christmas tree alternatives

  • Alternative Christmas Tree

    2009 Christmas TreeIt is true that I love my big and wide and real Christmas trees for the holidays. In fact I kind of love bringing the outdoors in all year long, and I bet many of you are like that too. If I could find a way to live outside all year long and stay warm, dry and comfortable, I'd be all over that. Okay, maybe not, but we are one of those families that does leave the window cracked open in the winter for the fresh air, so there's that. :)

    Today's post highlights just that...bringing the outdoors in and using a bit of creativity to do it. We just spent the afternoon putting our vegetable garden to bed for the winter, so now the garage is full of gardening paraphernalia. The tomato cages caught my eye as we were stacking them in the corner, and my imagination began twirling . . . hmm,  what could I do to transform those wiry things into something useful, pretty, festive. And, apparently I'm not the only one to have those thoughts.

    I love love LOVE this idea for decorating the deck and even the big window flower boxes we've got outside our living room window.  We had a stray cat last winter that decided to use those window boxes as her litter box, ugh! So we've got plans to put something in there this year, and this is just perfect! Simply invert those tomato cages, wrap with some weather-proof garland and lights, and wow, what a fabulous view both from the inside and out!

    But, that's not all! Bring 'em inside, put one in the corner of the bathroom, another in the kitchen, scatter them around the house...so easy and so creative! And, honestly, what could be better than a tree in every single room? Nothing, I dare say, absolutely nothing.

     

    Photo credit:  nedesignbuild.com

     

  • O Christmas Tree

    issuu.comO Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
    How lovely are your branches!
    O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
    How lovely are your branches!
    In beauty green will always grow
    Through summer sun and winter snow.
    O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
    How lovely are your branches!

    I've already shared with you how I was always that girl who wanted the tallest, widest, biggest tree on the lot only to get it  home and have to have the boys cut off an inch or two (okay, a foot) just to get it in the door. When we lived for a brief time in a condominium that disallowed real trees, I purchased my first ever artificial tree. It was a sad day indeed!

    But, that artificy was small and slender and not messy, lending it at least a little saving grace (emphasis on little). What if we could combine the real smell of pine with a small size AND be kind to the environment? ENTER: the live Christmas tree! Just like the infamous Christmas carol sings, "In beauty green will always grow through summer sun and winter snow..." You really can have it all!

    Whether you grow this live Christmas tree yourself or purchase it from a grower, there are a few things to know that differ from trees that are cut down.

    • If you live in a cool/cold climate, introduce your live tree slowly to the warmer environment of your home by putting it in  your unheated garage or porch for a few days. If you bring it the house straight away, it will signal it to start growing which isn't a problem in the short run, but if you plan to plant the tree in your yard after the season (and this is such a fantastic idea on so many levels), that burst of growth will not be a good thing.
    • While it's in the garage, check it for insects, critters, eggs. Needless to say, you don't want to skip this step. :)
    • Place the tree ball in a large galvanized tub and locate it in the coolest room of the house so that it retains as much moisture as possible.
    • Use rocks and/or bricks to stabilize the tree so that it stands upright securely.
    • Decorate as you normally would, and water the tree regularly so as to keep the roots/burlap ball moist but not soaking wet.
    • When it's time to introduce it back outside, reverse the process by placing the de-decorated tree in the garage for a few days. And, then plant it!

    It's best to limit the tree's indoor time to no more than 10 days. With three tree likely appearing last on the scene, going this route might require an adjustment to your normal way of decorating for the holidays. But, I really really like this idea....it gives everyone the opportunity to anticipate the tree while enjoying all the other activities that go with the season.

    Check out some of the decorations that Merry Stockings has on the website, too. There are stocking kits, ornaments, Christmas Tree skirts and more! Shop early for the best pricing. :)

     

    Photo credit:  issuu.com

  • A Christmas Tree for Small Spaces

    driftwood treeI have always been the girl who wants the biggest Christmas tree on the lot. And, I admit, there have been more than a few times that we get the tree home, and the boys have to cut off several inches to sometimes even a foot so it'd fit!

    A few years ago, I broke myself of that habit when we lived in a small condo in the suburbs of Minneapolis....it was efficient, cute and served our purposes and needs at the time. But, when Christmas came and it was time to put the tree up, there was a lot of shuffling of things around in order to make room for it. No big, expansive bird-nesting tree for us! If only I'd seen this idea back then!

    We now live in a restored mansion with big, expansive rooms, and honestly? I still think this would be fantastic as a second tree, say above the fireplace or just on any blank wall? Yes, please! Once Christmas is over, the driftwood "shelves" could pull double duty and hold other decorative items. The rustic feel of this space-saving tree would also work perfectly at the cabin where extended family gather to celebrate the holidays.

