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12 Crazy Materials Used to Make Alternative Christmas Trees

Tired of the boring old Christmas tree sitting in your living room? Then perhaps you should try sprucing up your home with one of these weirdly wonderful alternative trees instead.

1. Jewelry

Encrusted with 21,798 diamonds and 3762 crystal beads, this blingy beauty—created by Soo Kee Jewelry of South Korea—was once the world’s most expensive Christmas tree. The record has since been broken by a hotel in Abu Dhabi that covered a massive artificial pine in jewelry valued at over $11 million.

2. LEGO BRICKS

While the size of the average home makes it impossible to compete with this world-record-holding LEGO Christmas tree constructed in St. Pancras Station, London, the 600,000 brick masterpiece can certainly serve as great inspiration for anyone who wants to build a smaller version at home.

3. Yarn

Here’s another record-breaking tree perfect for inspiring your own DIY tree. The world’s biggest knitted Christmas tree was on display at Cornwall, England’s Eden Project in 2006.

4. Books

Making a tree out of things that are made of trees is so meta! While I’m particularly fond of this lovely book tree featured at the Gleeson Library in USF, there are plenty of other great ones out there as well. For more bookish Christmas trees, don’t miss this great article on The Mary Sue.

5. Beer Bottles

'Tis the season to be drinking—especially if you want to put together your own beer bottle tree in time for the holidays. I don’t know much behind the story of this Christmas tree—other than the fact that it took a lot of Grolsch to put together.

If you don't want to do that much drinking, use this impressive Heineken tree—put on display in Shanghai, China in 2009—as inspiration: It was made up of over 1000 full bottles of beer.

6. Mountain Dew Cans

Even if you don’t drink alcohol you can still have a great beverage-inspired tree. Just look to the Mountain Dew Tree for guidance. Even the “star” on top is actually made from a Dew two-liter bottle. This video shows a few basics of how the thing is made.

7. Plastic Bottles

If you’d like to try reusing before you recycle, try your hand at crafting an amazing plastic bottle Christmas tree like this one made by Dale Wayne.

When it comes to spectacularly large trees made from plastic bottles though, it’s hard to beat this tree put on display in Kaunas, Lithuania made from the bottoms of green plastic bottles zip-tied together into half-spheres which are then constructed into a full tree. The massive masterpiece took more than 32,000 bottles to complete and it is lit up with over 40,000 Christmas lights.

8. Old Bicycles

The “Tree-cycle” might look more like a modern art creation than a traditional Christmas tree, but it’s still fun and festive. The massive sculpture, displayed in Sydney, Australia, was made with over 100 old bicycles that were painted and positioned into a tree shape.

9. Cell Phones

Westcom Electronics Mall in Vietnam started collecting phones eight months early in order to create this cool tree to send a message about the wastefulness of the Vietnamese cell phone industry. The country’s residents use more than 110 million cell phones and throw away over 50 million of them a year. The 15-foot tree features more than 2000 cell phones displayed over 32 layers.

After the mall was finished with the tree, it was auctioned off, and the proceeds went to charity.

10. Hub Caps

What better way to get your car dealership ready for the Christmas season than creating a tree out of old hub caps you have lying around? This brilliant marketing move was dreamed up by Champion Auto Sales of Arundel, Maine.

11. RAM

Admittedly, the shape could use a little work, but it’s still pretty obvious that this collection of RAM is supposed to be a Christmas tree—especially given the cute little star ornament at the top. This adorably geeky mini tree was submitted to Geeks Are Sexy by Adam from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

12. Circuit Board

Here’s another geeky Christmas tree alternative –only this one comes pre-made. Just stick a 12 volt battery on this little tree and it will be all lit up and ready to glow.

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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