Last updated: August 11, 2021

Artificial Christmas trees are no longer the fake-looking plastic trees they once were. Many now look deceptively real. While they are more expensive to buy initially than real Christmas trees, artificial Christmas trees have the great advantage that they can be reused for many years. Because of the variety of options, there is a perfect artificial Christmas tree for everyone. With our big artificial Christmas tree test 2021 we want to help you find the right tree for you among the huge selection of artificial Christmas trees. Semi-formed or round? Injection moulding or PVC? Natural or colourful? We have compared the different types of artificial Christmas trees to help you decide which one to buy.




The most important facts

  • Artificial Christmas trees are a good alternative for those who do not want to resort to real Christmas trees, but do not want to do without a Christmas atmosphere at Christmas.
  • Artificial Christmas trees come in all kinds of colours and sizes - from natural to colourful, from tiny to life-size. There are also particularly space-saving versions in half form or to hang on the wall, as well as pre-decorated trees.
  • Artificial Christmas trees are in many ways more practical than their real counterparts - they don't make a mess and can be reused for many years.

The Best Artificial Christmas Tree: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an artificial Christmas tree

What is an artificial Christmas tree?

An artificial Christmas tree is - as the name suggests - a fake Christmas tree. Artificial Christmas trees are made of plastic and look like real Christmas trees.

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A Christmas tree is indispensable for the classic Christmas atmosphere.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Sibusky)

Manufacturers base their artificial Christmas trees on the most popular Christmas tree species, such as the Nordmann fir or the spruce. As a result, the artificial Christmas trees are in no way inferior to the real ones in terms of their appearance. For those who find this too boring, there are also artificial Christmas trees in bright colours: from snow white to bubble gum pink to royal blue, there is everything the colour lover's heart desires.

What types of artificial Christmas trees are there?

In addition to the different sizes and colours in which you can buy artificial Christmas trees, there is an important distinction between artificial Christmas trees: empty or already decorated.

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For some, decorating the Christmas tree is the highlight of the Christmas season - for others it is a necessary evil.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Element5 Digital)

For those who don't want to be deprived of the fun of decorating the tree themselves - whether with the family or alone - a still empty artificial Christmas tree is just the thing. However, if you don't have the time or find decorating the tree a nuisance, an already decorated Christmas tree is the better choice. The small artificial Christmas trees are usually available fully decorated, including lights and Christmas baubles. This saves you the fiddly job of having to attach tiny baubles and a string of lights to the little trees, which are usually just 60 cm high.

Small artificial Christmas trees are almost always sold decorated - large ones, on the other hand, are not.

In the case of the larger trees, practically all Christmas trees are sold undecorated. However, some variants come with colour-coordinated Christmas tree baubles, but there is still no way around decorating them. However, larger artificial Christmas trees are often already equipped with LED lights. Ideal for those who don't want to deal with the inevitable tangle of lights every year!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of artificial Christmas trees?

The big disadvantage of artificial Christmas trees was originally that they simply looked fake. But this is now a thing of the past. Many trees now look deceptively real and have several advantages over their real counterparts: artificial Christmas trees don't needle, they are reusable and you always know in advance exactly what you're getting.
With an artificial Christmas tree, you don't have to worry about falling pine needles.

Everyone knows the problem: as soon as the Christmas tree is put up, the hoover is in continuous operation. A big advantage of artificial Christmas trees is that they don't needle. So instead of having to remove the annoying pine needles from real Christmas trees throughout the Christmas season, owners of artificial Christmas trees save a lot of time and nerves and can approach the Christmas holidays in a more relaxed way. Instead of having to throw them away at the end of the Christmas season like a real Christmas tree, artificial Christmas trees are reusable. If you make sure to buy artificial Christmas trees made of robust materials, you will enjoy your tree for many years. While real Christmas trees always hold surprises - How big is my tree exactly? How wide is it? - you always know what you're getting with an artificial Christmas tree. Its size and diameter are precisely stated in the product description. With artificial Christmas trees, you can plan very well and everyone can find a tree that fits their rooms. Unfortunately, with all the advantages, there are also disadvantages: Artificial Christmas trees may not cause any extra dirt during the Christmas season, but they still need to be cleaned. Over the year, dust accumulates on the trees, which urgently needs to be removed before the next use. What puts some people off buying artificial Christmas trees is the financial aspect. Initially, artificial Christmas trees are much more expensive than real ones, but this can be compensated for by their reuse. The biggest disadvantage, however, remains the following: while artificial Christmas trees can look deceptively real, unfortunately they are not. For example, the typical smell of pine needles is missing, cheaper trees are only convincing from a distance and some would even say that the more expensive ones look too perfect and thus lose their natural charm.

Advantages
  • Needles not
  • Reusable
  • Plannable
Disadvantages
  • Thorough cleaning required
  • Expensive to buy
  • Christmas atmosphere suffers

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate artificial Christmas trees

Size

Whether you have a lot of space or not much - there is a suitable artificial Christmas tree for every room.

