Home for the Holidays Decorating in a Nutshell

As the holiday season gathers steam, there may be quite a few of us procrastinating about decorating our living and workspaces. Decorating for the holidays - that time-honored tradition across so many cultures and faiths - can seem like a chore, what with all the things we have to think about this time of year. And while we can't really make the season less hectic, there are a few things to consider that might give you some inspiration and maybe ease the pace a bit.

Artificial Intelligence

Although the smell of fresh-cut pine gets us in mood for the holidays, nothing sours the spirit of the season more that watching a once-thriving tree wither and drop thousands of prickly needles all over the floor. I say "˜Bah Humbug' to live trees indoors, and so does the local fire marshal, who considers live trees a major fire hazard. In addition to being highly combustible, live evergreens are often asymmetrical, ooze sticky sap, require constant watering, and can be painful to touch when being decorated or undecorated.

A perfectly balanced, natural looking artificial tree can be festooned with fragrant cinnamon sticks, pheasant feathers, lotus pods, pine cones, berry clusters, holographic ribbon, and anything else your heart desires.

Faux-trees have come a long way since the mangy-looking models so many of us remember from decades past. When choosing an artificial tree today, you have several options. Hinged steel construction trees are the most expensive, but are the sturdiest and last the longest (some are guaranteed for 10 years). Depending on your storage situation, you can even leave the decorations on year after year and just wrap the whole display up in plastic to keep it clean and dust-free.

Individually branched trees (like the ones you remember from your childhood) are the least expensive, but they are time-consuming to erect and, heaven forbid, you should lose a piece. Most of these trees have color-coded pieces that must be laid out on the floor prior to setting the tree up and attached piece by piece, branch by branch, into the appropriate slot on the "trunk." At the end of the season, you undecorate the tree, take it apart, and store it until next season. Of course, some enjoy this annual ritual but others are more eager to sit back with a mug of cider and enjoy the twinkling glow without all the preamble. For these people, pre-decorated artificial trees are a holiday gift indeed.

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