In 1959, the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin started producing aluminum Christmas trees that quickly became the "industry standard." The novelty tree became a very popular alternative to live evergreens. The retro look of the aluminum tree is coming back with vintage trees selling for several hundred dollars. If you want the look without the price tag, you can purchase a modern but retro-looking tree for a fraction of the cost.
Where to Buy Aluminum Christmas Trees
You have two options for purchasing aluminum Christmas trees: new or vintage.
New Tree Options
Some of the new trees also feature fiber optics and other modern technological advances that enhance this type of artificial tree.
Christmas Tree Market
The Narrow Silver Tinsel Christmas Tree from Christmas Tree Market is ideal for smaller spaces. This tree comes with pre-strung clear lights and metal stand. All sizes feature a two-year foliage warranty and one-year light warranty. Starting prices range from around $230 to just under $400 before any sales.
5' H, 40" diameter, 350 lights
6' H, 43" diameter, 450 lights
7 ' H, 47" diameter, 600 lights
If you're looking for a dramatic statement, look no further than a dramatic Burgundy Tinsel Pre-lit Christmas Tree from Hayneedle. This tree has vivid red metallic branches and a sturdy base and 450 clear, incandescent bulbs. It's priced around $110.
450 clear bulbs
The Home Depot
Sold mostly online with home or store delivery, The Home Depot gives tinsel trees a new and stunning look with a wide range of color choices for tree sizes 2' to 7.5' H. Prices range anywhere from around $10 to $200 or more. Some come with ornaments and some without; bronze, pink, blue, and purple are among the many colors available. Most are made by Sterling Inc. or National Tree Company.
Christmas Central has one of the largest and most diverse collections of tinsel trees in almost every color imaginable in their trees. Sizes start at 15" and go up to around 14' high. They also ship through Amazon as well.
- Cone: Pop-up style tree that's collapsible for easy storage
- Downswept: Features down-swept flowing branches with a slender, sparse shape
- Looped tinsel: Tree is made of series of tinsel loops
- Pencil: Thinner diameter than normal tree.
- Tropical: Palm tree shaped tinsel tree
- Twig: Tinsel twigs give a fuller look than wire glow tree
- Whimsical: Fun tottering tree shape with tapered needles
- Wire glow: Tinsel wire limbs gives skeletal tree appearance
Pricing is just as varied as the styles available, and given the wide range of choices, you'll find small tabletop options from around $10 to designer trees costing over $2,000.
Where to Buy Vintage Trees Online
If vintage is your goal, save yourself some search time by using the Aluminum Christmas Trees website. It searches for authentic aluminum trees for sale on eBay so you don't have to - simply click through the images and use the "buy now" feature to get the one you want. Featured companies include Evergleam, Warren, Silver Pine, Revlis and Krystal, in a variety of sizes and colors like blue, pink, gold, and silver.
Light It Up
Aluminum Christmas trees are designed to reflect light with each needle acting like a mirror. These trees weren't designed for strings of lights. In fact, the way to light up the tree is with a colorwheel.
Add a Colorwheel
The most popular way to light up an aluminum Christmas tree was the use of a colorwheel. This spotlight featured a wheel of colors, including red, blue, green, and yellow (amber). Vintage color wheels can be found on resale and auction sites like eBay and RubyLane.
Rotating Tree Stands
Another popular accessory was the rotating tree stand in addition to the colorwheel spotlight. Amazon sells a 24" rotating stand that supports an 80 pound tree. It creates a 360 degree rotation every 70 seconds. 1000 Bulbs' musical rotating stand words for 6' to 7.5' trees and supports up to 75 pounds and has a 350 degree rotation. It plays Silent Night, Jingle Bells, and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
Decorating an Aluminum Christmas Tree
In 1959, The Aluminum Corporation of America (Alcoa) released a pamphlet titled How to Decorate Your New Aluminum Christmas Tree. Some of the suggestions offered include:
- If using a standard tree stand, cover it with aluminum foil.
- Use glass or aluminum ornaments to reflect more light.
- Stick with one color of ornaments, such as blue, silver, aqua, red, and so on.
- Ornaments can be alike or different as long as they are the same color.
- Use plain ornaments.
- If using more than one color, divide colors so they're spread evenly over tree.
- Use wide hooks to hang ornaments so they don't disturb the natural look of the foil needles.
- Never tie ornaments to tree since this will interfere with foil appearance of tree.
- Less is more. Don't add tinsel, garlands or streamers. These clutter the natural reflective beauty of the tree.
- Homemade ornaments should be reflective, such as shapes made from aluminum sheeting, kitchen foil or wrapping papers.
Appeal of Retro Trees
The original appeal of the aluminum Christmas tree coincided with the race to space and was a modern space age take on an age old tradition. With the retro wave for home design continuing, it's not surprising that this holiday decoration has seen a return in popularity.