Christmas Tree Shopping Tips, Hanging Wreaths on Windows & A New Addition to the Bedroom

A few years back, the Christmas tree I had been using for many years lost a big section of lights. I spent hours and hours over several days trying everything to get the lights working, replacing fuses, using a little handheld device to try and detect which light or lights were not working, all to no avail. Since the tree was pretty old, I guess the lighting has just deteriorated over the years. Realizing I was going to have to have to replace it, I decided to spend some $$$ to get the most realistic faux tree I could find.

I purchased a very expensive tree I had seen heavily advertised on TV and by a lot of bloggers/influencers who had been given the tree as a gift. Once it arrived, I was shocked and dismayed by how it was designed, especially how it had been wired. I spent hours trying to separate out the branches before finally giving up and reboxing it to send back. In the photo below, you can see how it looked after hours of trying to spread out the lower 2/3rds of the tree. I never tried to spread out the top part since I knew there was no way I was keeping it.

I’ve never had trouble spreading out the branches on a faux Christmas tree, but the way this one was wired, I found it impossible to separate out the branches to fill in the open spaces/gaps on the tree. I don’t know if I was sent a poorly strung or defective tree or if all the trees by that brand are designed that way, but it was a nightmare! Thankfully, I was able to get my money back, although they tried to withhold the shipping cost, as I recall. Eventually, after speaking with management, that was refunded too. If you would like to see more photos of the issues I had with this tree, you’ll find those in this previous post: This Fraser Fir Christmas Tree Isn’t What I Expected.

Balsam Hill Fraser Fir with Ugly Large Gaps


The tree search started all over again and I ended up visiting five stores in metro Atlanta in search of the perfect tree. I was surprised to find a tree I absolutely loved right here close to home in my local Home Depot. It was much less expensive, too! The tree I chose was the GE “Canadian Just Cut” tree.

GE Canadian Just Cut Pre-lit Easy Light Christmas Tree

GE Pre-lit Just Cut Canadian Christmas Tree


The best way to really judge a tree is to see it completely naked, void of any decorations or ornaments. This tree met and exceeded all my expectations! I was easily able to spread out all the branches to fill the tree out beautifully. Later, after posting this photo, I discovered I had missed spreading out a few branches, so it was actually even prettier and fuller than it appears below! (See the post where I first shared photos of this tree and read more about it here in this post: It Was Worth the Hunt, Love This Christmas Tree! )

Realistic GE Canadian Just Cut Tree with Easy Light System


Here’s how it looked once decorated.


And here’s how it looked the following year.

Decorated Christmas Tree, Plaid Wrapped Gifts


I haven’t decorated it yet this year, although I do have it in place in the living room. Happily, the lights are all working fine. Yay! There’s always that moment each year when you bring out the tree, put it together, and with fear and trepidation hit the “On” switch. It’s such a happy moment when the lights all come on just as they should!

I wanted to share this story again today to emphasize that it is not necessary to spend a fortune to find a beautiful, realistic-looking Christmas tree. I think the best places to start are probably your local Home Depot or Lowes. I’ve seen beautiful trees there already this year.

And, just to make it clear, this post is not sponsored and neither Lowes nor Home Depot knows who I am. I’ve just had great luck shopping there and I’ve seen some very nice trees in both stores over the years, although the closer it gets to Thanksgiving, the less stock they have available. I’ve learned that the hard way in previous years.

Christmas Tree & Plaid Wrapped Gifts


If you are interested in hanging wreaths on your exterior windows this year…

December 2017 Snow in Georgia, Christmas


…I have shared in detail how I hang mine in this previous post: How to Hang Christmas Wreaths on Exterior Windows.


Before I end this post and get back to decorating, I wanted to share that I did go ahead and order the painting, The Governor’s Party for my bedroom. The painting depicts the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia as the artist, Chuck Pinson, envisioned it looking back in the day when the Governor hosted a Christmas party. I remember touring this beautiful home and going through the wonderful maze behind it during one of my visits to Colonial Williamsburg many years ago.

In researching where to buy the painting, I discovered Mr. Pinson lives right here in the Atlanta area and has his own website where his beautiful paintings are available to purchase. So I went ahead and purchased it directly from his website here: Chuck Pinson.

I’m hoping the painting will work above my bed, although, I’m a little worried about how much blue there is in the painting since I don’t have any blue in my bedding That may actually turn out to be a good thing since I wouldn’t want everything in the painting to be a direct match to the bedding. I think that would be too boring and too “same-same.” If it doesn’t work above my bed, I think it will work in my dining room.

Governor's Palace at Christmastime, Colonial Williamsburg


To check what size I need, I borrowed this print I had hanging in my dressing room and hung it above the bed. I like how this size looks, so that’s the size I ordered of The Governor’s Party painting: 36 inches wide x 24 inches tall. I plan to go with a wider frame so it will turn out another inch or two wider/taller. Looking forward to sharing it with you once I have it and it’s framed.


