The Ultimate Christmas Tree Buying Guide


Nothing compares to the aroma and feel of a real Christmas tree, freshly cut and decorated in your home.

Real trees can make the holiday season feel especially festive, but how do you know which type of tree is best for you? It can be difficult to choose one since there are so many varieties out there and not all are created equal.

We wrote this guide to help you find the perfect tree. Read this before you go shopping and be sure to check out the cheat sheet at the bottom too!


Top 10 tree types

1. Balsam fir

balsam fir christmas tree balsam first needles

Balsam firs are a classic Christmas tree variety known for their strong, sweet aroma and excellent needle retention. Their needles are a beautiful dark green colour, and they tend to have an excellent symmetrical pyramid shape. Their flat needles are also perfect for use in wreaths and Christmas bouquets. They have softer branches, so they’re not ideal for heavy ornaments. 

2. Canaan fir

canaan fir christmas tree canaan fir needles

Canaan firs are a relative to Balsam firs but have almost twice as many needles. Their branches create a beautiful shape and have enough stiffness for heavier ornaments. They also have a great Christmas aroma, with soft needles that will stay on all season long. 

3. Concolor fir 

concolor fir christmas tree concolor fir needles

If you’re looking for something with a unique scent and colour, Concolor firs are an excellent choice. These trees are known for their citrus scent and bluish-green needles. They have longer needles that curve upward and outward to create a beautiful cone shape. Needle retention is excellent and they tend to have nice straight trunks. These trees are generally slow-growing, so they can be more expensive than other varieties. 


4. Douglas fir 

douglas fir christmas tree douglas fir needles

Douglas firs have an unbeatable holiday aroma with a more dense, compact appearance. They have light green needles that are soft to the touch - so they’re a kid-friendly option. Their branches tend to be softer, so it’s best to stick with lighter weight ornaments, but they won’t disappoint with their excellent needle retention. 

5. Fraser fir

fraser fir christmas tree fraser fir needles

Referred to as the “Cadillac of Christmas trees”, Fraser firs are a great tree that checks all the boxes. They have straight trunks, sturdy branches, soft needles, excellent needle retention, and a lovely aroma. Their blue-green needles with silvery undersides also make them a unique, eye-catching colour. Fraser firs tend to not to grow very wide, so they make an excellent choice for smaller spaces. 

6. Noble fir

noble fir christmas tree noble fir needles

Noble firs are another well-rounded tree that has great needle retention, a classic Christmas scent, strong branches, and soft needles. Since they require a bit more care from growers and are relatively slow-growing compared to other tree types, they can sometimes be harder to find and more expensive. 

7. Scotch pine 

scotch pine christmas tree scotch pine needles

Scotch pines (a.k.a. Scots pine) have long dark green needles and a more dense appearance. They have stiff branches and excellent needle retention, however, they don’t have much fragrance and it’s common for their trunks to be curved. Their needles are quite sharp, so it’s best to wear gloves when handling the tree and decorating. Scotch pines are also very commonly used for wreaths and holiday planters. 

8. White pine

white pine christmas tree white pine needles

If you’re looking for something different, this tree’s for you! White pines (a.k.a. eastern white pine) are a dense tree with soft, thin, blue-green needles that create a fuzzy, feathery appearance. For this reason, their branches are often used in garlands, wreaths, and centrepieces too. They don’t have much scent to them but are a budget-friendly alternative for someone wanting a larger tree. This tree has great needle retention, but their branches tend to be quite soft. It’s best to stick with light and simple decor for this one.  

9. Colorado blue spruce 

colorado blue spruce christmas tree colorado blue spruce needles

Colorado blue spruces (a.k.a blue spruce) are another beautiful variety that has a distinct blue-green colour and symmetrical cone-like shape. Their stiff branches can hold up to heavy ornaments, and they have excellent needle retention. Their needles are very sharp though, so it’s best to keep this away from small children and to wear gloves when handling. One other downside is that they produce an unpleasant smell when their needles are broken. 

10. Norway spruce

norway spruce christmas tree norway spruce needles

Norway spruces are a beautiful tree with short green needles and a symmetrical pyramid shape. They have a more subtle Christmas scent and sharper needles, but their branches are a bit sturdier. The one common downside is that they tend to have poor needle retention, so it’s important to keep this tree watered daily. 


Here’s an overview of all the trees we reviewed for easy comparison. Bookmark this page and take it shopping with you!  

christmas tree cheatsheet

Check out our post, How to Set Up a Real Christmas Tree in 8 Steps, for a guide on how to prepare and care for you tree once you have it. 

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