An artificial Christmas tree provides holiday joy without the hassle of having to provide water and vacuum up pine needles every day.
We purchased eight fake Christmas trees and tested them in The Lab for over 16 hours, evaluating ease of setup and storage, appearance, sturdiness, and lighting quality. Our best overall pick, the National Tree Company Feel Real Vienna Fir Tree with LED Lights, has a realistic appearance, pre-strung lights, and a reusable storage container.
Here are the best artificial Christmas trees, complete with pros, cons, and tested tips.
Best Overall: National Tree Company 7 1/2' Feel Real Vienna Fir Tree With 750 Dual Color(R) LED Lights
PowerConnect lighting system
Great instructions for shaping branches
Sections are labeled for easy assembly
Nine light colors and actions
Offered in one size
Parts of assembly require two people
Sections are heavy
After 16 hours of testing, this tree was our clear testing winner for the best overall category. The 7.5-foot pre-lit tree is a classic style that received high scores from our testers across the board, including the incredibly important appearance category.
Like a real tree, this design is on the heavier side, and branches can hang low and wide—it took two of our testers to assemble this one, lowering its score slightly. That being said, we appreciated the comprehensive instructions that explained how best to shape the branches, especially since it required a bit of fluffing when set up.
This tree received high scores for its overall look and lighting. The lighting is designed with PowerConnect technology—a through-the-pole lighting system that reduces the set-up time for the 750 pre-strung Dual Color lights. The lights, which are both warm white and multicolor, are controlled by a foot pedal and have nine different light colors and actions, so you can switch up your decorating style year to year without getting a new tree.
It’s worth mentioning that our testers rated National Tree Company trees highly in general, so even if you don’t want this particular model, other trees from this brand (including a few others on our list) would make a great addition to your home.
Price at time of publish: $686
Best Realistic Artificial Christmas Tree: National Tree Company Feel Real Nordic Spruce
Offered in three sizes
Feel Real branch tip technology
Branches are flexible
No foot-activated on/off switch
One light setting
Leaves look dry
One of the best parts about artificial Christmas trees is that you can find options that look and feel just like the real thing. Take the National Tree Company's Feel Real Nordic Spruce, for example, which earned a perfect score for its realistic appearance.
When it came to both assembly and disassembly, we found it helpful to have another person on hand as the pieces are somewhat heavy. The tree comes with instructions and even links to an online video. We didn’t need to view the video, but we appreciated that the option is there for further assistance if necessary. The instructions recommended that you shape the branches as you go, a tip that came in handy while we assembled. Two testers were also needed to remove the top section of the tree for storage, and it was difficult to put back in its box, earning the tree a lower score for disassembly.
The tree is made with Feel Real branch tip technology; we agreed it was realistic, noting the color and texture of the branches as the main factors, earning this tree a perfect score for appearance.
Throughout the tree, there are 900 pre-strung UL-listed clear lights that add a nice finishing touch. The lights only have one setting and don’t include an on/off foot switch like some of the other options. Keep this in mind if you consider that an important element for a tree.
Price at time of publish: $850
Best Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree: National Tree Company Artificial Downswept Douglas Fir Christmas
Branches were easy to fluff
Comprehensive assembly instructions
Includes foot-activated switch for lighting
Ten light colors and actions
Pieces are heavy
Lights need to be connected throughout the tree
Large pieces are hard to store
If your top priority is the appearance of your tree, consider one like a real Douglas Fir. This one scored high (five out of five) because it looks like the real thing. Another wow factor is the tree's lights, which have a foot pedal to make it easy to turn them on and off. There are also ten colors and actions (think: blinking and fading) to change the scheme based on your holiday style.
Don’t worry if this is your first time assembling an artificial tree; the instructions in the box were very comprehensive and gave good tips on how to fluff effectively. However, connecting the lights took our tester some time. The 7.5-foot option was a little heavy for a solo setup, so we recommend having another person on hand. Setup clocked in at over seven minutes due to how much the tree weighed.
One of our other favorite features that stood out from the other 12 trees we tested was how the branches unfurled. They moved in many directions, and it was very easy to fluff them up to their “real-life” look. Many of the other options needed elbow grease to pull the branches apart to their desired shape.
The major downside was the disassembly of the tree, which scored a two out of five. Because this tree was so full and heavy, it required two people to stuff it back into its box.
Price at time of publish: $559
Best Decorated Artificial Christmas Tree: Home Accents Holiday Westwood Pre-lit Artificial Christmas Tree
Easy to assemble and disassemble
Multiple types of greenery
Foot-activated on/off switch
Didn’t include instructions
Pieces aren’t labeled for assembly
Assembly may require two people
Fluffing can be time consuming
If you don’t have a collection of ornaments or just don’t have the time to decorate, a pre-decorated tree, like the Home Accents Holiday Westwood White Fir Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree, is a great option.
