I was so excited to decorate for Christmas this year. I got out the ornaments, decorations, and the tree. I was getting ready to set it up when I noticed the list of selling-points on the box. The first was “low-lead Christmas tree.” Huh. I hadn’t noticed that before. And that couldn’t be good.
So I did some research.
It turns out it wasn’t good. Fake trees are made primarily out of PVC. Part of the process for making PVC includes lead. If you read the directions carefully, they say to wash your hands after setting up or touching the tree in anyway. That it’s toxic. What’s more: a lot of Christmas lights carry the same warning for the same exact reason. I even found information advising not to place your presents under the limbs until the night before to avoid potential lead poisoning.
There is a way to avoid it. Well, two ways. You can find a tree manufactured in the US where standards are higher. They’re mostly vinyl. But I spent 45 minutes on the phone with a Sears/Kmart rep only to find that all of their trees are manufactured in China and contained lead. She was really helpful and great about doing the research. She was as shocked as I was. Don’t even try Walmart. As it turns out, 85% of fake trees sold in America are made in other countries and contain lead at some level. So good luck with that one.
The other solution, which is the one we decided on, is to just buckle down and get a real tree. My mom had a stand that she doesn’t use anymore. So that cost us $0. Then we went out to buy a tree. I grew up in the suburbs and we always went real for Christmas. So I was expecting the tree to cost $60-80. He knew a place in the city, so we decided to check it out.
Holy moly. I was surprised. They had a huge selection of trees…all types and sizes…for a flat rate of $29. That’s 50%+ off compared to shopping in the suburbs.
Made quick work of selling the other tree on Craigslist. It’s amazing how fast a 6′ artificial tree will go for $15.
Our other new decorations include candles and dollar store garland. I never pay for candles. People love to give them to me for gifts. And I love it. I have a stockpile. One of our new candles that I received last year for a gift is this one from my aunt. It’s amazing. It’s gingerbread scented, and the wax is actually little gingerbread men. I feel kind of bad when I burn it…like I’m hearing little shrieks as the wick grows shorter. But it’s so cute. I always hit up the dollar store this time of year. This year I went local on Small Business Saturday to a local dollar store called Lucky Bucks on Mt. Washington. I got two garland candy canes and one string of gold leaves. $3. I could buy nice garland and use it year after year, but I figure it’d be ten years before I saw a return on that investment (figuring for a $30 garland,) and at that point I’d bet even that would be beat up and ready to replace. So I just do the dollar store every year.
And of course we have old decorations we’ll use every year. Angel figurines. Ornaments. Our stuffed Mr. Grinch. Our stockings.
Bringing our grand total on decorating (with a real tree!) to:
-$30 for the tree
-$0 for the stand
-$0 for the candles and other reusable decorations
-$3 for the garland
+$15 for the fake tree I sold on craigslist