We always had read trees when I was growing up, then when I was in high school my parents bought an artificial tree, and I have to laugh when people say they are so much easier. Of course, my mom loved HUGE trees (we had 10 ft ceilings) so of course they bought a 10 ft tree...and each branch had to go on individually. It took close to 2 hours to put together and by the end your hands hurt so much from bending and unbending the branches I kept thinking that a real tree was so much easier!
It WAS the realist looking fake tree I've ever seen though.
DH and I get real trees. We normally don't put it up until 1-2 weeks before Christmas. I wouldn't recommend getting it from Lowes or someplace like that if you have other options. First, the price is jacked up so high it's ridiculous. Plus they are normally shipped in so they aren't very fresh when you first buy them. I didn't see where you lived, but we have a few tree farms in the area that set up stands normally in a parking lot and those trees are usually fresh cut, last longer and are cheaper. Last year we got a 7ft tree for $40. I agree with the spruce. They do seem to hold their needles longer, but they are prickly.
Spuds, are Balsam trees one of the long needle variety? I seem to remember getting a VERY sappy long needle tree once when I was little. It looked and smelled great, but I felt like I had to take a shower everytime I fooled with it!
Get twine or wire to hold it up (especially if it is a bigger tree). We have eye hooks in the corner of the room just for that. I would recommend getting a tree skirt (or better yet, use and old white sheet...they're bigger) to catch as many needles as you can. We always used a mixture instead of just water. I was water, karo syrup, and something else...I have it written down here somewhere, but I guess the sugar helped keep the tree fresher longer. I'll post it once I find it.
Good luck and have fun!