Have a wonderful weekend!

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  1. Mary Beth Czarnecki says

    Hi Susan,
    I’ve been following you for quite some time. Need to re-do my home office and like yours very much. Do happen to remember were you got your filing cabinets?
    Thanks, MB

    • Thanks, Mary Beth! All the off-white furniture in my office is part of the Bedford line of furniture available here:
      It was where a person could buy various pieces and mix and match them to create the office layout they wanted. Unfortunately, over the years, they’ve done away with a few pieces, like the unit I keep my CPU tower in. Here’s a post I shared a few years back explaining in detail which pieces I purchased to create my layout. In that post, I also link out to those various pieces.

  2. Hello, could use please share again the link for the sweater shaver you bought? I always trust your reviews; thanks for being honest and thorough! (And fun to read :)).

  3. I also had to return the same tree from the extensively advertised and recommended by a lot of blogs as the tree that was the be all end all of artificial trees. I did not receive the shipping portion back in my refund
    even after I spoke to managers in customer service. I also found a beautiful tree locally which has served me well the past three years. I would encourage anyone in need of a new tree to shop locally first. Happiest Holidays!

    • Sorry you went through that experience, too. They really have something going with all the advertising and giving away trees to “influencers.”
      I agree! I think a lot of folks wait for Black Friday but my experience has been that there are hardly any trees left by then.

  4. I remember the nightmare you had with that super expensive tree. Your Home Depot one is prettier in my opinion. I love some of those Chuck Pinson prints. The one you have chosen is special to me as it’s in Williamsburg, VA which is about 45 minutes from my home. I especially like Where Time Moves Slower, American Roots, and A Moment on Memory Lane. I got such a feeling of relaxation when I saw them. Looking forward to seeing your above your bed. Happy Thanksgiving! XXOO

  5. Susan, I’ve not pulled our tree out, but you have a good point about checking the lights now while there are still trees available to purchase. Tomorrow’s task! I bought a new one from Home Depot last November. Fingers crossed the lights are still working.

    • I hope it’s fine, Sarah! I’m always nervous each year when I bring mine out. The tree in my kitchen is very old and it had a section go out last year. I don’t want to get rid of that tree because it has cute little pinecones all over it. I worked on it last year, trying to fix it, replacing fuses, etc… and could not get it going. I bought it at the same time I purchased the other one that I just replaced a couple of years ago, so they both died about the same time. I guess lights just have an expiration date on them. I wish I could get it going again. I’m not sure I could restring it, but I might try.

  6. Just wanted to let you know that I bought that same tree in 2017 based on your recommendations. It still looks lovely. I trusted your opinion and since I was ill at the time, I sent my husband to buy it. I gave him a photo of your tree and your review to take to Home Depot. When he put it together, he was amazed. It was so simple and every light worked. He told me this year when we put it up, “That Susan, sure did me a favor. No more tree problems, no more arguments. Just peace on earth and in our home.” Several years ago, we both argued so much about Christmas tree lights that wouldn’t work that I picked up the heavy 7 ft tree and threw it out the front door and onto the front lawn for garbage pickup. I told my husband about your post today. He wanted me to thank you gain for a peaceful Christmas.

    • Nancy, have to laugh about throwing the tree out the front door. I get so agitated with string lights as well. I throw them out and buy new ones. I bought my tree from Home Depot in 2015 (probably ready for the lights to act up) and it is a Martha Stewart. Don’t know if they still sell them or not. Everything clicks into the base; no plugs.

    • Nancy, I laughed about throwing the tree out too. It reminded me of an influencer on Instagram that got mad at her vacuum cleaner and threw it out the back door! She bought a new one!!! lol

    • Awww, love that Nancy! Too cute about “peace on earth and in our home.” That made my night! 😉
      That is sooo funny about tossing the tree out the front door. Ha! Sounds totally like something I would do! lol It’s soooo frustrating when the lights won’t work!
      I hope our trees stay working for many, many years!

  7. I spent about the same as you on a Balsam Hill Xmas tree 3 years ago. I wasn’t impressed either. I’ve kept mine but have had to actually move the lights to spread out the branches. Ugh. I like the realism of the needles but I too should have gone to Home Depot. I found a beautiful tree for my mother there last year. She loves it and she paid about a quarter what I did. Live and learn. I love your blog!