Artificial Christmas trees are available in all possible sizes. Whether you are looking for a large tree for your living room or just want to decorate your desk for Christmas, there is a Christmas tree in the right size for everyone. When choosing a large artificial Christmas tree, it is important to know the height of your ceiling. The minimum ceiling height for new buildings is 2.30 metres, but this can vary slightly. In old buildings, the ceiling height is often much higher. To avoid unpleasant surprises when setting up your artificial Christmas tree, you should measure the ceiling height before buying. You should also know in advance whether you want to equip your artificial Christmas tree with a Christmas tree top. Although the size of Christmas tree tops always includes the part that will be placed on the tree, you should still include the entire height. If you plan too tightly, it might be difficult to put the Christmas tree top on the tree.

Before buying your artificial Christmas tree, you should know how much space you have available. Otherwise you could be in for a nasty surprise!

If you don't have the space to put up a large tree, you can go for very small artificial Christmas trees. The smallest ones are just 50 cm high and will fit in even the smallest flat.

Semi-round or round?

Apart from the height of the artificial Christmas tree, its diameter is also important. Here, you can choose a classic full-round Christmas tree or the more space-saving half-round or corner-shaped versions. The classic artificial Christmas tree is the round Christmas tree. This is not least because this variant naturally looks most like a real Christmas tree. Here, there is an additional choice between artificial Christmas trees in classic proportions or - for those with particularly little space - extra narrow Christmas trees. If there is not enough space even for a narrow tree, an artificial Christmas tree in half form or corner form can be a good alternative. Semi-formed trees are more or less only half a tree, so they can be pushed directly against the wall. Artificial Christmas trees in a corner shape, on the other hand, can be integrated directly into the corner of a room. The back part - which is difficult to decorate anyway - is omitted. Some variants of the artificial Christmas tree in half form can even be hung directly on the wall, which means that they no longer even require a floor space.

Material - PVC or injection moulding?

It is always worth taking a look at the materials from which artificial Christmas trees are made. There are two main materials: injection moulding and PVC. While PVC Christmas trees are cheaper and more robust, injection moulded trees look much more realistic. PVC (short for polyvinyl chloride) is a plastic that is particularly valued as a material for artificial Christmas trees because of its robustness. For example, trees made of PVC are only flame-retardant and also withstand other external influences very well. In addition, Christmas trees made of PVC are the significantly cheaper option and are also recyclable. However, the needles of the PVC Christmas tree only look real from a distance. When you stand in front of the tree, you can immediately see that it is an artificial Christmas tree. This is due to the way the pine needles are manufactured: The plastic is processed into a foil from which the pine needles are finally made. The process is called foil cutting. Injection-moulded pine needles, on the other hand, are a true-to-scale cast of the needles of real trees. As a result, injection-moulded needles not only look confusingly similar to real needles, they even feel real - including the characteristic slight pricking sensation when decorating the tree. However, the deceptively real impression also has its price: Injection moulded Christmas trees are significantly more expensive than those made of PVC. In order to combine the advantages of both materials, some manufacturers now produce artificial Christmas trees that have both PVC and injection moulded needles. The needles in the less visible areas are made from the visually less convincing PVC to fill out the tree, while the front, visible needles are made using the injection moulding process.

Type Material Manufacture Advantage Disadvantage
Injection moulding PU or PE needles are cast particularly real appearance expensive
Foil cut PVC needles cut from foil flame retardant and inexpensive very fake appearance
Mixed form combination of PE/PU and PVC only the visible needles are injection moulded, the rest is PVC combines the advantages of injection moulding and foil cut harder to find

So is the artificial Christmas tree always a pure plastic tree? No! There are also a variety of models that have a wooden trunk. The look of deceptively real pine needles is complemented here by a lifelike trunk made of wood, making such an artificial Christmas tree almost indistinguishable from a real one. When buying an artificial Christmas tree, you should also make sure that no plasticisers or other harmful substances have been used in its production - they are a health risk! However, the lists of materials provided by manufacturers can be full of chemical terms and therefore confusing, so it is always advisable to look at the test reports from Stiftung Warentest of the current or last year before making a purchase decision.

Other questions

The more tips, the denser the tree.

Anyone who reads up on artificial Christmas trees will inevitably come across the number of tips on the tree. This refers to the total number of branch tips that the artificial Christmas tree has. In general, the more tips, the denser the tree. However, denser Christmas trees are automatically more expensive than those with fewer tips. When using an artificial Christmas tree for the first time, it is usually necessary to smooth or press the branches into shape. This gives them a more realistic and less manufactured look. This can take some time, but is definitely worth it.

Facts worth knowing about artificial Christmas trees

How do I clean artificial Christmas trees?

Real Christmas trees can cause allergies because of the mould spores on their needles, making the Christmas season a real ordeal for allergy and asthma sufferers. That's why artificial Christmas trees are considered the more allergy-friendly option.

Artificial Christmas trees should be cleaned thoroughly before each use.

But beware! Artificial trees can also cause allergies if they are not thoroughly cleaned before use. We explain how to clean an artificial Christmas tree here.

