Which cheap Christmas trees are best?
The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and though it seems like summer was just yesterday, it’s not too early to do some advanced planning, including shopping for a Christmas tree. This year, with the pandemic’s impact on the supply chain of almost every product, early action is even more critical to avoid a last-minute scramble searching for a cheap Christmas tree.
While buying a live tree is often less expensive in the short run, an artificial (or fake) tree will last for several years, making your purchase a better investment in the long run.
Today, an endless number of artificial trees in various styles, shapes and sizes are available, and some of them are so well made they are difficult to distinguish from a live tree.
The HOLIDAY PEAK 7-Foot Pull-Up Poinsettia Christmas Tree is one of those, which makes it a top choice.
What to know before you buy a cheap Christmas tree
Artificial Christmas trees have come a long way since they became popular in the late 1950s. Typically made of aluminum, the early fake trees featured shiny foil needles illuminated with changing colors from below by a rotating color wheel.
Today, fake Christmas trees are available in four basic configurations: bare (without decorations), pre-lit, flocked (covered in “snow”) and fully decorated.
Bare fake trees
The least expensive option, a bare tree, comes with no attached lights or ornaments, and some require assembly depending on the type of branches.
Artificial Christmas trees are usually fitted with one of two types of branches: hooked or hinged. Hooked branches come separated in the box and must be attached when setting up and removed when the tree is taken down. On the other hand, hinged branches are permanently connected to the tree and folded when the tree is disassembled for storage.
Pre-lit fake trees
Although the pre-lit fake tree offers no flexibility for light placement, it eliminates the giant ball of tangled string lights that seems unavoidable when decorating a live tree or bare fake tree. Cleanup is more straightforward, with no lights to remove and pack away for the following year.
High-quality flocked trees are created using a white, powdery mixture to cover the branches. The treatment makes the trees look like they have been outside in winter weather, covered with frost or snow. Avoid the cheap imitation trees with white plastic needles. They provide a poor imitation of a snow-covered tree.
Fully decorated fake trees
Pop-up trees come fully decorated right out of the box. Adorned with attached lights, artwork ribbons, holiday ornaments and other colorful and glittery accents, the trees require no setup, but they occupy more storage space.
What to look for in a quality, affordable Christmas tree
Types of artificial trees
Most artificial trees are made using one of two types of plastic: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE), or both. Each material has benefits and selecting one or the other will depend on your priorities.
A fake Christmas tree made of PVC is fade-resistant and will always remain green. The material is fire-resistant, making it safer than a PE tree and significantly safer than a live tree. However, most PVC trees feature needles wired to the branches giving it an obvious fake appearance.
The needles on a PE tree are formed as an integral part and sculpted to create a thicker, fuller profile and a more authentic look. The PE tree is a good choice if you are looking for a fake tree that looks real.
Some trees may use a combination of materials to give their needles an even more authentic and varied look. Many of the more expensive trees have branches and crush-resistant needles molded from live trees creating the best realistic look and feel.
Style and size
Most fake Christmas trees are made to mimic various live evergreen trees in appearance and shape. The Fraser fir has long been a favorite live tree for the holidays, and its synthetic version is also popular. Others include the Douglas fir, Noble fir, Balsam fir, spruce and pine.
Although various fresh-cut live tree types are sold for holiday use, you are often limited to what is available at your local Christmas tree lot. With artificial trees, the wide range of options makes it easy to find the ideal type to match your overall decorating scheme.
Artificial trees are available in a range of heights, from tabletop size to about 12 feet. When choosing the size, keep in mind the setup required. A bigger tree will take more time to set up and decorate, and it is more challenging to manage, move and store.
Number of attached tips
The number of “attached branch tips” is one of the primary indicators of a quality artificial tree. The best cheap Christmas trees may not have as many tips as the expensive versions but look for one with the highest number available. More tips give the tree a fuller look and help eliminate gaps that expose the tree trunk.
A sturdy stand
Choose a tree with an integral metal stand over one made of plastic. It is stronger, sturdier, easier to manage and will last longer.
Most artificial trees have a life expectancy of about ten years, and some include a warranty. Select one with a storage bag (or use your own). Properly storing your tree will prolong its life and give you years of service.
How much you can expect to spend on a cheap Christmas tree
The more expensive fake trees are made from better quality PE materials, have more branches and feature more lights. However, you can find less expensive models with some of these features starting at about $200.
Cheap Christmas tree FAQ
What makes artificial Christmas trees safer than real trees?
A. Real Christmas trees become highly flammable when they dry out, while fake Christmas trees made from fire retardant materials are less likely to burn.
What percentage of Christmas trees are fake?
A. An estimated 80% of American homes will purchase a Christmas tree this year. Over 60% will put up a fake tree, while roughly 25% will buy a real tree.
What’s the best cheap Christmas tree to buy?
Top cheap fake Christmas tree
What you need to know: This cheap pre-lit Christmas tree comes fully decorated that stands 84 inches high and 34 inches wide is an ideal tree for anyone looking for a traditional appearance without taking up too much floor space.
What you’ll love: The artificial tree made with plastic, metal, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is easy to put up, take down and store in its original box. The poinsettia Christmas tree pops up with all its glittering trimmings in place, including 54 durable plastic ornaments, 250 clear incandescent lights, 54 feet of ribbon, 18 faux poinsettias and one magnificent bow topper.
What you should consider: The tree does not extend to the floor, exposing the base. Some buyers would like multi-colored lights as well as clear.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top fake Christmas tree for the money
What you need to know: The Goplus is a budget fake Christmas tree without lights or decorations that comes in four sections (foldable base and three pieces), allowing for easy assembling, dismantling and storing.
What you’ll love: Hinged branches attached to a thick metal trunk and stand that make it easy to set up and pull down. The blades are made of high-quality PVC, and the 1,346 branch tips give the tree a full and realistic look.
What you should consider: Set up can take over an hour to fluff it up and make it appear natural.
Where to buy: Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This cheap flocked Christmas tree pre-lit with clear/white lights brings winter into any room during the holiday season and reminds viewers of snowy mountains.
What you’ll love: The Pine-emulating artificial Christmas tree comes with 250 incandescent lights and is made with PVC hinged branches. The snow-flocked leaves on the tree that measures just over 6 feet tall are fire retardant, and a foldable stand provides a stable base that will last for years.
What you should consider: The tree arrived with a partial non-functioning section of lights for some buyers.
Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair
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Jeff Harper writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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