Artificial Christmas Tree Buying Guide: How to Choose the Perfect Tree for your Home

It doesn’t really feel like the holidays until you see a beautiful Christmas tree in the window of every home. These elegant trees have been a symbol of the season since the 16th century and feature prominently in many of our Christmas memories. However, between allergies, cleaning up pine needles, and constantly watering the tree to make sure it survives until Christmas day, live trees can be a bit of a holiday hassle. An artificial Christmas tree is the ideal solution. With a variety of sizes, styles and fun features to choose from, this buying guide will help you select the perfect Christmas tree for your home.

Information at a Glance 

Christmas Tree Type Materials Silhouette Pre-Lit/Unlit Height Range Branch Type Best Uses
Tabletop Trees PVC
PE
Blend
Tinsel
Full
Sparse
Pre-Lit
Un-Lit
3' and Under Hinged
Hooked
Kids' Rooms
Dorm Rooms
Offices
Full Trees PVC
PE
Blend
Tinsel
Full Pre-Lit
Un-Lit
4' to 7' Hinged
Hooked
Living Rooms
Large spaces
Pencil Trees PVC
PE
Blend
Tinsel
Slim
Sparse
Pre-Lit
Un-Lit
6' to 8' Hinged
Hooked
Corners
Small Living Rooms
Apartments
Upside Down Trees PVC
PE
Blend
Full Pre-Lit
Un-Lit
4' to 7' Hinged
Hooked
Living Rooms
Areas with limited floor space


Christmas Tree Types

Tabletop Christmas Tree

Tabletop Trees

Tabletop trees are miniature versions of the traditional Christmas trees that we all know and love. These small trees typically stand 3 feet tall or shorter and have a built in base to keep them standing upright. Due to their small size, these trees are a practical option for spaces that would ordinarily be too small for a full-sized Christmas tree, including dorm rooms. Placing a tabletop tree in a child’s bedroom is also a fun way to celebrate the holidays with your little ones. They also make great decor accents for office desks, nightstands, and, of course, tabletops. 

Full Traditional Tree

Full Trees

When most people picture an elegant Christmas tree, a full tree is what comes to mine. These traditional trees feature the look of a real life pine tree and are designed to make a grand centerpiece in a large room. These trees are available in a variety of colors and styles and tend to feature the triangular shape (wide at the bottom before getting narrower at the top) that we associate with live Christmas trees.

Sunnydaze Slim Tree

Pencil Trees

Also known as slim trees, pencil trees offer a unique look when compared to traditional Christmas trees. These trees tend to be taller, typically between 6 feet to 8 feet tall, and have a narrower shape. Not only can this lend a quirky look to your Christmas decor, it can also be quite practical for small spaces. Because it is less wide, this tree can fit neatly into a corner, making it a useful option for small living rooms or apartments.

Upside Down Trees

Upside down trees might seem like an unusual modern phenomenon, but they actually date back to the 8th century. Originally, upside down Christmas trees were used to symbolize the holy trinity and, more practically, save space in people’s homes. Today, upside down trees continue to be space-saving conversation pieces. Depending on the design, these trees can either be mounted to the ceiling or feature a specially designed stand. They also feature a full design, but the narrowest point is the bottom of the tree while the widest portion is at the top near the ceiling. This type of tree is excellent for anyone looking for a truly unique Christmas tree or who have very limited floor space.

Height

Once you decide on what type of Christmas tree you want, it is important to determine which size would be best for your space. Before you begin to shop, consider where you want to display your Christmas tree. Measure the height of the ceiling to determine what height you will need your tree to be. You should choose a tree that is 6” to 12” shorter than your ceiling in order to allow room for both a tree stand and the tree topper. You should also consider the girth of the tree. If you don’t have a lot of room in your space, choose a tree with a narrower silhouette.

Silhouette

A tree’s silhouette is the overall shape of the tree. Most artificial trees seek to mimic the natural shape of an evergreen tree, however, new modern silhouettes that give your tree a unique look or save space are growing in popularity.

Full

The most traditional look of all, full Christmas trees have the appearance of a healthy pine tree with plenty of needles for decorating. They are typically wide at the bottom before tapering off to form a triangle like shape.

Slim

Christmas trees with a slim profile, feature the full pine needles of a traditional tree, but have a much narrower shape. These trees tend to be taller and feature a straight, less tapered shape.

Sparse

A relatively new design, trees with a sparse silhouette feature fewer needles so they have a more bare shape than other tree silhouettes. These trees mimic smaller trees found in nature and allow you to showcase your ornaments more clearly because they are not hidden by needles.

Artificial Tree Branches

Materials

Artificial Christmas trees can be made from several different types of materials. The material choice affects the overall look of the tree and how realistic the branches may appear.

PVC

Initially created in the 1930s, artificial Christmas trees were made with needles cut from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This gives the branches a full look and a green color that is highly resistant to fading.

PE

Some modern artificial trees use a different process to create the pine needles. The needles are made from molded polyethylene. These needles generally appear more realistic in texture, color, and weight.

PVC/PE Blend

A PVC/PE blend combines the best of both worlds. The tree is crafted using a mix of both techniques to bring together the full shape and realistic appearance of each needle type.

Tinsel

Unlike the previous materials which try to mimic the appearance of evergreen trees, tinsel trees go for an entirely different look. Tinsel is a popular metallic material that is typically used to create garlands and other Christmas decorations. In the 1960s, tinsel was used to create Christmas trees in order to create a flashy look. Today, tinsel trees are available in a rainbow of colors and can give any room a vintage look.

Pre-Lit Vs Unlit

When choosing an artificial Christmas tree, you typically have the choice between pre-lit Christmas trees which have LED or incandescent lights built into the tree or unlit trees which feature no lights at all. Each type of tree has its benefits.

Unlit Christmas trees are typically less expensive and allow you to choose which types of string lights you want to use with the tree. They also give you the option to forgo lights altogether. Pre-lit Christmas trees, on the other hand, feature built-in light so you don’t have to purchase lights separately or struggle to wind them around the tree.

Branch Type

Generally, artificial Christmas trees have one of three branch construction types. The type of construction used affects how the tree is assembled.

Attached Christmas trees come pre-assembled so they are ready to use out of the box. Tabletop Christmas trees are typically the only type of artificial tree that use this design.

Larger trees use either hook or hinged tree branches. Hinged tree branches are connected to the metal pole that runs up the center of the tree. This tree typically comes in three sections. The bottom section is inserted into the tree stand and each section is placed into the previous section. The branches can then be flared out to form the shape of the tree. Hook in branches are individually placed into the tree branch by branch. Because of this, this type of installation is not found with pre-lit trees.

No matter what type of branches your tree has, “fluffing” the tree branches will help improve the shape of your tree to give it a more full look. For tips on how to properly fluff your tree, check out this video.

Other Features

Flocked Christmas Tree 

Tip Count

The branch tip count refers to the approximate amount of branches a tree has. The higher the number, the fuller and denser your tree will appear.

Flocked Needles

Flocked Christmas tree needles are covered with a powdery white mixture so they look like they are covered in snow.

Berries or Pinecones

Some artificial Christmas trees feature pinecones or berries built into the tree to give it a more natural and colorful look.

Built-In Bases

Tabletop Christmas trees in particular can feature unique bases such as a a wooden crate, a flower pot, or a burlap sack to give the tree a specialized look.

Celebrate the Season with a Beautiful Tree!

No matter what your personal style is or how you like to decorate for the holidays, you’re sure to find the perfect tree for your home. Once you’ve found your tree, browse our stylish collection of seasonal decor items to make your whole house merry and bright!

Holiday & seasonal

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