Tree strategy is key

To creating a Christmas look and feel at home in your own style

FORT WAYNE NEWSPAPERS Many Fort Wayne neighborhoods have their traditional sales lots of fresh Christmas trees, like the Oakdale Neighborhood Association’s lot at Rudisill Boulevard and South Wayne Avenue.
FORT WAYNE NEWSPAPERSFaux trees, like this one from Dar’s Porch & Patio, are designed to be so naturalistic their branches are even tipped with frost.
FORT WAYNE NEWSPAPERS A forest of faux trees, some prelit, awaits customers at Dar’s Porch & Patio, along with aisles of sprays of coloful decorative additions with which every tree can be personalized and perfected.
FORT WAYNE NEWSPAPERSMake a statement with your tree topper, like this one from Dar’s Porch & Patio, as you develop your tree strategy this year. Stars are traditional, but you can stretch the tradition or leap beyond it into your own sense of how the holiday can be celebrated most beautifully and meaningfully.
FORT WAYNE NEWSPAPERS Garland is a classic way to make a tree beautiful, but sprays of colorful decor items, from leafy branches, berries and fruit to feathers are the new trend, and Dar’s Porch & Patio has a big array of possibilities to inspire you.

One of the most traditional and instantly recognizable hallmarks of the Christmas season is the decorated evergreen tree: O Tannenbaum, if you will.

While most people love the look of a Christmas tree, not everyone loves the labor-intensive activities associated with putting it up or taking it down. Whether you love the smell and feel of the real thing or adore the convenience of a faux tree, there are challenges and well as benefits of each option to weigh.

Make your home merry and bright, and as stressless as possible, by employing a few thoughtful Christmas tree strategies.

Living Trees

Of the benefits of buying a living tree, perhaps the impact on the environment tops the list. While the tree is only used once, it takes about seven years to grow before being harvested, so it serves the environment well by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen, as well as serving as a habitat for wildlife. Once the tree has served its very merry purpose, it can be composted or turned into wood chips and recycled.

When shopping for a live tree, take the time to smell and feel each available type. While you might prefer the smell and look of a Balsam fir, for instance, its very prickly needles can be painful to hands while decorating, while a Frasier fir is much less so. To learn about each Christmas tree species, visit RealChristmasTrees.org, the official website of the National Christmas Tree Association.

One of the biggest concerns about placing a live tree in your home is the dreaded needle drop. Sweeping up tufts of prickly needles each day is decidedly not festive. Combat needle drop by using one or more of these tips:

• When selecting a tree, check to see if the tree is already excessively shedding its needles. If a slight brush of a branch drops needles, move along. Also, take a peek at the cut side of the trunk for a light color, which means it’s more freshly cut. Look for a Douglas or Frasier fir, which tend to hold their needles longer than a Norway spruce, for example.

• Before taking your tree inside, cut a slice off the bottom of the trunk and allow it to “drink” in a bucket of fresh water, in the shade, for at least an hour. If you can leave it longer (even days), do so. Once the tree is inside, the countdown to widespread needle drop is on.

• Trim less-than-stellar branches where you can get away with it. This tactic will reduce the amount of water you need to distribute from the trunk into the branches.

• Right before bringing the tree indoors, give it a good shake to dislodge any loose needles.

• Fill your tree stand, and re-water — with distilled water — which can help delay needle drop.

• Set reminders to check the water level of your tree stand so the tree never gets parched, which will cause needle drop with appalling quickness.

• Finally, embrace the needles that do fall, because there will be needles on your floor. Convince yourself it’s part of the charm of a live Christmas tree.

Pick up a fresh tree at a variety of spots around town, some of which are in your very own neighborhood and deserve your support. Among your many options are:

• Oakdale Neighborhood Association at the corner of Rudisill Boulevard and South Wayne Avenue, 46807

• The Hoagland Volunteer Fire Department at 11316 Hoagland Road in Hoagland, 46745

• St. Joe Christmas Tree Farm at 9801 St. Joe Road, 46835

Faux Trees

• Man-made trees are easy and quick to set up and dismantle, much less messy and are more cost-effective when you take into account the (hopefully many) years of use. Modern options include an ever-widening variety of colors, heights and widths, many with the further convenience of being pre-lit, which means you no longer have to tangle with those wily strings of twinkle lights. Options range further still, with obviously artificial versions in neon colors or with tinsel branches to majestic trees so lifelike, no one would ever guess it wasn’t chopped down in a forest. Dar’s Porch & Patio offers a forest of faux tree options and an absolutely dizzying array of decorations and accessories. Owner Dar Highle says his staff makes customer education a priority when choosing an artificial tree to ensure their investment lasts well into the future. He says proper storage when not in use is vital for extending the life of the tree, advising customers never to attempt to put the tree back in the box it came in, rather opting for a roomy lidded storage bin or zippered, tailored case.

• When shopping for a faux Christmas tree, consider both the style and quality, as the ranges for both vary greatly. The most realistic options are more expensive but tend to be more expertly designed and durable. You might have a preference about the species of tree, and many manufacturers take care in crafting trees to closely mimic spruce, fir and pine trees for this purpose. Some species hold larger ornaments more efficiently while more delicate needle styles look best with equally delicate ornaments and embellishments, so take into account your style of decorating and ornament inventory before making your final selection.

• In place of one realistic-looking faux tree, try a trio of smaller, shimmering metallic pop-up style trees in varying sizes for a fun, retro look that doesn’t even attempt to fake it. These styles set up and collapse in seconds and are easily stored in a small cabinet or drawer, rather than bulky boxes that take up valuable storage space. The downside is that these don’t hold ornaments. However, this fact actually might be an upside to some.

• While one might not be able to tell if a tree is live simply by the looks, the lack of that coveted balsam smell is a dead giveaway. Get sneaky and use a tree scenter to make it smell like the real thing. Scentsicles are ornaments that hang from the branches, smell like fresh-cut trees and last up to 30 days. There are six fragrance sticks to a pack, which come with ornament hooks. Scentsicles can be found online or locally at Michael’s Craft Stores. You can also take a more organic approach and buy fresh garlands, wreaths or swags for your house, indoors and out, for an additional decorative touch that will provide one of the signature scents of the season.

All Trees

• A tree skirt will always upgrade the look of your tree. Since most presents are not set under the tree until just before the holiday, a tree skirt will give the tree a finished, tailored look. Instead of buying a tree skirt, pool or drape pretty fabric that matches your decor at the bottom.

• Instead of grappling with various decorative garlands to wind around the tree, a few well-placed, decorative sprigs will add a pop of color and flair with minimal effort and expense. Use bunches of fresh flowers or large feathered plumes, which soften the look of the prickly greenery. Dar’s Porch & Patio’s vast assortment of stunning embellishments dazzles with both natural and rustic berries, twigs, animals and soft textures as well as shimmering, glittering and colorful sprigs, ribbons and branches.

• The traditional tree topper is typically a star, but feel free to get creative here. Look for interesting and unique options that will add beauty and meaning to your tree such as an oversized, shimmering snowflake, a cluster of flowers or feathers that correspond with your decor, the first letter of the family’s last name, a fabric bow, snowman, a retro starburst or an over the top finial.

Resources

• The National Christmas Tree Association: realchristmastrees.org

• St. Joe Christmas Tree Farm: stjoetreefarm.com

• Dar’s Porch & Patio: darsoutdoor.com

• Scentsicles at Michael’s Craft Stores: enviroscent.com/scentsicles

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