Christmas is just around the corner and sales of trees are apparently rocketing to an all time high. And as much as we love the pine-scented joy of chilly treks around garden centres in a mission to find the perfect tree, it’s hardly surprising that artificial trees are proving more popular than ever.
A decade ago, artificial trees were often cheap, flimsy and unrealistic, destined for landfill long before the subsequent year’s celebrations had begun. But although a recyclable artificial Christmas tree might admittedly be a distant dream (most artificial trees are still made from PVC or PET – the two most common types of plastic), manufacturers are going all out to ensure their trees last much longer than just one festive period, whether it’s with the three-year warranties offered by companies like Balsam Hill, or hinged designs which allow the tree to be stowed away quickly and neatly without damage to its branches.
The best bit? Opting for an artificial tree means no needle drop, minimising the risk of clogged vacuum cleaners, choking cats and green-tinged carpets.
To help you choose, we’ve put together a guide to the best artificial Christmas trees. Our testing was rigorous, with long hours spent analysing the advantages of two-tone needles, testing branch strength with decorations of all shapes and sizes, and tying ourselves in knots with endless lengths of fairy lights.
The outcome? We’re not only feeling prematurely festive but we’ve found 10 of the best options, whether you’re searching for the best Christmas trees for large rooms or hi-tech trees designed for small spaces. Here are the ones which made the cut.
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Balsam Hill Vermont white spruce with candlelight clear LEDs
Ever dreamed of owning the kind of tree seen on Christmas cards – the type which looks too perfect to exist? Then consider this beautiful tree from Balsam Hill, a company known for incredibly realistic (but definitely artificial) trees, modelled on a wide range of types, whether it’s the Saratoga spruce (known for its lush foliage) or the bushy Swiss pine. We loved the sturdy, upward sloping branches on our Vermont spruce, which came in three parts, and the fact that the lights automatically turned on when sections were slotted into place. No detail has been overlooked, whether it’s the packaging (a cracker-like cardboard box with festive red lettering) or the added extras, like the carry case and a tool kit containing spare bulbs, fuses and gloves.
Hayes Garden World 6.5ft pre-lit Kensington fir slim artificial Christmas tree
All too often, slimline Christmas trees are depressingly sparse, with weedy branches which would struggle to support the smallest baubles. Not so with this beautiful pre-lit tree. Although the branches on the upper two layers (the ones on the bottom are hinged) need a little more manual spreading than others featured here, the end result is a beautifully bushy tree which makes a brilliant focal point, without becoming an obstacle. Bonus points for the sturdy stand and attention to detail – even the fairy lights’ wire is covered with needles, and the colour of the trunk (a perfect wood-brown) adds a further dash of realism. Our one gripe? We’d love a slightly longer lead on the lights.
Next 4Ft fibre optic Christmas tree
This is clearly not a tree for traditionalists, but it’s one which stands out from the crowd in the best kind of way. It’s easy to assemble and easy to maintain – fiddly bulbs and scratchy twigs are replaced by soft fibre optic needles and branches which shift through a wide range of colours. It’s a tree which looks fantastic even when it’s turned off, thanks to its slender, snow-white branches, and its design will appeal to anyone with a love of monochrome décor and sleek simplicity.
B&Q 6ft smart natural looking artificial Christmas tree
For all-singing, all-dancing festive fun, consider this hi-tech offering from B&Q. This is a top-quality tree with no aspect overlooked, whether it’s the brilliant base, which quickly locks into place, or the incredibly realistic two-tone needles covering its three parts. We also loved the reduced assembly time, slashed by the presence of hinged branches on both of the lower layers. And then there’s the tech. There are a whopping 300 multi-function LED bulbs, and you can manually scroll between nine settings (the multicoloured fade-out mode was our favourite) or, if you’ve got Google Home or Alexa, you can use voice commands. Which sounds lazy, but when you’re crashed out in a post-turkey stupor, this feature will be a godsend.
The White Company pre-li Christmas tree in willow basket
This pint-sized pine is the ideal way to crank up the Christmas vibes. The reassuringly rugged wicker basket adds a touch of rural chic, and the plump, dark green branches give the impression it’s been plucked straight from a Norwegian forest. The tree’s lights, secured firmly to the branches, are turned on using a switch concealed under the base of the basket. We’re awarding a gold (or should that be Christmas) star for the fact that you’ll need just three AA batteries (because let’s face it, batteries will always be in short supply at this time of year) and the fact that the battery compartment simply flips up, without the need for a screwdriver.
Paperchase 3ft rainbow Christmas tree
Bring a little joy to the world with this unashamedly garish Christmas tree from Paperchase. Ideal for home offices, children’s rooms or simply overlooked corners of the kitchen which need a little love, this is one of our favourite miniature Christmas trees. There are no lights, but then again, they’re not needed – this tree could probably be seen from outer space. Once fanned out, its thick, tinsel-like branches lend an unexpected bushiness, and their thickness means there’s more than enough strength to hold an ornament or two.
M&S 6ft lit slim spruce Christmas tree
Our favourite thing about this artificial spruce? The extra-long lead for the 100 fairy lights – something we’ve realised is a bit of a rarity in the world of pre-lit Christmas trees. The unusually dark green foliage lends an air of sophistication, and we also loved its profile (it’s slimline without being sparse, making it ideal for smaller spaces) and the fact that it came in a sturdy box with a carrying handle – the latter is another feature which is often overlooked.
Wilko 6ft twilight grey spruce artificial Christmas tree
This tree had our favourite packaging – a tough box adorned with festive, snowy images. We had initial concerns that this three-part tree would err on the sparse side, but we were wrong. The branches on the bottom two layers are hinged, and the top section, which requires them to be manually teased into place, is wonderfully bushy without being top heavy. Careful colour placement gives the branches a snow-dusted look, and it’s another tree which uses two-tone needles to enhance realism.
Argos Home 6ft mixed cashmere Christmas tree
Although this tree is one of the wider trees in our round-up, it still seems somewhat sparse in places. On the plus side, its rigid, upturning branches will easily support the chunkiest of decorations, so filling in the gaps won’t be a problem. There’s also plenty of ground clearance, which means plenty of room to pile up the presents beneath its branches. In a nutshell? A pretty Christmas tree which needs a little adornment to reach its full potential.
Very 6ft champagne sparkle Christmas tree
This two-piece Christmas tree offers a burst of festive bling, thanks to its gold-tinged branches (the colour is described as champagne, but we’re definitely sticking with gold). We’d have loved to see a little more foliage – the slightly sparse coverage meant that, in some places, the white plastic underlayer of the branches was exposed – but tactical fanning of the branches makes a huge difference.
The verdict: Artificial Christmas trees
Balsam Hill’s tree is the clear winner. It’s a top quality tree which looks fantastic and has an innovative design (we loved the way the lights turn on when the pieces are slotted into place). And although it’s the most expensive one in our round-up, it’s worth noting that there are countless artificial trees which cost significantly more. Hayes Garden World’s pre-lit tree comes a close second thanks to its sturdy, realistic design, while Next’s 4ft fibre optic Christmas tree is a brilliantly bright option for anyone looking for an alternative to traditional trees without making sacrifices in the style stakes.
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