How Tos & Expert Tips

A Review of Big-Box Store vs. Balsam Hill Christmas Trees

Choosing where to buy a Christmas tree can be challenging. With the wide variety of trees available, how do you find the best artificial Christmas tree for you? And what’s the difference between trees from big-box stores like Target or Home Depot, and specialty brands like Balsam Hill? 

To help answer your questions, we invited some home décor enthusiasts to compare and review Christmas trees. First, they picked a Balsam Hill Christmas tree. Then they chose a big-box store tree of the same height and type. For this review, a Target Christmas tree and a Home Depot Christmas tree were reviewed.

Casey Finn of The DIY Playbook reviewed 7.5’ pre-lit Balsam Fir trees from Balsam Hill and the big-box store, Target. Kierste Wade of Old Salt Farm compared a 7’ Frosted Balsam Fir tree from the same retail store with Balsam Hill’s 7.5′ Frosted BH Balsam Fir. Lastly, Kelly of Live Laugh Rowe did a Balsam Hill vs Home Depot review of 7.5’ Noble Fir trees.

Where is the best place to buy artificial Christmas trees, you ask? Read on for a summary of their opinions on Balsam Hill Christmas trees vs Target Christmas trees and Home Depot Christmas trees—who does it better? 

Realism of Foliage 

One of the first things that Casey noted was that the foliage of her big-box tree had the same green hue all throughout. In contrast, the color variations on Balsam Hill’s True Needle™ foliage more closely resembled that which you’d see on natural trees.  

Kierste added how more realistic the Balsam Hill tree is. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that the tree is composed mainly of a single type of foliage. In contrast, the big-box tree has a mix of foliage varieties, which does not occur anywhere in nature.

Pro Tip: One of the factors to consider when you shop for a faux tree is needle quality. How realistic are the needles? If you want a traditional look, opt for a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) tree. But if you want one that’s more lifelike, consider a tree with PE (polyethylene) needles.

Quantity of Needles and Branches

A side-by-side view of the trees showed a stark difference in fullness. After fluffing, the branches of the Balsam Hill tree thoroughly covered the trunk. The big-box trees, on the other hand, displayed noticeable gaps.  

Target vs Balsam Hill flocked Christmas trees
Kierste noted the difference in appearance between her 7.5’ Balsam Hill tree (right), which had more branch tips than her 7’ big-box store tree. Photo courtesy of Old Salt Farm

Apparently, the number of branch tips contributes a lot to getting the dense look that many love. Kierste noted that her 7.5’ Balsam Hill tree had more than 5,700 branch tips. Her 7’ big-box store tree had 1,419 branch tips, and this made it appear much smaller despite being only 6” shorter. 

Side-by-side comparison of the Noble Fir tree from Balsam Hill vs Home Depot
This or That? Kelly admired the downward-swept branches of her 7.5’ BH tree (left). She also noted that it had more branch tips and lights than her 7.5’ big-box store tree. Photo courtesy of Live Laugh Rowe

As for the Balsam Hill Christmas tree vs Home Depot Christmas tree comparison, Kelly wrote that Balsam Hill’s had 2,989 branch tips while the big-box store tree had 2,702. The difference is more noticeable at the bottom sections of the trees.

Lighting Features

Casey compared her pre-lit Balsam Fir trees and observed that the Balsam Hill Christmas tree shone brighter. A look at the light counts reveals that the Balsam Hill tree has 900 lights, while the other has 500.  

Target vs. Balsam Hill Christmas tree with lights 
Comparison of pre-lit trees from a big-box store and from Balsam Hill (right). Photo courtesy of The DIY Playbook

Another important point of comparison is the type of lights on the trees. All the big-box trees are fitted with traditional incandescent lights while Balsam Hill trees have Candlelight™ Clear LEDs. These LED lights emit a warm glow just like incandescent lights but are much more energy-efficient. 

Pre-lit frosted Balsam Fir from Target and Balsam Hill
Kierste’s BH frosted tree (right) features LED lights compared to the big-box store tree’s incandescent lights. Photo courtesy of Old Salt Farm

Pro Tip: The two main light types available are traditional or incandescent lights and the newer LED lights. LEDs are more energy-efficient and durable.

Exclusive Accessories and Inclusions

Our reviewers were pleasantly surprised to find that their Balsam Hill Christmas trees came with many various accessories. The on/off foot pedal proved to be a very convenient way to control the lights. With this built-in switch, there’s no need to reach around the tree to plug and unplug the cord.  

Pedal light switch for pre-lit Balsam Hill trees 
Most pre-lit trees from Balsam Hill come with a convenient on/off foot pedal. Photo courtesy of The DIY Playbook

The two pairs of protective gloves helped make the job of shaping their Balsam Hill trees easier and more enjoyable. 

Gloves that are included as accessories for Balsam Hill trees
Gloves protect hands during tree fluffing. Photo courtesy of Old Salt Farm

Our reviewers were delighted that their Balsam Hill trees came with storage bags. In fact, there were three bags—two for the tree sections and one for the metal stand and accessories.  

Balsam Hill tree storage bags and accessories 
Storage bags to keep trees and accessories safe during the off-season. Photo courtesy of Old Salt Farm

The other brands didn’t offer a warranty so Balsam Hill’s 3-year warranty was another big plus for the home décor enthusiasts. This covers the tree frame, foliage, hinges, and stand. It also covers the repair or replacement of lights. 


What is the best brand of artificial Christmas tree?

When it came to comparing Balsam Hill vs Target and Home Depot Christmas trees, reviews ended with the former as the preferred tree, mainly for its realism and accessories. After seeing the big difference between Balsam Hill and a tree from a big-box brand, the reviewers realized that it’s truly worth investing in a specialty artificial Christmas tree.  

For more tips on choosing your holiday centerpiece, read our quick buyer’s guide.   


  1. Dwane Cameron Light Reply

    Placed an order for one of your trees on the 19th of November 2021 prior to noon with express shipping. So according to your site it should have been sent out within 24 hours. This did not happen. What did happen is that you cancelled my order within 24 hours without even attempting to contract me, not via phone or email Then 48 hours after that you successfully charged my account.

    So you charged me for an order that you already cancelled. How is this not criminal?

    • Balsam Hill Reply

      Thank you for contacting Balsam Hill, Dwane. We are sorry to hear what transpired with your order. For order assistance, you can send us an email at so we can further assist you.

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