a reliable, realistic noble fir

by | Nov 27, 2017 | All Things Home, Decorating, Holiday, Winter | 34 comments

Let me just say that I’m a big fan of live trees.  I am, however, not a fan when they dry out and look like this two days before Christmas…

The branches that were once strong and up-turned, were sagging to the point that the garland and ornaments were sliding off.  And this was with proper watering, trimming the trunk after bringing it home, buying it freshly cut, adding sugar to the water, etc.

Not only did that one die, but our two other smaller trees died as well – a lesser issue, since our presents weren’t going to circle them on Christmas morning, but still a bummer.

We replaced our tree two days before Christmas, but I immediately started browsing the Balsam Hill website for realistic-looking artificial Christmas trees.  Being a live-tree-loving-girl, if I’m going to switch to the reliability of an artificial tree, it has to look really good.  Many of my blogger friends had Balsam Hill trees and I trusted their reviews, so when I had the opportunity to work with them and review a tree myself, I jumped at the chance.

I selected the 8′ Noble Fir with Clear Lights and the Easy Plug option.

So, right away, I can say that everything about this tree is top notch.  Not just the tree itself, but all of the accessories that come with it to make setting up, storing, and maintaining the tree easier.  It comes with storage bags for the tree as well as one for the stand, replacement pieces, and more.

All of the sections of the tree are tagged, making it easy to assemble the pieces in the proper order.

Now, I have to confess something…  I pulled the first section out and the branches were flipped up (for storage), so my first view was of, what looked like, pretty typical plastic needles.  Oh no!  This doesn’t look realistic!  

The needles I was seeing were just the filler needles that are on the interior of the tree.  The branches that show are covered in life-like needles.  Even my 10 year old boy, who doesn’t usually pay attention to decorating things, mentioned how real the branches look.

So, another thing, as I was setting it up, I was preparing myself for the hunt for the ends of light strands, so I could plug the sections into each other.  I sort of got ahead of things and started putting the tree together before I read the directions.  I couldn’t find the plug ends, so I went to the directions.  I was instructed to plug the Easy Plug into the wall, turn the lights on, and then assemble the tree.

As soon as I followed the instructions, I realized why I needed to turn the lights on first…

Both sections lit up!  Without fumbling with any plugs.  The power runs through the trunk and simply dropping the section into place makes the lights work.  Hallelujah!

The worst part about having a live tree is definitely stringing the lights, weaving them in and out of every branch.  With this tree, I just snapped the sections together, unfolded and fluffed the branches, and it was ready to decorate.

The Easy Plug feature is another favorite part for me.  My usual turning-on-the-Christmas-tree-lights-routine has involved crawling under the tree to plug it in.  This cord has a small button/pedal that can be clicked with your foot.  It’s one of those little things that makes me happy each time I turn the tree on from an upright position.

The tree isn’t fully decorated, yet, but I added enough to get it started.  Since this tree looks like the most perfect real tree ever (no holes or wonky branches), I want the decorations to have more of a humble/homespun feel.

So, I used wool pom-pom garlands, checked fabric “ribbon”, sprigs of faux lambs ear and white berry bunches to start.  So far, I’ve added a few mercury glass ornaments and tin houses.

I also added these clip-on LED Christmas candles, also from Balsam Hill.  These were another product that had some surprises.  First of all, the candles are battery powered, so no cords are running through the tree!  Also, they came with the batteries!  I’ll let you know how long the batteries last.  Hopefully, they’ll work for a full season.

The second surprise was that they have a remote control and can change colors.  My boys always ask for colored lights and we’ve done some outside and on a small tree in their room, but not on our tree.  I draw the line!  So, they are thrilled that they can make them colored and I am thrilled I can change them back to warm, white lights.

And one other special thing about this tree is that it sheds less than any other real or artificial tree I’ve owned.  There was literally just a few needles on the floor after set-up and a lot of fluffing.

I appreciate all of the attention to detail and quality Balsam Hill brings to their products.  These realistic trees are an investment and they should be quality, easy to set up, and have features that set it apart from less-expensive artificial trees.  And I can say that this one checks all of those boxes.

