The scene is all too familiar. The whole family gathers around for an afternoon of decorating the holiday tree but spends more time struggling to set up the tree than decorating it. Although often overlooked, the right tree stand is as important as choosing the right tree. Having spent a few holiday seasons wrestling with our tree and even having it topple over one year, I decided to check out some tree stands.
The first consideration is a stand that's sturdy and attractive, but if you're buying a cut tree, the water reservoir is equally important. It should provide 1 quart of water for every inch diameter of the trunk. For example, for a 4-inch-diameter tree, the reservoir should have at least a 4-quart capacity or you'll be adding water a couple of times a day.
Here are two of the best stands I found:
For a large holiday tree that requires a sturdy base, the Swivel Straight Stand ($80, Improvements, (800) 634-9484) is a good choice. The 23-inch-diameter plastic base has a 5-quart reservoir and can support a 10-foot-tall, 5-inch-diameter tree. With the tree on its side, attach the reservoir to the trunk with adjustable clamps. Once the reservoir is fastened, place it in the swivel base. The best feature is a pedal in the base, which when depressed swivels the base, enabling you to position the tree perfectly straight without having to wrestle with adjusting the clamps.
If you have a smaller tree and want a fast, unobtrusive stand, try the Faststand ($25, Roy's Designs, (877) 471-2821). One person can literally have the tree up in 1 minute using this lightweight three-legged design. Even though the stand supposedly fits a tree up to 9 feet tall with a 6-inch-diameter base, it wasn't as sturdy with large trees as other stands, so this one may work best with small trees and in homes without small children. With the tree laid on its side, attach the stand to the trunk and pull the tension bar to lock it in place. Stand the tree upright and fill the separate, 2-gallon reservoir.
Other stands available include the following:
Lee Valley Christmas Tree Stand uses a simple lightweight metal frame and straps to support the tree; $40 from Lee Valley. The Davis D series tree stand comes in different sizes for different tree heights (D6 to D20 for trees 6 to 20 feet tall). Stands have a lightweight metal base and a levered drill screw that attaches to the tree trunk; $15 to $160 from Alpine Farms. The Foolproof tree stand features a locking system that attaches to the tree before you place it in the base; comb locks help align the tree straight in the base; $50 from Brookstone. And finally, for those who prefer an artificial tree, the E.Z. Rotating stand has a plastic base and small electric motor that allows your tree and lights to rotate 360 degrees; $90 from most home centers.