My two daughters had the same burning question as they arrived home from college for Thanksgiving: “We’re decorating the tree right?”
While many shop madly the Friday after Thanksgiving as if the country were on the verge of a merchandise shortage, not us. We decorate.
“Yes,” I assured them. “That tradition isn’t changing.” However … I added, “I do have something a little different in mind.”
“An alternative tree!”
Their eyes rolled into their hairlines. They were justifiably worried.
When I saw the pink tree from Treetopia I couldn’t resist. In that moment, it became clear why God gave me girls: So I could put up a pink Christmas tree upstairs by their bedrooms! The fantastical tree was bedecked with clear glass ornaments that look like bubbles, white sparkly stars, and silver touches. It called to my inner teenage girl, and at once said princess, prom, perfume and pompoms.
I fell for it harder than a teenage crush. And I had the perfect excuse to get it: Daughters!
“But I like our tree,” one daughter said, referring to our classic green tree, which we put in the living room, where it wears stately teal and silver ornaments with classic white lights.
“Oh, we’ll still have that one,” I said, “but upstairs, we’re busting out.”
After I’d hit on the idea of my alternative tree, I learned I’m part of a trend, which frankly bugs me. Just once I’d like to set the trend.
According to the American Christmas Tree Association (Yes, such a group exists.), more households are doubling up their trees this year, and very often tree No. 2 bucks tradition.
“The most common area for the second tree is the kids’ area, followed by dens and outdoor living spaces,” said Jami Warner, executive director for the nonprofit group.
A common departure is to go non-green, and make a design statement with novelty colors like snow white, coal black and lip-gloss pink, she said. “Colors give trees a modern twist.”
“In the right contemporary home, a black tree with white lights and gold ornaments looks edgy,” she said. She sent me a picture. I had to agree.
I bust out the pink tree, and tell the girls how great it will be to have a girl tree by their rooms.
“This is really about you, isn’t it,” one said.
“You should have got the black one,” the other said.
According to a Neilson survey of 30,000 U.S. households conducted last December, 16 percent of homes have more than one artificial tree. Here are some other tree trends in America according to the survey.
• 83 percent of U.S. households that put up a Christmas tree opted for an artificial one last year, up from 79 percent in 2011.
• 23 percent had a real Christmas tree. (Yes, I know that adds up to more than 100 percent. That’s because 6 percent had one of each.)
• Americans bought 22 million real Christmas trees, and 12 million artificial ones.
• They paid on average $45 for a real tree, and $80 for fake one.
Beyond coming in alternative colors, Christmas trees have been branching out — sorry — in other welcome ways, according to the tree association whose job it is to gather facts about Christmas trees, both real and artificial, and inform consumers, like me, about choices and trends:
• Light years ahead. Solving the most frustrating part of decorating a tree, online tree company Balsam Hill has trees with instant light connections. As you snap the pieces of the pole trunk together, each section automatically lights.
• Trees that remember. An advancement that trumps the discovery of mapping the human genome, memory wire means once you shape your tree’s branches the way you like them, you won’t have to refluff and position them next year. They automatically pop back into shape after a year of storage.
• But I miss the real-tree smell! Because nothing compares to the smell of a real tree, Scentsicles help your fake pine smell real. These scented green sticks, about the size of a candy cane without the curve, hang imperceptibly in your fake fir and smell foresty.
• Colored or clear? Another tree company, Tree Classics, solves that age-old question. Their LED lights (which will last for 15 years if you leave your tree up all year and never turn it off) change color. You can switch them to clear or colored without changing the lights.
• Fresher is better. For those pining for a real tree, the best way to get one that won’t be kindling by Christmas is to cut the tree yourself at a tree farm, said Warner. Next best is to order online. One place, ChristmasTreeMarket.com, lets you schedule the day you want your tree cut and shipped.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.