The Christmas tree became very common in the United States in the early nineteenth century. The first image of a Christmas tree was published in 1836 as the frontispiece to The Stranger's Gift by Hermann Bokum. The first mention of the Christmas tree in American literature was in a story in the 1836 edition of The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, titled "New Year's Day," by Catherine Maria Sedgwick, where she tells the story of a German maid decorating her mistress's tree. Also, a woodcut of the British Royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in The Illustrated London News December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in Godey's Lady's Book. Godey's copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen's tiara and Prince Albert's moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene. The republished Godey's image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America. Art historian Karal Ann Marling called Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, shorn of their royal trappings, "the first influential American Christmas tree". Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850–60 than Godey's Lady's Book". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become even more common in America.
Once the tree is installed, it’s hard to overemphasize how stable this stand is. In our stability testing, the Krinner Tree Genie XXL was able to max out our force gauge at 50 Newtons when testing with both small and tall trees. The tree stand even outlasted the test materials: We bent the hook on the force gauge trying to get it to tip over, and at one point we snapped the twine we had tied to the tree. The stand itself weighs 18 pounds, which you might expect to make it stable, but it actually has a smaller footprint than most of the other stands. That’s another advantage: It’s easier to store during the non-Christmas months.
In casting the silent comic strip characters of Peanuts, the trio pulled from their personalities. Lead character Charlie Brown's voice was decided to be downbeat and nondescript ("blah," as Mendelson noted), while Lucy be bold and forthright. Linus' voice, it was decided, would combine both sophistication with childlike innocence. Mendelson recognized that the character of Snoopy was the strip's most popular character who seemed to seize "the best jokes," but realized they could not cast a voice for the cartoon dog. "In the process, we gained a veritable 'canine Harpo Marx,'" Mendelson later wrote. Melendez suggested he provide gibberish for Snoopy's mutterings, and simply speed up the tape to prevent viewers from knowing. There are no adult characters in the strip or in this special. Later specials would introduce an offscreen teacher; her lines are eschewed for the sound of a trombone as the team behind the specials found it humorous.
Pre-lit trees make up 90 percent of the artificial trees sold in the US, according to the American Christmas Tree Association; incandescent bulbs still dominate, but LEDs are rapidly making inroads. LED bulbs cost a bit more up front but should last longer than incandescents, in both lifespan and durability terms. However, modern incandescents are more reliable than those of the past, and one burned-out bulb no longer necessarily causes the whole string to go dark. On pre-lit trees, you want roughly 100 bulbs (or more) per foot of tree height; less than that looks a bit sparse. Finally, you shouldn’t pay extra for the fancy flashing patterns that are increasingly common, unless you know you’ll use them. As Larry Gurino of House of Holiday confided to us, “Most people don’t use them—they just want to see them [advertised] on the box.”
You can dress a standard wreath in white Christmas fashion as quick as you can say “St. Nick.” All you need to get a decorator look is an inexpensive evergreen wreath, available at garden stores and tree lots, and a can of white flocking spray. Take the project outside to ensure you don’t “dust” the unintended, and then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Contrary to that apprehension, A Charlie Brown Christmas received high ratings and acclaim from critics. It has since been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody Award. It became an annual broadcast in the United States, and has been aired during the Christmas season traditionally every year since its premiere. Its success paved the way for a series of Peanuts television specials and films. Its jazz soundtrack also achieved commercial success, selling 4 million copies in the US. Live theatrical versions of A Charlie Brown Christmas have been staged. ABC currently holds the rights to the special and broadcasts it at least twice during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“For years, we’ve stuffed all of our ornaments on two-thirds of our artificial tree so we could see them all. It got pretty crowded. This stand is the solution to that problem. The stand has a big diameter base, which gives a good, solid footprint to support the tree. The cord has the switch built in to it, which has two buttons: one to turn the rotation on or off, and another that turns the lights on or off. So you can have separate, independent control of both lights and rotation. The top of the stand has two outlets built in to power a couple strands of lights. The hole has four screws to hold the tree post securely. One caution I offer is that the hole is exactly 1.25 inches in diameter, so make sure your tree post is that diameter or less. The rotational speed is just right for viewing ornaments continuously without them swinging or swaying from the motion. The motor is very quiet. The stand is for artificial trees only. The design will not structurally support a real tree of any size — not beefy enough and has no water trough. The cost was a bit high, but we decided it was worth taking the chance and are glad we did. We should get many uses out of it and was well worth the cost. I highly recommend it.”
Whether you pick a blue spruce or a balsam fir, you put all that effort into finding and cutting down the perfect Christmas tree—don't let it go to waste. The right Christmas tree stand can help keep your tree stable, hydrated, and alive longer (not to mention, help you show off your tree's best side), so they're worth the investment—unless you plan to go the artificial tree route.
Despite the popularity of the strip and acclaim from advertisers, networks were not interested in the special. By April 1965, Time featured the Peanuts gang on its magazine cover, perhaps prompting a call from John Allen of the New York-based McCann Erickson Agency. Mendelson imagined he would sell his documentary, and blindly agreed to Allen's proposal: an animated half-hour Peanuts Christmas special. The Coca-Cola Company was looking for a special for advertising during the holiday season. "The bad news is that today is Wednesday and they'll need an outline in Atlanta by Monday," Allen remarked to Mendelson. He quickly contacted Schulz, and the duo got to work with plans for a Peanuts Christmas special. The duo prepared an outline for the Coca-Cola executives in less than one day, and Mendelson would later recall that the bulk of ideas came from Schulz, whose "ideas flowed nonstop." According to Mendelson, their pitch to Coca-Cola consisted of "winter scenes, a school play, a scene to be read from the Bible, and a sound track combining jazz and traditional music." The outline did not change over the course of its production.
For even more convenience, purchase a pre-lit tree so all you have to do is add ornaments and garland and you’re ready to celebrate. To help save money on electric bills, try a Christmas tree with energy-saving LED lights and add a light timer to make sure your lights consistently turn off at the same hour each night. Even better, you can set up Remote Control Christmas Trees that let you change the color of the lights with just a click of a button. For more information on how to choose the right artificial tree for your Christmas décor, see our Artificial Christmas Tree Buying Guide.