Live Christmas trees fill the air with the scent of pine needles and, depending on where you shop, buying them often supports local family-owned farms. Live Christmas trees also fill the floor with pine needles, creating a mess that’s not fun to clean up. If you’re looking to avoid the hassle, mess and cost of buying a new one every year, reusable artificial Christmas trees may be a better option. If cared for properly, they can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, said Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, an industry group that represents artificial tree makers. And since buying an artificial Christmas tree is a long-term investment, it’s important to purchase one you love.
SKIP AHEAD Highly-rated unlit artificial Christmas trees | Highly-rated pre-lit artificial Christmas trees | How long do artificial Christmas trees last? | The environmental impact of artificial versus live Christmas trees
For those who don’t want to deal with a real tree this season or in the years ahead, we talked to experts about how to shop for artificial Christmas trees — including tips for buying them — and rounded up some highly rated options based on their advice. We also asked experts about the environmental impact of Christmas trees, and what those with allergies and pets specifically should be aware of before they buy one.
How to shop for an artificial Christmas tree
Since Christmas trees become part of your home decor for weeks (or months, depending on when you put yours up), purchasing one is largely about your personal style preferences. You’ll want to consider the following factors:
- Size: Artificial Christmas trees come in a variety of sizes — some are over 12-feet tall, while others are smaller, allowing you to put them on tabletops. Before you purchase a tree, decide where you want to put it and what size would work best for that area.
- Color: Some people want to find the most realistic looking artificial tree possible and opt for green varieties. Others, however, take a non-traditional route and purchase trees in neon colors, white, black and other shades. Some trees even come sparkly or patterned.
- Fullness:The fullness of artificial Christmas trees are determined by the amount of branches and branch tips it's built with, experts told us. While shopping online, look on product pages for the tip count of each tree, which can help you determine how full it is. A higher tip count typically makes for a fuller tree.
- Non-lit versus pre-lit: Many artificial Christmas trees come pre-lit — they’re either designed with a plug-in attachment or are battery operated. But some prefer to add their own lights to the tree, while others don’t want lights at all. If so, a non-lit model may be preferable.
- Storage and set-up: Artificial Christmas trees need to be assembled and disassembled each year, so you’ll want an option that makes that process as easy as possible. Plus, you’ll want to make sure you have appropriate storage room before you buy one: While you may be able to display a 12-foot tree in your living room during the holidays, your closet may not be able to accommodate that same size, even once it’s disassembled.
Highly rated artificial Christmas trees to shop now
Since artificial Christmas trees last for years, you want to purchase a high-quality model, Warner said. If you’re shopping online, she recommended using customer reviews and ratings to learn more about peoples’ experiences with the tree, and looking through all the images a seller or customers provide.
Below, we rounded up highly rated artificial Christmas trees based on expert guidance. We made sure to include options across price points, size and style, and separated non-lit and pre-lit options so you can easily find what you’re looking for. To help you determine how full each tree is, we noted trees’ tip count (meaning branch tips) if provided by the brand.
Once you get your tree, Warned recommended taking it out of the box and checking to make sure nothing is broken and that its base is level and sturdy. If it’s pre-lit, turn it on to check for any unlit bulbs, and fluff the tree’s branches until it's a shape you like.
Unlit artificial Christmas trees
- 4.6-star average rating from 12,940 reviews on Amazon
Available in 6-foot, 7 1/2-foot and 9-foot models, this Spruce-like tree has a built-in foldable base and a full shape. The 6-foot tree has 798 tips, the 7.5-foot has 1,346 tips and the 9-foot tree has 2,028 tips.
- 4.4-star average rating from 2,325 reviews on Amazon
Wondershop’s artificial tree stands 5 ½ feet tall and has 1,085 branch tips. The balsam-style tree comes with a four leg metal tree stand. While this tree is unlit, you can also purchase a model with multi-color lights.
- 4.4-star average rating from 2,325 reviews on Amazon
For those looking to display an artificial Christmas on a mantle or tabletop, the National Tree Company offers a 2-foot option with 71 branch tips. The fir-style tree comes with a red burlap base.
Pre-lit artificial Christmas trees
- 4.6-star average rating from 1,178 reviews at Michael’s
Ashland's 7-foot tree has a slim pencil shape and 397 tips, the brand says. It comes with 210 clear, replaceable lights, as well as a removable metal stand.
- 4.4-star average rating from 977 reviews at Home Depot
You can purchase this full Christmas tree in three heights: 6 1/2 feet (1,838 tips), 10 feet (5,090 tips) or 12 feet (7,794 tips). It comes pre-lit and its bulbs illuminate the tree with your choice of white or clear light. Replacement bulbs are included with the tree.
- 4.6-star average rating from 9,457 reviews at Wayfair
Three Posts’ artificial fir Christmas tree comes in multiple heights: 4 ½ feet (398 tips), 5 feet (488 tips), 6 feet (680 tips), 6.6 feet (818 tips), 7 feet (1,098 tips), 7.6 feet (tips not specified) and 9 feet (2,128 tips). They’re all pre-lit with white lights and come with a metal stand. Extra bulbs are included with these trees.
