Nothing signals Christmas is here quite like the tradition of decorating the tree.Whether real or faux, the experience of putting up the tree is a magical one for many an excitable family.
As lovely as the real thing looks and smells, thanks to central heating, the winter home is often not a welcome environment for a real tree. And with lots of us putting decorations up in early December or even November these days, a real tree is tested to extremes –how is it expected to last the duration?
Let’s spare the real trees and go faux for Christmas from here on in. Forget vacuuming up pine needles every day, it’s far easier with an artificial with tree. With so many great realistic designs, that can last you for many years to come, we think it’s all the better to fake it.
Here at Ideal Home HQ, we have rounded up and tested all the best new artificial tree designs for 2020, alongside a few reigning best-sellers. All are hoping to be the tree of choice for your home for this and many Christmases to come.
Whatever your style, we’ve got it covered with our pick of the best artificial Christmas trees for 2020.
How we test our artificial Christmas trees
We’ve quite simply assembled each and every one of the trees below. We’ve then looked at the quality and durability, getting hands-on for the best results.
Like little elves we’ve been unboxing and packing away the trees to test how easy they are to assemble and store.
To test the branches and explore how well they withstand all manner of decorations, we’ve hung the heaviest hanging baubles and ornaments and observed what we’ve calling ‘the droop factor’. We’ve also placed tree toppers on each and every one to see if they fit properly. And we’ve been testing the topple-factor by pulling at the decorations, mimicking what excited children or curious pets might do!
We’ve had our noses on red alert to detect if any of the trees carry an unwanted scent. It’s safe to say we know a thing or two about artificial trees so fear not, this lot have been in good hands to ensure we’ve found the best.
As a general rule of thumb it’s best to have at least six inches between the top of your tree and the ceiling – remembering to allow for a topper. Contending for that accolade is the fabulously ‘French Navy’ tree from John Lewis & Partners; the ingenious half tree from Dunelm and the quirky space-saving tree from Argos – all well worthy designs with a difference.
Best artificial Christmas trees 2020
1. Balsam Hill Vermont White Spruce Flip Tree – best pre-lit artificial Christmas tree
This tree is simply stunning. It’s SO well lit it could happily reside in the lobby of a 5-star hotel. It’s not cheap at all, but it is in a completely different league.
Balsam Hill are the crème de la crème in the world of artificial Christmas trees. The much-loved tree experts have expanded their range of artisan-designed, highly realistic Christmas trees to more than 250 beautiful designs!
An exciting new addition, for 2019, to the extension range is the Flip Tree, which guarantees a super easy set up thanks to an innovative flip design which eliminates the need to lift heavy sections.
This smart tree took under a minute to assemble! The base, on wheels for added easy, has a foot pedal that you press then simply flip the bottom half over, into place. The top part is in one section, this slots into the base with easy. Fix the brakes once it’s in position, so it can’t be moved and plug in the lights.
Founder, Thomas Harman, was inspired to start Balsam Hill by a family member who was allergic to live trees. He struggled to find a true-to-life, premium quality, artificial Christmas tree. So he decided to create his own.
The meticulously hand-craft tree is made using Balsam Hill’s exclusive True Needle technology, beautifully replicating nature, including asymmetrical branches, subtle colour changes, and lifelike texture.
The tree is pre-lit, and the coverage is superb – plus they are on a remote control to adjust the light colour. This magnificent tree is dressed with 850 warm white LED lights – that’s enough to channel National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation vibes!
Being such a premium tree, as you might expect, it comes complete with a repair kit, a spare set of lights, bulbs, heavy-duty canvas storage bags for both sections and even gloves to protect hands from prickly branches during assembly!
This tree is covered by a 3-year warranty, which covers quality of tree frame; foliage; hinges and stand. Plus repair or replacement of lights.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Dimensions: H198cm x Dia137cm
2. Wilko Mixed Cones and Berries Artificial Tree – best 6ft artificial Christmas tree and best budget artificial Christmas tree
We were left pleasantly surprised by this tree, particularly given its bargain price. The rustic-style 6ft Christmas tree is pre-decorated with cones and berries, making it suitably well-dressed as it stands.
Once assembled it’s sturdy enough to withstand a gentle push and not falter. The main bulk of branches are classic faux needles, soft and flat PVC needles that look more tinsel-like than pine needles. Those are mixed with at least three on each that branch that feel more bristle-like – offering an element of realism. The natural green branches feature a light dusting of snow, for a gentle frosted look – rather than a blizzard.
