With the Christmas season behind us, we look back with satisfaction on opened presents, family gatherings, and full bellies. As we take the decorations and twinkling lights out from our tree, we begin to think just how much we spend on the holidays. Buying gifts, food, and not to forget the Christmas tree, the bills can certainly add up quickly during these cold months of the year.
Today, the Christmas tree trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, with over a hundred million trees being traded across homes and offices in North America and Europe annually. This is before we factor in home grown and fake PVC trees, ornaments and decorations, and lighting accessories.
Not only do Christmas trees get put up in homes and offices across the world, but they also appear in parks, shopping centers as well as individual department stores. For certain trees, such as the one found in Rockefeller Center, the illumination of the lights becomes a must-see event for locals and tourists alike. But how much does it cost to create one of these immense trees? Take a look and find out which tree really makes you say, "Oh! Christmas Tree!".
10 The 2013 Swarovski Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center: $75,000
While the Rockefeller tree-lighting tradition has been around since 1931, the collaboration with Swarovski only began in 2004 and for about two months every year, New Yorkers will be treated to what is probably the most beautiful tree on our list. Located at the Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, the 76-foot high and 47-foot wide Norway spruce tree is adorned with 25,000 Swarovski crystals and a 9.5 foot diameter, 500 pound Swarovski silver star, and illuminated by over 45,000 multi-colored LED lights connected by almost 3,000 feet of wire to create a gorgeous ode to Christmas that draws in almost a million visitors annually.
9 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree: $400,000
The Architect of the Capitol, a federal agency, is tasked with the annual purchase, installation and display of a Christmas tree at the West Lawn of the Capitol Complex building in Washington D.C. For 2013, an 88-foot tall Engelman spruce tree from Newport-Sullivan Lake Ranger District in Pend Oreille County, Washington, was selected for the occasion.
While the tree itself was technically obtained for free, its subsequent 5,000 mile, 25 day cross-country journey to the Capitol costs about $400,000. The tree was subsequently planted in a prepared 5 foot hole and decorated with over 5,000 handmade decorations made by youths aged 5-19 years from across the nation.
8 Tiffany & Co. Christmas Tree In Piazzo Duomo: $450,000
World famous jeweler Tiffany & Co. created a stir in 2010 with its donation of a Christmas tree to the city of Milan. The gesture drew heavy criticisms from the city’s mayor, Letizia Moratti, and the archpriest of the world famous Milan cathedral, Luigi Manganini, owing to its wasteful display of wealth which allegedly went against the spirit of Christmas. However, Tiffany & Co. managed to avert a crisis by agreeing to donate 9% of its sales revenue (no less than $136,000) to a cancer research foundation and the ongoing restoration of the Milan cathedral.
Standing at approximately 157 feet high from a box-like 2,150 sq. ft. base that also serves as a store for its sponsor, the spruce fir tree is decorated with over 100,000 specially commissioned electric candles and specially-made ornaments by the jeweler.
7 Gold and Diamond Christmas Tree by Steve Quick Jeweler: $500,000
Imagine a small, 5 pound Christmas tree made of reclaimed 18 karat gold. Next, imagine decorating said tree with diamond briolettes weighing a total of 250 carats. Finally, imagine a platinum star adorned with a single 4.52 carat diamond placed at the top of the tiny tree.
In 2007, Chicago-based Steve Quick Jeweler made the exact tree and auctioned it off for $500,000 on Ebay, with all proceeds targeted towards the American Cancer Society.
6 Soo Kee Jewellery Wintery Christmas Tree: $1.05 Million
Southeast Asia’s biggest jeweler, Soo Kee Jewellery, made a big splash in 2007 with its 18 foot tall and seven thousand pound heavy faux Christmas tree. Displayed just outside the Bugis Junction Shopping Mall in Singapore, the tree was constructed using an elaborate mix of wood, steel and PVC. It was then lavishly ornamented with 21,798 pieces of diamonds weighing a total of 913 carats, 3,700 crystal beads and 456 lights bulbs; which all surprisingly came together to produce an eye-catching design with a ‘wintery’ feel to it.
