I can’t seem to sync myself with the holidays this year! It feels like Halloween should have just passed and everyone should put their Christmas decorations away for a few weeks. I’m not being Grinchy – it’s just that this time of year is my favorite and I’m uncomfortable with how fast things are moving. Is this what getting old feels like? Anyways, reluctantly I’m Christmafying the house and there’s really only one way to do that up right: aluminum trees!A vintage tree joined us many, many years ago and we’ve never been without one since. Once kids came along, we’ve done the real Christmas tree thing some years…but always in addition to the aluminum one. My spouse thinks this is excessive, but I think double trees is double good. Nobody keeps aluminum in a box in December!
Last year, with a little sadness, I sold the old tree that’s been with us since our first Christmas and upgraded to a larger one. Our old tree (shown awkwardly below) was a 6 footer that was dwarfed by the 9′ ceilings of our current home, where I’m hoping we will live for such a long time. I found a 7 footer (above) for a decent price and jumped on it. (Can you tell from above that I painted the walls finally in the family room? Because I did!) All this aluminum tree buying and selling got me thinking logistics so here’s a ramble about some things to keep in mind if you are thinking of switching to the aluminum side…
Good: There are many good things about aluminum trees. They are incredibly easy to set up. A baby could do it (you think I’m joking? Adorable proof below). They shine! Even undecorated, they instantly look amazing. The actual “decorating” is even easier; the simpler, the better. We change up the color combo of simple glass ball ornaments every year, and it’s always a knock-out. They are relatively cheap when you consider to cost of purchasing a cut tree each year. Or the effort of cutting your own, if you are Griswoldy. They will become a part of the family (again, did you see the picture below? Have you melted into a human puddle?!). Also a plus: once I heard of a snake slithering out of tree-lot tree into a family’s living room! That won’t happen with aluminum…congrats?
The sadder things: Aluminum trees don’t smell. NO CHRISTMAS SMELLS! If you are used to a real tree, this is a big blow to reconcile with before you move on. Also, they’ll be no twinking lights on the tree because it’s a fire hazard. And they aren’t very conducive to hodge-podgy sentimental family ornaments, so that is another loss you’ll need to face (our solution has been a smaller tree in our kids’ room filled with special ornaments…oh, Christmas excess!). Traditional glass balls look too good to mess with. Aluminum trees obviously need to be stored during the year, though they break down surprisingly small. Oh…your dog will probably pee on the tree just like he pees on your real trees. Your dog does that right? Tell me it’s not just ours. I thought that’s why all dogs coincidentally have their names changed to Sh*thead during the month of December?So, if the goods outweigh the sads, then the next step is a big one: To pom pom or not? Pom pom tree models flare at the end of each branch like a firework, while non pom pom models look more like a realistic branch. Both are rad so there’s no wrong answer. Some people just have strong preferences in this area.And then on to size – my recommendation is to just go big! There is a ton of floaty, airy, open space between those shiny branches so the mass of an aluminum tree feels significantly less than a real tree of equivalent size. There are a lot of tempting (cheap) 4′ trees out there, but if this will be your primary tree, get a decent size. I think 6′ minimum. Our 6′ Evergleam tree, below and on the table way above, lived with us in many different low-ceilinged houses, and I always wished it was a foot taller. And now the 7′ in the 9′ room is fine, but guess what? I wish it was a foot taller.Which brings us to color wheels. Will you or will you not get a color wheel (prediction: you will!). There are so many different models out there. All are spectacular and all operate a bit differently, and one is fully necessary in my book. For awhile, I was collecting them but daily I work to overcome the hoarder in me and now I just have one color wheel, plus a mantra: one is enough..one is enough… Keep an eye on them though! Every color wheel I’ve ever used gets hot and some, like my current one, are prone to melting. Yowza.Want some unsolicited buying advice? OK! Ebay seems to be the most reliable source. In all my years of junk acquirement, never have I stumbled upon an aluminum tree randomly. Many color wheels, but never a tree. It could just be my luck, though? Considering that these were only produced for such a tiny window of time, there is a surprising abundant surviving stock of them out there. And, happily, this time of year is actually a great time to buy because many sellers will wait until the holiday season to sell theirs so the market floods. Waiting for the off season, I’ve found, doesn’t much change the price, just the supply you have to choose from. (Can you tell by my smooth supply/demand talk that I’m married to an economist? I’m not even joking!)
I would be comfortable paying around $150 for a 6 footer, $250 for a 8+ footer. Rare trees can go for much more (the hard to find colored ones, pom poms with colored “berries” in them, very large ones, and rotating ones). If you are willing to dig around a bit, deals can be found from sellers who don’t want to put the tree together to take their listing picture. People, understandably, are more hesitant to purchase without seeing the tree. But, if you can find the maker and model (often from the box – how have so many survived???), the condition of the branches, and confirm that all parts (the correct number of branches, a base and a “trunk”- usually 2 or more dowels that fit together) are there, you may get a steal. Note that many trees are sold with color wheels, which adds to the price. And if it is a sought after color wheel model, that increase can be significant.
This goes without saying but I’m saying it anyways…obviously go vintage! Sometimes stores carry repro silver trees made of cheap modern day tinsel (usually PVC or mylar). Those SO pale in comparison to the real thing. Can you tell I’m all about aluminum? I am.Happy Christmas tree-ing everybody!