The Short Life—and Awesome Resurgence—of the Aluminum Christmas Tree

For a short window in the 1960s, aluminum Christmas trees gleamed in living rooms nationwide—but this glorious, glittering reign would be all too brief. Within the decade, they were relegated to the curb as aesthetic tastes shifted. But nostalgia has fueled an aluminum tree renaissance in recent years. Here's a brief history.

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

The craze started in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1959. As with all grand advances in civilization, the credit goes to those who made them commercially viable—and the Ford of the aluminum tree was the Aluminum Specialty Company, based in the small, blue-collar city on Lake Michigan.

According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Tom Gannon, toy sales manager for the Aluminum Specialty Company, saw a metal tree in a store window during a visit to Chicago in 1958. Modern Coatings, Inc., had a patent on them, but its version was expensive and bulky. Gannon brought the idea back to his engineers, who made the trees cheaper—the price went from $75 to $85 down to $25—as well as easier to mass produce and easier to put up and break down. Aluminum Specialty took a gamble and produced hundreds of thousands for the following Christmas, eventually branding it the “Evergleam.”

Soon after, several aluminum manufacturers found themselves in the Christmas business, and the trees were everywhere, ranging from tabletop models to eight feet tall; silver was popular, but they came in a variety of colors. Trees were paired with spotlights and color wheels that made them twinkle in rotating hues. In one popular variation, the needles erupted into a kind of pompom at the tip of each rigid branch, like shooting stars.

And then came Charlie Brown, and he ruined everything.

HOW CHARLIE BROWN KILLED THE ALUMINUM CHRISTMAS TREE

It might sound strange, but 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas has been partially blamed for the decline of the aluminum tree. As you may recall, when Charlie Brown is going to buy a tree, Lucy tells him to “get the biggest aluminum tree you can find Charlie Brown. Maybe paint it pink!” Grappling with holiday depression, Linus and Charlie Brown mock the aluminum trees and go with the small natural tree instead.

The aluminum tree had become a symbol of everything that had gone wrong with Christmas. Sales tapered off, and then, by the 1970s, they were gone. And yet…

THE SILVER TREE RESURGENCE

In the last 10 years or so, aluminum trees have reemerged. Popping up at estate sales and thrift stores, they’ve developed an enthusiastic following. Much of the renewed interest was sparked by Wisconsin artists John Shimon and Julie Lindemann, who both grew up near Manitowoc, and in 2004 published the photography book Season’s Gleamings: The Art of the Aluminum Christmas Tree, showcasing the trees’ history and their own collection.

Aluminum Christmas trees are now collectors' items, holiday trophies for modernist design enthusiasts. They sell on eBay for hundreds of dollars, with a rare pink model once going for more than $3600. There’s definitely a kitsch appeal. But while they were once seen as a cold threat to the true spirit of Christmas, for a lot of people, they’ve become ageless symbols of holiday Americana.

“Fifty, sixty years on, the Evergleam is now a warm, nostalgic memory, fondly recalled,” said Joe Kapler, a historian who curates a recurring exhibit on the trees at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. “It’s funny how that works out.”

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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10 of the Best Halloween Costumes for Your Dog

Amazon/Chewy
Amazon/Chewy

Although trick-or-treating might look a little different this year, there’s no reason why you (or your favorite pet) still can’t celebrate Halloween in style. To help you get in the spooky spirit with your four-legged housemates, we’ve rounded up some of 2020’s best—and cutest—costumes for your dogs. Whether your little monster wants to pay homage to their favorite horror movie or simply don a festive sweater, one of these costumes is guaranteed to earn them an extra treat or two.

1. Taco Dog; $19-$20

Rubie's/Amazon

Dogs and tacos are two of the internet's favorite things, so why not combine them into one? This delightful costume features a sombrero headpiece and taco bodysuit that includes all the necessary taco fixings, like lettuce, cheese, meat, tomatoes, and guac. The costume sizes range from small to XL, so no matter if your dog is best described as a mini taquito or a beefed-up burrito, they'll be able to find a perfect Halloween fit.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Wonder Woman and Superman; $15-$25

Rubie's/Amazon

All dogs are superheroes, even if their most valiant feat is greeting you at the door when you come home. Your pet can show off their inner helper in one of these officially licensed costumes from DC Comics. The Wonder Woman costume features the superheroine’s signature emblem on the back, with a sweet tiara and tutu completing the look. The Superman costume, meanwhile, is fitted with a dramatic cape that’s sure to get them an extra bone or two when going for their evening walk.

