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By JUDY STARK
Published December 2, 2006


A TROPICAL TAKE ON THE HOLIDAYS

These "Christmas trees" will look right at home around here. Three prelighted palm trees (4, 5 and 6 feet tall) are mounted on a burlap-covered base and illuminated with 650 super-bright lights. For indoor or outdoor use. Item # 100394332; price is $169. Available by phone order only from Home Depot: toll-free 1-800-435-4654.

Frugal, not cheap

If you're not seeing certain family members until after Christmas, wait for the post-Christmas sales to pick up their gifts, suggests Tawra Kellam, who runs a "frugal-living" Web site at www.livingonadime.com (click on "debt-free holidays"). She recommends holiday triage: One or two parties in the course of the holidays will give you that It's a Wonderful Life feeling; one or two a week will send you over the edge.

Tasty tree

This "Tree of Treats," created by Better Homes & Gardens magazine, couldn't be easier to make. Really! Place floral foam into a container (a low vase or flower pot). Insert a wooden skewer in the center and push a foam cone onto the skewer. Cover it with frosting out of a can. Then use wooden picks to attach meringues (buy them in bags in the bakery aisle at the supermarket). You can add a fringe of bay leaves between the meringues and container or dress the whole thing up with ribbon if you have the energy.

The branch dance

Everything else has a place for an MP3 player or an iPod this Christmas; why should your tree be exempt? This ornament plays songs in four genres: jazz, country, hip-hop and classic rock. It's $16.50 at Hallmark stores.

Compiled by Homes and Garden editor Judy Stark