A tree with all the trimmings

People of all ages can enjoy vintage-style ornaments, such as these available from Reynolds Farms Nursery in Norwalk.

With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to decorate and get into the holiday spirit,and a good place to start is with your Christmas tree.

Merry and bright: Seasons Too in Darien carries a wide variety of ornaments, with Santas, like this one, always a favorite.

“Traditionally when you think of a Christmas tree, you picture ornaments, lights, tree toppers, and shiny bright tinsel, but there is so much more you can do with your tree,” explains Rob Flader of Benedict’s Home and Garden in Monroe. Before you decorate, however, you need to choose the tree that’s perfect for you, your family, and your home.

Flader observes that noble firs as the quintessential Christmas tree. Their branches fill up the entire tree and there is enough space between layers for plenty of ornaments. Fraser firs are the preferred trees on which to hang heavier ornaments since they have hardy needles. According to Flader, balsam firs are the most fragrant, but be cautious when placing heavier ornaments on these because their needles are softer.

At The Gardener’s Center and Florist in Darien, Fraser firs are the customers’ tree of choice.  “We feel they are the best choice and value as far as fresh trees are concerned. They have superior needle retention which makes them very long lasting,” says Sean Corenki, general manager. “They also boast a strong fragrance and nice stiff branches for supporting heavier decorations.”

Christmas trees from The Gardener’s Center and Florist in Darien are ready for purchase. Fraser firs are the customers’ tree of choice here, according to Sean Corenki, general manager.

Cut it out
Fresh cuts should last about three to four weeks. Corenki points out the most important step is to make a fresh cut to the base of the tree before placing it in the

“It is critical to make this cut and it shouldn’t be done any longer than six hours before putting the tree in the stand,” Corenki says, cautioning against putting the tree near heating sources, which could speed up the drying process and potentially create a fire hazard. “The freshly cut tree will initially take up quite a bit of water, so it’s best to check the water level twice a day for the first couple of days. After that water uptake will slow but still must be checked daily.

Corenki also reminds homeowners that trees come from nature and sometimes critters, usually insects, may hitch a ride into your home on the tree. If you want to forgo the real tree hassle of watering and upkeep, consider an artificial tree.

Silver and gold: A beautiful color palette makes this Christmas tree a stand-out.

“There is more flexibility as to an artificial tree’s placement since we’re not worried about it drying out and all artificial trees are flame retardant per the federal government. Many artificial trees are now pre-lit from the box, eliminating that chore. And, of course, there is no mess from needles or sap in the house,” Corenki says.

Let there be lights
Next, you don’t want to keep your tree in the dark. Flader recommends warm white lights, which when reflecting on ornaments, produce a warm, inviting look.

“Incandescent string lights are your more traditional warm white bulbs, whereas the newer LED string lights offer better features,” Flader explains. “LEDs are more energy efficient, and are brighter and more cool to the touch.”

Another option is multi-colored lights. According to Flader, Benedict’s now carries a new artificial tree pre-lit with quick-set functionality.

“One of the new ornament categories we have this year is the ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater,’ says Jeff Deorio, owner of Reynolds Farms Nursery in Norwalk, “which adds a whimsical touch to the tree.” The store is also seeing a lot of customer interest in its ‘Retro’ theme:  “We carry vintage-style ornaments and old fashioned paper garland kits,” Deorio states, adding that white birch seems to still be very popular in holiday decorating. “In addition to birch logs and poles, this year we have a birch-look garland for the tree or mantel,” he says.

Sweater weather: Reynolds Farms Nursery in Norwalk features “ugly Christmas sweater” ornaments, like this fun and festive reindeer sweater, which even has its own little hanger.

Flader recommends adding styled sprays and picks (decorations, such as pinecones, berries, etc., on a stick that can be easily tucked into a tree or arrangement), as well as garland. “Picks are nice because your options are virtually endless. I’m seeing a more natural looking tree is becoming more and more popular. We sell plenty of the holiday picks such as pine cones, berries, and small birds, which add a sense of realism to the tree.”

At Seasons Too in Darien, customers can pick up a custom ribbon bow as a special touch to their tree. “We make ribbon bows for our tree toppers, and also use them throughout the trees,” says Debbie Schneider, a buyer for the store. “There are such beautiful wired ribbons on the market today that you can find combinations to suit any décor.”

Opting for a new mix of hues instead of the typical red and green color scheme is a way to change up your tree trimming. “As always, red and green are the strongest colors, but beautiful soft silvers and golds are certainly contenders. People love mixing platinum ornaments and flower picks with either color,” Schneider says. “We even have a soft pink and green theme on our ‘Nutcracker’ tree this year, which has already generated a lot of interest.”

It’s all in the details
Stores like Seasons Too offer a comprehensive selection of ornaments; according to Schneider, “Travel ornaments remain popular because they invoke memories of people’s past journeys and adventures, typically wonderful times in their lives.”

A gorgeous ribbon bow topper, like this one from Seasons Too in Darien, is sure to draw attention to the family tree.

Beautiful glass ornaments are always favorites, but great designs that coordinate with the colors in the ribbons are popular to carry the theme throughout the tree. “However, there is always room for Snoopy, the Grinch or pet ornaments on any tree!” Schneider says.

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