Thursday, August 21, 2008

Select an Artificial Christmas Tree with Confidence

Selecting the right artificial Christmas tree for you and your family is an important decision. A good quality artificial tree will be with you for many seasons. It is an investment that becomes the centerpiece of family memories and traditions. There are four main characteristics to consider when selecting an indoor artificial tree: size, shape, branches and lights.

People often look at the height of their ceilings and quickly calculate how tall of a tree they want. As a general rule, your tree should be about 6 to 12 inches shorter than your ceiling height. What many people do not consider is the width of the tree. As artificial trees get taller, their base width increases dramatically in size. You should determine how far into the room or the area that will be dedicated to the tree and take a measurement. Keep this measurement handy and check the base width of the tree as you shop. Trees often come in slender and medium versions so you may still be able to get the height of tree you desire and have it fit into the space.

Take a minute and imagine the ‘perfect’ Christmas tree. Now, think about your holiday decorating style. Do you have a large collection of ornaments that you like to display each year on your tree? Or, do you prefer to have the tree be the center of attention and the ornaments just add a little color? All of this information put together can help you find the right shape tree for your home. Traditional shaped trees are very symmetrical and have a cone or triangular shape. Due to the symmetry, traditional shaped trees are best suited for smaller ornaments and garland. Contemporary shaped trees are ‘ornament trees’. Contemporary shaped trees can offer the same beautiful tree shape overall but with some branch variation that allows for space to hang large and dangling ornaments. Contemporary shaped trees can be purely for displaying ornaments such as the ‘Upside-down’ tree. The Upside-down tree looks like a Christmas tree with the base branches being shorter and the top branches being longest. This allows for ornaments to hang without any branch obstruction.

Closely tied to the shape of the tree is the branch type and color. Heavy gauge wire for the branches is important for your tree to withstand years of use. Traditionally, the tips should be made of either high quality crush resistant PVC or the newer PE (Polyethylene). The trees now made with PE branch tips look more realistic because the branch tips are molded just like real trees out of polyethylene. Most PE trees use a combination of PE branch tips and PVC inner branches to bulk up the tree without exorbitant costs. The branch tips and needles come in varying lengths to give you traditional to rustic looks. Once you decide on the type of branch tip you like most, you can look to the branch tip count provided by the retailer to determine the fullness of the tree. A lower tip count would indicate more space for decorations and ornaments. Color is the final branch characteristic and like the type of tip, there are many different options. Different hues of green, flocking, and theme colored trees are all among your choices. Contemporary trees are now made of wire and/or aluminum to extend the color spectrum beyond various shades of green to metallic shades in every color.

Mini lights are used to light up the pre-lit trees. If you want your tree to really glow, you must consider the type of light strings that are used on the tree along with the number of bulbs on the tree. Commercial grade light strings with locking twist proof sockets will be brighter and will cut down on bulb maintenance. The higher quality light sets will also last longer on your tree. Typically, the more bulbs on the tree, the more light or glow you will get when comparing trees of the same height. There are many options for color in the lighting of your tree. Clear lights, multicolored, themed lighting, and frosted lights are just a few of the options. You should think about your home d├ęcor and tree decorations when deciding on the lights. It is often a matter of aesthetic preference and what you have grown up with throughout the years that decides the coloring of lights. Traditional trees often come in clear or multicolored options while many of the contemporary trees have multiple color options with frosted bulbs as an option. Be sure that the light sets are professionally strung on the tree so that you are not looking at a bunch of wires instead of a beautiful Christmas tree.

All of the options for artificial trees put together will help you determine the tree that best suits your needs. Once you choose your main tree, take a look at some options for additional display or decorative trees in your home. You might just find yourself hooked on decorating for the holidays!