Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

European-inspired Christmas tree decor is enchanting

November 25, 2012 12:00 am

Real or fake? We prefer the term "permanent" to fake, but it is always the first question in the minds of anxious folks preparing for the holidays. They both have issues worthy of debate. I've heard of many people having one of each just to keep the peace. If a permanent tree prevails, essential oils like "Frasier Fir" by The Thymes reed diffusers, potpourri and candles flood the room with just the right amount of fragrance to make even the "fake-est" tree seem real.

I admit I didn't have a personal ornament or the desire to put up a Christmas tree of my own until I had a child. After decorating the store, a few corporate accounts and a handful of customer homes I had reached my fill of the decorating bug. That doesn't work when you're a dad. There must be a few lights outside on the house --- "few" being the important word (at least in my case) and a Christmas tree filled with bright lights, shiny ornaments and a few homemade popsicle "dazzlers" to complete the picture.

Last January we traveled to Holland to find something "different" in the ornament world that had first class design and style and reasonable prices. There's nothing like Christmas in Europe. It must be a six month holiday and I haven't a clue where they store all of their treasures that have been added to over the years. We left inspired to create an "Alpine Chic" themed Dream Home in our downtown store as a way of sharing all that we had seen. The details were incredible.

One interesting thing that I noticed was the way that the designers decorated the tree. Rather than evenly placing the different ornaments on each branch, they grouped them. Some of the styles we saw were even a little too much for me, but I really appreciated the spin on tradition. I decided to attempt to decorate my own tree for Landon with this newly-found method in mind.

It starts with a solid base color, in this case shiny and matte brown mercury balls running deep inside the tree from top to bottom. A second color is added more evenly through the tree in a traditional way. For this tree I grouped gold mercury balls to get the effect, but they could have been red, white or even pale blue for the effect. The finishing touch are crystal ice cycles for a little more bling.

I know the season isn't about the tree or the latest way to decorate them. But, I will say that the mood that a tree like this sets and the joy of building it with friends goes a long way in setting the background for a wonderful Christmas season. It's time to decorate and get out the rubbermaid containers filled with memories of Christmas's past and create a few new memories to carry into the future.


Jim Gainan is President of Gainan's Flowers and Garden Center in Billings, MT.