We’ve long had a tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree every year, and it’s something we look forward to right before Thanksgiving each year. In recent years I’ve wanted to add more trees to my Christmas decor…pre-lit and super easy to put up. So, imagine my excitement when Balsam Hill approached me to do a review of one of their trees, along with a comparison review of a tree from another store!
I’ve heard so much about their trees, and how realistic they are. I was eager to put that to the test, especially since we are accustomed to live trees. For a true comparison, they also sent me another tree to review–one as similar as possible from Target. I’m sharing pictures, my experiences setting them up, and how they matched up, side-by-side.
Thanks to Balsam Hill for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
I knew I was looking for a tree to go in this room–our library–so I chose the Balsam Hill 7.5 foot Frosted Balsam Fir. For comparison, I chose the same tree–a 7 foot Frosted Balsam Fir by Target’s Wondershop. (They didn’t offer a 7.5 foot option.) I’ve never had a frosted tree before, but I was excited to have it look like a white Christmas right in my house! I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I prefer the look of real trees. But cutting down 4-6 trees each year isn’t something I want to do either, so I’m ready to try them!
(We do have one artificial tree that was our first Christmas tree–a tiny, scraggly tree we affectionately call our “Charlie Brown” tree. It has so much sentimental value I can’t toss it out, so we put it up in the basement and let the kids decorate it each year. But that’s been my only experience so far with an artificial tree–all others we’ve cut down ourselves.)
I put both trees up side-by-side in the library, so I could really get a good look at each of them, and a true comparison. There are pros and cons to both, and I liked things about each of them. Here are my reviews!
Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Review
The Balsam Hill tree arrived in two boxes, so I knew it was going to be good-sized. When I opened them up, the tree was in sections, wrapped neatly with red ribbon, and tagged so I could easily see which section came first.
I’ve never had a pre-lit tree, so I didn’t have any previous experience putting one up, and really appreciated the very thorough instructions that came in the box.
I was immediately impressed by a couple of different things. First of all, it was just SO EASY. This tree came with EASY PLUG™ SETUP, which I didn’t know about ahead of time, but it means that all you have to do is plug the tree in to the wall. All the lights are connected through the trunk, so there are no ends to find and match up and connect. When you put it together, you plug it in first, so you can see how the lights are placed, and then as you add sections, they automatically light up!
I chose the LED candlelight lights for my tree, but there are so many different options: color, different LED bulbs, fairy lights, twinkly lights, fiber optics, and more. You can really have the tree that you love!
Setting it up is easy too. Just add one section at a time, fluff and separate the branches, then repeat until they’re all on. The tree even comes with these handy gloves to wear while you’re working with the tree, and I loved them.
Now let’s talk about the tree itself. We’ve cut down many, many real trees over the years, and been to a lot of tree farms, and I couldn’t believe how realistic our Balsam Hill tree was when I saw it. After I put up the second tree, it became even more noticeable, and there really was no comparison between the two artificial trees. The detail in the needles is incredible, and if I hadn’t already known that the tree wasn’t real, I wouldn’t have guessed. The realism is as close as I’ve ever seen. They use True Needle™ foliage (83%) with Classic Needles (17%) for fullness.
The branches are also sturdy enough to hold even the heaviest of ornaments. Some of our ornaments are incredibly heavy, and the branches don’t even budge! It’s a very easy tree to decorate for that reason, which I really appreciate.
Simply put, it’s a gorgeous, full tree. This 7.5 tree is a full 60 inches around, has a 900 light count, and more than 5700 branch tips. I’m totally in love.
To add to its ease of use, the tree has an awesome light switch that you can press with your foot or your hand…no more climbing behind the tree to unplug it, or a bunch of cords in the way.
And when you’re ready to take the tree down to store it until the next November or December, it comes with the best storage bags. Mine came with three…two for the tree itself, and a smaller third bag for accessories. I love love that it doesn’t have to be stored in the boxes.
As a sidenote: The tree fills two very big storage bags, and it does take up quite a bit of space. We have room in our basement, but it’s something to think about when storing a large tree.
