Laurie and Joe Kane have a passion for starting and running businesses -- all types of businesses. Both are engineers who have worked on everything from conveyor systems to high-reliability harnesses for engines.
So, the fact they now own a business that sells artificial Christmas trees and the whole range of holiday decorations is quite a departure from what they have done in the past.
The pair had been landlords for Tree Classics, a business that formerly occupied their location at 22102 N. Pepper Road in Lake Barrington. When that Christmas store went out of business several years ago, the Kanes had gotten to know the employees and realized they all needed jobs.
So, combining their entrepreneurial spirit with the former shop's employees' knowledge of the holiday business, a new enterprise was born -- Treetime Christmas Creations.
Since then, the Kanes and their staff have created a magical, fantasy Christmas showroom that changes each year in an effort to keep people coming back to see what they have done differently, Laurie said.
"We would like Treetime to become people's yearly Christmas destination. We want to be everything Christmas for them," she said. "So we serve coffee, hot chocolate and cookies. We have a big-screen television so the men can watch sports. We are a Toys for Tots donation location and we have an annual Breakfast with Santa.
"We also have local high school choirs carol here. We want to become a family tradition."
The shop also offers decorating tips; supplies Christmas lovers with high-quality holiday décor and inspires customers with its fun, interesting and groundbreaking displays.
"Eventually, we would even like to teach decorating classes here," Kane said. "Our aim is to share our holiday vision with our customers, not just sell them an artificial tree."
Treetime is open each year from Labor Day through the third week of January. It sells trees through its website as well as the store.
"It seems that every year the decorations in local homes only get more and more elaborate," she said. "Homeowners want to see little touches of Christmas throughout their homes."
Kane said a popular trend is creating themed trees of all sizes and shapes in many rooms of a house. There may be slim trees in the corners, potted trees near the front door and even small potted trees along the banisters on the staircase. Gone are the days when there was only one tree per house, covered with an eclectic mix of ornaments, she said.
Homeowners are also moving away from the traditional bright reds and pine greens in order to make Christmas better fit the color schemes and atmospheres of each home. For instance, lime green is often seen in holiday decorating today, as are flares of gold, Kane said. And natural looks using owls, birds and other wildlife, along with birch wood, bark and moss, all enhanced with frosted icicles and sparkly pine, are extremely popular.
"When it comes to ornaments, the more glitter, the faster it sells," she said. "People are in awe of glitter, even with the natural-look ornaments. They particularly love our lightweight glitter ball ornaments in a variety of colors.
"And tinsel can add a magical little shimmer to a tree, but it is difficult to find."
Trees today are still topped with angels and stars, in most homes. But some homeowners are using ribbons and floral picks instead. Also, creative types are tying small ribbons to the tops of individual ornaments, adding an extra layer of decoration to the tree and unifying it.
"Layering is a big deal today during the holidays -- on trees, mantles, everywhere. It is a way to get a bigger look with the items you already have, Kane said.
Mantles and hearths are still focal points for holiday decorating.
"The pine garland is the heart of every mantle," Kane said, "and most of them are lit. Then we usually weave a soft cascade of ribbon through it and accent the garland with picks of something to coordinate with the rest of the room, like berries or fruit or packages or whatever. We often also put potted trees on the floor on either side of the hearth and a large wreath above the mantle."
Treetime Christmas Creations can be reached at (847) 527-8880 or visit www.treetime.com.