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5 Most Iconic Movie Christmas Trees

When Christmas comes around, there's always a lot of excitement over decorating the tree with treasured ornaments and lights. Outside of opening presents, this may be the most anticipated Christmas tradition of them all. As it turns out, this extends to our favorite film characters as well. Some of them have some pretty interesting ideas of what the final product should look like. So here's 5 iconic Christmas trees from holiday classics.

Kevin McAllister's Tree, Home Alone


Home Alone is always my most anticipated film of the holiday season, it's got just the right mix of heart and hilarity. The sequel gave us the Talkboy, but doesn't quite have the charm of the originaI (go ahead, blame Rob Schneider). I especially love the moments where Macaulay Culkin's, Kevin finally takes charge of his own destiny, like telling the evil furnace to shut up and going grocery shopping. One such scene is when Kevin is unknowingly being stalked by Harry and Marv aka The Wet Bandits as he cuts down a kid sized tree and drags it back in the house. 


Eventually the burglars spy on Kevin as he decorates the Christmas tree, which is just an inch or 2 taller than him. Spotting Harry in an ornament reflection, Kevin tries to fake him out by calling out for his invisible Dad, but it's then that the Wet Bandits realize he's flying solo. Ultimately this causes Joe Pesci's Harry to utter the movie's title, "He's home alone". Just think, if Kevin had never gone out for that tree, the whole climax of the film would have never happened. Luckily it did and the final moment of the tree's screen time finds Daniel Stern as Marv having his own "Die Hard moment" while walking over exploding glass ornaments.

Cindy Lou Who's Tree, How The Grinch Stole Christmas


Let's face it, The Grinch did a lot of terrible things during his siege of Whoville in the animated Christmas classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. He stole the presents, he stole the last can of Who Hash, but without a doubt his most offensive act was stealing the tree from Lil' Cindy Lou Who. Just as he was about to make off with the tree, the giant-eyed cutie mistakes him for Santa and tries to understand why he is stealing her stuff. So he lies to a child and says he's just taking it away for repairs, the scoundrel!


For as evil as he is, I have to say I'm impressed with The Grinch's ability to launch a tree up a chimney. He would be a national hero in Scotland doing the caber toss. But he doesn't just settle for one tree, oh no, he slinks through the town taking every last one. But truly Cindy's was the biggest offense. Can you just imagine the little girl losing faith in Santa, vowing to someday make the old man pay but then losing out to her sorrow and drowning a slice of "roast beast" with her tears? 


Parker Family Tree, A Christmas Story


When most people think about this film, their minds instantly go to Leg Lamps and Bunny Costumes, but Ralphie's Christmas tree is a major catalyst for some of the film's greatest moments. For example, no one can forget the moment when our bespectacled hero utters the slow-mo phrase, "Oooh Fuuudge", but do you remember that the whole reason they were out on the road in the first place was to buy their Christmas tree? Once they get it home the thing is smothered by tinsel and "The Old Man" nearly knocks it over trying to straighten out the star. The overstuffed light socket and subsequent blackout from tree lights is how we find out the man's skill for changing a blown fuse in record time.


When Christmas morning finally arrives the tree is lovingly guarding all the presents with it's branches, including Randy's Zeppelin and The Old Man's bowling ball. Of course the tree also bears witness to Ralphie finally achieving his goal of getting the Red Ryder BB Gun. I always found this moment to be the most heartwarming of all. Despite all his grumpiness, The Old Man shows his true colors by gifting Ralphie his heart's desire. A dad who pays attention to his kids, he does deserve "a major award".

Griswold Family Christmas Tree, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation


The Griswold family Christmas tree from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a major part of the holiday hijinks featured throughout the film. In the opening scene Clark, played by Chevy Chase, braves the snowy roads with his family in tow to find the perfect pine illuminated by heavenly light. Having forgotten a saw, they are forced to rip it out of the ground by the roots and attach it to the top of their station wagon. This moment has even been immortalized in a Christmas tree ornament, which is available in the RetroDaze point store. Upon arriving home Clark refuses to accept that the tree is too big and ends the night with hilarious sap covered hands.


As the extended family arrives, they can't help but admire the sheer gaudiness of the tree with lights, tinsel, popcorn garlands and ornaments. Who can forget the mayhem cause by a thirsty dog,  a cat who gets a jolt, and of course, a stowaway SQUIRREL! The tree ultimately meets a sad end when Cousin Eddie's noxious gas meets Uncle Louis' cigar and burns it to a crisp. If you think about it, 50% of the gags in this movie revolve around the tree, so it's no wonder it's got such a high place on this list.

The World's Saddest Christmas Tree, A Charlie Brown Christmas


Was there any doubt this "little twig that could" would end up in the number one spot on this list? Every tree previously mentioned had it's part to play, but this pathetic stick of wood is an icon unto itself. It's the official mascot of ugly Christmas trees everywhere. How often have you seen a bald little sapling and referred to it as a "Charlie Brown Tree". Of course, everybody's favorite blockhead didn't find it so funny when he realized the pathetic pine couldn't even hold up a single glass ornament. YAAARGH!


Luckily Linus shows up to provide some support with his blue blankey and then the rest of the gang insists on giving the little guy a makeover. I can only speculate whose idea it was to add the giant steel chain to the design, but since I don't see the Junk Yard Dog or Jacob Marley around, I'm going to blame Sally. I'm sure she had it on hand just in case she had to detain her "Sweet Baboo" long enough for a smooch. Anyway, the fact that people purposely seek out out ugly trees to decorate is a tribute to this holiday special and it's impact on pop culture Christmas memories nationwide.

So did I miss a tree you consider praiseworthy? What other holiday films make the tree their centerpiece?

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Dec 12, 2015 at 12:47 PM

@NLogan The Gremlins tree was totally in the running, but didn't quite fit the "spreading holiday cheer" vibe I was going for. Totally could have put Corey wearing his costume in there though. Nice one!

@MissM, I hope you have fun catching up. I have been enjoying your podcasting appearances.

MissM Posted on Dec 12, 2015 at 08:50 AM

Really nice article! I've been meaning to catch up on your articles and I have a lot of fun reading ahead of me, but this was really great. Personally my favorites are the Christmas Vacation tree and the tree from a Charlie Brown Christmas. Both really great trees and stories.

I am fond of the Gremlins tree. I also remember being traumatized with the Simpsons episode where Bart burns down the tree, I just had these horror visions of catching trees on fire. This article is going to have me thinking of more Christmas trees in pop culture now. Really fun!

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 08, 2015 at 03:18 PM

Another good one, Nlogan. Forgot about The Corey delivering in a costume. LOL

NLogan Posted on Dec 08, 2015 at 03:19 AM

One to remember is the Christmas tree from Gremlins. Bought from a tree lot and delivered by Corey Feldman in a Christmas tree costume to the house, it became the hiding place for a gremlin that nearly kills Billy's mother strangling her with tinsel.

pikachulover Posted on Dec 08, 2015 at 12:45 AM

My dad was all about the gaudy trees. So when they made fun of those in the movies it reminded me of my dad. The Griswold tree had a lot of problems and Snot the dog was drinking the tree water.

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 07, 2015 at 06:15 PM

You've got everything from horribly gaudy (Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story) to simple but special (Charlie Brown Christmas). A very nice selection here Hoju.

My favorite is, of course, Charlie Brown's. Nowadays you can even purchase an actual reproduction of his tree for displaying in your home, complete with one single ornament. LOL.

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