    So practical, so pretty, so charming!! Hang your ornaments, string your lights, top it with a star or angel. Even a pretty little skirt around the bottom would absolutely work.

     

    Photo courtesy

  • Christmas on a Budget

    December is an expensive month, is it not? Christmas gifts are the most obvious expense, but there are often clothes to buy for the parties, at which there is food. Or photos (in possibly a different set of clothes) for holiday cards. Decorations, a tree, charitable giving, etc. - it adds up quickly!

    Whether you need to cut back on spending, or just want to rein in the madness, there are many ways to do so without feeling like Ebeneezer Scrooge. Here are a few angles that you may not have considered.

    Writing at Simple Mom, Tsh reminds that planning ahead is the key to staying within a budget at Christmas. That includes setting money aside each month for the bigger bills in December, and also being mindful of the many little expenses that come up in this season. She offers this free Christmas budget printable to help you plan.

    A Christmas tree is another big expense. I realize that some of you just questioned my promise of non-Scrooginess because cutting down your own tree or picking the best one from the corner lot is your very favorite Christmas tradition. But for others, this may be a fun way to change up your holiday decor. I was definitely looking for tree alternatives in the years when my boys were toddling around precariously! Check out these creative options for inexpensive Christmas tree alternatives.

    This is probably my favorite list, and I may accidentally leave a printout where my husband will find it...10 Holiday Dates. There are a couple of splurges like tickets to the Nutcracker, but most of the options won't put a dent in your bank account. Brett at The Art of Manliness puts the list in a romantic context, but nearly all of the options could be adapted for a group of friends, a family or even an office get-together. Another bonus is that most of them are interactive, perfect for forming lasting memories.

    Remember that you can start with just one or two areas to cut back your holiday spending - Pinterest is a great resource for this. Try entering a search like inexpensive Christmas gifts or whatever suits your holiday budget style. You're sure to find a way to save a few dollars this season!

    What are your best money-saving tips at Christmas?

     

     

     

  • Burlap Christmas Decorations

    You've probably noticed that burlap is hot in home decor. Perhaps because it can complement so many decorating styles, this simple fabric is showing up everywhere from do-it-yourself projects to chic home stores. Christmas decorating is certainly no exception. A quick perusal of Pinterest turned up a treasure trove of burlap items.

    One of the simplest ways to add burlap to your home is on the dining table. A simple length of fabric can serve as a runner to anchor your centerpiece and serving platters. Or take it to the next level by weaving together 2 colors of burlap, as shown by the gals at Six Sisters Stuff. Yes, that's right, you can buy colored burlap - just imagine the additional possibilities! :)

    Michelle at Sweet Something Designs layered burlap placemats over red plaid for a nice textural contrast. As she demonstrates with her outdoor tablescape, this look could easily be tweaked to work for any season or holiday.

    If you're interested in a little splash of burlap in the living room, a throw pillow is perfect. Etsy, the source for so much handmade loveliness, has several cute options for Christmas and winter. Or try making one yourself, using Amy's example at All In A Day.

     

     

     

     

     

    How about a little burlap on the front door? There are many different styles of  burlap wreaths, to suit any taste. Most use some type of embellishment.

     

     

     

     

     

    Allison, from A Glimpse Inside, wrapped the burlap around a form and added ribbon medallion flowers. Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous used strips of burlap, and Brooke created a ruffled look.

    Kathryn of NannyGoat wove a wire hanger through a long strip of burlap; you can't get much thriftier than that! She also attached her fabric rosettes with pins instead of glue, so that they easily can be switched out for different accent pieces in another season.

    Check out these adorable Christmas trees, made using burlap and other materials. Once again, the unique texture is what makes this fabric really stand out.

    Artsy Va Va added some metal stars to give her trees a more rustic look. The Shanty 2 Chic versions combine burlap and canvas fabrics for a clean, crisp wintry design - check out both tutorials, for the ruffled tree and the one covered with rosettes.

     

    In keeping with this trend, Merry Stockings is excited to present a new personalized burlap stocking. Choose red or green trim, the perfect look for your mantle this year.

    If this post has inspired you to try some burlap crafting, here are a few tips:

    • If you aren't able to find colored burlap, you can spray-paint it any color you want! (from Brooke at All Things Thrifty)
    • Burlap will dull your good fabric scissors, so use an old or inexpensive pair. (from Six Sisters' Stuff)

    Do you have any burlap decor items in your home? Anything you made yourself?

     

  • More Record Breaking Christmas Trees

    MerryStockings.com still has some more record breaking Christmas trees for you.

    Largest Fiber Optic Tree

    In 2010, a shopping mall in Hong Kong switched on the largest fiber optic Christmas tree in the world. The tree also holds the record for the most number of lights used at four million lights included in.

    The record breaking 70 feet high tree is part of an Alzheimer's disease awareness charity campaign.

