7 tips for buying the best artificial Christmas tree this season

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 5:26 PM

New Ornaments Give Whole New Meaning To Holiday Spirit

If you are dreaming of a lovely, needle-free Christmas tree, you are in luck.

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Gone are the days of stiff, flimsy, plastic trees. Artificial trees are now more realistic than ever before, and they are growing in popularity.

In fact, about 80 percent of homes will opt for an artificial tree compared to only 20 percent of Americans going for a real, live tree, according to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA).

So how do you find the most authentic tree and get the most bang for your buck? Here are seven tips for buying a quality faux tree from Jen Sypeck, an Atlanta based trend expert and product development consultant with more than 20 years of experience working with Home Depot, Home Decorators Collection and Pottery Barn.

Ask yourself: does the tree look realistic?

Does the tree look full? Look at both the tips and branches. If you are looking at a tree in a store, note that sometimes the trees might not be fully fluffed. So if you find a tree that is not to your fullness liking, play around with a few branches to see if, with a little care, you are able to achieve the full look you are going for. Needles made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) look more realistic than those made from plastic, while needles made from PE (polyethylene) are even more life-like.

Making an investment. Just as fake trees can be found in all sizes, they can also be found in all price ranges. The quality of the tree and additional accents will affect the pricing. And there is a vast range depending on size, features and quality. Example, a 7 feet tall, prelighted PVC tree can range from $99-$1,500. Regardless of budget there is a faux tree out there for you. Depending on your budget, try to invest in the “showcase” tree in the house. In other words, if you are setting up multiple trees throughout your house and need to scale back the budget, spend less on the trees not front and center.

Determine your style. Going with a faux tree gives you lots of options. Are you looking for a traditional just-cut-from-the-farm tree, a snow swept tree, or a glamorous, bold metallic tree, there is a tree to fit your personal decorating style.

Determine the size. You need to consider the clearance for a comfortable walkway in the room where tree will be set up. In addition to the walkway clearance, you also need to be aware of the ceiling height. (Sypeck likes to have at least a 1 foot of space between the top of a tree and the ceiling, and if you have a tree topper you’ll need to factor that into height equation as well) The good news is sky is the limit with faux trees — they come in all shapes and sizes.

To prelight or not? It’s a yes for Sypeck. The time during the holidays is precious and seems to always be on the fast forward mode so any chance to simplify and get some time back, she says go for it. Technology has even made its mark on trees. If you want to go back and forth each year on white lights and multi-color lights, don’t fret, there are now trees that have dual lights so you don’t even have to choose one over the other.

If you choose a prelighted fake tree, look for one that is labeled “continuous on” or “with burn-out protection.” This means that if a single bulb on the strand burns out, the rest of the lights stay on.

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)(Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Other things to consider…

Check the wires. Sypeck always wants wires from the lights and the trunk to be hidden (invisible) making it one of her top considerations on her faux tree buying checklist.

Will it hold the ornaments?

Feel the sturdiness of the tips and branches to ensure they will hold the weight of your ornaments.

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George H.W. Bush hospitalized with blood infection after death of Barbara Bush

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 7:31 PM

Biography of George H.W. Bush

Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized in Houston with an infection, after attending the funeral of his wife Barbara.

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Please check back on this developing story.

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Waffle House shooting: Man accused of killing 4 in Tennessee arrested

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 2:09 PM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 2:09 PM

Police: 4 Dead After Waffle House Shooting by Nude Gunman

Authorities on Monday afternoon arrested a man suspected of stripping at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, early Sunday before opening fire on customers and employees, killing four people.

Nashville police confirmed that authorities arrested suspected shooter Travis Reinking, 29, on Monday afternoon. He was earlier identified as the man suspected of killing Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29; Joe R. Perez, 20; Akilah Dasilva and DeEbony Groves, 21. 

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Toronto van attack: 10 dead, injuries reported

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:21 PM

Several Dead, More Than A Dozen Injured In Toronto Van Attack

A van apparently jumped onto a sidewalk Monday at a busy intersection in Toronto and struck down pedestrians before the vehicle was found and the driver taken into custody, Canadian police said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Teen girls abducted: Arrest made in 19-year-old cold case

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

Warren Phllip Welch (deceased), Ronnie Busick and David Pennington (deceased), are suspected in the 1999 disappearance of two Oklahoma girls. (Kansas Department of Corrections)
Warren Phllip Welch (deceased), Ronnie Busick and David Pennington (deceased), are suspected in the 1999 disappearance of two Oklahoma girls. (Kansas Department of Corrections)

Investigators made a break in the 1999 disappearance of two Welch, Oklahoma, girls.

Officials charged Ronnie Busick in connection with their disappearance, according to KOKI

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Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were 16 years old in 1999, when they planned a sleepover to celebrate Freeman's birthday. 

The day after the sleepover, firefighters found Freeman's parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, shot to death in their burned-out home. The girls, however, had disappeared. 

For years, investigators searched for answers, interviewed several potential suspects and pleaded for information surrounding the girls' disappearance. 

KOKI reported in 2017 that "extremely valuable" information was turned over by Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey. 

Officials said they charged Busick Sunday in connection with the case. He faces four charges of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and a final count of arson.

Busick is currently in custody in Newston, Kansas, according to investigators.

At least two other people were involved in the case, they said. Those two, identified as Warren Phillip Welch and David Pennington, have since died. 

Members of the victim’s families learned Lauria and Ashley were likely kept alive some time after their disappearance, but they have since died. Their bodies have not been recovered.

An affidavit claimed Welch kept photographs in a leather briefcase that showed the girls bound and gagged at his Picher home during their last days. According to the affidavit, multiple people said they had seen the pictures, but the suspects reportedly threatened them.

The affidavit claimed the girls were tied up, drugged and raped before they were killed. It said the girls were strangled and their bodies were dumped into a pit, which may have been a mine shaft near Picher.

Multiple people told investigators that both Welch and Pennington dealt methamphetamine, according to the affidavit. One person reportedly told investigators that Pennington had said the girls had entered a room where Freeman’s parents were buying drugs on the night of the crime.

Another witness reportedly said that a conversation between Welch, Pennington and Busick had implied that the Freeman parents had been murdered over a debt. That witness said the suspects had also hinted that they had taken the two girls and eventually killed them, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said an insurance card found near the scene connected to a car that investigators believed to be connected to a vehicle in Welch's possession helped them in the case.

It said that the suspects had threatened the lives of people who may have had information about the crimes.

Investigators said they still need people to come forward about where the girls' bodies may be. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-522-8017 or via email at tips@osbi.ok.gov.

Officials said a private reward of $50,000 still stands for information related to the location of the girls.

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