Rich traditions begin around a beautiful Christmas tree. Family members gather and Santa delivers presents beneath branches filled with keepsakes and ornaments, making memories to be treasured for years. Why not enjoy a tree that lasts just as long, is more hassle-free, and doesn’t shed needles like a natural tree?

With new shape and construction options, artificial Christmas Trees have come a long way: they’re easier to assemble and more natural looking than ever. Before you select your tree, take a moment to consider your size and style preferences. How much space do you have to fill? What kind of look and shape do you prefer? Would you like your tree to be pre-lit or do you prefer to add lights yourself?

The Right Size and Shape

Height is always the first thing to consider when selecting the perfect tree. Are you looking to fill a tabletop or reach a cathedral ceiling? In many cases it’s best if your tree is 6″ lower than your ceiling. This way you’re sure to fill the room, and leave space for tree toppers and decorations that extend above the top branches. Trees are measured from the floor to the top of the tree, typically including the stand. Remember to keep width and girth in mind. Fuller trees are standard, but slim and pencil shapes are also available, providing a perfect fit in more compact spaces, like entryways and alcoves.

Also think of density and profile—although it’s not always immediately obvious, a great profile is what makes each tree unique. If you love to fill boughs with yards of ribbon and substantial ornaments, you may want a tree with deeper branch pockets. While many models have upswept branches with bowl-cut base forms, you may also want to consider a dramatic downswept shape to fill up more floor space.

Branch Treatments and Tips

Today’s artificial trees are available with a variety of needle types and branch tips—they’re often molded from branches cut from real trees, for the most realistic look possible. You’ll find trees with tips modeled to look just like those of Douglas Firs, Royal Spruce, Western Hemlocks, and other classics. Molded tips are typically crafted from polyethylene; most polyethylene tipped trees have PVC needles mixed in toward the trunk, for an overall fuller appearance.

Pre-applied branch treatments add extra character to your tree, even before you add your favorite ornaments. Trees featuring hand-applied pinecones and berries bring the outdoors in. Snowy and flocked trees, coated with artificial snow and often crafted from PVC, create delightful vintage displays. Keep in mind, flocked trees aren’t often suitable for outdoor use, unless clearly noted.

Lights AND Stands

One of the many advantages of decorating with an artificial tree is that they are often pre-lit with professionally installed lights—just assemble the tree, plug it in, and you’re ready to decorate. Most pre-lit Christmas trees feature hand-wrapped clear or multi-colored mini lights; in some cases you can select from incandescent or LED bulbs. Look for trees with continuous-on or always-lit lights, so that when one bulb burns out, the rest continue to shine brightly. If you prefer to wrap your own lights or enjoy a different style of bulb, a general rule is 100 incandescent lights per foot of the tree’s height, a little less if you use strings of LEDs.

Advancements in artificial trees include everything from easy assembly and impressive construction—with steel trunks and wire-reinforced tips—to a variety of exceptional details and controls. You may want to add realistic bark details to your list of must-have features. Or perhaps a remote control for turning lights on and off. Look for Pro Shape technology that takes your tree from storage to setup in minutes, thanks to stainless steel memory-wire tips and hinged branches that spring into perfect shape without hours of adjusting.

Now you’re ready to decorate

The tree is up, the lights are on, and hot cocoa is simmering on the stovetop—it’s time to turn on the Christmas carols and get out the ornaments to fill the boughs. You’ve picked the right style, size, and features for your space—even Mother Nature is impressed.

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