With the pandemic squashing holiday gatherings and keeping everyone homebound, you may be inspired to decorate for Christmas this year a lot earlier than usual. That could mean your live Fraser fir might be drying out, shedding its needles and looking rather sad by Dec. 25–not what any of us needs this holiday season. 2020 might be the year to consider an artificial tree. If you have never set up one or it’s been decades, know that modern artificial trees have come a long way, with realistic needles and branches and lights that make set-up a breeze.
Allie Mann, senior designer at Case Architects & Remodelers, with locations in Alexandria, Falls Church, Bethesda and DC, sees several benefits to an artificial tree. “You can set it up at any time, and If you order a tree online, it eliminates the worry about going to the store during the pandemic, she says. “You also do not have to remember to water it or worry about the needles dropping.”
She recommends trees from Balsam Hill, which are in high demand this year as people are looking to adorn their homes and find joy in a difficult year. In Virginia you can find Balsam Hill Tree Lots at the Nordstrom at Pentagon City and Tysons Corner. Take these tips with you to the tree lot.
Consider what’s indigenous.
In this region, Blue Spruce and Douglas fir are the major species, Mann points out. While the former has a subtle blue hue, the latter is known for its sharper needles–and for being closer in appearance to the Fraser fir, widely considered as the best Christmas tree. Balsam Hill has more than 60 families of trees, and many of their offerings are designed after real species, from the shape and texture of the needles to the nuances in color. But unlike live pine trees, these stay evergreen with little to no maintenance.
Think about where the tree will be set up.
“Be mindful of the space you have or where you aim to place the tree,” Mann says. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, consider a maximum tree height of 6 ½- or 7-feet, which takes into account the stand and leaves ample room for a tree topper. If you have minimal space, consider a pencil or slender tree.
Decide whether you want lights included.
Pre-lit trees take away the headache of placing lights, Mann says. Some include both clear and colored lights with a switch to toggle back and forth between the two; you can even find speciality options like fairy lights and micro lights. Seek out pre-lit trees with long-lasting and energy-efficient LED lights; Balsam Hill’s pre-lit trees are hand-strung, which allows for optimal coverage and keeps wires from showing, and commercial-grade lighting means that if one bulb burns out the rest stay lit. Easy-to-use features like foot pedals, remotes and an app with animated light show make the tree effortless to control. However, don’t underestimate the appeal of unit trees, especially if you want maximum flexibility in changing out the lights or don’t care for lights at all.
Consider the ease of setup and storage …
Most artificial trees are compressed for shipping, so they do require time to set up. Don’t try to shortcut the process; if you simply take the pieces out of the box, attach them to the pole and do the minimum in the way of opening up and fluffing the branches, the tree is going to look sparse and skimpy. “It’s really important to fluff the branches all the way around and top to bottom–remember the back, too,” Mann says. Trees with hinged branches fan out and in for quick set-up and storage, and pre-fluffed versions and easy plug trees reduce the set-up time even more. Balsam Hill is home to the Flip Tree™ equipped with wheels and an easy flip technology that eliminates heavy lifting.
… and take the time to make it look pretty.
“I do not believe you can have too many ornaments; the more the better, the richer it looks,” Mann declares. Balsam Hill encourages shoppers to consider their personal style, whether that means family heirloom ornaments, a theme or a modern design. Setting up multiple trees has become a trend, from traditional family rooms to children’s rooms and even outdoor displays. If you do have heavy or fragile ornaments, select an artificial tree with strong branches that can securely support them.
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