Real or Fake? Ahhhh…the great Christmas debate. People get passionate on both sides, but because I am “Team Artificial,” I wanted to dedicate a post all about the Artificial Christmas tree and how to make the transition from real to artificial without any regrets. The WHY, WHEN, WHERE, and (most importantly) HOW-TO of artificial Christmas Trees so that you can successfully join “Team Artificial” this season. Read on for my tips and tricks for artificial trees.

Just a quick note before we jump into all things Artificial Trees: some of the links in my posts are affiliate links. This means if you click through and decide to purchase something I’ve recommended, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It’s a simple way to support the blog if you find something you like, and it helps me keep sharing all the festive knowledge with you.

Why Buy an Artificial Christmas Tree?

For me, the number one reason to switch to “Team Artificial” is how long you can have the tree up. You can put it up sooner and leave it up longer than you can a real tree. Considering that I like to decorate for Christmas starting in November and keep it up until the end of January (who am I kidding, February), an artificial tree was a no-brainer. 

How Long Artificial Christmas Trees Last

The longevity of the Artificial Christmas Tree is another significant benefit of an artificial tree. A quality, well-cared-for artificial tree can last 10+ years. Although there is a higher up-front cost when you buy an artificial tree, it will more than pay for itself over the years you use it. Compare that with the cost of a fresh tree that will only last a few weeks before you have to toss it.

How Many Different Colors and Styles There Are

I can’t go without mentioning the endless styles, sizes, and color options available with artificial trees. Choices range from pink trees to black trees to incredibly real-looking trees or snow-covered trees. Trees that are Full, Slim, Pencil trees and 1/2 trees.

Whatever your idea of a “perfect Christmas tree,” there’s most likely an artificial tree out there that matches your vision. And the icing on the cake…they are mess-free, and you don’t have to water them. So, if you are ready to don your “Team Artificial” shirts, read on for my tips and tricks for swapping out a real tree for a fake tree, with everyone being none the wiser.

When to Buy an Artificial Christmas Tree

I don’t care which company you buy your Artificial Christmas Tree from, it will eventually go on sale. So if you can be patient and wait for a sale, that is your best bet. Do your research, and know which tree you want: the look, the size, and the color you want. Wait for the sale and then purchase.

When Do Artificial Christmas Trees Go on Sale

This, of course, can vary from company to company but I have found some of the best sales happen in November, after Christmas in January, and in the spring/summer. If you have your eye on a tree and are willing to wait it out for a good sale just check the website periodically during the year and at these times to hunt a great sale.

Where to Buy Artificial Christmas Trees

I know I’m Captain Obvious here, but it is worth stating…You have to start with a good-quality tree. This doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive tree. You can find a quality tree at a reasonable price by shopping around and waiting for sales.

My advice is to do some research online and get out to see and touch as many artificial trees as you can before you make a choice. Once you settle on the look you want you can then browse online and in-person.

To get things started, check out this great review of artificial trees from The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Artificial Christmas Trees

Here are a few of my favorite places to shop for artificial Trees.

  • Hobby Lobby
  • Michaels
  • Amazon
  • Wayfair
  • National Tree Company
  • Balsam Hill

What is the Best Artificial Christmas Tree

In my opinion, Balsam Hill is the gold standard for an artificial Christmas tree. It’s the “Cadillac of Artificial Christmas Trees”. Is that even a saying anymore? I don’t know but my point is, Balsam Hill Artificial trees look the most realistic. If you are patient and willing to price watch you can catch a great deal.

They offer a branch sample kit so you can get a better idea of the texture and color of different tree types before you buy.

How-to Put Up an Artificial Christmas Tree

Here it is. The HOW-TO of Artificial Christmas trees. The make-or-break moment. The time and effort you spend putting up your artificial tree will make a difference in how good it looks. Some of these steps may seem like “a bit much,” but doing these steps helps the tree look real and extends the life of the tree.

How to Make Your Artificial Christmas Tree Look Fuller and More Realistic

The key to a fuller and more realistic artificial Christmas tree is to FLUFF and SHAPE your artificial Christmas Tree.

To summarize the process, you will fluff and shape your Christmas tree branch, put up a level (staggering the branches), vacuum, and then move on to the next level. But I didn’t start this blog, so I could summarize how I do Christmas. Let’s geek out on how to put up an artificial tree. 

3 Step Process

Start with the bottom level, focusing on one level at a time, and complete all the steps listed below. Once done with that level, you will move to the next level, where you will repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3. On and one you will go until the tree is done.

