A message from our founder:

This time of year, we often field inquiries from prospective customers that go something like this:

“I want to buy a realistic, high-quality artificial Christmas tree. I’ve done my research, and I’m deciding between a Balsam Hill or Frontgate tree. Is there a big difference?”

The short answer: YES!

Now, before I get into this topic, let me say that I think Frontgate® is a great company, and that I’m personally a very happy Frontgate customer. If you haven’t tried their bath towels, I highly recommend them—they are of terrific quality and very reasonably priced. I use mine daily.

This being said, when it comes to artificial Christmas trees, there is a huge difference between Frontgate vs. Balsam Hill®. Below are some of the things you may want to consider, whether shopping for a tree from Balsam Hill, Frontgate, or another retailer:

Company Focus

Many may ask: who owns Balsam Hill and how long has it been in business? Balsam Hill is owned by Balsam Brands, a privately-held company founded in 2006. Our headquarters are located in Redwood City, California, and Boise, Idaho, but we serve customers around the globe. Many of our Christmas trees and décor are enjoyed by families in Europe and Australia. And while we probably sell more Christmas trees than Frontgate, Balsam Hill is a much smaller company. This allows us to focus on designing and making the highest-quality, most realistic artificial Christmas trees available in the world and carrying the largest selection of trees that are hard to tell apart from their counterparts in nature.

Frontgate, on the other hand, is a very large, well-known catalog retailer—you’ve probably received one of their catalogs before. They sell thousands of different products in home décor, bedding and bath, indoor and outdoor furniture, and many other categories.

Design Detail

A common question that’s asked is where Balsam Hill trees are made. Each of our Balsam Hill Christmas trees is conceived by our internal team in California, designed by our designers, and prototyped in our Research and Development (R&D) center in China before they are made by hand. I still serve as our lead tree designer, and I have personally been involved with the design of each and every Christmas tree that we’ve developed since I founded the company.

I enjoy being closely involved in the design process. I have often taken branch sample clippings from trees in the wild when exploring the mountains, and even planted a blue spruce tree in my backyard so I could compare the branch samples from our factory with a live tree when we were redesigning our BH Blue Spruce®. While some people might find this strange, I take these steps to ensure that our trees are as lifelike and close to the species they are meant to resemble as possible. I’m not aware of any other company that takes this level of care to ensure their trees mimic nature as closely as ours.

In most cases, I review 3-8 iterations of a new tree from our R&D team before deciding whether it meets our standards and should go on to production. Each year, I personally make about three separate trips to meet with our R&D team and iterate the design details of our new products for the next season. What this means for our customers is that they get the best trees available. Our products have been scrutinized and designed with great attention to detail, which is something that we can afford to do as a specialty retailer.

Read more: The Balsam Hill Difference

Branch Quality

If you’re looking for the most realistic artificial Christmas tree, you’ve come to the right place. Our True Needle® branches are simply unmatched in quality. You can preview our needle quality and different branch options with the Branch Sample Kit.

Close-up of Balsam Hill Fraser Fir Branch and Needles
Featured: A branch of a Balsam Hill BH Fraser Fir® Christmas tree, our most realistic tree to date.

Competitors’ branch tips generally fall short in 3 areas:

  1. The quality of the molds is not as high, so the detail in the branches is not as realistic.
  2. The quality of the hand-painting of the tips is not high (or they aren’t painted at all).
  3. Needle tips are not strongly defined—there are thin sheets of trailing plastic between needles.

On this third point—you’ll rarely see this issue in a product photo, and you’ll never see it in an inset close-up photo of the tips. The photographer will always select one of the good tips for the close-up photo. However, when we examine our competitors’ trees, this is always the single biggest issue we see between the advertised product and the actual product.  If you are able to visit one of our showrooms near San Francisco or Dallas, or stop by one of the selected Nordstrom locations that will carry our trees this year, we would encourage you to compare the look and feel of our branches to what you might find at Frontgate, Lowe’s, or other stores that sell artificial Christmas trees.

Tree Selection

Our focus has always been on providing not only the most realistic trees but also the most options to our customers to fit their unique needs. With the widest selection of shapes and sizes out there, I’m not aware of any other retailer that carries nearly as many tree varieties as us. We’re also known for industry-leading innovations such as our ultra-realistic True Needle branches and our unique Color+Clear® or Candlelight™ LED lights, offering you an extensive line of options in each tree family.

Customer Service & Warranty

At Balsam Hill, customer satisfaction is our top priority, and we always strive toward exceptional service. We encourage customers to contact us for advice regarding either their prospective or completed purchases. Our customer care center is currently open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST. Live chat is also available from Monday through Friday during the same hours. You may also fill out our web form so we can direct your message to the appropriate department. We look forward to hearing from you.

Our website offers a comprehensive package of useful customer resources, including a Christmas Tree Buyer’s Guide and information about products, policies, order status, creating an account, domestic and international shipping, and pricing and billing. We like to foster the kind of accessibility and transparency that makes the Balsam Hill experience seamless and superb.

Perhaps the single biggest factor that conveys our confidence in our Balsam Hill artificial Christmas trees is our warranty. Balsam Hill customers enjoy a 3-year warranty on all non-clearance trees. The Balsam Hill warranty covers the repair or replacement of defects in the quality of the tree frame, foliage, hinges, stand, and factory-installed lights (excluding burned-out bulbs).

Little Details

Looking for the best brand of artificial Christmas tree that’s worth your investment? Here are some of the “little details” about our trees that you may consider:

  • We offer the widest selection of trees mimicking natural tree species from around the world.
  • While some brands purchase their trees through brokers who order from various factory suppliers, we design and source each one of our trees ourselves.
  • Our trees have been hand-crafted with care to ensure quality and longevity so you can enjoy your tree for years to come.
  • Our pre-lit trees are professionally strung by hand so you don’t have to hassle with untangling wires to get that beautiful glow of lights.
  • We offer a wide variety of lighting options to fit your decorating needs. Select from foot-pedal controlled warm clear lights or festive multicolored lights. Or, choose our Color+Clear remote-controlled lighting system or Candlelight LED lights for a warm holiday glow. 
  • Our Twinkly®-enabled trees take lighting to another level with their exclusive patented technology that allows you to quickly map the location of each light with your phone or tablet.  Once the lights are mapped, you can individually control the color of each light on the tree, create patterns, and otherwise customize the lights to your liking.
  • We continue most of our products year after year, so you typically can buy a matching wreath or garland years later.
  • We design our trees for quick and easy setup. Included with every tree are protective gloves to help shape the branches as well as storage bag(s) for safe off-season storage.
  • For ultimate ease of setup, we offer Easy Plug® Setup options to connect each section’s lights within the trunk so you only need to plug it into the wall. Or, choose one of our exclusive Flip Trees® for even more convenience. Simply rotate it into display position in seconds and store upside-down on its built-in rolling stand.
  • We always offer free shipping on our trees (if you do buy from Frontgate, wait for a free shipping promotion!).

Which Among Balsam Hill and Frontgate is Better?

The final judge of our respective products is the customer—only you can decide which artificial Christmas tree is right for you. For more help with your decision, browse through reviews from our customers. Regardless of which option you choose, I wish you and your family a very merry and joyous Christmas, and a happy and peaceful New Year!

—Mac Harman, Founder & CEO


Want to learn more about our artificial Christmas trees and how to pick the right one? Check out the articles below:

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