Decorating help for the holiday season

We all need things to lift our spirits from time to time. And the holidays often qualify as a "spirit enhancer." Homes are festively decorated inside and out with bright lights, fun and/or beautiful decor and heavenly smells.

Treetime Christmas Creations, 22102 N. Pepper Road in Lake Barrington, is a place where all of us can go to forget about our troubles and immerse ourselves in fantasy.

Treetime is a fantasy holiday showroom that changes each year in an effort to keep people coming back to see what they have done differently, according to Laurie and Joe Kane, the seasonal business's owners.

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

Generally speaking, Treetime's customers are Christmas-loving people who create 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. Gone are the days when the holiday decor in a house consisted of only a tree, covered with an eclectic mix of ornaments, a wreath on the door and maybe some colored lights on the bushes outside.

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

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

The shop carries a host of ornaments, Christmas decorations, wreaths, garland and trees.

"We would like Treetime to become people's yearly Christmas destination. We want to be everything Christmas for them," Kane said. "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 artificial trees and those trees are what set Treetime apart from big box retailers and other competition, Kane added. All of the store's trees are custom designed 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 said.

"We bring photos of real live trees and molds of real branches that we want them 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 said.

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. The flocking has been vastly improved, according to Kane, so it actually stays on the tree and doesn't make a mess of your house.

Fortunately, she said, the Kanes went on their annual tree-buying trip early this year, so unlike many competitors, they got their orders from China - late, but still in time for the season.

Treetime staff members also offer decorating hints; supply Christmas lovers with high-quality holiday decor; inspire them with their fun, interesting and groundbreaking displays; and have a do-it-yourself area that shows Pinterest-lovers easy ways to make wonderful decorations themselves. Treetime also has designers on staff who are willing to create custom bows, wreaths, garlands and centerpieces. Group decorating classes have been canceled this year due to COVID, but should be back next year, post-pandemic, Kane said.

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

"The pine garland is the heart of every mantel," she 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 mantel."

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

Treetime is open each year from Labor Day through the second or third week of January, and sells 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.

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

  Laurie Kane and her husband, Joe Kane, own Treetime Christmas Creations and work to update the displays and ideas for decorating to keep their customers up on the latest trends. Brian Hill/
  Santa's Magic Room is one of the many displays at Treetime. Brian Hill/
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