BBB Tip: Buying an Artificial Christmas Tree


If you are shopping for an artificial Christmas tree this year, prepare to be impressed by the options. New trees have a variety of features, such as built-in lights and sculpted branches. They also can look so realistic that – at a glance – it’s difficult to tell a real tree from an artificial one.

That said, the array of options and price points can make finding the right tree for you challenging. Keep the following tips in mind when shopping this holiday season.

What to consider when shopping for an artificial Christmas tree

  • Know your sizes. Before you buy a tree, measure your space and figure out what size tree is right for you. Trees typically come in three widths: full, slim or pencil. If floor space is a big concern, you can choose a flat-back Christmas tree that fits against a wall. Trees generally come in half-foot increments, from tabletop size up to about 12 feet tall. Experts advise that the top of your tree be six inches from the ceiling.
  • Budget accordingly. Plan to spend $150 to $400 for a 6-to-7-foot tree. Other factors, such as trees with lights or highly realistic trees, will cost more.
  • Think long-term. It’s worth investing in higher-quality trees because they can last 10 to 20 years. That also means you want to get a tree that’s likely to fit your space for years to come. For example, if you plan to downsize to a smaller home next spring, it’s not the right time to buy that 12-foot tree.
  • Consider a tree with built-in lighting: Anyone who has decorated a Christmas tree knows the frustration of tangled, half-lit strands of lights. Save yourself the hassle by checking out a tree with built-in lights. However, pre-lit trees are more pricey. If you go this route, look for a tree that uses LED; these lights last longer and save up to 90 percent on energy usage.
  • Know your tip count: “Tip count,” the number of needles on a tree, is a common stat featured on product listings for artificial trees. In general, the higher the tip count, the more realistic the tree. Experts recommend at least 2,500 tips on a 5-foot or 6-foot tree and 4,000 to 5,000 tips on a 7½-foot tree.
  • Shop in person if possible. To get an idea of how realistic an artificial tree appears, it’s best to see it in person. Also, shopping in person means you can test the tree’s sturdiness. If your family has a lot of Christmas ornaments, be sure to pick a tree with sturdy branches.
  • Think about your storage and assembly needs. Make sure whichever artificial tree you choose will fit easily in your home’s storage space. Also, consider how much time you want to spend assembling a tree. Some trees have hook-in branches that you need to screw into a central pole. These trees tend to be cheaper but can take more time to assemble.
  • Watch out for scams. BBB Scam Tracker has received many complaints about scam websites selling artificial Christmas trees. Shoppers report ordering what seems to be a full-size Christmas tree and receiving something else instead. (Here is one recent report.) Before you make a purchase on an unfamiliar website, check out the company. Ensure they have working contact information, including a telephone number, email address, and, preferably, a physical address.
  • Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Keep in mind that artificial Christmas trees can be expensive. If you find something amazing for a super-cheap price, it could be a scam.

For more information

See BBB’s holiday hub for more advice. Read more about budgeting for the holidays and avoiding scam social media ads. Learn more about holiday decoration scams.  

Check out the BBB Tip about online shopping for more ways to stay safe.


Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau