A New Tree + A New Lighting Tweak!


That’s the new ornament for 2016 on our Christmas tree, it’s Ginger, our chocolate labrador who is 99.5 years old (human equivalent years) and patiently awaiting arrival of our daughter who is coming home for the holidays in a few weeks to celebrate Ginger’s 100th year…


So, long story short, though they really warrant a classic Marketman RANT for APPALLING service, shippingcart.com did finally deliver our Christmas tree, despite their website claiming they only shipped one of two boxes, and their customer service agents being totally gormless and unhelpful. So we got the tree, but I will never, ever use shippingcart.com to ship items to the Philippines again.


It took me a while to find an acceptable artificial tree this year. First at the epicenter of tree manufacturing in China, I didn’t find a suitable candidate, despite thousands of choices. So I ended up ordering from an American company called Balsam Hill, a business started by a Stanford Business School graduate who sought to improve the quality of artificial trees on offer for retail, but it’s probably still made in China. The tree was extremely easy to assemble, though I have to admit we have phenomenal, competent and reliable “elves” in the “Marketman Santa Workshop”… :)


Some 4-5 segments popped into a central stand…


…hand fluffing the pine so that they mimic pine trees in the wild (Balsam Hill thoughtfully included some gloves to make the task of handling the plastic pine easier)…


…moving the 9.5 foot tree to it’s corner to check how it looks there…


…then the critical task of putting in some 2,300 points of LED light to make the tree “glow from within”. This is the most important stage of tree decorating, and a stage that many folks take for granted. Our crew, who have been with us 20+ years, hold MCTL’s or what I like to call “Masters of Christmas Tree Lighting” degrees. Trust me, you will have great difficulty trying to pirate them. They are so good about it, even their Christmas trees at home have that “inner glow”, I know, because they proudly show me the pics every year. :)


First, let me say, I am not really a fan of these LED lights, despite several generations since the first versions that were ET-like frightening. I find they lack the warm glow of incandescent bulbs, though they are getting better. Suffice it to say, if I could get the old ones, I wouldn’t be using these, and would just help save the planet in some other way…


So what’s the new tweak or twist? I used two sizes or brightnesses of LED lights! It’s counter-intuitive as you want all of the lights to typically match in brightness, but the mixture has led to surprisingly nice results. It actually looks like the tree is sparkling, without the blinking lights (which I prefer not to use). We had run out of one size of lights, and out of necessity, tried mixing in a different set. When it looked good, we took off all the lights and then re-applied them, now with a “random” feel to the big and small lighting. It’s a little thing, but in our household, the tree is never a little thing. So now to decorate it…


8 Responses

  1. If I could, I would love to borrow your two crew members (with their MCTL, of course!) to set up and decorate our 12-foot tree. My husband assembles the tree but I have to do the rest. We inherited hundreds of Hallmark ornaments (mostly old) from my mother in-law. There is enough to cover the tree but I need to use a very tall ladder. Thank goodness it comes pre-lit. I cannot imagine having to hang the lights in addition to the ornaments — although I may add a different size next year as I think your idea is brilliant! I get that happy feeling once it’s all done but not when it is time to put everything away. Merry Christmas MM and Family!

  2. I’ve been waiting for this post for weeks now! I’m happy. I also bought from Balsam Hill , since I needed a slim 6ft tree that has beautiful leaves– at least realistic enough. I love theirs too, MM. Good replacement for my Typhoon ravaged tree and decors. Ginger!!!

  3. MM, you should look at the CNN video regarding rapamycin and dogs. It’s said to be able to extend their lifespan along with improving quality of life. I’m actually thinking of giving it to my 9 year old dog but he’s still quite healthy and vibrant.

  4. Monty, thanks for that, but I think the natural vagaries of age are kicking in… Ginger is aging gracefully but not without difficulty… Natie, yes, Balsam Hill tree is very nice indeed… Happy Holidays ECC!

  5. Karen, see this old post, here. Essentially, you have to put lights all the way into the tree, near the trunk, hide the wires as best you can, and let the tree glow from within rather than draping lights all around the outside of the tree… For a 9 foot tree, we use over 2000 LED fairy lights…

  6. No tree for us this year, real or artificial. We only put up our Christmas decors when we’re spending it here at home (alternating with Manila and Scotland).

    The tree lights you can purchase here down under are pathetic – very, very faint! It doesn’t help that sunset doesn’t happen till 8-9pm, by which you’re getting ready to go to bed!!! I’ve stopped buying lights here – got them all from Manila.



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