Your finely tuned decorating skills are evident in the perfectly placed baubles, well-placed lights and gently glowing star at the top. In all of its beautifully curated splendor, your Christmas tree is a symbol for the joyous weeks ahead.

For five minutes, anyway — until your dog decides one of those delicate decorations would make a good chew toy and charges for it, reducing your painstakingly assembled creation to a pitiful pile on the floor.

Pet owners will agree that spending a lot on your Christmas tree can be as dangerous as trying to locate a supplier for turkeys in December. As, too, will parents, because animals aren’t the only architects of tree destruction — place a toddler in the vicinity and they’ll tangle the tinsel faster than you can say ‘don’t put those pine needles in your mouth!’. My experience last year was that even an 8-year-old roller skater can make the whole thing crash with one simple maneuver.

Antonia Hoyle and her labrador Herbie put a selection of trees to the test as the trend of so-called Parasol Trees gains popularity. Pictured: Habitat 6ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree, (£50, habitat.

Antonia Hoyle and Herbie, her Labrador put several trees through the test to see if the Parasol Tree trend is still popular. Pictured: Habitat 6ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree, (£50, habitat.

Parasol Trees, a new kind of Christmas tree may have found success. These trees are about the same height of normal Christmas trees, but they have leaves that start several feet higher than the base. This allows for the top of the tree to be unburdened from temptation and keeps the more interesting parts out of reach for curious paws or fingers.

Although the Parasol Tree looks a little like a parasol it also serves another purpose. It provides space for gifts where pine leaves would be too small, which makes it great for small rooms. After Habitat launched their 6 ft faux version last week,  became the second most searched-for item on their website, and other retailers have also got in on the act. Which one is the best? They were put to the test by Herbie, my playful labrador.


Habitat 6 ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree (£50,

Antonia said Habitat 6 ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree (pictured) is hassle-free to assemble

Antonia said Habitat 6 ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree (pictured) is hassle-free to assemble 

Astonishingly easy to assemble — at least for anyone used to poking their eyes with pine while grappling with full- size spruces — this 6 ft tree comes in four parts. It takes just three minutes to put the three ‘trunks’ together and tighten the 58 cm metal base with the two screws provided. As with most faux trees the branches are made from hinged metal, and PVC leaves have been attached. They can then be assembled into a tree-like shape. It has 302 tips and is stylish in its dark green shade. (They also offer a white-tipped snowy version for £55).

‘It looks like a Christmas palm tree,’ says my daughter Rosie, 11. Herbie likes the ornamented version. At 86 cm from the base, the lowest leaves are well above his head and there isn’t a scrap of tinsel for him to scavenge — but if anything, that just makes him more awestruck as he sits beneath it, head raised, bewitched by the twinkling lights.

VERDICT: No half measures for a paw-fect look — and hassle-free to assemble. 4/5


Gallery Direct Tree Bruland Christmas, (£140,

Antonia said Gallery Direct Tree Bruland Christmas (pictured) is like a lifelike tree

Antonia said Gallery Direct Tree Bruland Christmas (pictured) is like a lifelike tree 

This arrives in a package too heavy to lift without help, so I wonder if I’ve accidentally ordered a ton of frozen turkey instead of a tree. When I unwrap the package, it becomes crystal clear that instead of the traditional spindly central trunk this tree is 5’2″ in diameter and made up only 2 parts, the pole measures 14 cm across, and has an iron base. Both are hand-finished to look astonishingly realistic — the base in a mossy woodland green and the pole brown with entirely plausible burls (the swollen growths that real branches develop).

A contemporary twist on a pine tree, the top of the branch tapers while the faux needles, which begin 78 cm above the base, are so convincing, it is only the faintest smell of plastic that reminds me they aren’t real. Rosie is taken aback by the classiness — ‘to me, the tattier the tree, the more Christmassy it feels,’ she says — but it’s solid enough to withstand a curious Herbie, and I love it. Beautiful, but expensive.

