Balsam Hill: Our Secrets to Choosing the Perfect Artificial Christmas Tree

All of us at Balsam Hill™ hope your holidays are as pleasant as possible.  To help your search for the perfect Christmas tree, we want to share our secrets for purchasing an artificial tree online.  We hope that this short guide will help you simplify your holidays, and we hope you'll choose to make Balsam Hill™ a part of your Christmas tradition!

Quality Makes All the Difference 

The most important thing in choosing your perfect tree is to ensure that you are purchasing a tree that meets your quality expectations.  Traditionally, tree quality is based on the number and the quality of the tree's "tips."  You also should consider the quality of the tree stand — avoid plastic or cheap metal stands.  Finally, make sure that the construction of your tree is "hinged" and not "hooked" — a "hooked" tree may be less expensive but requires the time-consuming process of individually assembling each branch of the tree.

When buying a tree online, we highly recommend that you look carefully at the photographs of the trees you are considering.  At Balsam Hill™, we always provide "super zoom" photos of the complete trees so you can look at the detail of our quality and craftsmanship.  If you are considering a tree from another source, make sure you can view a high-resolution photograph of the tree to gauge quality.  Many trees look great at low resolution but do not look as good when you see them up close and in person!   

When considering the number of tips, keep in mind that different tree styles may necessitate different tip quantities.  For example, our 7.5' Scotch Pine has 724 tips, while most of our other 7.5' trees have thousands of tips.  This is because the Scotch Pine has very long needles (just like it does in nature), and therefore it has fewer tips — if it had 2000 tips it would look like an overgrown bush.  Since it is virtually impossible to compare specific trees across manufacturers, when buying a tree online, we recommend looking at a close-up photo of the whole tree to see if it looks "full."  Look closely to see if you can see the center pole of the tree — if so, that is a clear warning that it is a very low-quality tree.

When considering the quality of the tips, in general, PE plastic tips such as our exclusive True Needle™ tips are the highest quality, followed by PVC plastic tips.  However, quality can vary dramatically depending on the quality of the materials and coloring.  For example, high quality PVC tips with color and texture variations may provide a more realistic appearance than low quality, single color PE tips.  The best way to judge the tips of a tree is in person or through a close-up photo.  At Balsam Hill™, we provide close-up photos of all of our products; additionally, you can order our Branch Sample Kit to review our quality in person before purchasing a tree.

Lights: Just Right 

Prelit trees are now extremely popular both to save the time and hassle of stringing your own tree and because (high quality) prelit trees do not have unsightly dangling light wires running between branches.  Most manufacturers provide a wide variety of options including clear lights, multicolored lights, and other configurations.  For example, Balsam Hill™ offers its premium Color+Clear™ lights that allow you to change the lights from clear, to multicolor, or both all with a remote control. 

If you are considering a prelit tree, once again you want to judge the quality of the lights by both the number of lights and the quality of the lights.  Many people believe that "the more lights the better."  While some manufacturers may skimp on quality by cutting the number of lights, others may try to pack the tree so full of lights that the glare of the lights hides the poor quality of the tree's construction.  This is similar to buying a mattress: in general, high quality mattresses have more springs than low quality mattresses, but too many springs means you are sleeping on nearly solid metal.  At Balsam Hill™, we carefully craft our trees to have ample lights without going overboard. If you comparison shop, you will likely find that we have many more lights per foot than most other trees; in recent years, it seems that manufacturers are leaning toward skimping on lights.   

To judge the quality of lights, make sure the lights are UL approved and have a design so that when one light burns out the rest stay lit.  Often times you can judge the quality of the lights based on the length of the warranty; just make sure that the company who is selling you the tree is the company that backs up the warranty (otherwise you will be passed on to a third party). If you are considering LED lights, keep in mind that LED lights do not emit the warm, soft glow typically associated with Christmas lights. Balsam Hill™ presently does not offer prelit indoor trees with LED lights because we do not feel that the lights provide the warm Christmas glow desired by the majority of our customers.  

Size & Shape: Pick Your Favorite

The most common tree height to fit the average home is 7.5 feet as measured from the floor to the top of the tree.  Trees 9' and taller are popular in rooms with high ceilings, and 6.5' trees popular for smaller rooms.  4'-5' trees are popular for table-top locations. 

The standard tree shape is "full"; trees that fit in tighter spaces are often designated with names such as "narrow" and "slim."  We suggest that you consider the diameter of the tree, not the shape name, to help you pick your perfect tree.  This measurement is taken at the very widest point of the tree, so, if you don't mind a few tree tips touching a wall or a piece of furniture, the true space occupied by the tree will be 6"-8" less than the reported diameter.  The other key is to make sure that the tree looks to be a natural shape — if it is "pencil shaped," it probably doesn't look like a real tree.  (If you are looking for a space-saving tree, we recommend our Manhattan Flatback Tree, which is designed to look like a full tree while only taking up half the space.)

Deck the Halls!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and we hope that you have a rewarding shopping experience for your holiday decorations.  If we can be of further assistance in choosing your perfect tree, please send us an email at  Trees are our business, we are happy to help!


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