[2020] Best Artificial Christmas Trees - Reviews & Buyer Guide

The Year’s Best Artificial Christmas Trees

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Every year, after our bone-dry tree was unceremoniously dumped in the street, and we just had sap-covered hands and piles of pine needles to remember it by, my mother would vow that the next year would be different, that next Christmas we wouldn’t put up with the fuss of a new, live tree, and instead get an artificial tree. Each year we would yell and stomp our feet in protests, but finally, her after-Christmas vow was remembered in the new year and we went artificial.

And never looked back.

This complete guide offers helpful advice and in-depth reviews on the best artificial Christmas trees you can buy online to help other people make the transition. Trust me, as a dubious convert: whatever your hang-ups are, you will love your artificial tree.

Why You Should Trust Us

Since I discovered my love for artificial trees I have had a few notable ones, including a 6-foot tall traditional tree, a mini fluorescently lit tree, and a small hot pink one. In other words, whatever you are looking for, I have probably had experience with.

Backyard Boss, in general, takes Christmas very seriously.

We have guides on everything you need for Christmas, including Christmas lights, Christmas crafts, Christmas decorations, and of course, Christmas trees. When it comes to celebrating Christmas, we are a trustworthy, passionate source to consult.

cat in artificial christmas tree

Features to Consider When Choosing an Artificial Christmas Tree

You know you want an artificial tree, congrats for making the right choice this Christmas, but what kind of tree do you want? Are you looking for a classic design? A big tree? Something low-cost? Below are all of the features you should consider before buying your artificial tree.

Hinged vs. Hooked Branches

hinged branches on artificial treeSomething that you will have to consider with your artificial tree that you don’t with a real one is assembly. The branches on artificial Christmas trees are either “hinged” or “hooked.” Hooked branches detach from the tree’s central trunk, while hinged branches are permanently attached to the trunk.

Trees with hooked branches tend to take way more time to assemble because you have to construct the tree, while assembly for those with hinged branches normally just involves folding the branches out on their hinges. To store hinged trees you simply have to fold the branches back down. That convenience comes at a cost, though: hinged trees tend to be more expensive than hooked trees.

Pre-Decorated vs. Bare

When deciding if you want your artificial tree to come pre-decorated or bare take into account what Christmas tree set-up experience you are looking for: a night spent with the family gathered around the tree decorating it with your favorite ornaments, or a quick hour-long set-up so you can get back to what you really want to do, drinking eggnog while watching Christmas classics.

If you buy pre-decorated your tree may come with classic ornaments in tow or include some more natural decorations like pine cones, berries, and flocking. Flocking is fake snow, it makes your tree look like you plucked it right from the forest, giving a wintry feel to interior spaces.

Its only downside? If it’s cheap, it will shed. Snow on a tree is beautiful but snow on your living room rug lacks the same appeal.

 

Pre-Lit vs. Other Lighting Options

Similar to decorating, how you want your tree lit depends on what decorating experience you are looking forward to. Of course, while decorating the tree with ornaments is a time-honored tradition, I know very few people who feel particularly excited about untangling a mass of lights to string on their tree.

If you get a prelit tree, look for an option that has at least 100 lights per foot of tree so it is adequately covered. Most pre-lit trees now use LED lights which is great because they use less energy and stay cooler. Of course, keep in mind that LED does tend to be brighter than other bulbs which would be a con if you are looking for more lowkey lighting.

closeup of foliage on artificial tree prelit unrealistic

No need to worry about one bulb burning out and dragging all the other bulbs down with it on your pre-lit tree, most pre-lit bulbs have “burn-out protection”.

Of course, bulbs are just one way to light Christmas trees. Fiber optic trees are all the rage now bringing some fun lighting to holiday festivities.

Fiber optic trees have light fibers inserted into their artificial branches. They are preset to glow white, or more fun colors like blue, pink, and yellow. They do take more energy than trees with bulbs to run, but of course, they are putting on a whole light show. The fiber optic look will also definitely overshadow your other decorations, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you are really into customizing your tree.

Size

small christmas tree artificcial decorated on gray background

One of the biggest debates that has always raged around the holidays in my family is what size tree to buy. I always argued for smaller, my sister always lobbied for huge, so we would normally meet somewhere in the middle with a medium-sized tree.

Artificial trees, because they are fake, have the ability to be whatever size you need them to be. You can find trees as small as 1 foot tall to as large as 15 feet tall.

Before buying, if you are going for bigger, be sure to measure your ceiling, taking into account how large your tree topper is.

pink chritmas tree options for sale with demo decorDesign

Since you are going artificial, you don’t just have to stick with a classic green tree! You can go with more unnatural colors like white, hot pink, and even bright orange.

If you decide to stick with green, consider what shade you want. Some are dark green, some are light green, and some have varying shades of green to add to the tree’s authentic look.

Low-cost trees tend to have needles made from PVC sheets that don’t look particularly realistic. Trees with a mid-range cost also use PVC, however its an extruded PVC with a tapered tip, which makes them look more realistic, if not completely natural. Expensive artificial trees use injection-molded polyethylene needles which makes them look very realistic.