If you’re in the market for an artificial tree, garlands, wreath, and other Christmas decor, Balsam Hill has sales all over their website and free shipping on everything for Cyber Monday.

If you’d like to see other Balsam Hill trees in action along with reviews, you can follow these links…

Thistle Wood Farms | Norway Spruce

 The Handmade Home | Vermont White Spruce

 The Inspired Room | European Fir

 The French Country Cottage | Frosted Frasier Fir

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Balsam Hill.  They sent me the tree and other products to review on this blog.  This is a company I’m honored to partner with (and I’ll share more on that in a week or so.)  All words and opinions expressed in this post are completely honest and my own.


  1. Mary

    Gorgeous tree! Artificial that looks real (and prelit) is the way to go in terms of simplicity and safety. Glad your boys can enjoy switching to colored lights while you can still enjoy the glow of white lights. Your home is looking beautiful for Christmas! P.S. Where did you get the pom pom garland? I’ve been on a search and have come up empty handed so far – do you think I could make one? (as in, how hard would that be?)


    • Tara

      I saw some garland like this at hobby lobby over the weekend (they also have three other options for those who like color!) and I believe Michael’s has some too.

    • Britney Sherrill

      What a beautiful tree!!! Is this the one with the clear LED light or just the clear lights?

  2. Teresa

    I love the look and smell of a live tree also but lets face it no live tree no matter how much prep and watering you do is going to stay looking fresh and green for an entire month inside a house in dry heat. With that said, your tree is as realistic and beautiful as any I live tree I have seen.

    Artificial trees have come a long ways in the last few years and sometimes the only way you can tell the difference is by touch.

  3. Cindy Richter

    Wowza, I hadn’t seen one that close up before. They look so real! Yours is gorgeous. Love love the the garlands!

  4. Anna

    Super real looking! Looks great.

    I am lucky, I guess, with plugging in my Christmas tree. I have an outlet that allows me to turn on the tree with a flip of the wall switch! Yay! No fumbling for cords.

    Oh…as an aside—- Several years ago we were blessed to spend Christmas with our daughter in law and son who’s stationed in Germany. I’d heard so much about “Oooh! Germany at Christmas time is amazing!” And it was! But truth be told, we didn’t see many real trees right up until the day before Christmas as people were taking them home to decorate. Maybe they actually decorate Christmas trees for Christmas instead of our way decorating earlier during the Advent season? Hmmmm… ;- ) Of course there were HUGE real trees in the town’s squares decorated for the Christmas Markets that were up earlier.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, Germany does Christmas very well! 🙂 And yes, traditionally, they put up their tree on Christmas eve.

    • mary y

      My parents were of German heritage from Ohio and my earliest memory is getting up Christmas morning and seeing the Christmas Tree in all of its glory. Magical. Then one year early on we had a big snow storm and people were told to take down their trees for whatever reason. I think my mother bought the first fake tree. It was never like Christmas after that. I always thought it looked like a bunch of toilet brushes. I recently read that the man who “invented” fake trees indeed owned a toilet brush factor. lol

  5. deanna

    I live 20 minutes from Balsam Hill and have purchased many items from them. Their ornaments, garlands, wreaths and picks are beautiful and of quality. Highly recommend.

  6. kddomingue

    Do you really like yours? I’ve read many a disappointing review from people stating that the tree that they bought after looking at the sites photographs and the tree that was delivered to them bore little resemblance to the photos. They sited large gaps between branches, lighting issues, the filler needles extending too far out on the branches and some completely naked branch tips.

    I’m wondering if there are perhaps two different factories where these trees are produced and one factory has much better quality control standards than the other. Reviewers and bloggers since to be split down the middle about them. Half love them, half were horribly disappointed. That’s an awful lot of money to spend on a tree that isn’t perfectly fabulous.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I haven’t heard that. Yes, I really love this tree and am surprised at how real it looks (and even feels.) It’s just missing the smell and maybe some “character” that comes with a real tree (holes, gaps, bird’s nests, etc.) It’s gorgeous, though, and we’ll use it for many years.

  7. Felicia Adams

    I’m so envious. The tree is gorgeous. I’m glad you had the opportunity to give a review for the company. Otherwise, their trees are prohibitively expensive, IMHO.