During testing, we appreciated how easy it was to assemble and disassemble the tree; it felt effortless and was done in minutes. Though the tree earned a score of three out of five for appearance, the pine cones, faux berries, variated greenery, and dispersed lighting were a welcomed addition.
The tree includes 650 micro fairy LED lights that add to the festive look of the tree. The lighting earned a score of three out of five, as you’ll need to ensure that the arrows on the connecting pieces line up—otherwise, the tree won’t correctly illuminate. Since there were no instructions included, it’s easy to miss that detail, which can extend the time you spend on assembly. Activating the lighting by the foot pedal is easy to control once set up.
Compared to the other trees tested, we noticed this design had a slim profile, making it ideal for apartments and smaller spaces. One downside is that it didn’t feel very stable overall, so make sure it’s secure on a flat surface once you set it up.
Editor's Note: Due to high demand, this tree is currently out of stock. Until then, we recommend checking out another highly-rated tree from the same brand known for its realistic features, the National Tree Company Feel Real Nordic Spruce.
Best Flocked Artificial Christmas Tree: Puleo Pre-lit Incandescent Aspen Green Fir
Decorated with faux snow
Lighting was difficult to assemble
Branches nearest trunk vary a bit from outer branches.
With Puleo’s Flocked Aspen Fir Pre-Lit Christmas Tree, you get realistic flocking that’ll make your home a winter wonderland. Assembly and disassembly both received high scores as we found it was fairly easy to lift each piece out of the box to assemble and put it back in the box for storage. We faced some challenges with the lighting, however, which had to be connected between each section throughout the tree. We were able to troubleshoot it, thanks to a 16-page packet of instructions. When disassembling, be sure to disconnect each wire before pulling the section out to avoid damage.
Once set up, we liked the look of the flocking but noticed the faux snow did shed quite a bit—something to keep in mind when choosing a tree. Overall, it wasn’t the fullest-looking tree, and the lighting could have been brighter, but the realistic-looking faux snow was enough to make up for that.
Editor's Note: This tree is currently out of stock. For a similar style, we recommend considering the Balsam Hill 7.5-Foot Frosted Fraser Fir.
Best Unlit Artificial Christmas Tree: Puleo International 7-Foot Un-Lit Fraser Fir Artificial Christmas Tree
Has a lot of branches
Requires a lot of fluffing
If you’re looking for a more minimal tree that you can make your own, the Puleo Fraser Fir Un-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree is a great option. The simple tree is free of any lighting or decor, so you can decorate it with your own style—and even change it up year after year.
Assembly for this tree was quick, but the sections felt heavy and required a lot of fluffing before it was ready for display. We also would have appreciated it if the tree came with a set of gloves, as some of the sprigs scratched at the testers’ hands and arms during assembly and disassembly. Though the provided instructions were vague, disassembly was quick as well, earning the tree a perfect score.
Considering the necessary fluffing, it’s not ideal that the branches are somewhat difficult to move, so keep that in mind when you’re designating time for assembly. Nonetheless, we appreciate that this is an option for those who would like to completely customize the look of their tree, including the lights.
Price at time of publish: $178
Best Budget Artificial Christmas Tree: National Tree Company 6.5-Foot Kingswood Fir Hinged Pencil Tree
Easy to assemble and disassemble
May be slightly smaller than expected
If you think holiday decor has to be expensive, allow us to introduce you to the 6.5-foot Kingswood Fir Pencil Christmas Tree. The budget-friendly design is an easy way to bring holiday cheer into your home without breaking the bank.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the tree is how simple it was to assemble and disassemble—we were able to put it together in under two minutes and store the tree in its original box in under three minutes, earning it a five out of five on our scale. Adding lights—which this tree doesn't come with, but some of our tested trees had built-in—will take some additional time, but we think it’s a worthy trade-off if you are looking to save on the cost of a tree.
We scored the appearance four out of five for its slim, sparse design, but given the narrow profile and lower height, we think it would be easy to string your own lights and decor throughout the tree. The lightweight tree, which was a foot shorter than most of the trees we tested, would also be great for entryways and smaller rooms.
Price at time of publish: $85
Out of all of the trees we tested, our favorite was the National Tree Company 7.5-Foot Feel Real Vienna Fir Tree (view at Amazon), which impressed our testers with its detailed instructions, full shape, and smart lighting design. If you’re looking for a simpler tree for your home, we like the National Tree Company 6.5-Foot Kingswood Fir Pencil Tree (view at Bed Bath & Beyond) as our best budget pick. Its slim design and slightly shorter size make it the best choice for smaller spaces, and it comes without built-in lights to keep the price lower.
How We Tested Artificial Christmas Trees
To make this list, members of The Spruce’s editorial team tested 13 artificial Christmas trees at The Lab for ease of assembly and disassembly, appearance, light quality, sturdiness, and storage. For two days, we assembled and disassembled each tree, rearranged the branches, installed lights, and tested the stability of the trees. Then we gave our own numbered ratings for each factor.
