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7 tips for choosing a fake Christmas tree

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    If you are dreaming of a needle-free Christmas, you are in luck: Artificial trees are now more realistic than ever, and growing in popularity. About 80 percent of homes opt for an artificial tree, according to the American Christmas Tree Association.

If you are dreaming of a needle-free Christmas, you are in luck: Artificial trees are now more realistic than ever, and growing in popularity.

About 80 percent of homes opt for an artificial tree, according to the American Christmas Tree Association.

Here are seven tips for buying a quality faux tree from Jen Sypeck, an Atlanta-based product development consultant with more than 20 years of experience working with Home Depot and Pottery Barn.

>> Ask yourself: Does the tree look realistic? Does the tree look full? Sometimes the trees might not be fully fluffed. So play around with a few branches to see if you are able to achieve the full look.

Needles made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) look more realistic than those made from most other plastics, while needles made from PE (polyethylene) are even more lifelike.

>> Determine the size. You need clearance for a comfortable walkway in the room where the tree will be set up. You also need to be aware of the ceiling height. (Sypeck likes at least 1 foot of space between the top of a tree and the ceiling.)

>> Just as fake trees can be found in all sizes, they can also be found in all price ranges: A 7-foot-tall, pre-lit PVC tree can range from $99 to $1,500. Regardless of budget, there is a faux tree out there for you.

>> Determine your style. Are you looking for a traditional just-cut-from-the-farm tree, a snow-swept tree, or a glamorous, bold metallic? Going with a faux tree gives you lots of options.

>> Pre-lit or not? It’s yes for Sypeck. The time during the holidays is precious so any chance to simplify, she says go for it.

If you want a pre-lit fake tree, choose one that is labeled “continuous on” or “with burn-out protection,” so that if a single bulb burns out, the rest of the lights stay on.

>> Check the wires. Sypeck wants wires from the lights and the trunk to be hidden (invisible).

>> Will it hold the ornaments? Feel the sturdiness of the tips and branches to ensure they will hold the weight.

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