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Aluminum Christmas Trees

By Edited May 3, 2014 6 8

Aluminum Christmas trees are a great way to celebrate the holiday with a unique style! The use of aluminum Christmas trees has become mainstream among fans of mid-century furnishings and architecture, but they are also used by many families who just want to remember Christmas as a simpler time when family gathering around the tree was more important than presents under it. The heyday for aluminum Christmas trees may have come and gone, but these trees shine on in many modern homes.


Aluminum Christmas trees were first introduced in the late 1950s during a period when the public's fascination with space and quirky design were at an all time high. These trees definitely did not feel out of place in the late 50s and early 60s homes amid the giant tailfins on cars, starburst clocks, amoeba shaped coffee tables and tiki themed drapes. Manitowoc, Wisconsin, became the capital of aluminum Christmas tree production with claims that over one million trees were manufactured in this town alone. These silver wonders gleamed brightly in many households for the next decade. By the mid 60s, the luster was fading on these trees. No one reason marked the end. A shift in the tastes of the public probably hastened the demise. A tree that seemed appropriate next to formica and chrome may have seemed distasteful next to the Danish modern designs of the 1960s. The trees soldiered on into the 70s, but the end clearly was in sight. Manufacturers began discontinuing production and retailers were no longer interested in continuing to stock them and began discounting any remaining trees on the shelf.


The original aluminum Christmas trees boasted a flavor and size for practically everyone. They were manufactured in a variety of colors: silver, gold, green and even pink! The basic tree would feature a single wooden pole or a two piece pole (depending upon size) and individually sleeved branches. The branches were normally all one length. The base pole has holes drilled at varying angles and when the branches are inserted this allows the shape to mimic a traditional tree. This style is generally referred to as "pom pom" since the end of each branch resembles a pom pom. There were also aluminum trees made later with branches that more closely resembled today's artificial tree branches. These trees appeared fuller and often the branches were hinged so the entire tree could be folded closed for storage. The more common pom pom style is generally what most people think of when they reminisce about the trees of their childhood. These trees may appear sparse to today's generation, but like much of modern design the idea is to give an abstract or minimal representation of an item without superfluous detailing.


Aluminum Christmas trees have their own interesting features that make them unique in the Christmas tree world. Because they are metal, manufacturers did not want people to risk getting shocked by using traditional electric lights. Instead, various accessories were made to accompany these trees. The most important of these is the color wheel. This spotlight with a rotating disc featuring four primary colors gives a wonderful constantly changing glow to aluminum trees. Another invention recommended for displaying these trees was the rotating tree stand. Many of these were also musical. A rotating aluminum Christmas tree being illuminated by a constantly changing color palette makes quite an impression.

Aluminum Christmas Tree from Hammacher Schlemmer

Everything old is new again and aluminum trees are no exception. Many of the modern interpretations resemble the trees of old, but are made from plastic or mylar tinsel and not aluminum. There are modern companies manufacturing true aluminum Christmas trees to original specifications. These can be purchase online at places like the Vintage Christmas Store. Many high-end retailers will stock these trees during the holiday season, but they also can be ordered many times on the web direct from the manufacturer. The boutique nature and limited production means that these new trees boast a healthy price tag. Nostalgia for the trees of Christmas past can range from a couple hundred dollars to nearly a thousand for a top of the line tree. Vintage trees can sell within this same price range, so many consumers opt for new.

Aluminum Christmas trees are a unique way to celebrate the holiday season. The vintage versions or the modern retro tinsel trees are both a way to add a mid-century modern slant to any holiday season. They make a bold statement without the absolute shock-value of an upside down Christmas tree. Aluminum Christmas trees are easy to assemble, display and store. No shedding, water, muss or fuss. With a bit of care, aluminum Christmas trees can last and shine for a lifetime. For anyone tired of the same old traditional decorations these trees are a great way to inject a little fun back into the holiday decor.

Other Christmas Articles You May Enjoy:

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Aug 3, 2010 8:31pm
Hi! Love this reminder of days gone buy.Good old shiny trees, lovely color wheels..... WE were the first in our neighborhood to have one. Man, I was proud! (I also write on hubpages by the way!)
Aug 3, 2010 9:48pm
I love mine (I have two actually). Each year we look so forward to bringing out our color wheel. Our kitty loves to lay in front of it and watch the tree change colors. It is a magical time!!
Nov 29, 2010 9:19am
Congratulations on this being a featured article. I remember the aluminum Christmas trees that we had as children!
Nov 29, 2010 12:07pm
Congratulations on being featured on the front page!
Nov 29, 2010 6:50pm
Great Article and worthy of being a featured article. Aluminum trees are perfect, easy to set up and needs little care.
Nov 30, 2010 8:42pm
Congratz on the front page article. I enjoyed the unique topic.
Nov 30, 2010 9:33pm
my dad bought one in the 60s, thought it was the greatest modern tree! great article.
Dec 1, 2010 2:02pm
Thanks guys. We had one when I was a kid and I loved it. Later in life, as I began to collect and deal in vintage clothing and midcentury furnishings, it was the only thing that made sense to me! I procrastinate and will probably set mine up next week.
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