STEP 1: Shape and Fluff the Branch

Shape and fluff EACH branch on the level you are working. Each and every branch, including the branches in the back. This can take some time, but the final result is a more natural-looking tree.

To shape and fluff each Artificial Tree branch:

  • First, start by straightening out any bent tips that may have happened during storage or setup.
  • Next, you will separate the tips. This is so important in making the tree look full and more natural. Starting at the back of the branch working forward, spread the tips out by pulling some tips up, some down, and some to each side. Do all the branches, even the ones on the backside of the tree. Doing so will help fill out the tree even though you won’t see them all from the front side.
  • Next, give a slight bend to each branch. I like to have a slight U-shaped bend to my branches, but you can also keep them straight if you prefer.
  • Before you move to the next level, use an extra piece of greenery to camouflage metal pieces between levels.
  • Check out my YouTube Video for a how-to shape and fluff branches,

STEP 2: Install The Branches

Put the branches on in a staggered fashion (like N-S-E-W), not in a row. Doing this helps the branches overlap more naturally. Check out my Youtube video below for an example of this.

STEP 3: Start Fresh

After all the branches on that level are installed, vacuum the branches. I realize this might seem a little crazy (I feel crazy when I’m doing it), but it does help you start the season with a clean, dust-free tree. 

Lights For Artificial Christmas Tree: Making It Shine Bright

Pre-lit Christmas Tree vs Un-lit

Pre-lit or not? That’s up to you. But let me share why I prefer to add my own lights.

  1. I don’t have to worry about removing the pre-lit installed lights when the lights stop working on 1/2 of the tree (this has literally happened to me on every single pre-lit tree I own).
  2. They are easier to change out over the years. Using my own lights gives me the flexibility to use any lights if I choose and give me the freedom to change them if I want.

Best Christmas Tree Lights for an Artificial Tree

My go-to, absolute most favorite Christmas Tree lights are Twinkly Lights. These things are amazing. LED lights that are completely customizable. Using their App you can use pre-set designs from the gallery, alter designs from the gallery, or create your very own. You can make a design for each day of the week like I did in the YouTube Video below.

You can even make a design for each day of the week, like I did in the YouTube Video below.

Installing Christmas Tree Lights

How Many Christmas Tree Lights Per Foot

To determine how many light bulbs you need per foot of tree, check out my CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS CALCULATOR HERE.

How To Put Christmas Lights on Your Tree

How to put the lights on the tree could be a whole post on its own. People are passionate about how they light up their trees. There are so many different ways to do it, depending on what you like. I am a fan of this Martha Stewart method and use it on all my trees.

Scent for Artificial Christmas Tree: Getting that Pine Tree Smell

One of the most common reasons I hear people give for why they prefer a real tree over an artificial tree is they like the smell of a pine tree in their house during Christmas. I also love that Christmas tree smell.

Here are a few things you can do to get that smell in your home, even with an artificial tree. 

  • Make a visit to your local tree lot and pick up a fresh wreath. Or, if you don’t want to do a wreath, you could grab a few cuttings and sprigs to attach throughout your tree with green floral wire. Either of those options will bring that beautiful, natural Christmas tree smell to your house.
  • Use essential oils and passive diffusers like this passive diffuser ornament for your tree from Plant Therapy to get that natural Pine tree smell. I could write a whole post on how much I love Plant Therapy, but for now, I will just share the link to the ornament.
  • Use Scented Ornaments. I have used Scentsicles for years and really like them. You don’t need many. For me, I use 1 or 2 on a tree, and a bonus, when you pack the tree with the Scentsicles on it, it smells great when you unpack it the next year.

How To Take Down and Store an Artificial Christmas Tree

Taking Down an Artificial Christmas Tree

Start from the top, removing complete levels at a time, and pack them away. Easy Peasy. There really isn’t much to this step except to talk about storage.

Storage for Artificial Christmas Tree

So, let’s talk storage. I like to store my tree in a few large totes. The hard-sided bins put less wear and tear on the tree. It protects the branches, keeps it dust-free, and allows for easier storage because you can stack the bins. 

Another storage option is a tree bag (which frankly just sounds bad); however, I don’t feel like they do a good job keeping the branches from getting beat up. I have a few of my smaller trees in tree bags, and they definitely take more wear and tear. Also, they are awkward to store. My suggestion is…DITCH THE BAG and use bins. 

Something like this Sterilite 45gal Latching Storage Tote works great. It closes securely and has wheels to move around easily.

Well, there it is—the why, when, where, and how of the artificial tree. Be you a newbie or an old pro; I hope you found something helpful. If you have any fantastic tips for your artificial tree and would like to share, I would love to hear them.

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