Christmas In July

Snow is not in the forecast today, but retailers are already getting ready for the holiday season. Brian Gleason, an expert on "the business of Christmas" gives us a sneak peek at what we'll be seeing this Christmas in ways of holiday trimmings and home décor. Brian is vice president of Ulta Lit Technologies in Glenview, makers of the The LightKeeper Pro, a tool to test strings of lights.

The artificial Christmas tree market just keeps getting bigger and better, Brian says. Trees feature more natural looking needles and branches and are more full and lush in appearance. But the real news is color, he says. You can make a true statement with the color of your tree. You'll be seeing black trees, and because gold is such a hot fashion color, Treetopia has created a new champagne tree.

For those traditionalists who still insist on live trees; you must think of safety and keep in mind the potential of Christmas tree fires. Over 300 Christmas tree fires are reported every year with $17 million in property damages, Brian says. These fires normally occur when the trees aren't watered enough and dry out. Ulta Lit brings a first-to-market Christmas Tree Safety System. It's a wireless system with a low-water level detector, an ornament angel that will give an audible voice alert that the tree needs water, and then an alarm if the unit detects heat (fire) providing time for the family to get out of the house.

And to light both artificial and live trees, there is a brand new design of miniature light sets called Trim-it-Quick that allows you to string individual branches with no wire cross-over. Hook hangs on the trunk and you secure each string onto its designated branch. And the LightKeeperPro is the solution for miniature light-set failure

Holiday decorations are moving away from the traditional red & green. Holiday decor will be available in all shades of blue, purples, browns, champagne, platinum, black and white. Krebs offers a variety of the new ornament colors

In home décor, people will see more options in "winter themed decorating versus Christmas decorating" which will allow you to decorate your home late fall thru January. Here's a wonderful winter-scape by GOLD CANYON (

And finally, THE BEST CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS IN CHICAGOLAND by Mary Edsey will be published by Voyageur Press in October. Copies will be available at bookstores and online booksellers everywhere or from

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