    • So you got one of those trees with the “spiderweb lights on the tips of the branches” too! Ugh! Sorry you went through that, Katherine. I’ve never seen lights strung on a tree like that. I wonder if they are always done that way or if they changed vendors that year. I don’t see how they make any sales if their trees are always like that…I def will never buy another one.
      Yeah, from now on, I’ll probably always buy my Christmas tree (when I need one)s at HL or Lowes. They both seem to get in beautiful Christmas trees from what I saw the year I went shopping for mine. I took a peak at them a few days ago when I was in Home Depot buying the little tree I used in the center of Thursday’s table setting. They were setting up all these wood tables for the live greenery that’s coming in soon. I’ll probably buy my garland there this year…almost that time!

  8. You’re getting me into Christmas spirit. I think I might get the tree out and also the outdoor lights set up. It would be nice to have that out of the way even if they don’t get turned on until December 1. I don’t have double hung windows, but your idea works just as well on the outside of the window by hanging the wreath from the ribbon and putting a nail or screw into the top of the window trim to hold the wreath up. I need a ladder to put them up, but use a broom to unhook them. So much easier and I thank you every Christmas.

  9. We purchased a tree from Balsam Hill five years ago. After the first year, I realized that it just wasn’t the greatest quality and we have to replace numerous bulbs every year. Very frustrating after what we paid for it. Never again will I purchase a tree without seeing it in person first. Lots of hype for this brand, but definitely not worth the money!

  10. Um, yeah, I ugh dropped that kinda cash for a BH tree myself – but mine is a “skinny fir” because of the corner where we wanted it. I like it. I don’t love it – not for the cash I gave them. Weird huh? I was gob-smacked that it wasn’t as high a quality and realistic as expected for that kind of money. Once I “over” decorate and hide gaps and dark holes it looks nice but holy smokes, not good enough! GRRRR!

    I cannot tell you how delighted I am you found yours at a much better price right there at home. It looks amazing.

    So does your painting and your wreaths. Always loved your wreaths. I am too lazy for wreaths, haha.

    • Thanks, Michele! Yeah, I agree, the quality is def not what it should be for that price.
      lol They aren’t too bad to put up, I’ve done it so many times now, I’m pretty fast.

  11. Hello Susan,
    I have so enjoyed following you over the past several years. I’m always excited to see an email with a new posting from you.
    My husband and I are in the market for a new Christmas tree for our new home we built last year. I remembered you posting about your newly purchased tree a couple of years back so I was very glad to see your post today about the GE Canadian Just Cut Tree. We looked on the Home Depot site and they do not show this tree. We also looked on Amazon and it did show up there but said it is not available. We would love to purchase a nine foot tree since our Great room is 12 feet tall, but we couldn’t find the tree. Please let me know if there is another way to perhaps find it. Thank you so much!! Sally

    • Thanks so much, Sally! I wish they would bring it back, I was tempted to buy the 9 foot version for my bedroom back when I purchased the one for the living room, but they only seem to have it on the site for a couple of years. You may want to go into your local HD and see what they have in person. I can’t remember if they have GE trees this year or not. Also, check Lowes. I hope you find a beautiful one for your Great room!

  12. Susan, we got the GE “Just Cut Spruce” tree at Home Depot two years ago, in part based on your experience (slightly different model but same line). We’ve been really happy with it–looks good, easy to set up, and a great value.

  13. Cyndi Raines says

    Such a pretty tree. So glad all the lights are working. Makes things so much easier and keeps the fun going while decorating. Eager to see your new bedroom painting.

  14. I think the painting will look great above your bed!!! Merry Christmas to yourself!!

  15. Susan, have you had anything framed recently? We live in northeast Georgia. We moved into our new home about 18 months ago. Most of my artwork from our previous home will not work in this house, although some of it can be reframed to work. We have very high ceilings now and most of my old artwork is too small to use here. I have purchased some new prints but I’m having a hard time getting them framed. The framers I have visited have very low stock of framing materials and mats. They say they just haven’t been able to get deliveries of the material they need since last spring. I’m tired of looking at bare walls! Our home looks like we just moved in!
    Your posts have been such an inspiration to me as I work to make our new house our home after 25 years in our old home. Thank you!

  16. Susan, your tree looks wonderful. I agree, we have had Sam’s or Home Depot trees and they have all been wonderful. One of our Sam’s lasted 14 Christmases!!!! When it was time to replace that one, it was around the time you were replacing yours, and I read your posts with interest. I settled on a tree from Home Depot, AFTER the holidays, and it was sold out. I kept it in my ‘basket’ and months later I got a message that it was available again…for WAY less. An 8 footer, prelit, easy to assemble gorgeous tree for $130. Score!!! Have a great week!

  17. Linda Nixon says

    If something is going to happen it will be me. i was once locked in the clubhouse at a condo in Nashville that we had, I was locked in Morrison’ Cafeteria in Nashville so you see what I mean. While in Williamsburg several years ago with good friends we had finished our tour in the Governor’s Palace and because I was on a go-go ( rascal or scooter) I had to use the “lift” or what we call an elevator. My friends waited out side. There was quite a fury in the front yard with ones exclaiming how someone was locked in the “lift”. My friends said to one another they knew who that was. Yep! it was me. Enjoy your painting and you might think of a “friend” every now and then while you are admiring it.

