LED Christmas lights

December 6th, 2011 admin Posted in Christmas No Comments »

Our last post talked about whether consumers should purchase artificial Christmas trees or go for the real thing. We thought that it would be appropriate to discuss Christmas lights in this post since it is so near Christmas. Over the past few years, LED Christmas lights have become very popular replacing the old incandescent lights and also the small C7 and C9 lights. We will do a quick review of each type and then talk about decorating your tree.

  • Incandescent
  • C7 and C9
  • LED Christmas Lights

Incandescent Christmas Tree Lights

These lights have been around for the past few years and many people will know them as mini lights.  The bulbs are quite small and utilize less energy than the larger C7 or C9 bulbs. They can get hot at times, so anyone handling them should be careful and also placement on the tree needs to take into account that they can get hot.

They come in strings of 25, or 50 bulbs and have various colors. They are good for outdoor and indoor, however it is important to read the instructions since some manufacturers designate were their strings can be used. Finding which bulb is burnt out can be a problem with some strings since when one bulb burns out, they all go out.

More expensive strings will stay lit making it easy to find the burned out bulb. One problem with these strings is that as bulbs burn out, the others share the same voltage and burn slightly hotter reducing the overall life of the string. Replace burned out bulbs as soon as you notice them. I have spent hours sometimes trying to get them to work only to give up and buy a new string, since they are so inexpensive.

C7 and C9

These are the traditional Christmas tree lights and are the size of small light bulbs. They come in a variety of colors and screw into a socket the same way their larger cousins do. They do burn hotter than the incandescent bulbs and use more energy as well, so be careful were you hang them to avoid any possibility of fire.

These bulbs are ideal for outdoors as well and if a bulb burns out, you just replace it with a new one. While the bulbs give off a pretty color, they have been falling out of favor recently due to the new LED Christmas lights that are now on the market.

LED Christmas Lights

LED Christmas Lights or Light Emitting Diode Christmas tree lights have been on the market for the past 3 or 5 years and in the past two years have offered many more colors and combinations for both indoor and outdoor use. The primary advantage of these lights is that they use far less energy than other types, so consumers really do not need to be concerned about electricity rates and the cost of turning on their lights over the Christmas period.

Consumers do need to purchase the correct lights for indoor and outdoor use and you will need to be careful about handling them. The LED Christmas Lights work by turning on a diode to give light, however they are protected by a glass or plastic cover which can break if  not handled properly.They are cool to the touch, even after having been on for many hours.

You will probably have to add more strings to get the same effect as you do with other lights and some of them are more difficult to see in natural light when they are turned on. They look beautiful at night and are advertised to last many hundreds of hours.

One negative is that they are more expensive then the older style of lights and depending on the color you choose, your LED Christmas Lights will vary in price as well.  Although they do cost more, they are supposed to last 4 or 5 times longer than regular lights and they use far less energy as well.

Every season, companies are coming out with more configurations and options with LED Christmas Lights.

Decorating your Christmas Tree

In our house hold, I have the job of getting the Christmas tree in place and then adding the lights. My wife will then add all of the other decorations. We separate these tasks due to past years frustration with the incandescent bulbs burning out and trouble finding the burned out bulb. Basically we could not be in the same room together when placing the lights on the Christmas tree.

Now with the LED Christmas Lights it is a simple task, since all of the bulbs work, they are easy to handle and obviously it goes much more quickly with an extra pare of hands helping.

We probably have enough strings to place about 700 lights on our tree and we start at the top with an angel, then going around the tree in circles adding lights gradually descending until the entire tree is covered. As you go along you may have to make adjustments in terms of spacing, however this is a great way to ensure that all of the tree is covered and there are no gaps. A quick check from outside with the lights turned on and we are ready to add all of the other decorations. I really like these new LED Christmas Lights even if they are more expensive!

Outdoor LED Christmas Lights

LED Christmas Lights come in several sizes. We use the small ones for indoor decorations and the larger ones for outdoor. We place them on a few of the shrubs around the front of our home to create that festive Christmas look to our home.

One negative that we have come across with the outdoor LED Christmas Lights is that if it snows, you may have to dust off the shrubs. The LED Christmas Lights do not generate any heat and as a result do not melt the snow around them. If you get a lot of snow, they will be buried and you just will not see them any longer.

Since they draw so little electricity, you can afford to place many LED Christmas Lights around your home both indoors and outdoors. I have them all on timers and so they are turned on and off at the correct time. Just set them up , set the timer and there is no further work to them! Have a happy festive Christmas season!

