City Creek Center

Ringing in the season as one of the first major institutions to erect a Christmas display is downtown’s own City Creek Center. Located smack-dab in the middle of the city, this “mixed-use development with an upscale open-air shopping center managed to put up two separate holiday installations, one on each end of the 20-acre mall, before most of the city’s other merchants hung a single wreath.

City Creek 1

The west side of the shopping center features a massive tree that reaches the second level of the mall on its quest skyward. The ornamentation of the tree is simple and understated, no easy feat on such an imposing example of seasonal décor.

City Creek 2

We can further examine the tree’s detail in this shot taken using weseeslctrees’ innovative image-zoom process. In this exclusive close-up, which we captured by walking closer to the tree and taking another photograph, we are able to see the merry ménage-a-trois of bristly pinecones, tart berries, and golden orbs of varying sizes.

For everything the decorators of this Tall Tall Tree*  did right to translate the venue’s style and sensibility to their tree, there are two glaring omissions that leave this elegant evergreen a little lacking. We are speaking, of course, about the lack of lights and a tree topper! We’ll see if these accessories are added as the season progresses, but without at least one of the missing pieces making an appearance, we’re afraid this tree isn’t even the king of Christmas in its own shopping center.

City Creek 3

It’s no surprise that Kris Kringle himself is the highlight of City Creek’s Christmas decorations, and Santa’s Lantern lives up to its name as it lights up the faces of every person that sees it as they approach. Brightly-lit trees ring the enclosure, in which we imagine the jolly old elf himself will sit and listen to the hushed voices of children whispering their Christmas present requests to the keeper of the naughty or nice list.

At this point we need to call a Zack Morris time-out so that we can tell you a funny story that happened while we were getting this Santa’s Lantern photo. As we pedaled up to the structure, we noticed two girls decorating the interior of the building and decided to ask them a few questions. One of us knocked on the glass, and then we stared in disbelief as the two girls looked up and immediately started slowly backing away towards the furthest corner of the room from us. We actually watched these girls try to hide from us in the back corner of building comprised of nothing but floor-to-ceiling windows. Maybe our Christmas treerection was showing and these holiday decorators were not interested in what they saw. Okay, time in.

City Creek’s pre-Thanksgiving unveiling of their Christmas decorations is a bold statement for such a modest mall. Their design style borrows the existing polished but reserved motif of the surroundings and applies it well to their holiday décor. Apart from a few missing ingredients, this double display is a great beginning to a promising season of Christmas cheer.

*  This is a link to a music video by an amazing singer/songwriter/banjo player/sonic gymnast called Tall Tall Trees. He is in no way affiliated with, City Creek Center, or Christmas trees in general (as far as we know). I just really like his music and wanted to share it with you. Also, as you’ll see if you watch the video, he never forgets HIS lights.

Reader Submission: Alsco IT Department

This reader-submitted tree was sent by the IT department at Alsco. It is the second tree to appear on from the company this holiday season ( Thanks for the submission, and thanks to everyone at Alsco for loving Christmas trees as much as we do!

Image loves ingenuity when it comes to Christmas trees, and this tree is nothing if not ingenuous, showing creativity and joy for the season in both the design and execution. The IT department really went above and beyond in order to orchestrate this tree, a fact the end result clearly shows.

Consider all the effort that had to go into creating this submission: looting a supply closet for design inspiration and construction supplies, moving personnel off vital network security duties to hand-make the decorations and lovingly drape them among the precisely strung lights, finding the review of the lobby tree through a link on a (presumably blocked) website, and finally submitting their own far superior departmental offering for us to review. This all points to the kind of initiative and productivity that shatters the image of a stereotypical IT guy, shackled to his roller chair by the very cords that power his world.

If these are the kind of l33t tree designing skills being found in tech-support departments around the city, it won’t be long before the IT world tells SLC “All your trees are belong to us.”

The Evolution of the Chase Tower Tree.

Oftentimes, has the chance to see a tree in various stages of set-up as we compile pictures for our reviews. Today, we are able to give our readers that same opportunity to see the intensive process of a professional-grade tree install at a busy downtown office building.

Vigilant readers may recognize this tree from a previous post, in which we commended the design as a poignant symbol of the cleansing of Christmas from rampant commercialization. It turns out there was more in store from the building managers of 50 West Broadway, and we’re happy to be able to show you each step of this treevolution.

Original, December 6


A tree, naked if not for a modest tree skirt, stands next to a mop inside a bucket. Our initial review ( called the tree “quiet but powerful,” and applauded the designers for shaking off the garland shackles of  department store Christmas ideals and instead stripping the totem to its bare essence. In our eyes, this design needed nothing to be considered finished, but it would only remain in this unfettered state for just under a week before beginning to emerge from it’s Christmas chrysalis into its butterfly stage.