    Yummiest Christmas Tree

    If you think that fiber optics make a great material for a Christmas tree, then you haven't been to Paris, France, where they had the tallest chocolate Christmas tree.

    The tree stands at a delicious 32 feet and weighing more than 8,000 pounds. By contrast, the world record holder for the largest chocolate bar weighs in at 9,722 pounds.

    It made use of around $45,000 worth of dark chocolate. The creator is French chocolate maker Patrick Roger.

    The world record holder, however, is chef Alain Roby who created a chocolate Christmas tree that stood at 22 feet, roughly 10 feet shorter than Roger's yummy creation. The reason is that Roger did not go for the world record as he claims his efforts is for charity. Roger plans to auction parts of his chocolate tree and donate the money to advance the efforts of studying neuromuscular diseases.

    Tallest Living Christmas Tree

    Had enough of artificial trees and man-made wonders? Then head on over to Coeur d'Alene Resort in Idaho, USA, and get a glimpse of the 162-foot tall tree that they decorated with more than 30,000 Christmas lights.

    This is the tallest living Christmas tree.

    Some interesting facts about real Christmas trees:

    Did you know that every year around 25 million to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone? That's a big number, considering that there are only 350 million Christmas trees that are grown by all farmers in the United States. To take care of 30 million trees thrown out every year, there are around 4,000 recycling programs around the country.

  • Record Holding Christmas Trees

    MerryStockings.com gives you more record breaking feats that are related to Christmas. Today, we focus on that great Christmas symbol, the Christmas tree.

    Most Expensive Christmas Tree

    The Guinness World Records say that the most expensively decorated Christmas tree was found at the Tsunamachi Misui Club in Tokyo, Japan. The Christmas tree was decorated with more than 80 pieces of jewelry and was valued at $10.85 million.

    However, the 2002 record was challenged just last Christmas when an Abu Dhabi hotel in the United Arab Emirates decked its $10,000 tree with precious stones, jewelry and other baubles. The Emirates Palace said that the whole ensemble costs more than $11 million, and contains 181 diamonds, emerals, pearls, sapphires and other gems.

    The extravagance has led the hotel to apologize for the "overloading" of its traditional Christmas tree display.

    The Largest Artificial Tree

    The largest artificial tree record wass found in South America, the current record holder is Mexico City's 362 feet high Christmas tree. The tree is said to be 115 feet around and 330 tons in weight.

    Previous record holders abound, but Brazil is noteworthy for being the country where large Christmas trees abound. The first record tree measured 171 feet high and was designed by Grupo Sonae Distribuição Brasil.

    The tree was on display from December 1, 2001 through January 6, 2002 at the Moinhos de Vento Park in the city of Porto Alegre.

    And then again since 2007, Brazil held the world record for the same category with a tree that stood 361.3 feet, only 9 inches shorter than the current record holder.

    Largest Christmas Tree on Water

    In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thousands of people came to see a 278 feet high floating Christmas tree that was decked with 2.9 million Christmas lights and around 1,600 ornaments.

    The tree's height is equivalent to that of a 28 story building and is powered by bio-diesel generators. It weighs 530 tons.

    The tree was unveiled in Dec. 2010.

  • Christmas Tree Alternatives

    Christmas trees are present in just about every home during the Christmas season.  Sometimes you just want to do something different, care for the environment, amaze your friends with your creativity or save money.  These would be great reasons to go out and look for alternatives to the Christmas tree that you have grown up with.  MerryStockings.com, offer you the best Christmas tree alternatives around!

    Cardboard Tree:  For those who are tightening their wallets, the cardboard tree is actually a very good choice.  You get a tree made of cardboard that is cut and shaped like a Christmas tree.  You would then string lights, add garlands and Christmas ornaments on it.  For better results, you can paint a cardboard tree in the color that you like!

    Estilo Tea Light Holder: Made out of stainless steel, the Estilo Tea Light Holder resembles a modern, minimalistic and chic Christmas tree from the future.  What is great about this is that you save on lights by using tea light candles, but still stay safe from a fire disaster on Christmas day.  You could also use this tea light holder even after the Christmas holidays are over!

    The Christmas Garland Upside-down Tree: You can use old Christmas garlands or wreaths and spruce up a corner of your living room.  This is perfect for those who have limited space, or just wants to have a change or a taste of something different.

    You can also round up a dead branch from a tree and make it into a Christmas tree by garnishing it with lights, garlands and ornaments.  You could also paint it white, green or silver to have a more dramatic effect.  If you don't want to come off as a cheapskate, you can certainly buy a fiber optic version.

    There are a lot more materials that you could use for your Christmas trees.  You could stack up old Christmas cards, or use steel wires arranged conically.  As with everything else, coming up with an out-of-this-world and extraordinary Christmas tree is only limited by your imagination!

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