  8. Sue Pagels

    I did check Balsam Hill when I was looking for a living room tree and they are beautiful. My question is, how sturdy are the branches? The “real feel” plastic parts look very slippery to me and I wasn’t sure if they were capable of holding heavier ornaments. I stuck with a less expensive tree for now, but would love to know more about the tree as you get it decorated!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, the branches are very sturdy and will hold heavier ornaments just fine. The plastic branches also have a thick, bendable wire running through, so they can be bent, molded, etc.

  9. Audrey

    These trees are an investment that not many families can do. But they are beautiful and they are all decorated so nicely.

  10. Meredith MacRitchie

    I had a feeling you were working with Balsam Hill! This is my third year with mine, and I can tell you it still looks as perfect as the first year. And I don’t think I’m really had any mess to clean up this time (so if it did shed, it wasn’t memorable!)

    People who see my tree don’t believe me until they’re up close, when I tell them Its a fake.

    I am also impressed with the bag of spare parts, the gloves and the storage bag. You definitely get what you pay for!

    I’m excited to see when you’re finished decorating!

  11. Sharon

    I love my Balsam Hill tree. My sister just bought one for herself and my dad. They, too, are so pleased! Great company!

  12. Chris Moore of Seattle

    The most amazing thing about this post is your son is 10!! I guess I still picture them little like when I first started reading you.

    • Marian Parsons

      I know! My boys were 1 and 2 1/2 when I started my blog!

  13. Sheran

    We also purchased a tree from Balsam Hill this year. It’s lovely and we are very happy with it. It wasn’t inexpensive, but I think it was worth every penny.

  14. Joanne

    Oh my!

    I have seriously been thinking of skipping the live tree for the first time ever this year and have been checking out Balsam Hill since Thursday…and here is your post! On my list for next year. I should be able to decide by then! Thanks for your timely review.

    Enjoy your beautiful tree and have a wonderful Christmas!

  15. Ashlea

    I’m not sure why- I might attribute it to having a new born, and being over tired- but I got a good chuckle out of your droopy tree!! How odd?! I don’t think I have seen branches droop so downward like that before…Your new faux tree is beautiful though, and very realistic looking. I love the neutral creams and blues.

  16. Dimitra

    After speaking with several independent tree sellers , they all told me that you should not anything to the water as this closes the pores of the fresh cut on the tree and stops the water from being absorbed. That is the number one complaint they get from customers and the cuplrit is always these lores of adding sugar, asprin, sprite etc etc – in their honest opinion nothing works better than fresh water.

    I have lived in this country for 19 years and had a fresh tree that we but from Home Depot and have never had a problem with any of them – we only feed them fresh water !

    I have contemplated a fake tree many times and after the initial outlay it amortises to very inexpensive over the years – but for now we still enjoy the beauty of a fresh tree . Mind you we inspect several trees checking for gaps and weird shapes, our trees always open to the perfect shape that people ask me if they are fake – lol .

    Either way as always your tree is festive and sentimental = Merry Christmas.

  17. Lisa

    Thanks for this review….I have just splurged this year and bought a Balsam Hill tree…I have always had artificial trees but the thing that sold me with these trees is that fact I won’t have to struggle with oodles of lights…so now I’m really looking forward to,my tree arriving soon…

  18. Angela

    I have long admired the Balsam Hill trees. The main reason I have not bought one is that we moved to a smaller house, and I am VERY short of storage space. How much space does the storage bag take up when everything is all packed away? I’m so happy you like it … I trust your judgement on these things. Your home looks wonderful.

    • Marian Parsons

      This is a large tree, so it fills up two large storage bags. I would select a smaller, slim tree for your situation or buy a live tree until you have the storage space.

  19. mary y

    I volunteer at a historic mansion and two Balsam trees were donated for their Christmas event. I was stunned at their beauty considering they are fake. Since they were two of many I inquired about their origin and was told they were Balsam Hill. Went home and googled the trees. I was surprised at the price but if you want quality and plan to use them for years, I would say go for it. My husband and I met on a blind date and I was out to buy a real tree that day so It has been a ritual ever since to buy a real tree and enjoy the day. I love the way they are packaged as a fake tree can be an elephant in the closet or attic and live in a cardboard box or under a sheet. I would say that is a big plus about their packaging.