  1. Preparation: Before you start, you should put a sheet under your tree, otherwise all the dirt will end up in your home. At the end, you can shake out the sheet outside and wash it as usual.
  2. Vacuuming: First vacuum the tree with a hoover. It is best to use the attachment for upholstered furniture. However, your hoover must not be too powerful, otherwise you could damage your Christmas tree! It's best to try out your hoover in an inconspicuous place, for example at the very bottom of the tree - if something does get broken, you won't see it there.
  3. Wipe off: After vacuuming, wipe down your artificial Christmas tree with warm water and washing-up liquid. Make sure that you do not use any aggressive cleaning agents! This can also damage your tree. Dishwashing detergents are usually well tolerated, as they should not cause any problems for our skin, but if you are not sure, you can also use shampoo.

How do I store artificial Christmas trees?

Christmas is over and the decorations have been taken down - but what about the tree? While real Christmas trees are left on the doorstep to be collected or even burned, artificial Christmas trees wait patiently for their next use. Artificial Christmas trees have either a folding or a plug-in system. The former simply fold up their branches by triggering a mechanism. Trees with a plug-in connection, on the other hand, can be easily disassembled into their individual parts from top to bottom. It is advisable to invest in a storage bag for artificial Christmas trees. For one thing, the trees will not be damaged so quickly if someone or something bumps into them during storage. It also protects them from dirt and dust and makes it easier to clean them before the next use. Alternatively, you can of course use the original packaging of the Christmas tree.

What can I do about the smell of artificial Christmas trees?

You have decided to buy an artificial Christmas tree, but it smells bad - what can you do? You have two options: Either you can wait for the smell to dissipate on its own or you can use fragrances.

  1. Airing out: The smell of artificial Christmas trees is caused by the processing of plastics and unfortunately cannot be avoided. The good news is that it goes away after a few days. Simply put the tree up a few days before decorating it and you won't notice the plastic smell by Christmas.
  2. Scents: If you miss the scent of real firs on your artificial Christmas tree, you can help it out with scents. There is a wide choice: there are sprays and essential oils that deceptively imitate the smell of real firs, but also scented trees that look like Christmas tree decorations and will never be noticed among the other decorations.
  3. Real fir branches in the artificial tree: Another option is to place real fir branches under the artificial Christmas tree or to hide them cleverly between the branches of the artificial tree.
  4. Scented candles: If this is too much work for you, you can also set up and light a fir-scented candle - also a good idea for those who look forward to Christmas all year round.

How environmentally friendly are artificial Christmas trees?

Especially nowadays, the question of sustainability and environmental friendliness is more important than ever when making a purchase decision. Whether an artificial Christmas tree is the more environmentally friendly option, however, cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. It depends on where the artificial Christmas tree is placed. It depends on where the artificial Christmas tree was produced and how big it is. The advantage of artificial Christmas trees is that no tree has been cut down to make them (unless you choose an artificial Christmas tree with a trunk made of real wood). In addition, Christmas trees are usually treated with strong pesticides, which pollutes the environment. On the other hand, artificial Christmas trees are made of plastic, which is not compostable and also pollutes the environment. In addition, most Christmas trees are produced in China and the transport to Germany is not exactly environmentally friendly.

So it's impossible to say across the board which type of Christmas tree is the more environmentally friendly.

Generally speaking, a large artificial Christmas tree is only worthwhile in terms of its carbon footprint compared to a real Christmas tree after about ten years of use. Small artificial Christmas trees, on the other hand, can be the more environmentally friendly option after only a few years of reuse.

Artificial Christmas trees and pets - is that possible?

If dogs and cats live in the house with you, the Christmas season can bring some difficulties. Everyone knows that the ubiquitous Christmas chocolate is poison for our pets. But what about the Christmas tree? Artificial Christmas trees offer some advantages here too. However, the greatest danger for our four-legged friends is not so much the tree itself, but the Christmas tree decorations.

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Many people worry that the artificial Christmas tree could be a source of danger for their pets. But the bigger problem is the Christmas tree decorations.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Myshun)

Since the Christmas tree is only in the house for a few weeks a year, pets don't have time to get used to its presence. As a result, they encounter the tree with great curiosity. There is a risk that the animals could chew on the tree or knock it down by playing with the Christmas tree decorations. Artificial Christmas trees are lighter than real ones, however, which means that less damage would be caused by an artificial Christmas tree in such a case. Also, the risk of injury to the animals is lower due to the lighter Christmas tree. In addition, artificial Christmas trees do not need water in their stand. The animals might want to drink the stale water. This could not only cause the tree to fall over, but could also be harmful to the animals' health. Christmas tree decorations are particularly dangerous, as the baubles could break and the animals could injure themselves on them. In the worst case, the ornaments could even be swallowed and cause internal injuries. Special care is needed here!

Basically, however, the problems remain the same regardless of whether you choose a real or artificial Christmas tree: The tree can fall, the Christmas tree ornaments pose a risk of injury.

What should make the artificial Christmas tree particularly interesting for households with pets, however, is the fact that it can be put up for testing some time before Christmas - preferably undecorated! - preferably undecorated. This gives the four-legged friends time to get used to the tree.

Image source: Zinkevych/ 123rf.com

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