VERDICT:A Lifelike version which puts all its competitors in the shade. 5/5

Antonia said Abaseen 6 ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree (pictured) doesn't live up to its description

Antonia said Abaseen 6 ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree (pictured) doesn’t live up to its description 


Abaseen 6 ft Half Parasol Christmas Tree, (£55,

The first thing that I noticed about the 6ft tree was the fact that the instructions in the box were for a larger tree. The second is the two-toned leaves — half are a bristly mid-green, the rest a lurid green made from particularly flimsy plastic. Perhaps it’s supposed to look stylish but it just looks cheap — and nothing like the uniform-coloured picture of the tree it’s advertised with on Amazon. There are three ‘tree’ sections and the top two don’t fit together properly, leaving an unsightly gap, while the leaves aren’t plentiful enough to hide the hinges. The body of the tree is huge, so there is only 60 cm from the base to the bottom of the tree — too low for some larger dog breeds. It is too small to hold a tree this size, as the base of metal measures only 39cm. I’d wager it would soon get knocked over.

VERDICT: Clunky and doesn’t live up to its description. 2/5


Antonia said ASDA George 6ft Green Half Christmas Tree (pictured) is a bargain

Antonia said ASDA George 6ft Green Half Christmas Tree (pictured) is a bargain 

ASDA George 6ft Green Half Christmas Tree, (£25,

This tree is half the cost of comparable trees and comes in a convenient, easy-to-handle box with a handle. This tree has three pieces that can easily be put together, and the four-legged metal base (at 61 cm) is the strongest and best for pets. Its leaves are soft which makes it easier to hang baubles than other bristlier fake versions. The overall effect is pleasant and full with the 296 tips.

Of course, one advantage of Parasol Trees is that they don’t require as many lights — a string of 100 will suffice — although a drawback is that you can’t hide the electrics below the bottom leaves. To minimize unsightly wires, I used batteries-operated light bulbs. With only 67 cm from base to leaf, this tree is perhaps not the most suitable for larger dogs, although Herbie fits under it with ease, and even when trying to retrieve his squeaky toy from behind the base, doesn’t knock it over. This is a great budget purchase.

VERDICT:This parasol is a bargain that will suit small dogs very well. 4/5

Antonia said Abaseen 6 ft Snowy Half Parasol Tree (pictured) is a snow-tipped choice

Antonia said Abaseen 6 ft Snowy Half Parasol Tree (pictured) is a snow-tipped choice 

Winter Wonderland

Abaseen 6 ft Snowy Half Parasol Tree, (£59,

Parasol Tree 6ft is an attractive alternative to standard faux greenspruce. It brings ski-holiday style to any living space. The snow effect makes faux trees’ leaves thicker and so harder to hang baubles on, but with 302 tips the overall impression is so full and pretty, it shouldn’t need any decoration except for lights.

The tree — available since last week and already a bestseller — comes in three parts, with the branch below the main body of the tree, the brown trunk giving it a more rugged, realistic appearance. The base, meanwhile, looks sturdy, the raised height almost giving the impression you’re looking at a sort of floating mountain.

Antonia said The Seasonal Aisle 5ft Half Green Pine Artificial Christmas Tree (pictured) is best for those with tall children

Antonia said The Seasonal Aisle 5ft Half Green Pine Artificial Christmas Tree (pictured) is best for those with tall children 

VERDICT: Snow-tipped choice. 3/5


The Seasonal Aisle 5ft Half Green Pine Artificial Christmas Tree, (£98.99,

For those who don’t want a big tree, this 5ft version, which arrives in one piece, has a smaller, faux pine top containing just 153 tips that when arranged measure 105 cm in diameter, so wouldn’t overshadow a smaller room. My eight year old son could not reach the lowest leaves as they are high above the ground. PVC trunks are plainly brown which gives them an elegant look. The solid iron base provides pet owners with peace of mind. It is not the most conventional look, but it’s a very minimalist one.

VERDICT: The tree-rich option for parents of tall children 3/5