  18. My husband told me that I should have said, “Peace on earth, at home and good will toward MAN (namely him).” He also reminded me that he got the tree on sale on Black Friday and it was the last one in stock in Michigan. He showed the Home Depot associate your tree photos and the guy told him that his wife should learn how to decorate a tree like you. My husband told him, “Be careful what you wish for. My wife has thousands of ornaments and usually decorates ten trees for charities. This Susan woman keeps giving her new ideas for more trees.”

  19. Barbara Edwards Armacost says

    Your tree is gorgeous!! I don’t have room for that large a tree but finally found a small one I like. And the painting is so beautiful!! I love the colors.

  20. Susan, after reading the comments, I think you need to add a “thumbs up” button. Love how the tree went out the front door. I had the same tree for decades with color coded tips and you add the lights. Hated that tree. Very late one season, I went to Big Lots and actually paid $15 for a sale tree (don’t laugh, talking about desperation here). Snap two pieces together, plug the two lights together and plug it in. So happy. Worse yet, my daughter begged me to save the old tree for her. Tick tock and out the door. LOL

  21. You ended up with a really pretty, realistic tree. I finally bought a prelit about 4 years ago at Hobby Lobby, and love it. I consider myself a tree snob. LOL Your packages are also gorgeous. AND that painting is be-a-u-tiful, and gives me such warm feelings. I was born and raised in Richmond, VA and have been to Wmsburg more times than I can count. I’m actually hoping to go the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, because we’re going home to my parents. Happy Monday!

  22. This will be the third year since we purchased a replacement tree. The first was very old and was not prelit, it also required inserting each branch separately. I needed a thin profile tree but not a pencil tree to go next to the grand piano. And, it couldn’t be taller than 7 1/2 feet. The ones in the high end catalog were soooo expensive and sight unseen. In the end we got an excellent tree at Hobby Lobby for under $300. It has gorgeous branches made of three different types of evergreen. Everyone thinks its real.

  23. I always get a real tree but I’ve been in the market for an artificial one for my upstairs landing/window. I didn’t want to spend a fortune because it won’t really be seen, but I DID want it to be a nice looking tree regardless. I stumbled across a VERY realistic looking one at Lowe’s the other day, but it was $300, more than I will hoping to spend on this extra tree. But it’s going on sale on Black Friday for $158 so I’m hoping to score!

  24. Tina W Reynolds says

    Thank you for the wonderful photos and helpful tips for wreath hanging. For many of us, there would be just no way to get up on a ladder! My old Italianate Victorian “barn”, as we call it, sits on the very crest of a little hill, literally no place to put a ladder! And, the second floor windows are way up there anyway! It is the sort of house that loves to be dressed up and since we are on a main thoroughfare, we like to do something! For years I have just put the candles in the windows—a big operation in the days of the electric candles and extension cords everywhere! Now we do the battery operated type and are pretty happy with those. We ordered ours from Plow and Hearth. I also love the little battery operated tea lights. Candles are lovely, but we have curious kitties. Those tea lights DO have many uses! I pop them into all of the pretty votive sized candle holders I’ve accumulated over the years and place them all around and on the buffet where we serve the dinner. I never have to worry about any of the children getting a little burn! And I pop some into my china cabinet with a few of my old, precious Christmas baubles. Susan, you have helped me get in the mood to wrestle my tree! Such a job! I had live 10 ft. trees until 3 years ago. They can be tremendously heavy. My hubby has had a few orthopedic surgeries and can’t do that chore anymore, so I converted to artificial (7 1/2 ft. purchased at Lowe’s). We love the way it looks. I put it on a heavy box so it becomes about 9 ft tall. And, we do a smaller, flocked tree that is just for my grandson. But wait! There’s more! I do a 4ft tree all decked out in my Holiday Barbie ornaments. I use tiny red, magenta, and silver glass balls and small fake crystals on that tree, too. Collecting those Holiday Barbie ornaments since 1996 was a bit of fun for me and my sister. We didn’t have any grandkids in those days and looked forward to our lunches after work and shopping together. We don’t get to do any of that now. A new twist to my life now is that this year my grandson’s girlfriend ( yes, the years fly!) is coming to help with the trees! She is very sweet and loves holiday decorating. Yay!

  25. I bought a Balsam Hill two years ago thinking it was the best–it was lovely the first year. But last year when when we put it up it looked terrible although the lights did work. I thought it was our fault despite the fact that we had stored it well. This year we have to use it again but next year we are going to look at the GE tree. Thanks for the suggestion!!

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