Target Wondershop Christmas Tree Review
I was eager to set this tree up and really get a sense of comparison between the two trees. The very first thing I noticed is that it came in only one box. There is only a 6 inch difference in height between the two trees, so I could tell right away that it was going to be smaller. I planned to use this tree in my bedroom, which doesn’t have as much space, and I think it’s a great size for small spaces.
It was also very easy to put together, came with a simple instruction sheet, and the lights worked in the same way, in that each section would light up as soon as you placed it in the trunk once you plugged it in. However, the only way to turn it off and on is the plug itself.
It was easy to fluff and separate as well, and it was quite a quick process. I realized very quickly that there were nowhere as many branches or lights, and more sparse compared to the Balsam Hill tree. The shape is nice, but it’s definitely thinner and not as full or wide around. This tree has 350 lights, is 48 inches around, and 1419 tree tips.
I really like the color and warm glow of the lights on this tree. They’re warm and cozy, and I actually prefer their color over the Balsam Hill lights. However, they are not LED lights, so bulbs will need to be replaced much more quickly.
I was disappointed that it didn’t come with any kind of storage bag–it had to go back into the box, which I think is awkward and difficult to store. Or, it means I’ll need to purchase a large tree storage bag, which is what I’ll probably do.
Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Review: Side-by-side Comparison
- More than 3x the amount of branch needles–very full
- True Needle™ technology… extremely realistic needles and branches
- Nearly 3x more lights, with Easy Plug™ setup–lights automatically come on as you add sections, once it’s plugged in
- LED Candlelight Lighting
- 12 inches wider around
- Storage bags for tree and accessories included
- Protective gloves included for easy and comfortable setup
- Easy on/off switch…no climbing behind the tree
- 7.5 feet, $999 retail price (other sizes available)
- Comes with a 3 year warranty–complete coverage
- Incandescent lighting
- Simple and easy to set up–lights go on as you add sections
- Gorgeous light color, warm and cozy
- No storage bag or accessories included
- No easy off/on switch–plug only
- Less expensive…$300 retail price
- Comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, but I couldn’t find a warranty
Overall, my choice would definitely be the Balsam Hill tree. The amount of Christmas tree lights and branch tips, the fullness, diameter, and the incredible realness of the tree all made a difference—and then seeing them side-by-side really sealed the deal.
There is a big price difference, and normally I’m a budget girl, and don’t like to spend a lot. But I also appreciate a good deal, and there are some things that are worth investing in. Buying such a high quality, beautiful tree, with so many lovely features and useable accessories may be worth the extra cost for an expensive tree. It’s one of the best artificial Christmas trees I’ve seen. I know it’s a lot more expensive, so it’s important to understand exactly what the differences are, and what you would be getting for your money.
However, I really do love the Target tree too. In fact, I love it so much in my bedroom that I don’t want to take it down in January! The light color is gorgeous—so cozy and homey, and it’s a great tree if you’re looking at that price point. We have it set to a timer, and every night I get to fall asleep with the lights on. It’s one of my favorite things of the season!
If you have any questions, please let me know!
2021 UPDATE: My Target tree lights stopped working at then end of last season, after two Christmases. It was only used in my bedroom, and not in a high traffic area with kids around. It was a gorgeous tree, and I loved it in my room, but I was really disappointed that it only last two seasons. It made it twice as much per year as cutting down a live tree. This year I decided to cut down a real tree in its place for now, but I will be on the hunt for an artificial tree to take its place during the post-season sales. While I loved that it was less expensive, it’s now essentially doubled in price, since I have to replace it in such a short time frame. I’m not sure if it was a fluke, and if you have a Target tree, I’d love to hear how it’s worked for you!
Our Balsam Hill tree is going strong and we are on year three. It looks just like it did the first year, and we’ve had zero problems. I think I’ve gotten used to the branches though, because I haven’t had to use the glove to fluff! I still have it though, and some of my kids like to wear it when they’re helping. Overall, we love it!