They used to have a tacky reputation but the best artificial Christmas trees are now considerably better than the real thing. They look like the real thing, they last for many, many years, they don't shed needles or shrivel. Admittedly they don't smell like the real thing, but you can always get a pine room odouriser, right?
We're here to steer you away from tacky, shiny, ersatz crap and towards the very cream of fake trees. Seriously, once you've had a good one, you'll never go back to an actual tree.
How – and why – to buy the best artificial Christmas tree
Good quality artificial firs have several things going for them. While initially expensive, you only have to fork out once for something that will likely last a lifetime of Christmases.
Better still, fake pine needles don’t stab you in the hand while you’re trying to manhandle the tree into position and, even more importantly, they don’t end up all over the floor or stuck in the carpet after a couple of weeks in situ – the number one pain in the ass with real trees.
And then there’s the perennial ‘what to do with the dead tree’ malarkey that usually involves pleading with the bin man or taking an axe to it to chop it into smaller bits, as a serial killer might.
The only possibly disadvantage with an artificial tree is that you’ll need somewhere to store it till next season but they almost invariably can be collapsed down in size, so that shouldn't be too arduous for most people.
Faux firs come in a wide variety of shapes and heights to suit all pockets and room sizes. Some models even come pre-dressed with twinkly LED lights, their connecting wires cleverly concealed within the branches; something that is very difficult to achieve with a real tree.
So, what is the best plastic yuletide shrub?
So which artificial tree tops our wish list? We’ve plumped for the premo quality Balsam Hill Nordman Fir, which comes in numerous different heights. The amazingly life-like Hayes Garden World Ridgedale Fir comes a close second and is actually even more pricey, per foot. But, you get what you pay for when it comes to festive evergreens made of poly ethylene.
If you lack space for your faux fir, and demand a bit of Scandinavian style, the White Company Pre-Lit Entrance is also undeniably a thing of beauty, and somewhat cheaper.
The best artificial Christmas trees, in order
1. BALSAM HILL NORDMANN FIR
The best artificial Christmas tree
Reasons to buy
Available in a wide range of heights, from 4 feet to a gargantuan 12 feet – with prices ranging from £109 to £1,299, and the option of having them with or without built-in candle lights – this stately faux fir is about as realistic as it gets.
According to Balsam Hill, the needles on this tree have been created from moulds of live tree cuttings so that they accurately exhibit the gently curved characteristics of the classic conical Nordmann fir. The overall colour, too, is spot on, right down to the needles’ silvery undersides.
As is the case with so many artificial trees, its branches might be considered a little too perfectly tailored for some but this will be less noticeable once it has been dressed.
If you’ve had your fill of dropping needles and are seeking a lifelike perennial replacement that will be around longer than you will, consider this stately Christmas centrepiece.
2. Hayes Garden World 8ft Ridgedale Fir
Best artificial tree for really large rooms/budgets
Reasons to buy
This room-filling 8ft whopper has a 66-inch spread and is made entirely out of Polythylene (PE), one of the best materials for giving a fake tree the most realistic look and touch.
Even from up close you’ll be hard pressed to tell this imposter’s a reproduction since it almost perfectly replicates the characteristics of the real thing, including the silky texture and accurate roundness of its needles, the correct shade of dark green and the naturalistic density of its branches. The outer fronds of each branch are also quite sparsely arranged – just as nature intended.
As of writing, Hayes is selling this particular model for £699 (£357 less than the normal retail price) so get in quick if you want to snatch one of the most authentic faux Christmas trees on the market.
3. White Company Pre-Lit Entrance Christmas Tree
Best artificial Christmas tree for small rooms, hallways and entrances
Reasons to buy
This elegant faux 4.5ft Crimbo conifer is perfect for smaller rooms, hallways and entrances. As with all White Company trees, it’s extremely authentic looking right down to the sparsely arranged and realistically asymmetrical branches and waxy needles. And when the whole festive thing is done and dusted, simply fold up the branches and store it in the loft, cellar, shed or under the stairs.
It comes pre-lit with 70 soft white LEDs for added convenience and a trunk base that’s the perfect size for a small plant pot (available separately). While you’re in the process of ordering, you may as well add some of the store’s fine selection of tree decorations and a few of its refined natural ornaments for the fireplace.
4. Outdoor 240 LED Willow Christmas Tree
An alternative option for those who don't do Xmas trees
Reasons to buy
If you’re looking for something completely different from the norm, consider placing this attractive outdoor LED willow on the doorstep or patio. It measures 1.5-metres in height and comes adorned with 240 warm white LEDs attached to transparent willow leaf-shaped plastic fronds that light up and waft about in a breeze.
It’s made from a combination of PE, PVC and metal comes with a five-metre cable that should be slim enough to thread through any door or window frame gaps en route to the nearest indoor mains outlet.
Granted, it doesn’t look that great in daylight but come darkness, the trunk and branches disappear to produce an extremely appealing light effect that is quite mesmerising, especially in a breeze.
5. B&Q Falera Artificial Christmas tree
Best cheap artificial tree
Reasons to buy
Up close, this 6ft B&Q model isn’t as authentic looking as the other models here: its needles are extremely thin and squared off rather than rounded, and while the little brown flecks of plastic sown into the branches give it a natural weathered look from a few metres away, their phoniness is easy to spot on closer inspection.
However, from a distance, the irregularity of this tree’s branches mimics nature more impressively than some of the more formal looking models on this page. If you’re in the market for a keenly-priced artificial tree that looks very decent and will last many seasons, then this one certainly passes a great deal of muster.
As with all faux firs, at the end of the festive season, simply bend the branches upwards, put the whole shebang in a protective bag and store it away until next year. Available to Click & Collect.