To test the ease of assembly and disassembly, we timed how long it took to set up and store each tree and noted everything from the quality of the instructions to how heavy the pieces felt. When considering appearance, we judged the quality of the needles, lights, branches, and trunk to determine if the tree had a lifelike quality. Finally, we used weighted ornaments to determine how strong the branches felt and whether the tree as a whole felt stable enough to hold ornaments. We then selected our top eight trees, based on our own testing results and scores.
What to Look for in an Artificial Christmas Tree
On average, Christmas trees are about 7.5-feet tall. Though many will have a traditional, full look, there are also slim options out there if you’re working with limited floor space. "The standard width is about 48 inches to 54”," says Darin.
Ease of Assembly
Christmas trees typically come in three sections that lock into each other, making them easy to assemble. When choosing a tree, however, check the weight of the tree—if it’s on the heavier side, it may require at least two people and more time to put together.
Lighting can also be a tricky part of the assembly. While some options have to be plugged into an outlet, many require you to connect multiple plugs throughout the tree, a process that may lengthen assembly time.
You also need to factor in the time you’ll spend making the branches look full and minimizing gaps. In our testing, we found this to be time-consuming. However, some trees made the process easier and more comfortable than others. In addition, some trees have stiff branches and needles that can scratch, so we recommend wearing long sleeves and a pair of gardening gloves during setup.
Some trees will offer a simple warm white light with one setting, while others include both white and multicolor lighting with an assortment of settings.
SwayM.E. Vegas Michelle Essix's philosophy is the more lights, the better. "Buying a pre-lit tree that has both colored lights and white lights allows for more versatility in design. Current trees are so advanced that when adding each piece on, it automatically connects the lights so that you are not searching for plugs. It really makes the tree sparkle," she says.
Some trees may have additional features that suit your style. For example, if a tree has lighting, it may also include an on/off foot pedal that makes it easy to control. Other trees may be pre-decorated with ornaments or faux snow for a winter look. All of these upgrades can add to the cost of the tree, so it may not be worth it to you to add them.
What is flocking?
Flocking refers to artificial snow, which is a popular decorative element sometimes added to trees to create the look of a winter scene in your home. While there are options out there that are pre-flocked for your convenience, you can purchase faux snow separately to create a custom look on your tree.
FYI: Darin also shares the flocking can lead to yellowing when placed in direct sunlight, so be sure to pick a shady spot for your flocked tree. Also, flocking can be quite messy!
How long can you keep your Christmas tree up?
"You can have your tree up for four to six weeks and not worry about it drying out," says Darin. "Many people spend hundreds on decorations and on a fresh cut tree can only enjoy them for about two weeks—then the tree is dried out and really should be removed from a home," he says.
But for artificial trees, there are no rules. "You can use the tree for multiple seasons, not just Christmas," says Essix. I had one for Halloween, Easter, and Valentine's."
How do you store an artificial Christmas tree?
Darin advises to store the tree in a cool location, like the basement. "An attic or garage usually is too hot and the tree needles will start to get deformed in the heat," he says.
After you disassemble the tree, you’ll want to press the branches together in each section so they become compact enough to fit back into the box it came in. To make it easier, you can purchase ribbon or rope to hold the branches in place.
Some trees may come with a storage bag, but testers found that the loose structure of a bag can take up a bit more space versus when the tree is stored in a box.
Are all artificial Christmas trees toxic?
Yes, all artificial Christmas trees contain toxins. Almost all trees are made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC and the others are made of less toxic plastics. The chemicals present in PVC are associated with negative health impacts. To limit exposure to these chemicals, leave your brand-new artificial tree outdoors for a few days before bringing it inside so it has a chance to air out some of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
Can you recycle artificial Christmas trees?
Artificial Christmas trees unfortunately cannot be recycled because they are made of PVC plastics. There are some specialty recycling organizations that will take them and repurpose the materials. Your municipality may also offer curbside services to remove your tree, but it will be destined for the landfill.
Another option is to donate your former tree to local charities, hospitals, or thrift stores.
Can you shorten an artficial Christmas tree?
It's not advisable to try to shorten your artificial Christmas tree. Unlike a real tree, artificial trees are not designed to be resized once brought into the home. Many of the trees on this list offer more than one size. We recommend measuring your ceiling height before you purchase your tree, calculating about twelve inches from the top of the tree to account for a standard Christmas tree topper, and finally think outside the box when it comes to decorating.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Jamie Weissman is an associate commerce editor for The Spruce. In addition to writing this list, she was in The Lab during testing, breaking down and comparing trees herself to get first-hand knowledge of how our tests were performed and where each tree excelled. Before testing, we searched through hundreds of artificial Christmas tree options, looking at customer satisfaction, price, and features to determine which trees we would choose to put to the test.