Buy it: Wonder Woman and Superman on Amazon

3. Hogwarts Outfit; $15-$16

Impoosy/Amazon

“Yer a wizard, Sparky!” Impoosy’s Hogwarts-inspired costume takes the magic of Halloween to the next level. The set has an adjustable Velcro cape, striped tie, and a pair of glasses so your pet can embrace their inner boy-who-lived (lightning bolt scar not included). As a fun bonus, the costume comes in four different colors, so your pet can sport their house colors in style … after trying on the Sorting Hat, of course.

Buy it: Amazon

4. U.S. Mail Carrier; $18-$19

California Costume Company/Amazon

If you’d rather dress your dog up as a real-life hero, try a U.S. Postal worker. Postal workers deliver the mail in spite of snow, rain, and sleet, and this clever costume will allow your pet to honor the workers who are as faithful as man’s best friend. California Costume’s Mail Carrier ensemble has a combined shirt and front legs piece with attached “arms,” which hold your dog’s special delivery via Velcro. Show your appreciation for your dog's service with a spoonful of peanut butter (your real mailperson might actually like that, too).

Buy it: Amazon

5. Any Star Wars Costume; $6-$28

Rubie's/Amazon

The Force will be with your four-legged friend this Halloween. The Star Wars collection from Rubie's has looks for all of your favorite characters, including R2-D2, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Yoda, and more. If your pet doesn’t exactly love dressing up for the holidays, the collection also includes smaller items like this Yoda ears headpiece, so they can still get in the spirit even without a full getup.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Where’s Waldo?; $25-$29

Rubie's/Chewy

Your pet will stand out in the crowd in this adorable Where’s Waldo? costume. Featuring Waldo’s iconic red and white striped sweater, beanie, and glasses, this officially licensed set is perfect on its own or for matching with a two-legged human. The hat and felt glasses include an elastic chin strap and adjustable ear loops, so your pup will stay stylish and comfortable all night long. They might not be wandering around a crowd of 500 people like their bookish counterpart, but at least they'll look great while social distancing.

Buy it: Chewy

7. Fair Isle Halloween Sweater; $14-$16

Frisco/Chewy

Whether your pet wants to keep it more casual this year or have an excuse to celebrate for the entire month of October, Frisco’s Fair Isle sweater will put the “howl” in their Halloween look. The orange and black sweater is embellished with traditional Halloween images—ghosts, Jack-O’-Lanterns, skulls, cats, bats, and gravestones—that are much more endearing than they are spooky. The sweater also contains a leash hole, so your furry pal can show off his look both inside and outside the house.

Buy it: Chewy

8. Pennywise; $18-$22

Rubie's/Chewy

There’s nothing more fun than playing with your pet, but this terrifying Pennywise costume might just make you think twice. With its sickeningly cheerful tassels and buttons, orange wig, and plush “balloon,” this costume might even scare you if your pet wears it for too long. If It isn’t your thing, check out these Freddy Kreuger and Chucky-inspired costumes to add some extra fright to your night.

Buy it: Chewy

9. Jack Skellington; $20-$22

Rubie's/Chewy

This look is the opposite of a nightmare before Christmas. Disney’s officially licensed Jack Skellington costume from Rubie’s Costume Company highlights The Pumpkin King’s classic outfit, which includes a pinstriped jacket, bat bowtie, and headpiece with a printed image of Jack’s smiling face. Despite Jack’s Christmas obsession, this look embraces his trademark style. This is Halloween, after all.

Buy it: Chewy

10. Headless Rider; $18

Frisco/Chewy

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of America’s most infamous ghost stories. Celebrate Washington Irving’s beloved folktale by turning your pet into the headless horseman’s ghoulish accomplice. This is a great option for pets who might not like getting dressed up, but who feel comfortable wearing simple thunder jackets or shirts. Simply fasten the cape around them via hook-and-loop fasteners, and presto! They’re automatically the companion of a plush, headless terror (terror being relative, in this case).

Buy it: Chewy

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