There are several things to consider when choosing the mainstay of your holiday décor. These include price point, color, lighting, foliage, size, and shape to name a few. Knowing the different Christmas tree shapes is essential in choosing one that fits your display area. This comprehensive guide by Treetopia teaches you what you need to know.

What are the different shapes of Christmas trees?

Treetopia offers several types of artificial Christmas tree shapes: full, slim, pencil, flatback and corner. There’s also the upside-down tree shape for a truly unique holiday display.

Infographic detailing the different widths and shapes of artificial Christmas trees

This guide estimates the diameter of every Christmas tree shape. It gives you an idea of how much floor area each one takes up.

Full> 50 inches
Slim< 47 inches
Pencil19-23 inches
FlatbackFlat 13 inches
Upside-down50 inches
*Note: Measurements are based on the widest part of 7-foot trees

Tip: How do you measure a tree? For the Christmas tree height, measure from the bottom of the stand to the tip of the topmost branch. To get the diameter, measure the widest part of the tree.

How to Tell the Difference Between Christmas Tree Shapes

Each Christmas tree shape has a unique profile—or “silhouette.” It’s the outline you see when you’re standing in front of the tree. You can tell the shape by looking at the tree’s slope and measuring its diameter.

1. Full Christmas Tree Shape

Oh Christmas Tree traditional shape
The full and fine Oh Christmas Tree

A full or traditional Christmas tree is dense with a gradual slope. A 7-foot one would have a 50-inch diameter or more at its base.

2. Slim Christmas Tree Shape

An example of a slimline Christmas tree
The slim and lifelike Addison Spruce® Christmas Tree

The profile of a slim artificial Christmas tree is narrower than a full one. Generally, one that measures 7 feet is less than 47 inches in diameter.

3. Pencil Christmas Tree Shape

A pencil tree with lights sans decorations
The sharp-looking No. 2 Pencil Christmas Tree

An artificial pencil Christmas tree has the sharpest profile among the three. Its diameter is up to 60% smaller, usually 19 to 23 inches for a 7-foot tree.

4. Flatback or Corner Christmas Tree Shape

Picture of a flatback Christmas tree
The Bonnie to your Clyde: My Better Half Christmas Tree
Picture of a corner Christmas tree
Not a wallflower: In Your Corner Christmas Tree

A flatback gives the appearance of a full tree when viewed from the front. But the back lies flat on a wall. It has a width of flat 13 inches.

Similarly, a corner tree has a full silhouette from the front. But with a corner width of 27 inches, it’s smaller than a flatback.

5. Upside-Down Christmas Tree Shape

An upside-down Christmas tree is so much fun
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it: The Knocked Upside-Down Christmas Tree

An upside-down tree also has a full profile but as the name suggests, it’s inverted with a base supporting the tip. The widest part is at the top, measuring 50 inches.

What sizes do artificial Christmas trees come in?

The different Christmas tree silhouettes come in a variety of sizes (or heights) that range between 4 to 12 feet. A tree’s profile and height suits certain areas better than others.

Here are examples of how each Christmas tree shape looks in different areas of the home.

Where to Put a Full Christmas Tree

A pink Christmas tree with a full shape
Kids’ bedroom décor by Lombard and Fifth
A green Christmas tree with a full shape
Living room décor by Jesse Coulter
A black Christmas tree with a full shape
Foyer décor by Oh Yeah Em

A full Christmas tree is a popular choice because it has a similar profile to a real evergreen. Artificial full trees are available in heights of 4 to 12 feet. They don’t work in small spaces with low ceilings and look best in spacious rooms, including large bedrooms. Aside from the living room, the foyer is an ideal spot, as it’s usually the first area guests see.

Areas to Display a Slim Christmas Tree

A silver slim Christmas tree in the dining room
Dining room décor by Bentley Blonde
A blue slim Christmas tree beside a shelf
Living room décor by Matt Crump
An orange slim Christmas tree beside a coffee table
Living room décor by Smart Fun DIY

A slim Christmas tree is a good option if you want a traditional shape but lack space. It comes in a wide range of heights from under 5 feet to bigger ones over 8 feet tall. This tree shape suits rooms with a small to medium-sized floor area like dining rooms.

Ideal Locations for a Pencil Christmas Tree

A green pencil Christmas tree beside a shelf
Kids’ room décor by Jennifer Perkins
A black pencil Christmas tree beside a chair
Reading nook décor by Vickie Howell
A white pencil Christmas tree beside a bed
Bedroom décor by Hello Betty

A pencil tree is even narrower than a slim tree and has a sharp profile. This unique Christmas tree shape doesn’t take too much floor space and is available in heights of up to 12 feet. Display it in small apartments or use it as a secondary tree in the master or kids’ bedrooms. It also adds cheer to small spaces like reading nooks.

Suggested Display Areas for a Flatback or Corner Christmas tree

If a full profile is a non-negotiable but your floor space doesn’t cut it, a flatback tree is a good compromise. It stands at 7 feet tall and has a full silhouette when viewed from the front. The back lays flat against the wall. It works best in tight areas like hallways and kitchen nooks.

Or use a corner tree that saves even more space than a flatback. It’s available at 7.5 feet and only takes up a quarter of the space a full Christmas tree needs.

