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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette The Santa’s Workshop tree is on display at Lopshire Flowers, 2211 Maplecrest Road.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Santa and his reindeer are tried and true ornaments.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Using lace is a popular way to decorate a Christmas tree.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette These glass ornaments were hand blown by Decatur artist PJ Cruse.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette PJ Cruse blows a glass ornament he created in his Decatur workshop.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Hanging multiple ornaments on a single branch of a Christmas tree creates a different visual aid and gets those ornaments more attention than they may have received hung by themselves.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 10:10 pm

Sprucing up holiday tree

Terri Richardson | The Journal Gazette

Judy Reifenberg knows a thing or two about trees. Especially Christmas trees.

As the co-owner of the St. Joe Christmas Tree Farm at 9801 St. Joe Road for the past 16 years with her husband, Mike, she can not only advise on choosing the right live tree, Reifenberg has picked up quite a few decorating tips from customers and experts over the years.

It’s advice that she willingly shares, even though she admits that when it comes to decorating her own tree, she sticks to tradition.

She trims the tree the same way every year, using ornaments that the family has collected and handmade ornaments made by the kids (who are grown now with kids of their own) years ago.

"I’ve never done a themed tree," Reifenberg says.

But one thing she does do, which she says adds depth to the tree, is wrap the trunk of the tree with lights. She says to start from the top and go down, using one or two strands of lights. She prefers the new LED lights, which are a little more expensive, but really good, she says.

She also suggests that a person know what they want their tree to look like when it’s done before they start the decorating process.

Reifenberg says a person needs to understand that a real tree is not perfect, which is what makes them special. The tree farm will offer a number of different trees this year, including Scotch and white pines, little Douglas and Fraser firs for both cutting and precut and precuts of blue spruce.

There are going to be holes in a live tree, she says. For that, she suggests using big ornaments to fill in the big holes. She said to hang them in the middle of the tree, toward the trunk. Once that’s done, decorate the tree with your smaller ornaments.

She received a tip from a decorator to bundle ornaments, using maybe three ornaments on the same branch. This creates a different visual aid for those tried and true ornaments and helps ornaments that may not have been noticed on their own to stand out, Reifenberg says. Ornaments also can be given a new look by using ribbon to hang them.

"My best advice is don’t over-critique it," Reifenberg says. "Walk away from it and then tweak it a few days later."

Customers at Lopshire Flowers, 2211 Maplecrest Road, can get ideas and inspiration from 12 different themed trees that are set up in the store.

Co-owner Cheryl Wene says the store offers a number of different items that can be put on a tree.

There are collector-type ornaments, but she also suggests using raffia, berries, pine cones, branches, cattails and leaves for a natural or woodsy look.

Silk poinsettias are another option to give a tree a holiday look.

Wene also suggests creating a vintage tree by using lace and running it throughout the tree.

However, whatever you use, Wene says to make sure that it is not flammable, especially if you are using lights.

And if you don’t have time, Lopshire can decorate your tree for you.

But Wene says to make sure you book far in advance because the store begins its busy decorating schedule the week before Thanksgiving.

For those looking for something really different, try decorating your tree with hand-blown glass ornaments. 

PJ Cruse of Molten Creations in Decatur has been blowing glass for 10 years. He creates a number of ornaments, including a request several years ago for glass icicles that were used on a Christmas tree.

He currently is working on an order of specific sports team logo ornaments that will be given as a Christmas present.

Cruse says he takes orders through his website,