The $11.5 million Christmas tree.

No, I am not kidding. Picture a 43-foot-tall artificial tree draped with more than $11 million worth of jewelry and precious stones.

If you want to get a closer look, you’ll have to travel to the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. But not too close a look — the tree has four guards.

Can’t afford the trip? Here are some photos, courtesy of ArabianBusiness.com.

Compare that with the average Christmas tree, which costs $43. Or so says Outright.com, a web company that provides online accounting software for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The company put together a bunch of holiday factoids into the following “Commerce of Christmas” graphic:

The Black Friday numbers didn’t surprise me, but the number of Santa Claus letters sent to France sure did. I thought that the town of North Pole, Alaska, would be the world’s clearinghouse for letters to old St. Nick.

Just over 57% of shoppers planned to give gift cards. I’m among them because I think that sometimes gift cards make great presents.

It’s nice to know that 15% of kids thought Santa was real until they were past the age of 10. My great-nephew Malachi turned 10 in September and is still a believer. No doubt he’ll go back to school in January saying, “Santa brought me ‘Kirby’s Return to Dreamland’ and two ‘Heroes of Olympus’ books!” and some cynical fifth-grader will respond, “You know your mom bought those presents, right?” Sigh.

And does anybody but me think it’s odd that the world’s most expensive Christmas tree is set up in a Muslim country? Yeah, I know it’s a shopper’s paradise for folks from all over the region — including foreign Christians jonesing for a little holiday spirit. Still surprises me, though. It also makes me want to write a song called “Sandy Claus is Coming to Town.”

My hostess has put up her lovely tree, which bristles with work-of-art decorations. Whenever Linda travels she buys a Christmas ornament or two as a souvenir. Some of them aren’t ornaments per se, but are small items that can be turned into tree-hangers with the addition of a bit of wire or a loop of ribbon.

I don’t know what the cost of years’ worth of ornaments is, but I can tell you what the tree cost: $6 at a yard sale. It’s not 43 feet tall or dripping with gems, but it does the job. She doesn’t need to hire guards, either.

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  1. My tree this year consists of a pink, 3.5′ tree that came pre-lit, and cost $5 on sale after the holidays. Since I cannot handle the unpacking of ornaments or hauling the boxes, this no-ornament pink tree will do this year. No, I don’t have to hire guards, either. Maybe I will hang some of my diamonds on my tree and hire guards. I forgot–I cannot reach up or out to hang ornaments. At least, I like pink.

  2. We are still doing the real tree thing but, after arriving at my mom’s last night and seeing her new, artificial tree…I think I might check out the artificial tree, after Christmas sales! Looks as good as mine and doesn’t go bad over time.

    Donna…I wrote yesterday about “regifting”. Had no idea it was so popular until looked into it this week. Nearly 80% of folks now consider it okay to regift during the holidays!

  3. I think our rosemary bush cut in the shape of a tree was around $20. Hopefully we’ll be able to plant it after the season is over. It smells nice.

  4. Lisa under the redwoods

    Well, the tree itself was *only* 10 grand. I imagine that is the going rate for a very large tree to be shipped to the desert 8-).

  5. What’s the point of spending $11 million on gemstone decorations if from a distance it just looks like the same old balls and lights you can get at Walgreens?

    We haven’t had a tree for years & years … almost went for a prelit, artificial one this year (I wanted the lime-green tinsel one!) and may yet have it for next. Pink would rock my world, but I won’t do that to my DH. Besides, it would clash with our decor.

    I have been an utter cheapskate this holiday season. Blew my wad on our tenth anniversary. One excessive celebration per year is enough, I am thinking. 🙂

    happy holidays, Donna + all!

  6. The question plaguing my mind: do the Christmas tree guards have to wear Santa hats? And do the hats detract in any way from their dignity/ability to cause fear?

  7. I always want a real tree but I can’t see spending any money on one. Our Christmas tree was purchased from a yard sale for fifty cents.

  8. Hilarious!

    My favorite Christmas “tree” was what we called the “Christmas Jade Plant.” Back in the 60s when we all decked our homes out like fern bars, I had a jade plant that grew hugely fat and happy in the two-story-high south-facing living-room window. One year I got the idea of hanging tinsel and ornaments all over it and voila!

    It looked so cool that for several years, until the plant finally succumbed to overwatering and disease, we decorated it instead of a tree for Christmases.

  9. My $26 artificial tree is looking and doing great. I bought this tree YEARS AGO after the holidays on clearance at Franks (who has since gone out of business). Best we can recall this is it’s 24th Xmas. I went “artificial” when nice trees went over $20. The “magic number” in my neck of the woods is $50 for cut trees.

  10. jus' sayin'

    Of course you all realize that that expensive Christmas tree is in a Muslim country, right?

    • Donna Freedman

      @Jus’ sayin’: I do realize that. That’s why I said so in the article.

  11. I keep asking for a ribbon tree, you know the ones with a pole in the middle. Easy set up and clean up. No one is interested. I think I should ask Santa again.

    • Donna Freedman

      @SonyaAnn: Now, now. You know Santa wants to keep you off the pole. 😉

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