Christmas starts with a tree, but choosing the right one can be a minefield. We look at the best choices whether it is traditional, imitation or totally contemporary
The centrepiece for any Christmas celebrations is the tree. Whether it is real or artificial, minimally decorated or crowded with baubles, topped with a star or an angel, is all down to personal preference.
But whatever your taste there is a tree out there for you.
Traditionalists will argue there is nothing to rival a real tree with the Norweigan Spruce the most popular and cost effective. But with a tendency to drop its needles, especially if it is not properly watered, paying a bit extra for a fir tree can be a less messy option. Whichever variety you go for it is essential to buy a freshly cut healthy tree which should last for around six weeks if properly cared for. A good guide is to look for bright needles and give the tree a gentle shake, if they start falling off then move on.
The tree should also feel heavy which is a sign it is fresh as it has a high water content.
If you would prefer a low maintenance, long lasting option or just want to give your Christmas decor a new twist, an artificial tree could be for you.
The original artificial trees, which started to become popular in the early 20th century, were made of dyed goose feathers. While things have moved on since then, there are more and more quirky, individual artificial trees on the market. But if it is a traditional look you are going for take a look at the wide range of excellent imitation fir trees which are guaranteed not to shed needles and can be packed back in their box until year.
A relatively new option which is growing in popularity is renting a tree.
Your chosen tree is delivered to your home, complete with a sustainable root system. On Jan 6, the supplier picks it up again, replants it and grows it on for next year.
Our tree choices
Whistler Blue Fir, 7ft, £250, and Silver Spruce, £195, www.John Lewis.com
Christmas Luxe 6ft Frosty Pop up Tree flocking £35, Asda
Right, Ennerdale Tree, 1.8m, £129, Dobbies
All Prices correct at time of publication