How do you decorate a 45-foot Christmas tree?

November 3, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The Walnut Room Christmas tree at Macy's is advertised as 45 feet tall. But it sure doesn't look that tall.

"What's unique about the tree is that we lift it in place as opposed to starting at the top ... or I should say we start at the top and then we work our way to the bottom," said Jon Jones, creative director, Macy's on State Street. "It's upside down. It hangs from the ceiling."

It's not exactly upside down; maybe more inside out and backwards. The tree is made from steel frames that are inserted into the bottom of the tree after the decorations are finished in the section above. The bare frame is then filled with branches and lots and lots of lights.

"There are actually 6,600 LED ornaments or lights on the tree," said Jones. "When we ordered the tree in, we counted every single one of them when it came in and changed every bulb because we didn't like the color."

There are also about 10,000 ornaments to hang.

"It usually takes about a day and a half," said Karen Zissis, of KINC Design Specialists, who also decorates her own tree at home. "I do because I can't find anyone else to help."

Halloween was just Sunday and Thanksgiving is still more than three weeks away. But Christmas shopping is just around the corner at the Macy's, where the Walnut Room tree goes back 103 years.

"It started with manager of the Walnut Room who sent his busboys out to get a tree so he could decorate the Walnut Room," said Jones.

The tree lighting ceremony takes place Saturday at noon at Macy's State Street store, 111 N State Street, in Chicago.

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