Your tree’s stand should be metal, unless it is smaller than 6 feet. Plastic stands have trouble balancing larger trees.

Shape

There are a few different tree shape classifications. You can choose between a full, medium, slim, or pencil-width tree.

Full trees are the widest and they have big bushy branches. Medium trees are slightly narrower but tend to be the width of “normal” trees. Slim trees are quite narrow but not as small as pencil-thin which are very skinny and have more of a pencil and less of a triangular shape.

Before deciding, measure the space you want to put your tree. Also, check to see how the particular brand you are buying from defines that width because it can change from company to company. Lastly, consider where you want to store the tree. A taller and wider tree will take up more storage space.

artificial trees different shapes

Fire Safety

Now for the not-so-fun feature: fire safety.

Between 2013 to 2017, U.S. Fire Departments responded to a yearly average of 160 home fires started by Christmas trees. Each year trees caused 3 deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in damage. Of course, these numbers mostly apply to natural trees but artificial trees can still be a fire hazard.

Because of this, many companies spray their trees with a fire-resistant material. Make sure that the tree you buy is safe, but keep in mind that even the safest tree in poor electrical conditions is at risk for catching on fire.

Cost

christmas money in red wallet one dollar

So now that you know every feature you want it’s time to determine what you are willing to pay for them. Artificial trees wildly range in how much they cost, being anywhere from $20 to $2,500.

The more you pay, the more your tree will include decoration-wise, the more realistic it will look, and the bigger it will be.

If you are looking for a quality tree, you are probably going to end up spending a few hundred dollars. Keep in mind though that you will be able to use your trees for years and consider how much you are saving not having to buy a real tree every Christmas.

Which Brands of Artificial Christmas Trees Are the Best?

If you are shopping for an artificial tree, these are the brands to beat. They create the pine-est trees on the market. (Sorry, had to be done.) Below are descriptions of the most-recognized, top-rated brands for artificial Christmas trees.

Balsam Hill

flocked prelighted decorated christmas tree closeup

Balsam Hill is a premium artificial Christmas tree brand to buy from. They create quality artificial trees that actually look real. Their trees are realistic, innovative, and luxurious. Of course, luxury comes at a cost, their trees are expensive, but so worth it because they are long-lasting. You will have and love your Balsam trees for years.

Best Choice Products

Best Choice Products makes beautiful, affordable trees that are excellent options for people who don’t have a lot of green to spend on their fake evergreen. Their trees are beautiful however they do lack some of the quality of higher-end brands, not looking quite as real. Nevertheless, with their myriad Christmas tree options and attainable prices, this is a great brand to check out.

National Tree Company

This is the premier artificial Christmas tree company in the US, with tons of options, and quality products that look realistic. Whether you are looking for a small tree, huge tree, flocked tree, or fluorescent tree, National Tree Company has you covered. Their prices are mid-range and their trees reflect that, being quality but not looking totally realistic.

Benefits of Artificial Christmas Trees vs Real Trees

I’m not the only fake-tree convert, according to a recent study by the American Christmas Tree Association, 82% of Christmas trees on display in the United States are artificial, while 17.9% are real, and that artificial percentage just keeps going up.

Of course, real trees aren’t all bad. They have that heavenly pine fragrance, the ritual of going to pick one out every year can be fun, and of course they always look real. Even the highest quality artificial tree won’t look completely real and there is something to be said about all artificial trees trying so hard to capture the magic of real ones.

However, artificial Christmas trees are more cost-effective and less of a hassle. You don’t have to water your artificial tree or clean up pine needles after you take it down.

You also don’t have to deal with going to pick up your tree, strapping it to the top of your car, putting it up in its stand, and disposing of it after. To set-up an artificial tree you simply take it out of its storage box, construct it, and then once the holidays are over, deconstruct it and put it away. Of course, if you don’t have storage space storing your artificial tree can be a hassle.

Which is more environmentally-friendly is hard to determine. Obviously, growing trees just to cut them down is a waste of resources, but the production process for artificial trees may put them over the edge as worse for the environment.

Curious about what’s really going into trees?

Check out the video below on how artificial Christmas trees are made.

Top 5 Artificial Christmas Tree Reviews

Best Artificial Christmas Tree on a Budget

Best Choice Products 6’ Hinged Artificial Christmas Pine Tree
    This classic tree is affordable, customizable, and hassle-free. It has gorgeous dark green branches and is the perfect size for smaller spaces.

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This artificial tree has a classic look, with beautiful dark green branches and an even shape, that will compliment whatever lights and decorations you decide to adorn it with. Being only 6 feet tall, it has an impressive size but is slightly smaller than the average tree. It strives for authenticity, with a bushy look that is supplied by its 1,000 branches.

It stands on a sturdy metal base so no need to worry about it toppling and breaking your favorite decorations. If the main thing that attracted you to artificial trees was their no-hassle assembly and disassembly, this is a great tree for you with easy-to-use hinged branches and only 3 pieces to put together. It should only take about half an hour to set-up—once you figure out the directions which are definitely not detailed enough.