5 Queen Victoria Building’s Swarovski Christmas Tree: $1.5 Million
How do you make the one of most beautiful shopping center in the world even better? One idea is by teaming up with Swarovski to construct Australia’s largest indoor Christmas tree. Next, get a team of 72 trained engineers, technicians, electricians and other experts to spend 40 hours to adorn the 80-foot tree with 144,000 Swarovski crystals, 60,000 LED lights and about 10,000 bulbs. Proceed to put the tree on display for about six weeks every year. Voila, job done!
4 Ginza Tanaka Golden Christmas Tree: $4.76 Million
After constructing an $850,000, $1.5 million and $2 million tree in 2006, 2011 and 2012 respectively, Japanese high-end jeweler Ginza Tanaka pulled out all the stops and came out with a 500 million yen ($4.755 million) Christmas tree for 2013.
The new 7 feet 10 inch tree, which is displayed in Ginza Tanaka’s flagship store in Ginza District, Tokyo, is made out of 106 pounds of pure gold, and decorated with over 100 gold-leaf ribbons, hearts and orchids. Fascinatingly though, the company has decided to include hanging cut outs of popular Disney characters as part of the tree’s decorations and apparently, a silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s ears as the tree topper. That aside, Ginza Tanaka also accepts orders for a custom-made miniature versions of the tree, at about a quarter million dollars each.
3 Takashimaya’s Golden Christmas Tree: $9.5 Million
Another Japanese entry into our list came courtesy of the country’s department store, Takashimaya. Valued at 1 billion yen ($9.511 million), the company’s almost 7-foot tall tree is displayed as part of a gold exhibit at the store’s branch in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district.
Adorned with brandy cups, candle holders and playing cards made out of pure gold, the tree is also decorated with traditional red-colored bulbs and ribbons for that little touch of Christmas; even if the display ended on September 30, 2013, almost two months before Christmas.
2 The Emirates Palace Christmas Tree: $11.5 Million
This bittersweet tale began on December 16, 2010 with a high profile event announcing the display of the world’s most expensive Christmas tree in the lobby of the swanky, seven star Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. The 43 foot synthetic tree was adorned with several hundred pieces of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires, as well as branded watches and custom made jewelry, bringing the price of the tree from $10,000 to a phenomenal $11.5 million.
However, almost immediately after the news broke, the tree attracted criticisms from religious leaders in the predominantly Muslim country. Within hours, the brazen ostentatiousness of the tree also attracted chorus of criticisms from around the world. Many claim that the hotel’s management completely lost sight of the meaning of Christmas. The hotel’s management was forced to issue an apology three days later for its "attempts to overload" the Christmas tradition with such unrestrained display of opulence, and went on to place the entire blame on the jeweler engaged to decorate the tree. Little is heard of the tree since.
1 The Rodrigo De Freitas Lagoon’s Floating Lagoa Christmas Tree: Not Released
The sight of the 542 ton, 279 foot tall Lagoa Christmas Tree floating along the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has become one of the most enduring Christmas traditions in the city of seven million since its maiden voyage in 1995. It has also become one of the major attractions for tourists attending the annual Reveillon festivities.
The cost of the tree, constructed on eleven separate platforms, has always been sponsored by donations from private companies. For 2013, insurance giant Bradesco Seguros contributed $1.1 million for the event. However, this does not include the sweat and tears of over a thousand volunteers working to thread almost 22 miles of electrical wiring across the approximately 27-storey-sized structure.
At its conclusion, the Lagoa Christmas Tree will be adorned by over 3.1 million micro bulbs, 2,150 strobe lights, 100 giant LED spotlights, and several million bulbs. The floating structure, which requires a power supply of up to 2,228 KVA, will also feature 48 pumps designed to create powerful jets of air around it. Probably no one knows the exact accumulative 18-year cost of the floating tree, but it is safe to say that it is by far the most expensive Christmas tree ever.