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Artificial Christmas Trees

November 22nd, 2011 admin Posted in Christmas No Comments »

Christmas is just around the corner and many people are starting to think about whether they should purchase an artificial Christmas tree or go with a traditional live tree that has been grown for this purpose. There is a tradition in many families that they must have a real tree, while other families are ok with an artificial tree  and in fact prefer to have one of these pretend trees.

Our post today is going to review some of the pros and cons of both and why you may want to chose one type of tree or the other.

Here is our list of reasons you may want to consider purchasing one tree or another. Every person will have different reasons and put different importance to each of the items below. At least if you review these ideas you can make a decision based on what you feel is right for you and your family!

  • Choosing Your Tree at the Tree Lot
  • Tradition
  • Charity
  • Allergies
  • Price
  • Lights
  • Decorating
  • The Environment
  • Cleanup & Disposal

Choosing Your Tree at the Tree Lot

This can be fun for the family especially when you have young kids. Whether you pick up a tree at a tree lot or go out and cut one down at a Christmas tree farm, the kids really get a kick out of it and so do the parents. Everyone gets a say in which tree and  believe me it takes a while before the family can agree on the perfect tree. Patience dad!

Tradition

This is probably the biggest reason of all, tradition. If your family has always had a live tree or an artificial one for that matter, then you may not give it a seconds thought. You are just going to purchase the same type of tree every year! No problem with that, but let’s consider some of the following ideas.

Charity

Many tree lots that are selling live trees in the Christmas season are actually charities. They have purchased these trees from a grower who has delivered them to a lot and members of the charity group will be out there in the cold weather selling these trees. This is a great way to raise money for local charities and it is not easy work, especially if it is cold and snowy. You can support these charities by buying one of their trees.

Allergies

One reason that many families purchase artificial trees is allergies. This is true of my own family. For a long time, we had a real tree and almost as soon as we brought it into the house, we all began sneezing! Apparently the pine trees do not agree with us at all. In fact when my wife was a little girl, she would spend Christmas in bed with an asthma attack brought on by the Christmas tree. Needless to say we have had an artificial tree for many years.

Price

Price can be a big factor in which type of tree you choose. Live trees have gone up in price, however they are still less expensive than artificial trees from an initial cost perspective. However if you reuse your artificial tree and this is the whole point of buying one, then the cost per year goes way down the longer you continue to use it.

Properly packing the artificial tree at the end of the season will ensure that it will last for many years and continue to look great at Christmas. I think the current one we have is now about 10 years old which brings the average yearly cost down to less than $10!

Lights

Lights are not much of an issue in terms of which tree you purchase. They look great on either type of tree. However there are some artificial Christmas  trees that you can buy that come with the lights already on the tree, which is a huge thing in our family.

I have the job of getting the lights sorted out, making sure that they all still work and then placing them on the tree. My wife leaves the room during this process, since I find it particularly frustrating when some lights work and others do not. Sometimes it can be very difficult to figure out which light is actually burnt out when they are all off!

Anyway this will happen whether you have a real tree or an artificial one. If you do purchase a tree with the lights already on it,  and the lights begin to burn out, you have the option of adding more lights or just getting a new tree!

Decorating

Decorating is about the same for either tree, however with a real tree there may be areas were a branch is missing or there is a gap of some kind. Many people will argue that this is the charm of having a live tree. After all nature is not perfect and we should accept that not all Christmas trees grow exactly the same no matter how well we chose at the lot.

Artificial trees on the other hand are always perfect with a branch in all of the right places.

The Environment

This is a huge issue for many people. Christmas trees are grown for the purpose, so there is no deforestation type issue. Disposal can also be a good thing if done properly by the city. In our neighborhood, special trucks will come around after Christmas picking up the trees and chopping them into sawdust to be used for mulch in the spring and summer.

Artificial trees do not fair as well in this case. Even when sent to the dump they are going to be around for a long time since the needles are plastic and they just do not degrade well.

Cleanup

Sometimes cleaning up can be more of an issue with real trees. Most people will place the stump of the tree in a pail and fill the pail with water. If you do this it keeps the tree from drying out and losing it’s needles. picking up thousands of needles off your carpet is not a fun job. So keep your tree from drying out. Of course artificial trees do not have this same issue.

Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the season with your family.

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Christmas Shopping and Human Consumption

January 2nd, 2010 admin Posted in Christmas No Comments »

All of this Christmas shopping makes me think about the economy and about all of us human beings in our insatiable desire to purchase stuff. I see the pressure that Christmas shopping puts on families and I have to ask myself….will there be a day when shopping is not such an addictive pastime.