- 4.5-star average rating from 347 reviews on Balsam Hill
If you’re looking for a slim tree that won’t take up too much space, this option from Balsam Hill is designed with tight spaces in mind, the brand says. It’s prelit with clean LED fairy lights and available in six heights: 4 ½ feet (448 tips), 6 ½ feet (1,088 tips), 7 ½ feet (1,368 tips), 9 feet (2,592 tips), 10 feet (3,544 tips) and 12 feet (5,986 tips). Sparse by design, this balsam-style tree’s faux trunk is visible through the branches and the tree’s foliage is frosted to mimic snow. The tree comes with extra bulbs.
- 4.6-star average rating from 1,143 reviews on Joss & Main
You could add a bit of sparkle to your holiday decor with this white Joss & Main artificial Christmas tree that has glitter on its foliage. It comes with clear white lights and a foldable base, and is available in four sizes: 4 ½ feet, 6 ½ feet, 7 feet and 7 ½ feet (tip count not specified). Joss & Main says the tree resembles a Fir variety.
How long do artificial Christmas trees last? What’s the best way to store them?
Artificial trees are used for an average of ten years, but most are guaranteed for twenty years if cared for properly, Warner said. To store your tree, Warner recommended keeping it in a box or bag to prevent dust and dirt from accumulating, and to protect the branches and foliage. It’s also important to store your tree in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight — strong sunlight could lead to discoloration over time. Additionally, Warner said storing your tree with a container of baking soda or unused coffee grounds — which can absorb odors — may help keep it smelling fresh.
Artificial vs live Christmas trees: Their environmental impact
Any way you look at it, “the impact of a real or artificial tree on the environment is negligible,” said Bert Cregg, a professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Horticulture and an expert in Christmas tree production. “Both of these have next to no impact when you look at it compared to what most people do in the rest of their lives.”
But because artificial Christmas trees can be reused for years, you might think they’re more eco-friendly than live trees that are disposed of after the holiday season. Since artificial Christmas trees are largely made from plastic and can end up in landfills when they’re trashed, however, the issue has been debated. And many studies have been conducted around the topic, including some commissioned by the American Christmas Tree Association.
If you are concerned about sustainability in regards to your Christmas tree selection, Cregg recommended buying a live tree from a locally owned family farm or reusing an artificial tree as many times as you can before purchasing a new one. You can also often buy artificial trees secondhand. Warner noted that if you plan to replace your artificial tree while it’s still in good condition, you should try to donate it rather than throw it away.
Are artificial Christmas trees better for those with allergies?
For those who suffer from certain allergies, bringing a live Christmas tree into the home during the holiday season can cause irritation, said Dr. Nina Shapiro, a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist at Westside Head and Neck in California. Does this mean that artificial trees are better for those with allergies? Not necessarily: Shapiro said you can have the same reaction to an artificial tree.
“Real or artificial, the allergic reaction may be due to contaminants such as mold, ragweed pollen and dust rather than the tree itself,” said Shapiro. And for artificial trees, she said “the longer the tree stays in the home, the more likely dust and mold develops, making people more susceptible to allergies.”
To help reduce allergic reactions, Shapiro said it’s important to wipe down your tree — real or artificial — with a wet cloth or using a towel and a spray bottle filled with water before setting it up. The same goes for ornaments and lights, as well as other decorations you place around your home.
If you can, clean your tree and other decorations outside your home, which helps prevent dust and other allergens from being released inside. And when it’s time to store your artificial tree, consider investing in a storage bag with a tightly zipped seal to prevent moisture and dust from getting in.
Should you get an artificial Christmas tree if you have pets?
Branches and needles of a live Christmas tree aren’t great for pets. If they eat either of those or drink the water a real tree sits in, pets might experience anything from a mild upset stomach to more severe symptoms like organ failure (which is possible for a pet who ingests plant fertilizer), according to Dr. Zay Satchu, chief veterinary officer and co-founder of Bond Vet. This aligns with guidance we found from the FDA, ASPCA and American Veterinary Medical Association.
Satchu added that pets sometimes see Christmas trees — real or artificial — as toys. They do the same with ornaments, lights, tinsel and other decorations — all of those items can be dangerous if ingested. Satchu recommended consulting ASPCA Animal Poison Control to learn about the potential dangers of seasonal plants and other items before decorating your home, as well as asking your vet for additional guidance before bringing anything new into your home this holiday season.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Jami Warner is the executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association,a non-profit organization and industry trade group that represents those involved in the artificial Christmas tree industry.
- Bert Cregg is a professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Horticulture and an expert in Christmas tree production.
- Dr. Nina Shapiro is a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist at Westside Head and Neck in California. She is the author of “HYPE: A Doctor’s Guide To Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice,” as well as a children’s book, “The Ultimate Kids’ Guide To Being Super Healthy.”
- Dr. Zay Satchu is the chief veterinary officer and co-founder of Bond Vet.