Faux Christmas trees

I have been writing, professionally, for 23 years. During that time I have learned that two things are so emotive, I don’t write about them anymore:


Anti-wrinkle creams.

I suspect this will be an equally divisive topic.

Last Christmas, I went to my friend Louise’s house. Louise lives in a beautiful house and she had, in the entrance hall, a beautiful Christmas tree. It was only on closer inspection, that I realised it wasn’t real. “Do you think it looks okay?” she asked. “I think it looks fabulous,” I replied.

I went straight home and bought one, after doing some sums – ours cost £318 last year, before Brexit and before the pound fell, like a snowflake from the sky. That’s not an inconsiderable amount of money to sink into a Christmas tree but given we were spending £40-£50 a year on one, I wish we had bought one ten years ago.

Coincidentally, my other friend Sandra, had bought one the week before – but it hadn’t really sunk in – and she said it had made her “truly happy”. Now, Sandra isn’t the sort of person to find happiness in Christmas foliage, usually. So I knew I was onto a good thing.

My partner took a bit of persuading because, every Christmas, we go somewhere in the Suffolk countryside and choose a tree. I say we, but they all look pretty good to me and he spends AGES choosing one and I find the whole selection process really stressful, and cold. Really bloody cold. I just don’t know why I find it stressful, but I do. Anyway, we bought one, he loves it. My children, after becoming hysterical at the thought (they thought it would be really fake looking) also love it. I grew up with a faux (okay, we called it fake back then) Christmas tree which is still going strong from when it was purchased by my parents – in 1963.

When I told a few people that we were venturing into fake Christmas tree territory, they went nuts. As if we were telling them something awful. “I don’t know who you are anymore,” joked (?) my friend Jo.

Here is the case for a fakey faux Christmas tree:

No more going out to buy one and spending £40 plus on one, or whatever it is they cost. No more jostling with people for the tree that looks great.

No more cutting down live trees.

You can put it up from 1st December and no risk of leaf fall.

No more vacuuming up pine needles.

Okay, no more real tree smell but you know, you can get that in a SPRAY from Jo Malone or The White Company (you can actually get very good pine smelly things which you hang on the branches, I got some from the supermarket which cost a couple of pounds and they were, incredibly, rather good).

We got one which comes with lights IN IT. No more untangling the lights, risking electrocution and finding that none of them work anymore.

It looks good all the way through Christmas, no more sad Christmas tree.

I am not trying to convince you, but if you are thinking of going faux, then take the plunge! We love ours and are putting it up as soon as the clocks chime midnight on November.

I’m mentioning all this now cos we got ours from Balsam Hill – also where my friends got theirs from – and the quality is superb. And there’s a sale on. We got one with a not-too-huge bottom to it (I love that you can choose the width, from a narrow tree if you don’t have much room to a more full-bottomed one). Go for the most realistic ones. I know they’re not cheap, but once you’ve bought one you have it. We got the Vermont White Spruce with ‘candelight’ lights which give a warmer glow.

The pictures were of our tree last year (forgive the scaffolding outside, we were having building works done) – I tried to take a picture of it looking as ‘real’ as possible, not with any funny filters on or anything (not, ha ha, ‘spruced’ up). And here is one of the branches close up:


You’ll see we go for a white and silver theme…


8 thoughts on “Faux Christmas trees

  1. mabelwashington

    THANK YOU for giving me the courage to order one … before we had children we had to rush out one year to buy a ferociously-expensive-but-realistic artificial tree when one of our kittens climbed the real one and got a needle in his eye twice. Later, school age children pestered for a real one and since the cats were by then sensible I relented. Recently I have ordered online from sendmeachristmastree which is less stressful than going out to choose one but I absolutely agree with you about the nightmare of it all really (especially the lighting) and since probably this is the last year we will have any of the (now adult) children living at home to object I have decided to have a go-for-it attitude and get a Balsam Hill one – which I will hide in the bike shed until next year …

    1. AB Post author

      I got mine from my local Waitrose. They were called Scentisicles and I note you can get them from a few places in different scents. I got them in White Winter Fir.

      They key is to just use 1-3, no more (depending on size of tree). Any more than that and it tips into ‘cheap air freshener’. But so far, just a couple on the tree is really okay.

      The other thing you can do (and I do do), every now and then, is spray the tree with The White Company Winter Room Scent – which is lovely.

  2. Jayne

    Thank you Annalisa. I am definitely tempted to buy a Balsam Hill tree – the one thing which is putting me off is that whilst I think the branches / needles look very realistic I worry (!) that the shape is too perfectly symmetrical. Can you adjust the branches to create something slightly lop sided!?

    1. AB Post author

      Sorry for the late reply but I’ve been away. It’s probably too late now but yes the shape is definitely very symmetrical. Funny but I actually really like this now. You can definitely adjust the branches to point up or down but you can’t pull them out to make them longer or lopsided the way a real tree would be, if that makes sense?


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