Holiday decorating becomes big business

For those who yearn for the holidays all year long, Treetime Christmas Creations in Lake Barrington is like a magical wonderland for children of all ages. It is a fantastical holiday showroom that changes each year in an effort to keep people coming back to see what its staff of decorators have done differently, according to Laurie and Joe Kane, the seasonal business's owners.

"Our aim is to share our holiday vision with our customers, not just sell them an artificial tree," Laurie says.

"It seems that every year the decorations in local homes get more and more elaborate," she continues. "These days homeowners want to see little touches of Christmas throughout their homes."

Gone are the days when homeowners settle for a wreath on the door, a tree covered with an eclectic mix of ornaments, and maybe some colored lights on the bushes outside. These Christmas-loving people are creating themed trees of all sizes and shapes in many rooms of their house. There are slim trees in the corners, potted trees near the front door and even small potted trees along the banisters on the staircase.

So, as homeowners continually "up their game," they turn to Treetime for new and exciting holiday touches.

"We would like Treetime to become people's yearly Christmas destination. We want to be everything Christmas for them," Kane says. "So, we shop the world - literally - to bring the latest, most unique and beautiful Christmas items to our customers so we can help them create the magic of Christmas in their own home."

At the core of every year's celebration are the trees and those trees are what set Treetime apart from big box retailers and other competition, Kane says. All of its trees are custom designed by suppliers and then hand-assembled, hand-wired and hand-lit.

"We introduce six or seven new, custom-designed trees each year. Joe and I are extremely picky, so we make these trees the most beautiful we can," she says.

"We bring photos of real live trees and molds of real branches that we want (suppliers) to copy and they do that right down to replicating spring growth on trees by making them a lighter green at the ends. They will also make flat or pointy needles, dense or sparse. Then we work on the tree's overall branch density and placement and also the color. They are real custom designs," Kane says.

Flocked trees are also available and now come in many different sizes and types of flocking, from a very cool frost-kissed flocking that shows just a hint of white to the heavier applications of white. Kane says the flocking has been vastly improved so that it actually stays on the tree and doesn't make a mess of your house.

Treetime staff members also offer decorating hints, supply Christmas lovers with high-quality holiday decor; inspire customers with the store's fun, interesting and groundbreaking displays; and teach decorating classes. They even have a do-it-yourself area that shows Pinterest-lovers easy ways to make wonderful decorations themselves. However, designers on staff will create custom bows, wreaths, garlands and centerpieces for you.

Mantels, hearths and doorways are other focal points for holiday decorating.

"The pine garland is the heart of every mantel," Kane says, "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, such as 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 mantel."

Doorways, particularly exterior doorways, are also often festooned with pine garlands and wreaths.

"We also 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, have an annual Breakfast with Santa (which is already sold out for this year's sessions) and even offer pet photo shoots with Santa. We want to become a family tradition."

Treetime, at 22102 N. Pepper Road in Lake Barrington, is open each year from Labor Day through the second or third week of January, and sells artificial trees through its website,, as well as in the store.

The Kanes spend much of the rest of their year traveling the world and preparing for the next Christmas season. In fact, Laurie and one of her buyers travel to Europe's biggest Christmas decor show each year and she and Joe travel to their tree factories in China twice each spring.

Treetime Christmas Creations can be reached at (847) 527-8880 or online at

  Treetime Christmas Creations holds classes in its design studio and will also custom design wreaths and other decorations for customers. John Starks/
  Frosted, or flocked, trees are available at Treetime. John Starks/
  Mrs. Claus' kitchen is one of many themed displays at Treetime. Patrick Kunzer/
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