree, of course!
Decking the home with a live Christmas tree was once common, but today, many consumers have replaced their live-tree tradition with an artificial-tree ritual. Contemporary artificial Christmas trees are often hard to distinguish from the real thing, and there's a lot less hassle involved.
If you've decided to buy an artificial Christmas tree, you may be wondering how to find the right one for you. At BestReviews, we stand ready to help. We studied the market's artificial Christmas tree offerings, sifted through feedback from owners, and compiled this shopping guide for your convenience. When you're ready to purchase an artificial Christmas tree, we invite you to check out three of our favorite options at the top of this page.
So, crack open the eggnog, turn on some holiday tunes, watch the snow fall, and read on for our full guide to artificial Christmas trees.
Tree Wars: Artificial Christmas Trees vs. Real Christmas Trees
While an artificial Christmas tree will never have that glorious pine fragrance, there are still plenty of great reasons to go artificial this year.
- Artificial Christmas trees are extremely cost-effective in the long-run, as you can use them for many years to come.
- Using an artificial Christmas tree is better for the environment, as you're not wasting resources to grow a tree only to cut it down at Christmas time.
- You don't need to remember to water an artificial Christmas tree.
- Artificial Christmas trees are less messy, since they don't shed needles the way real trees do.
- After the festive season, you can simply pack your artificial Christmas tree in a box and slide it into storage. There's no need to worry about how to dispose of it.
- High-quality artificial Christmas trees can look just as good as the real thing.
Types of Artificial Christmas Trees
While basic artificial Christmas trees are typically designed to look like a generic fir tree, higher-end artificial Christmas trees are often modeled after real evergreen species. Here are some of the most common types of evergreen species and their descriptions.
- Douglas Fir: These trees are dense and bushy with soft, shiny needles.
- Noble Fir: These trees are tall and symmetrical with upward-turning needles and sturdy branches.
- Virginia Pine: A popular Christmas tree choice in the southern states, these trees have lush, dense foliage and stout branches.
- Blue Spruce: These classic-looking trees are noted for their blue-gray color and wide-bottomed, tapered shape.
- Balsam Fir: These trees are fairly dense with dark green needles and a slender tip.
Questions to Answer Before Buying an Artificial Christmas Tree
Ask yourself the following questions before spending money on a new artificial Christmas tree. Your answers will help guide you toward the type, style, and size you'd truly prefer.
- Would you prefer a Christmas tree with hooked branches or hinged branches? Artificial Christmas tree branches are either "hinged" or "hooked." Hooked branches completely detach from the central trunk, so you have to place each one individually when assembling the tree. Christmas trees with hooked branches look beautiful, but the process of putting them together can be time-consuming.
Hinged branches are permanently attached to the trunk with—you guessed it—hinges. The branches fold out for assembly and fold back in again when you want to put the tree away. Artificial Christmas trees with hinged branches take less time to assemble, and unlike trees with hooked branches, some of them are sold with pre-lit branches.
- Would you prefer an artificial Christmas tree that is pre-lit and/or pre-decorated, or would you rather have a tree that is completely bare? If you dread stringing up lights and hanging baubles, you can find artificial Christmas trees that are already lit and/or decorated. With pre-lit trees, we recommend that you opt for a tree with at least 100 lights per foot of tree. Trees that come pre-decorated may or may not be to your taste, so take a close look before you buy.
For some households, decorating the Christmas tree is part and parcel of getting into the holiday spirit. If this sounds like you, you'd probably prefer to purchase an unadorned artificial Christmas tree.
- What size and shape is your ideal artificial Christmas tree? Artificial Christmas trees come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You can find trees as short as one or two feet tall; these are suitable for placement on a table or countertop. You can find trees as tall as 15 feet; these are best-suited for lobbies and other rooms with extremely high ceilings. And, of course, you can find artificial Christmas trees that stand somewhere between these two extremes.
In terms of shape, you have several choices. A "full" tree has branches that are big and bushy. A "medium" tree is slightly narrower than a full tree but still quite wide. A "slim" tree is very narrow and designed to stand in a hallway or nestle in a corner.
Other Artificial Christmas Tree Features to Consider
You can find artificial Christmas trees in different shades of green, with the most realistic versions using a range of shades on each branch. You can also find artificial Christmas trees in a range of unnatural colors, from black to hot pink.
Basic artificial Christmas trees usually have needles cut from sheets of PVC, which doesn't tend to look very realistic. Mid-range models may use extruded PVC, which looks a little more realistic with a tapered tip. High-end, ultra-realistic trees get their look from injection-molded polyethylene needles. These trees look real and may fool some people.
Flocking is fake snow that adheres to the branches of an artificial tree. Some people love the cozy, wintery feeling of a flocked Christmas tree.
How Much Does an Artificial Christmas Tree Cost?
How much green can you expect to spend on your Christmas greenery? Artificial Christmas trees vary in price, from as little as $20 to as much as $2,000. Here's what you can expect to get for your money.
- $20 to $150: Basic artificial Christmas trees cost between $20 and $150. The cheapest models are either mini trees or very obviously fake trees. However, you can find some gems at the higher end of this price range.
- $150 to $500: In this mid-price range, you can find fairly realistic artificial Christmas trees that are modeled after real species of fir, spruce, and pine. Quality can vary quite significantly, though, so choose carefully.
- $500 to $2,000: High-end artificial Christmas trees start at about $500 for a tree of 6 or 7 feet tall. The price can range up to about $2,000 for huge, pre-lit artificial Christmas trees of 12 to 15 feet. These trees have injection-molded needles and branches and could easily be mistaken for a real Christmas tree unless closely inspected.
Q. Are there many options for nontraditional artificial Christmas trees?
A. If you're not a huge fan of traditional or realistic-looking artificial Christmas trees, you're in luck; you can find all kinds of weird and wonderful options in today's market. Artificial Christmas trees come in all colors of the rainbow. You can buy trees with feathers on the branches instead of needles. You can buy tinsel trees. You can buy upside-down trees. In short, if you're interested in a novelty tree, the market has many from which to choose.
Q. Will I need a stand for my artificial Christmas tree?
A. Most artificial Christmas trees come with their own stand, so you probably won't have to buy one separately. However, it's wise to double-check this before making your purchase so you don't have to suffer the disappointment of getting a tree that you have no way to stand up.
Q. How do I assemble my artificial Christmas tree?
A. Assembly varies depending on the make and model of the artificial Christmas tree. Always check the manual or packaging for instructions. That said, most artificial Christmas trees come in three or four segments that are easily slotted together. Once the core is assembled, you simply need to fold down or attach the branches, depending on whether you have a hinged or hooked tree.