Places to Display an Upside-Down Christmas Tree

An upside-down tree stands at 7 feet tall and has a full profile. From a practical standpoint, it’s a unique alternative to save on floor space. But from a design perspective, it’s a fun tree that drives interesting reactions from spectators. Put it anywhere in your home—be it the living room or the bedroom.

Tip: Regardless of shape, remember to leave at least six inches of space between the tree and the ceiling for your tree topper. That said, it shouldn’t graze the surface of your ceiling. You don’t want any scratches.

How to Decorate According to Christmas Tree Shape

After choosing a tree, it’s time to do some decorating. Read on to find out how you can decorate your centerpiece to complement its unique shape.

Dress it Up: How many ornaments do you need?

Ornaments can make or break your tree décor, so choose well. A full Christmas tree that’s 7.5 feet tall needs about 105-140 ornaments. We recommend ornaments between 4 to 8.75 inches in size. However, remember that there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to number of ornaments. It all depends on your style. Just use this information as a springboard for your decorating plans.

1. Full and Slim Christmas Trees

A full shape Christmas tree decorated with flower ornaments and giant Christmas balls
Full Christmas tree photo and decorations by Carrie Colbert

One of the benefits of a full Christmas tree is that it has dense foliage to support more ornaments. Carrie Colbert decorated her centerpiece with loads of paper blooms and a variety of ornaments. If you’re up for some heavy decorating, then a full Christmas tree is your best bet.

The same goes for a slim Christmas tree. Of course, with less ornaments. Treetopia’s slim Christmas trees are as sturdy as their full counterparts.

A slim Christmas tree with a rustic decoration
Gold tree decorations by Design Fixation

Tip: For a slim and tall Christmas tree, a balanced look is a must. Take inspiration from the tinsel tree by Design Fixation. Have fun decorating but let the sparkly foliage play its part. Add natural elements like pinecones and twigs to emphasize the shiny branches. Include ornaments of different shapes like palm-size snowflakes and elongated tree picks for dimension.

2. Pencil Christmas Tree

This tall and thin Christmas tree has a pencil shape that comes with big design possibilities. Go for a minimalist look by leaving space between your decorations. Use colorful trinkets in line with your theme. For example, this pink tree is a tribute to Texas with its avocado, guitar, and taco ornaments. Notice the lightweight tree topper—heavier ones can cause the holiday centerpiece to fall over.

3. Flatback & Corner Christmas Trees

Decorate a flatback or corner tree as you would a full Christmas tree. Both trees have the same lush foliage to hold your ornaments except you’ll need fewer pieces. With their compact structure, you spend less on decorations.

Get inspired by Joanna King Conety’s flatback tree filled with gold and silver Christmas balls. A lighted tree topper added warmth to her living room centerpiece. Meanwhile, Scott Powell went traditional with red and white ornaments on his corner tree. A standing Santa on the side matched the color scheme.

4. Upside-Down Christmas Tree

An upside down Christmas tree decorated with ornaments
Upside-down tree by Frederick Riggins

An upside-down tree lets you get even more creative with your decorating. Chandelier-inspired themes are quite popular for this tree shape, but there are many other imaginative ideas to try! Hang fun ceiling décor to complement a topsy-turvy concept. For instance, Frederick Riggins used upside-down Santas. By the way, there are presents on the floor AND on top of the tree.

Christmas Tree Ornament Calculator
Click the image to calculate how much ornaments, ribbon, and tree picks you need.

Outshine the rest: How many lights should you put on your Christmas tree?

Just like ornaments, the ideal number of lights on a Christmas tree varies depending on its height and shape.

Light Density

Ever heard of the term light density? Well, it refers to the number of bulbs per foot of the tree. In fact, you need about 100 regular lights to achieve the full effect. For pre-lit LED trees, fewer bulbs per foot works. Below, see the differences in light density on a full orange tree, a slim pink tree, and pencil green Christmas tree.

A picture showing light density on an orange full Christmas tree
A picture showing light density on a pink slim Christmas tree
A picture showing light density on a green pencil Christmas tree

How Many Lights Needed, According to Christmas Tree Shape

A quality, pre-lit full Christmas tree has around 100 light bulbs per foot. It’s common to see 600 light bulbs on a 7-foot full tree. This may come as a surprise, but slim Christmas trees likely have the same number of lights per foot as a full tree. Meanwhile, pencil Christmas trees need half the lights used by a full one, making it more energy efficient. A light density of 300 is ideal for a pencil 7-foot tree.

Christmas Tree Lights Calculator
Click to calculate the number of bulbs you need.

Now that you know more about Christmas tree shapes, the next step is understanding how to fluff their foliage. When you buy an artificial Christmas tree, it arrives in a box and the contents inside are compressed to fit. The first time you assemble it, the branches won’t immediately look as full as the pictures you see from the store. Make it look full and gorgeous by taking time to properly shape your tree.

So, what’s it going to be: a full, slim, or pencil Christmas tree? Maybe you’re leaning toward flatback, corner, or upside-down trees now? We hope this guide was useful in shaping your decorating plans. Better yet, we hope it helps you find the right holiday centerpiece. If it does, share it with those who want to know what tree shape best fits their home and decorating style.

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