Second Configuration, December 12


In a move toward a more traditional design, nominal amounts of both white and colored lights appear on the tree, hurriedly splashed across as if done buy a guerrilla tree decorator in a rush. The true impact of this addition will be seen shortly, but the fact that no other ornaments or decor adorn the tree allows the minimalist statement to still be heard, if not as loudly.

Final Form, December 18


A well-placed accoutrement meant to enhance the viewer’s overall experience combined with the visual impact of the design finishes off the modifications to this tree. The heater for the comfort of the observers is self-explanatory, but is the inspired touch of the wet floor sign that really draws the eye.

Symbolizing the recently completed cleansing of Christmas (by the mop), and warning of caution as we approach the holiday itself, this final addition gives context to the sparse strands of lights already hung on a tree that was stripped of its commercial leanings only moments ago, showing the futility of pushing against the rising tide of Christmas commercialization.

A tannenbaum neophyte may view this tree as the lazy decorations of a humbuggy building, but that is clearly not the case when it comes to an offering that relies on so much quiet depth to convey its message. Only when one views this multi-stage art installation masquerading as holiday decoration as the versatile and emotional canvass it has been transformed into is one able to truly make out the most honest face of Christmas shown so far this season.

Grand America’s Newest Flower Patch

Being the local business aficionados that we at are means that we keep our ears open for any marketplace news from the downtown area. When we heard that Grand America had finally acquired the long-contested Flower Patch property with which it shares a lot border (, we decided to take a look at the two companies’ Christmas trees and see if we could spot any indicators as to what this purchase has in store for each party.

The Grand America


Obviously, the Grand America has a regal tree design that falls directly in line with the rest of the hotel’s decor. One of a few trees we found inside the building, this one is tucked away just off of the lobby, and is an example of a very traditional style. The motif in play seems to be quiet elegance, an unsurprising choice from a luxury hotel that is owned, in part, by an oil baron. As often found in trees of this style, the richly colored ornaments mixed with the generously applied lights and a subtle but effective tree skirt form a nicely coordinated effort without any individual style or panache.

The Flower Patch


Neatly book-ending our study in tree dichotomy is the quaint little tree at the Flower Patch. Where the Grand America tree was corporate and unfeeling, this tree is the perfect combination of the individuality of the store ambiance and Christmas cheer. It’s an offering that shows the delicate grace and uniqueness of the flower business along with a fun nod to the season’s traditions.

Based on what we’ve seen here, we at predict that big changes are in store for this little patch of flowers. It’s hard to bloom in such an imposing corporate shadow.

The Kearns Building. 136 South Main Street.


The gorgeous lobby of the Kearns building is home to a grand tree, nestled into a corner magnificent enough for its contents. This sweeping and elegant design features ornaments of many shapes and sizes inter-spliced with wispy decorative branches and a light but effective smattering of lights.

The poinsettias and presents piled onto the generous and luxurious tree skirt provide a nice depth to the design while providing an effective barrier between admirer and tree.

This tree alone would be a nice entrant into the world of Salt Lake tree design this season, but the building doesn’t stop there, letting its normally stodgy and stiff triple-threat namesake into the fun.


A portrait of Thomas Kearns, turn-of-the-century mining and business magnate and Utah State Senator, looms over this secondary display, much like his legacy looms over the valley even to this day.

The poinsettias lend a splash of holiday color to those waiting by the elevator, as do the tabletop decorations and red velvet runner. While the sparsely-hung, unlit trees are not the most complete designs, this could have been just another portrait near an elevator, and it’s refreshing to see a building management that really enjoys the cheer-spreading part of the season extend their decor past the lobby.

A ID This Tree Challenge!


In which downtown administration offices do you think this tree stands? We’ll give you a few hints.

1. When it comes to the fundamentals of design and layout for both the administration’s main property and for the tree, there are a number of glaring deficiencies. In fact, the empty storefronts that dot the property offer nearly as many unsightly breaks in consistency as the inadequate number of lights used on a tree this size do.

2. The tree borrows from the same business strategy used by the group on its other concerns, replacing elements it sorely lacks with gaudy and eye-drawing distractions, like the ostentatious star medallion topping the tree, or a slick and shiny marketing campaign. Their plan to cover the otherwise barren tree with as few over-sized ornaments as possible works almost as effectively as their plan to plaster those empty storefronts with advertisements for the new and great things coming soon.

3. Finally, like the thousands of children who come from all over the valley to use the dancing fountains within as a free urban water park, this tree is barefoot in public for no apparent reason. (For the record, it may be even more unseemly and off putting on the tree.)

By now, you must have guessed that this tree resides in the administration offices of the Gateway, and it’s surprising it took you that many hints. This tree is a sad and underfunded talisman reminiscent of the organization itself, and while it’s nice that they tried to keep plugging along with the same old tired approach, it may be time to scrap it all and start from scratch.