Maybe you find yourself sneezing each time you catch a whiff of a freshly cut pine. Maybe you don’t have the patience to constantly vacuum fallen needles in your living room. Or maybe you simply like the ease of going into your attic, digging through your holiday décor, and emerging with a Christmas tree without ever having to strap a living plant to the top of your car. Whatever the case, an artificial Christmas tree is a popular option—and a sustainable one, if used for several years. However, according to Jessica Clouatre of holiday decorating service Blanc Box, not all faux trees are created equally. She’s come up with a few go-to tips for helping clients choose the tree that is right for them, starting with size.
“Obviously, you have to know how tall your ceiling is,” she says. “Give yourself at least a foot below your ceiling height—you don’t want to mess up your paint, and you want to leave room for any toppers.”
Next, take into account the layout of your tree’s new home. A smaller space or a room with a lot of furniture may require a slimmer tree, whereas bigger or grander spaces may demand a fuller option. Usually, artificial trees will be marketed under the names of their real-world counterparts, from fluffy Fraser firs to sprightly Yukon spruces. All types will likely also be found in a few variations, depending on whether you prefer a green tree or a flocked tree.
“Flocked means that the branches are covered in artificial snow, basically. It’s a powder dusted over the branches and stuck on with a type of glue,” says Clouatre. “Depending on your color scheme, my personal opinion is that decorations always look so pretty and really pop against a white tree.”
Here’s something you may not expect to hear: When selecting an artificial tree, try looking for one that isn’t too fluffy and full, with ample spacing between branches. A too-lush tree won’t leave any room for your ornaments and decorations to shine.
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“If nothing else, try to find a style of branch that has a realistic-looking end,” says Clouatre. “It’s common to see trees with fake-looking middle branches, which works to create some filler and hide the trunk of the tree. But the end of a realistic-looking branch will almost feel like rubber, and will usually be made out of PVC.”
Even more important than the up-close look of the branches? Proper lighting.
“Pre-lit trees are the way to go, because they’re just so much easier to set up,” says Clouatre. “LED lights are very popular, but make sure you look out for warm LEDs when looking for white lights or a more traditional Christmas tree look because sometimes they can have quite a blue, cold look to them. Warm lights will make your room and décor look soft and cozy, especially when you take a picture.”