Why do I own a pencil Christmas tree? Every time I move into a new apartment, one of the first questions my partner asks is, “Where are we going to put the tree?”
I’ve lived in multi-bedroom houses and apartments under 500 square feet–when you live in small spaces, the question of where your tree is going to go isn’t always easy to answer.
Skip the intro and bring me straight to the trees.
What’s the right size Christmas tree for my space?
The best thing to do is block it out. Get some masking tape and a measuring tape and start blocking out the size of the trees you’re looking at to see how they fit into your space. Height is important, but it’s the width of the tree that makes life difficult.
Christmas trees always take up more space than you expect. With a standard ceiling height of eight feet, most guides suggest a 7.5 foot tree for the room to look balanced. With standard trees, a 7.5 foot tree has a diameter of around 64 inches. That’s 5.5 feet. I’m five feet tall. I don’t have a convenient space in my apartment for something me-sized to just lie down, spread out, and stay there for a month and a half.
Pencil trees cut that width in half, at least. You can still get all the height you want, but instead of finding room for a circle with a 64 inch diameter for a 7.5 foot tree, you’re looking at 34 inches or smaller. That’s closer to the diameter of a four foot traditionally shaped tree.
If you’re not sure you like the look of a skinny tree, but need to save space, check out half Christmas trees which are literally only half a tree so you can push it flush to a wall or even hang it up. Read my guide to the best half Christmas trees for corners and walls.
If these pencil trees still seem too big for your space, read my guide to the best tabletop Christmas trees for even smaller options.
It’s important to note, tree sizes aren’t standardized. The term “pencil tree” doesn’t denote a certain size, so be sure to check each tree’s individual size. Another thing to keep in mind is that all heights do include the stand.
Which style Christmas tree is right for me?
Artificial Christmas tree selection has changed a lot since I was small. You have almost endless options, which can get a little overwhelming.
Unique-style trees with non-traditional colors and purposefully sparse trees often require less decoration. They’re designed to look great on their own so if you’re looking for something minimal, these are good options. They’re also perfect if you’re looking to make a big impression on guests with an unexpected tree.
But there’s plenty to be said for a traditional tree. The natural-looking trees provide lots of room for dense decoration. It’s a blank palette to fill with your family’s traditions and aesthetic.
Real trees are better than fake ones.
I get you. Real trees are awesome in the way they look, feel, and smell. But they aren’t great for small spaces and the clean up is a headache.
Here’s the good news: artificial trees are more realistic now than ever. Instead of the flat, plasticy fringe we grew up with, artificial trees today have branches that have been molded from actual pine trees. The branches are rounded, soft, and just plain realistic.
The advantage here is that these modern trees can fool the eye and appear like a real tree, which is great if you’ve always had real trees in the past. The only disadvantage is that because they have a more realistic look, you often can’t hang ornaments on the very end of branches, just like a real tree. And while they’re still strengthened with wire and pliable, the thickness of the branches limits the range of motion.
If you’ve grown up with artificial trees and just need a pencil tree to fit your space this year, then while novelty of an ultra-realistic is attractive, you might find yourself disappointed if you’re used to hanging your ornament on stiff, metal branches.
It all really depends on where your priorities are in terms of tree appearance and ornaments.
Now let’s take a look at the best pencil Christmas trees of 2018.
1. Best Realistic Pencil Christmas Tree: National Tree 7.5 Foot ‘Feel Real’ Prescott Pencil Slim Tree
This is one of the modern, ultra-realistic trees. The branches have been molded from real pine trees and have a beautiful rounded needle look to them. Just like real trees, it has some floppier branches that stick out apart from the main tree that interrupt the cone-shape silhouette and give it that realistic imperfect feel. For some that’s a plus, and for others’s it’s not a traditional shape. Like with all realistic trees, you won’t want to hang ornaments right on the tip of branches.
At 7.5 feet all, this is a perfect height for eight to 10 foot ceilings. It has a width of a slim 35 inches, so make sure you block that out before you buy. It has a very nice fullness with 973 branch tips and, like most realistic trees, has traditional needle branches at the center of the tree since they give better coverage to hide the pole. This tree comes pre-lit with 350 clear lights. In my opinion, pre-lit is the best thing to happen to Christmas trees since ornaments.
If you’re nostalgic for a real tree, this one is for you.
2. Best Unique Pencil Christmas Tree: Wireless Collapsible Gold Tinsel Pencil Artificial Christmas Tree
If you’re looking for something a little more nontraditional, try this Collapsible Gold Tinsel Tree. At only 14.5 inches in diameter, this is skinny tree can fit into some truly tight spaces. It’s 65 inches tall, so it’s about five and a half feet in height. This tree is actually collapsible. The “branches” are arranged in a spiral pattern so when you’re done for the season it folds flat for easy storage.
The ultra skinny topiary style is eye-catching, like something out of a painting. Because of the design, this isn’t the best tree for hanging ornaments on. The metallic gold tinsel has a bright shine to it and is dotted by gold sequins and lit with 35 warm white LED lights. Another neat perk is that you don’t have to plug this in so you can put this tree anywhere without having to worry about wires. It takes three AA batteries (not included) and runs on a timer of six hours on then 18 hours off. This tree is also available in red and green.
