Every part of getting and decorating a Christmas tree should be fun, even putting it in its stand. And there are many good stands out there that make the job of tree set up fast and easy. You don’t have to pay a lot for a top notch stand that’s a pleasure to use and contributes to holiday cheer. It can even make post-holiday cleanup quick and painless.
If you’re in a hurry, check out our quick mini guide below with info on five of the best stands from our testing. Scroll down to read the complete reviews of these and other models, plus some buying advice.
What to Look for in a Tree Stand
Size the stand based on the height and trunk diameter of the tree you normally get. And if you typically get a tall tree, you’ll need a deep stand or one with a tall gripping mechanism. The higher up the stand holds, the more stable the tree will be. Also, you need to take into account how much water the tree will need. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, your stand should hold one quart of water per inch of the trunk’s diameter.
Selection and Testing
After researching the available options, we gathered a range of stands, from simple plastic basins to fairly complex models with gripping and swiveling mechanisms. We then inserted a freshly cut eight-foot Douglas fir into each one. And when we say “freshly cut,” we mean that we walked out to the tree at the Spruce Goose tree farm in rural central New Jersey and cut it down with a sharp bow saw. The tree was typical, weighing 35 pounds with a stem that measured about 3.5 inches across. We tested how easy it was to put the tree in each stand, get it vertical, tightened, and whether it was easy to remove. For the one rolling stand for artificial trees we had, we inserted an artificial tree in it and wheeled it around. For the stands that we didn’t get our hands on yet, we looked at overall customer reviews on sites like Amazon and Home Depot, as well as scoured for specific likes and dislikes about each product to help us determine which are best. Read on for our full evaluations of the best Christmas tree stands you can buy this year.
Krinner Tree Genie XXL
Max tree height: 12 ft. | Max tree diameter: 7 in. | Base weight: 18 lb. | Base diameter: 20 in. | Water capacity: 2.5 gallons
The hands down winner in this test is Krinner’s well-engineered stand. It’s beautifully made in Germany, and its thoughtful details show in every aspect of its design and construction, right down to its gold stripes and the float that pops up out of the base so you can easily read the water level. To use it, set the tree in the base until it bottoms out on a small cone, then pump the foot pedal to activate the ratchet mechanism that moves five cable-operated jaws into position to firmly grip the tree stem. (Each pump of the pedal moves the jaws about half an inch.) You do have to lift the tree above the jaws, so it helps to have a second person to help set it up. Tightening the jaws around the trunk is fast and sure, and we were amazed to see our tree firmly and quickly fastened and plumb (straight up and down), even though we realized after the fact that we didn’t have the tree properly centered.
Dyno Seasonal Solutions XTS3
Max tree height: 10 ft. | Max tree diameter: 4.75 in. | Base weight: 9.5 lb. | Base diameter: 20 in. | Water capacity: 3.5 quarts
This stand seems to work best with mid-size trees (say four to eight feet), although it’s rated for taller conifers. To clamp a tree in place with the Swivel Straight, first attach the collar to the base–a part that consists of a thick plastic cup with three bolts in it that clamp to the tree. Once that’s attached, you stand the tree up and insert the clamping collar into the stand’s base and turn it slightly clockwise. The collar locks in position, and you use the foot pedal to swivel the tree so that it’s plumb. It will probably take you a few tries the first time you use this base to get it right. Our Douglas fir was pretty straight, but like most trees it’s not perfect. When the tree was on the floor, everything looked okay, but when we stood it up, we found that the swivel base didn’t have enough movement to get the tree straight up and down. So we tried it again and got it right. Moral of the story: Get the tree properly centered in the clamping collar, and be sure that the trunk and the collar are truly aligned as you tighten, then stand the tree up.
Cinco Express C-152E
Max tree height: 8 ft. | Max tree diameter: 6 in. | Base weight: 3.2 lb. | Base diameter: 16 in. | Water capacity: 1.3 gallons
If you’re in a hurry to get the tree up, this is a good choice. The aptly named Express is a sturdy plastic basin, molded from one piece of thick polypropylene with lots of ribbing on its back to increase its rigidity. It’s the only stand in the test with quick-release bolts. Pull back on the latch above each and then press the bolt forward or pull it back. Make sure the tree is properly centered and as close to plumb as possible, then slide the bolts against the trunk and tighten. To loosen the bolts or remove the tree, make a couple of quick reverse turns with the bolt and then engage the mechanism and slide the bolts all the way back.
John Wright Heirloom
Max tree height: 8 ft. | Max tree diameter: 5 in. | Base weight: 16.2 lb. | Base diameter: 14 in. | Water capacity: 1 quart
Another well-named product, the Heirloom looks every bit the part of a Victorian Christmas tree stand. But it’s no refurbished antique. It’s made from cast iron with a smooth, rust-resistant urethane finish. Certainly it’s durable enough to provide a lifetime of use–and then some. Drop the tree into the cylinder (which is fully part of the base, not welded on), then tighten three massive brass-plated eye screws. Like all stands of this type, you do need to have the tree properly centered and take care when tightening to get it evenly clamped. Wright includes a nickel-plated steel bar to insert through the eye of the screw to help you turn it, and a flange nut on the end of each screw provides firm, well-distributed pressure and prevents the screw from digging into the tree’s bark. A final thoughtful detail: Peel-and-stick foam pads are included. Apply these to the stand’s feet to prevent them from scratching the floor. This is a fine stand and one built to last several generations, but it does have relatively modest water capability and lacks the convenient features of some of the other models here. But if you’re a traditionalist, and keep an eye on the water level, you’ll do just fine with this simple, well-executed product.
Home Heritage Electric Metal Rotating Stand
Max tree height: 7.5 ft. | Max tree diameter: 1.5 in. | Base weight: 6 lb. | Base diameter: 22 in. | Water capacity: None
Most of us don’t have our tree in the center of a room, which means that at least one side doesn’t get appreciated. This rotating stand allows you to see all angles of your artificial tree, giving every ornament a place of prominence. It can handle trees up to 90 pounds, and the lights can be plugged into the base, eliminating the need for an additional unsightly chord. It comes in four Christmas-y color options and is easy to set up right out of the box. Customers praised its sturdiness and slow rotation speed.
Goliath Welded Steel Christmas Tree Stand
Max tree height: 12 ft. | Max tree diameter: 7 in. | Base weight: 9.8 lb. | Base diameter: 28 in. | Water capacity: .9 gallon
If you have a tree 10 feet or taller, you want to make sure you secure it in a sturdy base. This stand is just that—with heavy-duty steel construction and a flat base, it can hold trees up to 12 feet tall, and trunks seven inches in diameter. It sits in the middle of the pack at 9.8 pounds, but thanks to the removable legs it stores easily. Since large trees tend to drink more water, the .9 gallon water capacity is helpful. Customers love it, with one even saying that their tree was so healthy it began sprouting buds.