Purists insist that only live cut trees can provide the holiday charm and magic that lights up the faces of friends and family. Anything else is, well…fake.
But, times have changed. The technology used in manufacturing artificial Christmas trees has advanced lightyears since the first ones were sold by a toilet brush company in the 1930’s. Today’s artificials are designed and constructed from materials that enhance their realism. In fact, some appear so genuine that even the most die-hard Christmas purist would have a difficult time distinguishing them from the real thing.
All Fake Trees Are Not Equal
When beginning your search for the most realistic artificial Christmas tree, there are a few things to keep in mind. A little understanding of the basics of artificial trees will help you select one that will have friends scratching their heads over whether it is real or not.
The first thing to know is not all fake trees are equal. This is probably why the tree purists immediately turn their noses up at the idea of an artificial tree. They certainly remember the older, obviously fake trees made from cheap plastics, dyes and materials. The best of today’s trees are very different.
What to Look For
Today’s artificial trees can be astonishingly lifelike. The primary advancement has been in the materials used to replicate needles. Manufacturers use either polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE). Both have their advantages.
PVC is more durable, holds its colors better and is a bit more fire resistant than PE. Its disadvantage is that the needles are cut flat and are twisted around wires that form the branches decreasing its realism somewhat.
PE trees have molded, rounded needles that replicate the look of a real tree. More natural looking than PVC, they are also more expensive. Many manufacturers use a mix of PE with PVC to fill in branches and give trees a denser, fuller look while holding down costs.
If your perfect tree is full and thick, look for a high branch tip count. Generally, the higher the tip count the denser and more realistic the tree will appear.
Some may prefer thinner trees that are more rustic and sparser. If this is your style, remember that tip count is still important. Opt for a lower count, sparser branches and primitive, rustic look while retaining sufficient tip density to give the tree life-like robustness.
Dense and full, or primitive, in the end, the style you prefer is a matter of personal preference. Keep needle material, tip count and your decorating preferences in mind as you would when shopping for a live tree, then start your search. Here are a few of the most realistic artificial trees to consider.
Top Artificial Christmas Tree to Buy
Highly realistic, the Balsam Hill Fir combines 70% PE needles with 30% PVC. A high branch tip count of 5,768 adds to the Balsam Hill Fir’s astounding density and realism.
Available in 5.5, 6.5, 7.5 and 9-foot sizes the trees can be purchased unlit or with a variety of lighting options including clear lights, LED or multi-colored. The 7.5-foot tree has a base diameter of 70 inches, adding to its fullness and realism. It comes with a limited ten-year tree and foliage warranty, tree stand, storage bag and cotton gloves for handling.
Customers who had always displayed live trees reported that the Balsam Hill Fir was as lifelike as the live trees they had spent money on in the past. They also appreciated the realistic coloring of branches and needles. One reviewer stated that it looked so real they might try to plant it.
Best Realistic Frasier Grande Holiday Tree
National Tree’s proprietary Feel Real® technology combines a high percentage of PE with PVC needles for a true-to-life look. 3,719 tips on the 7.5-foot tree make the National Tree “Feel Real®” Frasier Grande extremely dense and realistic.
The three-piece center pole and hinged branches provide for easy assembly. The 7.5-foot model spreads to a base width of 65 inches.
Customers highly recommended this tree as one of the most realistic artificial trees they had seen. It was described as lush, beautiful and an awesome tree that you have to see for yourself.
Best Looking Pre-Lit Point Pine Tree
The Kurt Adler Point Pine is constructed of PVC materials, reducing costs somewhat and making it attractive to the budget-conscious. With 1,026 branch tips and a 46 in base girth on the 7 foot model, the Point Pine still provides realism and excellent display properties.
It comes with a metal stand. At 25.7 pounds, it is one of the lightest and most maneuverable artificial trees.
In addition to its price, buyers appreciated this tree’s natural appearance calling it “absolutely stunning” saying that fluffing it after assembly enhances its realism. They also found its ease of assembly appealing, which added to the overall value.
Best Real Looking Fake Christmas Tree
The Vickerman Snow-Tipped Pine Berry Tree offers a primitive and rustic style option. Its sparser branches are lightly flocked to simulate a dusting of winter snow. The 6-foot Pine Berry has 532 branch tips and PVC needles.
Its narrower profile is best suited for displays with limited space where realism in an artificial tree is still desired. Weighing only 19.6 pounds, it is light and easier to handle for those with concerns about lifting during tree assembly.
Described by customers as a pretty tree that works well in a smaller room, the Vickerman Pine Berry was also rated highly for the realism of the small cones and berries dispersed throughout the foliage.
The decision to switch to a fake tree may be easier once you have discovered the realism available in today’s artificial Christmas trees.
Armed with a little knowledge, and if you are willing to explore the possibilities, you can find a realistic artificial tree in your price range that will look as good as the real thing.