When I was a toddler, my parents made the move from the apartment to the house. And as the story goes, my father drove us to Gaudio's (YES! a real store name! can you imagine?!!? and it was gaudy-oh!) and let me pick any tree I wanted from their display. He paid the guy to throw a box over it and drive it to the house, decor and all, long before this was available standard. So I grew up with a tree that had blue bells, blue and white lights, and blue seals all over it with sparkly blue and white glitter balls for accents.
Eventually, I had been making and receiving so many ornaments they didn't fit on the artifial tree anymore. So my smart parents put a real tree up on the screened in porch off the kitchen. Voila! The professionally decorated tree was in the living room, and the classic family tree was outside where we ate every night.
When we moved out, my husband and I decided to get our own artificial tree (though I still miss the music box tinkling "Silent Night" as it spun the blue bells tree). But by the Christmas when our oldest was 2, it was painfully obvious that This Would Not Work. The boy climbs anything. The tree would be history in a jiffy.
Enter our fire company and our back porch. The fire company sells trees as a fundraiser (which we joke is really like a "make work" scheme for a fire company). If we have it outside, we can have the biggest one we want and not worry about the ceiling. We get outdoor-tested lights, and use all plastic ornaments (thank you, Ikea and Kindy's).
There are so many benefits to us in this system. We can use old items or cheap plastic ornaments that don't break if they fall and that we won't care about if the squirrels carry them off. There are no needles falling in the house, which is good as I am a terrible housekeeper without pine needles piling up. It gets us outside in the winter months, which we sometimes get too lazy to do otherwise--not just for decorating the tree but because the boys always want to play near it so we end up in the yard more. When it's too dark or cold, the tree doesn't take up playspace but is still fully visible from playroom. And if it ever snows, it looks amazing.
That's what works for me. What's working for you? Post it here and enjoy Shannon's blog and all the other posters' ideas. I am really liking Shannon's tax deduction plan--working for me with my final two days of my Organizing Challenge, that's for sure!