  20. Vicki Sheets

    Your tree is lovely and I am a fan of your decorating style. I also appreciate the touches of blue. It seems like a trend lately is to decorate in white and off white with very little color. All the bloggers are all decorating with an absence of color. Its boring. I want red at Christmas! Call me traditional.

  21. Diane

    Its so weird to me you talking about Christmas trees because we were discussing this today with all the girls I work with in our office…real tree or fake. I have been a real tree person for 37 years…I vowed when I was a kid that when I grew up that I wanted a real tree and the reason for that was because when I was a kid we had a fake tree and I mean fake…it was silver tinsel…about 4 feet high and each year it got balder and balder..eventually my mum took to wrapping it up with silver tinsel but it still looked pretty pathetic and we would laugh at the tree!

    So living in the UK its not hard to find a good looking spruce, they are costly but they look and smell divine..so of course when we moved to Portugal I never thought about whether finding a real tree would prove a problem…of course it did, they mostly have round pines here and palm trees! So my husband said don’t worry we will get a good fake tree, so off we trotted to the shops, we lived in a two bedroom apartment at that time…when we eventually chose a tree we got it home and found that the tree took up most of the living room…we could barely sit on the sofa and we certainly couldn’t walk around the sofa on both sides!

    The thing I really didn’t like about fake trees and there are two…the smell…they don’t smell…with a real tree you can smell them all over the house, you don’t even know it but the smell lingers and you know when someone has a real tree in the house. The other thing I don’t like about fake trees is that the arms that you want to hang the baubles from are too thick…even with the hangers you can buy for hanging the baubles from the branches, the baubles still wont sit on the tree properly and of course you don’t get that depth of hanging baubles from different size branches! I just don’t like them…so our fake tree now goes into the entrance hall and its my husband who decorates that tree and we managed to find 1 plant nursery who has real trees, they are expensive but so worth it for me. It was hard enough getting used to warmer weather on Christmas day so warm that we can sit outside and eat our Christmas dinner…but I dealt with that, but having no real tree that was a deal breaker! My husband he is such a good egg he will drive me for miles and miles to find a real tree!


    Marian, your Balsam Hill tree is beautiful! I love the “country” touches you have added like the checked fabric ribbon and the pom-pom garlands! Enjoy Christmas in your lovely new home! Blessings!

  23. Debbie

    I love Balsam Hill products; however, I think their prices are outrageous.

  24. Jamie

    This is year 2 of our Balsam Hill tree and I still LOVE it. However….I have seen WAY too many prelit trees on for sale sites stating that the lights no longer work. After working at a florist that put up 1000’s of lights at Christmas and putting 1000s of lights around my own house, EVERY year I have to replace lights that quit working for some reason or another. So, I did not purchase a prelit tree. I’d rather have the tree for many years and buy for lights for it than take a risk of a tree whose lights quit working. I don’t have very good luck with lights.

  25. Cynthia

    I loved your tree so much, I talked my husband into buying two from Balsam Hill; one like yours and one frosted tree. Sadly, our experience has not been positive. Both trees have large areas with lights that will not work. I have spent hours, on line, trying to get help. It’s getting close to Christmas so we need to make a decision, soon. We’ve been promised new sections, to replace the defective parts but, we only got a string of lights and more empty promises. I would think that, if you spend $600+ for a pre-lit tree, you wouldn’t be expected to re-string the faulty lights to correct their mistakes. Hope others have better results.

  26. Cynthia

    I loved your tree so much, I talked my husband into buying two from Balsam Hill; one like yours and one frosted tree. Sadly, our experience has not been positive. Both trees have large areas with lights that will not work. I have spent hours, on line, trying to get help. It’s getting close to Christmas so we need to make a decision, soon. We’ve been promised new sections, to replace the defective parts but, we only got a string of lights and more empty promises. I would think that, if you spend $600+ for a pre-lit tree, you wouldn’t be expected to re-string the faulty lights to correct their mistakes. Hope others have better results.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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