Pine cones and red berries sprigs are evenly distributed throughout the whole tree. These are neatly attached with a fine wire, making them sit comfortably. The branches need separating and fluffing slightly to take them to their full potential.
No elements shed from this tree, meaning it required no clean up. This is an easy tree if you want style on a budget. Thanks to the foliage decorations you could even leave it as it is, if it suited. One set of lights felt adequate enough to dress this charmingly understated tree.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out 5 stars
Dimensions: H182.9cm x Dia109cm
3. The White Company pre-lit 1.5ft tree – best artificial Christmas tree in a pot
This mini but marvellous tree is the newest addition to The White Company tree collection for 2019. This tree is small but mighty. Compact in size, but characterful enough to enter into the spirit of the season. This mini potted tree is perfect if you’re not really a fan of having a Christmas tree. And added bonus, it’s not just for Christmas – you could this one out all year round if you so wished.
The slender branches are thoroughly realistic to both sight and touch. Even the base around the bottom of the tree is covered in a life-like moss earth-effect covering, adding to the realism. While the branches would support larger decorations they look a bit out of character, because the tree is so small. We’d recommend dressing with miniature baubles if you wish to add colour. But in all honesty, this tree is magical enough as it is.
Arriving complete, ready to pop straight onto a surface for display – this tree could not be more convenient. The pre-lit 1.5ft tree stands in a decorative willow basket, with a switch to control the lights neatly hidden in a compartment located in the base. The warm fairy lights, on an undetectable green wire, evenly distributed from top to bottom for a perfect finish. There are three settings for the lights On, Off and Timer.
Ideal for a hallway console, coffee table or even a dining table as a festive centrepiece.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Dimensions: H46cm x Dia37cm
4. Next Forest Pine Slim – best slim artificial Christmas tree
This is a fabulous design if you’re looking for a space-saving solution to Christmas decorating. This slimline tree proved far more impressive than we anticipated. Who knew such a small tree (in terms of space it takes up) could make such a big impressive. Consisting of just two sections, it’s easier than any other tree (apart from the ultimate flip tree that is)
The slender tree is surprisingly dense with spruce thanks to its 340 tips, so by no means are you short changed by having less tree. The branches feel imitation fir, but the deep saturated forest green helps to give the overall feel of a real tree.
Our Next Christmas tree was fairly steady on its feet, so to speak, you could have this in a heavy footfall area of the house – such as a hallway or kitchen-diner – no problem.
The tree comes in two sections, which join together with ease. It also features an instant lock stand, meaning there are no bolts to be lost over the years.
You do have the tease all the branches down into place, but this doesn’t take too long given how short they are. Being short in length keeps the branches feeling more on the sturdy side.
The branches supported all weight of decorations with ease, only dropping slightly at the ends – as you’d expect from even a real tree. The top was supportive of a tree topper, but as with so many we folded it down slightly to give extra support and structure.
Thanks to the slim aesthetic this tree only require one set of lights, which were easy to wrap around the tree without having to even move from the spot.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Dimensions: H180 by 58cm diameter
Buy now: Lit Snowy Christmas Tree, £75, Next
5. Christmas Tree World Half Tree – best half artificial Christmas tree
We’ve found the ultimate tree for those on a budget and with smaller spaces! Half the tree and over half the budget, this tree is a complete steal.
Where full-sized would be overwhelming, this quirky half-tree design is perfect. Who really needs to see the back of the tree anyway? It’s always the worst baubles that get hung round the back of a full-sized spruce.
The plush artificial green foliage is far more realistic looking than we anticipated. It’s an attractive deep fir green, so in many respects it wins in the style stakes.
The slender design simply slots together with easy. The branches need pulling into place, which we’d recommend doing once it’s in place against the wall. It will sit flush, unless you have skirting boards (as we did), which makes it sit slightly forwards. You could weigh down the base but given it’s essentially rested against a wall it’s unlikely the tree will waver.
You only really need to see the front and offer a place under which to store presents, making this half tree excellent for both budget and space-saving. No wasted floor space or wasted decorations, plus half the tree means half the price – what’s not to love? It’s weird but totally wonderful when you think about it.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Dimensions: H180 x W82cm
6. Dobbies 6ft Ullswater – best frosted artificial Christmas tree
This tall attractive tree is the garden centre’s best-seller, year in year out. So we put it to the test to see just why.