Sure, we have all been raised with the desire to have more, and it is difficult to see a future where that is not a reality. In the future we would hope that the endless consumption and accumulation of “stuff” would be over, and we would be happy just enjoying the holidays without the commercialization of it. But knowing the human mind and human ego a little bit better in my older age, I kind of have to doubt it.

For instance, I am typing today as I sit in a vehicle (product) talking into a microphone (product) which is attached to a digital voice recorder (product) and I am dictating this as I sit in front of a particular store called the Urban Barn. My wife is doing some shopping for Christmas, and she is very excited just like the other shoppers inside who are admiring the Christmas displays and all of the holiday decor and ornaments. The sign in front of me says, “By One and Get Two Free”. What a deal!

What a deal it is! Buy one product and get two free. How exciting this is (sarcasm intended). As I speak, my wife just ran out of the front door of the Urban Barn, and said, “I am going over to Ashley’s Furniture, so I will be back in a moment”.

She seems very excited about the prospects of finding a good deal on some kind of item at the next store. I see people scurrying around the snow-covered parking lot looking for Christmas deals and I can’t help but notice they seem to be in a panic.

And when Christmas is over and all of the decorations, ornaments, registries, wreaths, and plastic blowup Santa Clauses have been swept away from the department store shelves and the front lawns in the suburban neighborhoods, we will be in the same place we were last year on January 2nd. We will all be that much further in debt, and our bank accounts will be depleted, as we stress ourselves out in the new year trying to pay off what we spent in December.

I know that this is important to the economy, and one of the engines that keeps the whole cycle going, but it seems to me there is a problem when it comes to shopping for the sake of shopping.

I often look at the other religions that don’t celebrate Christmas, and I envy them for not being caught up in this vicious, but yet enjoyable tradition. Seasons greetings! It says on the side of the building as I sit in front of Ashley’s furniture. Little elves are painted on the windows of their store, along with snowflakes, and balls of holly. Just another way for this furniture store to show you they are celebrating the Christmas season. Most of the stores are doing the same thing.

The Christmas cycle of abuse has been going on for hundreds of years now, and like I said, I highly doubt that it’s going to be over soon. It would be nice, to maybe just disappear for the Christmas season and boycott it altogether. I have never done that, but someday maybe I will talk my wife into it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Outdoor Christmas Decorations – Full Size Nativity Scenes

November 4th, 2007 admin Posted in Christmas 1 Comment »

outdoorchristmasdecorations

Xmas Decorations 

Outdoor Christmas decoration ideas are not as plentiful as you may think. The average (normal) outside Xmas decorations are things like Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Santa’s sleigh, reindeer,  nativity scenes, baby Jesus, three wise men, Christmas trees, lights and light shows, large snow globes, penguins, elves, Santa on a motorcycle, Winnie the Poo, Mickey Mouse, Disney characters, small nativity scenes and much much more.

Light displays are the most common, while full-blown light shows are rare. There are some enthuasists that go all out with music and flashing lights. These Christmas light show projects have developed due to the lastet electronic and computer technology advancement. See the video below for this amazing music and light show on this guy’s house.

These days it’s crazy because there are Xmas decorations in the stores before Halloween, and I’ve even heard of Christmas stuff being on sale in September. My feeling is that making your own decorations is the coolest thing you can do, but not always practical for some of us.

My personal favorite for outdoor Christmas decorating which you can buy (and not make) is the classic nativity scene. Not a cute nativity scene, but a nativity scene that is full size to scale. Nativity scenes in front yards have been know to cause problems, but in most neighbourhoods these are welcome displays during the holiday season.

full-life-size-nativity-scene

I love full size nativity scenes because they remind us of the true life of Jesus, and less about the commercial aspect of Christmas. Click the thumbnail to see a full-size (life size) nativity scene. These life size nativity scenes are not easy to find or buy. You can find plastic and/or lighted nativity scenes, but they just don’t really do it for me.

life_size_nativitysceneHere is a life size nativity scene that’s incredible (click the image to enlarge, and/or click here to see the blog that I got the picture from). Lifesize and not cheap. Most suburbanites could not afford this of course, but it’s something to reach for.

If you can afford $5000-$10,000, you can check out the Cave Company. These nativity scenes are beautiful, but not really practical for the average budget.

If you know where Zazbot shoppers can find a high quality, life-size nativity scene, please leave a comment and/or link below referencing where we can buy one.  

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