3. Best Eye-Catching Pencil Christmas Tree: Vickerman Spruce Sparkle White Christmas Pencil Tree
This season, try something really dramatic with an all white tree. This Spruce Sparkle White Christmas Pencil Tree from Vickerman is six feet tall and 29 inches wide. It’s a good size to fit in tight spaces but still has that natural widening at the base that you’re used to seeing.
The branches are made with the traditional flat needles so they’re strong enough to hold lots of ornaments. The white needles have a slight sparkle to them that makes it look like the whole tree is covered in snow. This tree comes pre-lit with 250 clear lights to enhance the twinkle effect.
Price: From $282.47
4. Best Classic Pencil Christmas Tree: Best Choice 7.5 Premium Traditional Pencil Christmas Tree
If all you want is a traditional artificial tree but in pencil shape, this is the one. It’s 7.5 feet tall, 26 inches wide, and made with traditional flat needles with fully posable branches. This is a very full tree with 1075 branch tips that, with the proper fluffing, provide very good coverage.
The needles are a classic pine green with some short brown needles up against the branches which give the tree a more realistic look. This tree is unlit, so you can have some fun picking out your perfect lights. It’s easy to assemble, won’t take up much space, and has a truly nostalgic look to it.
5. Best Rustic Pencil Christmas Tree: Vickerman Unlit Natural Alpine Artificial Christmas Pencil Tree
For something non-traditional and a lot more rustic, this alpine pencil tree will turn heads. Skipping the classic, dense triangle shape of groomed Christmas trees, this one gets its inspiration directly from pine trees growing in the wilderness, brought down to a scale that can fit in your living room.
The real wood trunk is a huge upgrade from the metal poles you’re used to trying to hide. The branches are sparse and flat, like you’d see in the forest, and they’re pre-lit so you’re good to go. This six foot tree is 34 inches across at its widest, but most of the tree is much skinnier than that. This is a perfect tree for a cozy cabin or rustic aesthetic.
Price: From $48.99
6. Best Potted Pencil Christmas Tree: Sullivan’s Unlit Potted Artificial Pencil Tree
If you don’t have the room to mess around with tree skirts trying to cover up metal stands, this potted pencil Christmas tree solves that problem right off the bat. The base is covered in rustic burlap for a realistic tree look. This is also a big plus if you don’t exchange gifts because this tree won’t look unfinished all on its own without presents.
At only three feet tall and eight inches in diameter, this is a much shorter tree than the others, but that’s what some small spaces need. It’s unlit and has a very realistic density of ultra-realistic molded branches so if it looks a little sparse, it’s supposed to.
7. Best Dense Pencil Christmas Tree: National Tree Pre-Lit Tacoma Pine Pencil Tree
This 7.5 foot tree is tall enough to work even in rooms with high ceilings, yet slim enough at 30 inches wide to save you plenty of space. The long needle style branches helps keep this tree looking full and with 787 branch tips, it didn’t need much help in the first place.
It’s pre-lit with clear lights, but some feel like a tree of this height really needs more, so if you’re looking for a heavily lit tree, but are in love with the long needles of this one, just be aware that you may end up wanting to pick up an extra string of lights to add to it–or you might not. This tree comes with a collapsible metal tree stands, extra bulbs, and a two year warranty on lights.
The price is down almost $100 from last season so grab this now before the price shoots up as we get closer to the holidays.
8. Best Douglas Fir Style Pencil Christmas Tree: Vickerman Bixley Fir Pencil Christmas Tree
This one is so pointy! I sort of like that it’s embracing the narrow triangle shape of Christmas trees you drew as a kid. It’s 7.5 feet tall and is pre-lit with 400 multicolored lights. There’s a whopping 1983 branch tips on this tree, likely because it’s a mix of branch styles. It has the traditional bottle-brush needles at the center of the tree, filling it out and hiding the pole, but it also has more highly realistic branches that stretch to the edges of the tree to give it a more lifelike silhouette.
9. Best Flocked Pencil Christmas Tree: Flocked Pre-Lit Pencil Christmas Tree
For a heavily flocked tree that’s super skinny, try this seven foot tall, 20 inch wide pencil Christmas tree from Jojo’s Corner. This one has over 350 branch tips and is pre-lit with 250 clear white lights. If you’ve never had a flocked tree before, you should know that the flocking will have some fall-out while you’re fluffing your tree. That’s normal. If you don’t feel like messing with that, you can pick up this same tree without flocking.
10. Best Long Needle Pencil Christmas Tree: Home Heritage Stanley Pre-Lit Pencil Christmas Tree
At 19 inches wide, this is slim even for a pencil Christmas tree. It’s seven feet tall and sports a combination of branches. Some are your standard bottle-brush type and others have a longer, skinnier needles that are a lighter color and have these sort of fluffy bits on the ends that give it a more realistic look and even a frosted effect from a distance.
They aren’t the injection molded branches, but they’re certainly a step up from traditional. It’s pre-lit with 350 clear lights and has 355 bushy branch tips. This tree is definitely going to need some fluffy once you get it out of the box. The included metal stand is collapsible.
READ NEXT: 10 Best Tabletop Christmas Trees 2018
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