This tree is great for anyone who wants a classic tree but is living in a more compact space. It’s also a great option for people shopping on a budget. Of course, since it’s cheaper, it’s not the most realistic-looking tree.

Best Overall Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree

National Tree Company Artificial Tree With Pre-strung White Lights
    This elegant, artificial Carolina pine is a great addition to large living spaces with pre-strung lights and pine-cone accents.

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This premium quality tree is modeled after a mighty Carolina Pine and is a staggering 7.5 feet tall. Because of this, it’s great for big spaces and homes with high ceilings. It comes with beautiful, pre-strung white lights already laced around it. In total there are 750 clear lights on the tree, so no need for supplemental lighting.

Decorating for the most part is up to you. It is studded with pinecones, but with 1,399 branches for hanging things on, and weighing in at 59 pounds, it is more than capable of holding all of your ornaments.

It’s easy-to-assemble, besides dealing with its weightiness, because it has hinged branches. However, it should be noted that its needles can be easily damaged, so take special care with them when putting the tree together. It can take away from the tree’s natural look if you bend the needles, but otherwise, it is quite realistic. A total bonus feature is that it’s both flame resistant and non-allergenic.

This tree is optimal for individuals looking for an elegant, pre-strung tree who aren’t wary of dropping a few hundred on this crucial Christmas decoration.

Best Tall Artificial Christmas Tree

Best Choice Products 9’ Spruce Hinged Artificial Christmas Tree
    This towering tree is an incredible 9 feet tall. It has a full body and comes completely undecorated so it’s up to you to dress it.

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This classic spruce tree is as Christmassy as it gets, and as tall as it gets, at a staggering 9 feet. If you have a giant space to fill this is an excellent tree option, but keep in mind that it comes completely unlit and undecorated.

Having so much of a tree to work with may be intimidating to some people, but others may enjoy having such a huge blank slate to work with. It has 1,346 tips to hang ornaments and lights off of so you are going to need all of your ornaments, from the new glossy bulb you bought to the ratty sock you hung off your tree when you were five, to fill it.

Having so many branches gives it a full-bodied look that makes it seem more real. Of course, this is a relatively inexpensive tree for its size, so it doesn’t look real enough to fool anyone standing close by.

It’s simple to assemble with three-pieces, hinged branches, and easy-to-fluff needles. It should take less than an hour in total to put up. Most of that time will be spent fluffing because if you don’t adequately fluff it, it will look sparse and thin.

Best Nontraditional Artificial Christmas Tree

National Tree Company 36-Inch Fiber Optic Evergreen Firework Tree
    This fun fiber optic tree is uniquely eye-catching. It will absolutely add a burst of color to your holiday décor.

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This tree is an incredible option for anyone looking for a fun and colorful addition to their home. Its compact size makes it perfect for smaller living spaces, and incredibly affordable.

The real appeal of this tree is its fiber optic needles which display a rainbow of colors from within the tree. Because of its dazzling array of colors, this tree doesn’t require much decorating, but if you want to hang ornaments feel free to. They will just add to the fun and festiveness of this adorable tree. This tree is high-quality and long-lasting. It doesn’t particularly look like a real tree but that has more to do with its rainbow of lights than the tree itself.

Also included is a beautiful gold column base that has no trouble supporting this small but powerful tree.

Best Realistic Artificial Christmas Tree

6.5' Balsam Hill Blue Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree
    This beautiful, premium-quality tree is completely customizable and looks real.

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This unusual tree has a blue-green color that is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like a real tree, with quality pines and branches, and a full shape. The shape is notably fuller than the other options on this list because this tree has an astonishing 2,144 branch tips.

Of course, that’s on the 6.5 feet tall model, but if you are looking for smaller or taller, there are other sizing options. You can also customize this tree by ordering it pre-lit with clear lights, LED lights, or just leaving it bare.

Balsam hill thinks of everything, you even get cotton gloves for fluffing the branches so you don’t damage them or scratch your hands. A storage bag comes with the tree to make assembly and disassembly even easier.

Quality comes at a cost, this is the most expensive tree on this list, but it genuinely looks like a live tree. If you are looking for the best tree possible, and don’t care about the cost, this is an excellent tree option for you.

How We Picked

When evaluating what were the best trees on the market we considered quality, cost, and ease of assembly, along with looking for trees that fit specific niches including pre-lit, pre-decorated, fiber-optic, large, and small.  All of the trees that we picked were notable in their specific category for their top-rated quality, however, they didn’t surpass a certain cost. Any tree over $600 was automatically eliminated.

There were so many artificial trees to chose from, so hopefully, we made the task easier by compiling this list here.

christmas tree artificila closeup realistic decorated

Conclusion

The clear winner of the round-up was the 6.5′ Balsam Hill Blue Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree. Although it’s on the pricier side, this tree is totally worth it, with a beautiful design that is meant to last, easy assembly, and customizability. The other trees on this list were all incredible, however, they couldn’t beat Balsam Hill’s quality.

I hope you found this guide helpful! If you did, be sure to share it and comment below with any buying questions!

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