7 tips for buying the best artificial Christmas tree this season

7:33 p.m Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 Atlanta Life
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
FILE PHOTO: Artificial trees have come a long way from decades ago, when one standing in the corner of a neighbor’s living room could be spotted quickly. Today’s better-made trees look full and you have to get close or even touch it to tell if it is man made.

If you are dreaming of a lovely, needle-free Christmas tree, you are in luck.

Gone are the days of stiff, flimsy, plastic trees. Artificial trees are now more realistic than ever before, and they are growing in popularity.

In fact, about 80 percent of homes will opt for an artificial tree compared to only 20 percent of Americans going for a real, live tree, according to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA).

So how do you find the most authentic tree and get the most bang for your buck? Here are 7 tips for buying a quality faux tree from Jen Sypeck, an Atlanta based trend expert and product development consultant with more than 20 years of experience working with Home Depot, Home Decorators Collection and Pottery Barn.

The consumer website Sweethome.com rated this as the best artificial Christmas tree for price and value.

Does the tree look full? Look at both the tips and branches. If you are looking at a tree in a store, note that sometimes the trees might not be fully fluffed. So if you find a tree that is not to your fullness liking, play around with a few branches to see if, with a little care, you are able to achieve the full look you are going for. Needles made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) look more realistic than those made from plastic, while needles made from PE (polyethylene) are even more life-like.

Making an investment. Just as fake trees can be found in all sizes, they can also be found in all price ranges. The quality of the tree and additional accents will affect the pricing. And there is a vast range depending on size, features and quality. Example, a 7 feet tall, pre-lit PVC tree can range from $99-$1,500. Regardless of budget there is a faux tree out there for you. Depending on your budget, try to invest in the “showcase” tree in the house. In other words, if you are setting up multiple trees throughout your house and need to scale back the budget, spend less on the trees not front and center.

Determine your style. Going with a faux tree gives you lots of options. Are you looking for a traditional just-cut-from-the-farm tree, a snow swept tree, or a glamorous, bold metallic tree, there is a tree to fit your personal decorating style.

Determine the size. You need to consider the clearance for a comfortable walkway in the room where tree will be set up. In addition to the walkway clearance, you also need to be aware of the ceiling height. (Sypeck likes to have at least a 1 foot of space between the top of a tree and the ceiling, and if you have a tree topper you’ll need to factor that into height equation as well) The good news is sky is the limit with faux trees — they come in all shapes and sizes.

RELATED: Your ultimate guide to the holidays, including food, shopping and more in Atlanta.

To Pre-lit or not? It’s a yes for Sypeck. The time during the holidays is precious and seems to always be on the fast forward mode so any chance to simplify and get some time back, she says go for it. Technology has even made its mark on trees. If you want to go back and forth each year on white lights and multi-color lights, don’t fret, there are now trees that have dual lights so you don’t even have to choose one over the other.

If you choose a prelit fake tree, look for one that is labeled “continuous on” or “with burn-out protection.” This means that if a single bulb on the strand burns out, the rest of the lights stay on.

Check the wires. Sypeck always wants wires from the lights and the trunk to be hidden (invisible) making it one of her top considerations on her faux tree buying checklist.

Feel the sturdiness of the tips and branches to ensure they will hold the weight of your ornaments.

For some people, the Christmas tree quandary isn’t about real or artificial - it’s whether to even bother. Lost in the debate is an arguably simpler solution - the makeshift “tree.” If you live in a small, err, quaint apartment, consider giving your indoor plants a merry makeover. 
The rink will open for its third year in Marietta Square’s Glover Park on Nov. 17 The rink is part of the city’s Winter Wonderland celebration Santa’s arrival ceremony and the tree lighting will be Nov. 30 Organizers said that the rink can be reserved for $500 at a maximum of 25 people, and it has to be before regular hours The rink will also be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve
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