The holidays are upon us, which means Christmas trees are making their way into homes all across the country. Believe it or not, Christmas trees have been a part of American holiday celebrations since the 1850s, and tree-trimming has become one of the most anticipated holiday traditions in many households.
However, while classic real Christmas trees are emblematic of the holidays, they’re not the only options nowadays. From Noble Firs to tinsel trees and artificial pre-lit versions, you’ll find different types in many shapes and sizes for your home. What kind of tree you prefer is up to you, but we’re here to help make it easier to decide.
Read on to find out the five most common Christmas tree types and the pros and cons of each.
Live Christmas Trees
The Fraser Tree
Live Fraser trees have become the classic American Christmas staple—it’s the most popular choice for the holidays in the U.S.! They’re similar to Douglas Firs, but Frasers tend to be slightly more slender and sport blue-green needles with silvery undersides. This gives them an extra lush look and a nice glimmer when strung with lights.
- Great for Lots of Ornaments: Frasier trees have upturned and stiff branches that make them perfect for hanging ornaments by the handful.
- Stays Fresh and Lush: The needles retain their color for a long time, so your tree will stay fresh through the end of the year. This makes Frasers perfect if you like displaying your tree for a while.
- Excellent Needle Retention: Fraser trees don’t shed needles as quickly as other varieties, even if you forget to water them once or twice throughout the holiday season.
- Beautifully Fragrant: These trees have a strong, fresh scent that reminds you (and everyone) of why Christmas is so magical.
- Fits Anywhere: They’re compact, so they can tuck nicely into corners and also work in smaller spaces.
- High Price Tag: Fraser trees grow slower, which makes them a more expensive option.
The Noble Fir
If you’re looking for a slender tree that’s tall and narrow, the Noble Fir tree has a triangular shape that’s not as full as Frasiers and Douglas Firs. But these trees are just as lush in color with deeper grey-green needles. Their branches grow horizontally in different bunches with larger amounts of space in between—which provides lots of room for ornaments to hang. They’re also lightly scented if you’re looking for just a touch of fragrance in the air.
- Sturdy Branches: Noble Firs have are the tallest and have the strongest branches, so they’re a good choice especially for hanging larger, heavier ornaments (think gingerbread houses, silver bells, mini angel figurines).
- Long-Lasting Needles: They have one of the best needle retention, which means Noble Firs will last longer since the needles won’t shed as quickly or easily.
- Skinny Looks: Noble Firs have a less full look than most other types, so they’re not the best option if you’re looking for a more robust Christmas tree that’s decked out with lights, ribbons, and lots and lots of ornaments.
The White Fir (or Concolor Fir)
Also known as the Colorado White Fir tree, this lush evergreen is native the mountains of the western United States. Its branches grow in a spiral shape and have long, lush needles, resulting in tree that’s dense from top to bottom.
- Full Foliage: If you’re looking to for a tree that’s big, fluffy, and perfectly shaped, the White Fir will give you that full greenery effect.
- A Sweet Citrusy Smell: Many people love White Firs because they have a unique citrus scent that ushers in the holiday spirit. But if you prefer the smell of fresh pine, this option might not be for you.
- Colors Fade: The needles on this tree variety don’t hold their color as well. they usually start off as a bluish-green and eventually fade to a duller green hue as the tree ages.
- Medium-Weight Branches: Smaller ornaments are best on White Firs as the branches are only moderate in strength and won’t be able to hold heavy trinkets like other trees.
Artificial Christmas Trees
The Pre-Lit Tree
While fresh Christmas trees are lovey in theory, they do require a good amount of care and upkeep. Think hassling with the tree stand, watering daily, and dealing with a floor full of fallen needles. Fake trees can save you from all that hassle, and they’re just as beautiful, like this pre-lit faux Frasier tree, which has glittering frost-speckled needles molded from natural cuttings.
- Easy to Maintain: Set up is a breeze: You assemble the different parts of the tree, plug it into the wall, and it’s ready for ornaments.
- Built-in Sparkle: The snow-dusted branches give this pre-lit fake tree a glimmering, wintry look that never fades. Even real trees can’t compete with that.
- Zero Pickup: There are no fallen needles to clean-up. Simple as that.
- Less Personal: You can’t change the color of the lights that come with this pre-lit tree and many people find they have to use specific ornaments to compliment the shape or style of the tree.
- Not Fragrant at All: Needless to say, unlike real trees this fake version doesn’t give off that signature sweet, fresh-chopped Christmas tree scent.
- Surprisingly Pricey: Many pre-lit trees come with a hefty price tag. But if you don’t plan on re-purchasing a real tree yearly, this could be a worthy investment.
The Tinsel Tree
Christmas trees don’t come any sparklier than Silver Tinsel trees, which have a retro look that’s reminiscent of 1950s aluminum trees (Charlie Brown Christmas, anyone?). Because it’s all silver, light reflects beautifully from the branches and brings a cozy and magical ambience to a room, even without the lights on.
- Choose Your Color: You’ll find tinsel trees in a range of color options, so you can be be sure this type of tree will bring a unique look to your space.
- Minimal Decoration Required: Tinsel trees often look better with minimal decor, so it’s perfect if you prefer a simple tree with a low-maintenance look. On the other hand, if you love a tree that’s filled with your personal ornament collection, then this might not be the best choice.
- Expensive Upfront Cost: These trees are built for convenience but might not hold up for as many years as you might hope. Nonetheless, tinsel trees have a perceived long-term value so you’ll still have to pay the price.
- No “Real Tree” Resemblance: If you’re looking for a fake tree that still looks like a real one (like the pre-lit tree), then a tinsel tree is not for you.