Ideally, we're not to judge in life, lest we be judged, but every year, I take the liberty of judging the various Christmas trees around the office because Christmas trees have no souls, right?

Now I feel bad. What if they do have souls? I'm sorry, Christmas trees. I take it back. I'm not sure if they have souls, but I am certain they don't have a central nervous system, so I'm still going to go ahead with judging them and they can feel free to judge me. Go on, trees, I'm sure there are one or two things I'm not proud of.

Anyway, I believe we should decorate the entire world with glitter and string lights because nothing makes me happier, and I can only imagine it would have the same effect on the rest of civilization.

A decorated Christmas tree brightens my life and I am not ashamed to admit, I keep one up all year 'round and decorate it for every holiday. I just fell so madly in love with that white tree I have at home, I don't have it in me to take it down. Ever.

I also let my icicle lights up all year as well and say about 18 little prayers before plugging them in every year in hopes they will all be lit. Yes, I'm one of those people.

But back to the office trees, I love all of them. How could I choose a winner?

This year, some people stepped up their game quite significantly. I was going to use a Star Search-esque star scale, but I feel like the most fair thing to do is award them all first place, but in separate, very specific categories.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Star Search, it was this little show that aired from 1983-1995 and it was highly entertaining. I'd compare it to American Idol, or America's Got Talent, or Now That's What I Call Talent, or American Talent Super Awesome Spectacular Showcase, or whatever they are calling them these days, but I don't think any of those shows could touch what Ed McMahon had on his hands.

Now, without further adieu, the first-place winning trees of The News-Item.

Most original

A photo of Danny Partridge in a Christmas tree is a very original concept and it's certainly the first time I've come across something so clever. This tree also bears a pear, five onion rings, two turtle doves and three french hens. Based on Danny Partridge alone, awards this tree most original by a landslide. It doesn't hurt that it's also beautifully decorated as well, but I don't know where all those drummers are going to go.

Most traditional

This is the tree you see when you first walk into the main entrance to our office. It's perfectly proportioned. The gold, silver and red balls are perfectly distributed and I find it lovely from the inside and especially through the window outside when night falls. Bravo to those who decorated it this year. Last year, it had a lot on it, including gigantic Christmas balls. No, thank you. That was a little much for me. I like variety, but they were just way too distracting.

Most modern

Modern design is all about simplicity - simple lines, muted color palettes, no fuss. This tree, which, much like Eve from Adam, was created from one of the ribs, er, branches of my Christmas tree and has been up since last year. As small as it may be, it packs a big punch in Christmassing up the Sports department. Apparently no turkeys are allowed in the Sports department, though, as the sign below it indicates.

Best theme

This outshines many Charlie Brown trees I've seen in the past due to the presence of the Peanuts gang. The simplicity in the one ornament makes me smile and I'm also a big fan of the tree skirt. It looks like a soft blanket of snow. My only concern is, "Where is Snoopy?" Is he not visible in this photo? Had Pig Pen's body odor gotten so bad, he and Woodstock decided to skip town and head to Mexico? I'm concerned. Still, a very great theme.


Due to personnel changes around the office, our beloved "Mother Hen" of the second floor, Mary Claire Warwick now resides at the front desk. She was always great in taking care of us, but now she has a new floor and that is why this tree looks so sad. We pulled it from the back room and then totally dropped the ball. It doesn't even have lights; it's truly sad. We've been admittedly busy lately, and this tree suffered the consequences of that.

Most adorable

I want this tree's name to be Tim because I've never seen anything more tiny. It stands about 3 inches high and, at first glance, I thought it was coming out of a wine cork. Just having that illusion skyrocketed this tree into my heart because, boy do I ever love me some wine. Also, this tree's owner had a sweet story about her granddaughter giving it to her, so on an adorable scale, this is like kittens wrestling. If it were to bear tiny ornaments, I don't think I could handle the cuteness.


I'm not happy with my tree this year. I took the lazy person's way out and never undecorated it from last year. I put it in a back room and just pulled it out and slapped it on my desk. I lost a few glass ornaments along the way and from the angle it's photographed, I see a blaring bare spot where those few ornaments should be. Next year, I'm totally stepping up my game to make up for this year's lack of effort. Still, mine is, by far the brightest, so I'll give it that.

Most beads

My best work buddy and desk neighbor is the proud owner of this baby. It's almost as though this tree hit the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras and misbehaved a bit with all the beads it bears. Last year, when I featured all the trees at the paper, I forgot Jake's. I felt horrible. So, this year, I want to stress how important to me this tree is and express my sincere apologies for its exclusion last year. It was an oversight I may never forgive myself for.


What this tree lacks in lights, it makes up for in pure reflective shine. It's very petite, probably the perfect size for a desk, unlike mine which towers over my work area and obstructs my line of vision to pretty much every part of the newsroom. Anyway, there are only a few petite ornaments and tiny tinsel adorning this little fushia/purple number, but I find its simplicity delightful and I'm glad to see it when I walk in to work.

Best overall

This will be the third year in a row the photography department knocks it out of the park. This tree, plucked from a very special spot each year, is newly illuminated with those awesome bubbling bulb lights which I find beautifully hypnotic and retro. Details like the various mismatched characters residing at the bottom of the coffee can, are also what makes this one shine. Plus, there is a Lithuanian flag, and I'm Lithuanian, so I have to stick with my people.

Most 'OK, I like it'

I honestly haven't gotten a good look at this little beauty. The positioning of the figures below the tree, however, intrigues me. I'm not really sure what's going on, but as an inquisitive person, that's something that draws me in. One thing I am concerned about is the moose. I worry he looks as though he's hanging from a noose, which, and I didn't plan this, totally rhymes. I look forward to getting to know this tree better.

Most eclectic

Truth be told, I am a stickler for symmetry (as is one of our reporters), so I wanted there to be 12 trees for this page and, alas, there were only 11. So, because we are innovative, Larry Deklinski and I put this together last minute and I have to admit, I'm impressed. What started as a ponytail plant, turned into a wise men Christmas in Hawaii-type party. It's different and it came together in minutes, which is sometimes when we have our best ideas.

(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)