On first impressions it’s a stunning tree. It feels fresh from a woodland scene, thanks to its gentle frosting of snow and thoroughly realistic fir-tree pine cones. The three sections slot together with ease, with the hinged branches falling into place nicely. We did find the individual branches were tightly bound and required a fair amount of effort to tweak into place. This caused a generous amount of snow loss during the process, so just be prepared to vacuum up the snow.
Once the branches were in place the tree felt sturdy on its feet, passing the gentle push test no problem. The bristly branches supported heavier decorations with ease. We’d recommend using block colours, so the decorations don’t get lost amongst the light dusting of snow.
Given how tightly the branches arrived, it took a length of time to tease them back into place to pack away in the box. We’re not saying this distracts from the tree’s attractive greatness, it’s just worth bearing in mind.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
7. Argos Parasol tree – best tall artificial Christmas tree
Quirky tall trees are popping up all over the place at the moment! We can totally see why they have become popular, as a clever solution for pet owners wanting a Christmas tree.
The tall tree comes with two poles, with one branch filled section for the top – the parasol if you will. While the base has bolts to keep the main pole in place, the second pole section merely slots in – there is no extra securing element in place. It felt fairly unforgiving when we did the push test, purely because all the weight is is the top section.
The PVC flat bristle branches required minimal tweaking to make them perfectly spaced. The stand pole is tightly wound with a tinsel-like green material.
We used just one set of fairy lights. We avoided using them on the base, as not to draw attention to it, but as demonstrated above it does work well.
While this tree is a brilliant solution to stop pets and young children playing with the decorations, we can’t help but fear the top heavy nature could cause a potential hazard. We’d highly recommend weighing down the base to make it feel more stable and less likely to topple.
If you take these precautions, or don’t have to worry about little ones or pets, then this tree is a fabulous quirky idea to elevate your decor this season.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Dimensions: H182 x diameter 73cm
Buying an artificial Christmas tree – everything you need to know
How do I make my fake Christmas tree smell real?
If you love a real tree larger for it’s glorious scent, fear not because you can emulate the same smell with a touch of trickery. In recent years Scentsicles have become a thing. These magical sticks are soaked in seasonal scents and they cleverly hang from the branches, undetected.
If you want a more subtle hint of scent you can hang pine cones interspersed on the inner branches, attaching them using green gardening twine. A bundle of cinnamon sticks would also do the job if you’re looking for an alternative Christmas scent.
How much should I pay for an artificial Christmas tree?
There’s no real answer to this question. It all depends on what you’re looking for. You can pick up a budget tree under £50, from the likes of IKEA and Dunelm, that will do the job perfectly.
At a mid-range price point many of our high street favourites offer realistic 6ft/7ft trees for prices ranging between £120 to £250.
At the other end of the spectrum you have the likes of Balsam Hill who make the most realistic looking faux trees, but these range from anywhere from £100 up to £1000. It all depends on what kind of investment you wish to make.
Generally speaking, with artificial Christmas tress you generally get what you pay for.
What are pre-lit Christmas trees and should I buy one?
Pre-lit Christmas trees are simply trees that already have lights on. The beauty of buying a tree with the lights already on is firstly the saving – as there’s no need to buy extra lights. Secondly, the placement is a real bonus. As the lights are already evenly distributed throughout the whole tree, it saves you the job of fiddling about and potentially getting in a tangle over the perfect arrangement.
Never underestimate the importance of the lights on a tree, as they can anchor your whole decorating scheme – highlighting well-placed decorations and glinting in all the right places.
What colour artificial Christmas trees are on trend in 2019?
The most popular choice is white as the snow-covered tree dominates retailers this year. But in terms of a new on-trend colour we’d have to say navy is the most fashionable colour for 2019 – it’s the new black tree. As blue paint sales soar, the blue colour choice is no real surprise.
What’s the best way to store an artificial Christmas tree to keep it looking good?
Quite simply, the best way to store the dismantled tree is in the original box to save on excess packaging. However if you have larger storage boxes or containers these are ideal, to make access easier. As long as you keep the branches flat and un-squashed, your tree should last you for years to come. Store in a cool, dry space to preserve the condition.