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Christmas Tree Buying Guide

June 8, 2016
by Melissa Ford
Home Decor Specialist

When choosing the right Christmas tree for your space, a little planning goes a long way. Whether your tree is the focal point of a room or an accent piece in your decor scheme, picking the right tree for your home can make all the difference to your holiday design.

How to Pick a Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree is the quintessential icon of the holiday season, but shopping for the right tree can be overwhelming. From height and shape to style and material, picking a tree to suit your space requires a bit of preparation. The construction and design of faux trees have come a long way over the years. Now more lifelike than ever, artificial Christmas trees are a great alternative if allergies or maintenance discourage you from purchasing a live one. Whether you're looking for the nostalgia of a live tree or the convenience and versatility of an artificial one, here are a few basics to keep in mind before you hit the Christmas aisle.

Christmas Tree Height

Three different Christmas trees in holiday decorated living rooms, all three Christmas trees are different heights as well
Three different Christmas trees in holiday decorated living rooms, all three Christmas trees are different heights as well
Three different Christmas trees in holiday decorated living rooms, all three Christmas trees are different heights as well

Popular Christmas Tree Heights

Small four foot artificial christmas tree with lights

2- to 4-Foot Trees

Ideal for small spaces and tabletop displays, 2- to 4-foot trees are light enough to be placed on elevated surfaces yet sturdy enough to be set on the floor. From bedroom to kitchen, these petite, tabletop Christmas trees are a simple solution for decorating in limited spaces.

Artificial seven foot Christmas tree with lights

5- to 7-Foot Trees

Medium-height trees are the most versatile option when it comes to decorating for homes with low to average ceiling heights of 7- to 8-feet. Six-foot trees are especially suitable for apartments and homes with lower ceilings or limited floor space.

Eight foot artificial Christmas tree with lights

7 1/2- to 8-Foot Trees

If your ceilings are in the 8- to 9-foot range, consider a larger tree to complement your space. Trees that are 7- to 8-feet tall keep a larger room balanced and have more decorative space to display all of your favorite ornaments.

Twelve foot artifical Christmas tree

8-Foot and Taller Trees

Trees taller than 8 feet are ideal for rooms with vaulted ceilings or ceilings above 9 feet. A taller tree will also have a larger circumference (unless you choose a pencil-style tree), so keep your furniture and decor in mind when selecting a space to display your tree.

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Christmas Tree Shapes

Two Rustic-styled bedrooms

Popular Christmas Tree Shapes

Extra full artificial Christmas tree with lights

Extra-Full

An extra-full Christmas tree makes a grand statement in your holiday home. With a greater circumference and fuller branches, this lifelike tree is well-suited for larger rooms with ample floor space.

Full artificial Christmas tree with lights

Full

As the most common variety, a full or medium evergreen tree features a classic cone shape and full branches. This tree size is suitable for most homes and offers a traditional look that complements nearly any design style.

Slender artificial Christmas tree with lights

Slender

Slender, or pencil, trees are a versatile option if floor space is an issue for you. A skinny tree is also more budget-friendly, as it requires fewer ornaments and decorations. To achieve a more modern aesthetic, consider a slender Christmas tree.

Sparse artificial Christmas tree with lights

Sparse

Sparse trees are a minimalist alternative to the fuller style of traditional evergreens. Bare, crooked branches adorned with simple lights and a few ornaments will give your space a contemporary, Nordic look.

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Christmas Tree Styles

Close up of a flocked Christmas tree with ornaments on it. Also, three other types of Christmas trees, a colored tree, a flocked tree, and a pre-lit tree
Close up of a flocked Christmas tree with ornaments on it. Also, three other types of Christmas trees, a colored tree, a flocked tree, and a pre-lit tree

Popular Christmas Tree Styles

Pre-lit artificial Christmas tree

Pre-lit Christmas Tree

Pre-lit Christmas trees are an excellent, hassle-free alternative to traditional unlit trees. Available in a variety of colorful light options, pre-lit trees make for easy assembly and breakdown, plus they remove the frustration of having to untangle lights every year. Keep in mind that pre-lit trees feature string lights that are secured to the branches which will limit your options if you like to change-up the style of lights every year.

Upside-down artifical Christmas tree

Upside-down Christmas Tree

If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, an inverted Christmas tree is just the ticket. Not only are these stunning trees visually striking but they are also ideal for smaller spaces. The narrower base keeps more floor space available while the bulk of the tree is suspended. Decorate upside-down trees with larger ornaments to create better visual appeal, as smaller ornaments may get lost in the hanging branches.

Flocked artificial Christmas tree

Flocked Christmas Tree

Flocked Christmas trees bring the beauty of the outdoors in with glittering branches kissed with snow. This whimsical style offers a neutral palette that complements a range of decor tastes. Whether you're decking out a rustic lodge or styling a charming cottage, a flocked Christmas tree is a simple way to infuse your space with seasonal flair.

Sky blue artifical Christmas tree

Colored Christmas Tree

Go bold with a nontraditional tree designed to make a statement. From hot pink to piercing blue, colorful artificial trees are the perfect complement to contemporary holiday decor. If you like to think outside the box, a colored tree is a simple way to achieve a quirky aesthetic bursting with holiday charm. Keep the mood festive yet playful with a unique tree that boasts your taste for the unconventional.

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Christmas Tree Materials

Slender artificial Christmas tree with lights

Popular Christmas Tree Materials

Real Christmas tree in a Christmas tree stand

Freshly Cut

If you love the smell of fresh pine and enjoy the beauty live plants bring to your home, then consider purchasing a fresh evergreen tree. But before you hit the tree lot, there are a few things to keep in mind. Look for trees with soft needles, which will ensure a longer lasting tree. Also keep in mind that your live tree will need to be watered regularly. If you like a heavily decorated tree, look for one with enough branches to support all of your ornaments.

Artifical PVC Christmas tree

PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

PVC is the standard when it comes to traditional tree manufacturing. Traditional faux trees feature bristly boughs that are either attached to the tree with a hinge or are manually placed with a hook. Compressed PVC is cut into strips and twisted with wire to create the furry branches of a classic evergreen tree. When viewed up close, the needles have a rectangular shape and are fairly soft to the touch. Though PVC trees tend to look more artificial than other varieties, they are the most popular, budget-friendly option.

Artificial PE (polyethylene) Christmas tree

PE (polyethylene)

As artificial Christmas trees become increasingly popular, manufacturers have turned to other methods to achieve a more lifelike aesthetic. Trees made with PE feature 3D needles that offer a realistic look and feel. Unlike PVC trees, PE varieties are made using an injection method where needles are molded into shape to create a more authentic appearance. While PE trees tend to be on the pricier end of the spectrum, they offer the most realistic look.

Green feathered Christmas tree

Other Materials

For a truly avant-garde aesthetic, consider a tree made of non-traditional materials like feathers, tinsel, fabric, metal, or resin. These decorative trees offer a festive touch while maintaining a chic look that complements your existing decor. If you don't want to sacrifice the style of your interior to decorate for the holidays, consider a tree made of alternative materials to add a hint of Christmas charm to your living space.

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Melissa Ford
by Melissa Ford
Home Decor Specialist

When she's not decking her halls with all-things Christmas, Melissa enjoys decorating her space with unique curiosities and artisanal finds. Along with her passion for cooking, spoiling her cat, and getting lost in a good book, Melissa finds pleasure in hosting dinner parties and entertaining family and friends.