Faux-ho-ho: Here are a few fake, fab­u­lous hol­i­day items

The Denver Post - - LIFE&CULTURE - By El­iz­a­beth May­hew

Typ­i­cally, I do not like fake things. I do not like fake sugar or fake wood. If given the choice, I will al­most al­ways opt for the real McCoy: a real Christ­mas tree, real flow­ers and real can­dles. But lately my dis­cern­ing eye has been fooled — tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments and im­proved man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties have made it pos­si­ble to cre­ate some of the best im­pos­tors ever. Some are so good that even I may change my ways. Yes, they are pricey, but trust me, if you are go­ing to buy fake, buy the best fake you can find. The ul­ti­mate fake Christ­mas tree: This is al­most sac­ri­lege (my hus­band grew up on a Christ­mas tree farm!), but the ar­ti­fi­cial trees from Bal­sam Hill are the best I have ever seen. The com­pany of­fers a daz­zling choice of ev­er­green va­ri­eties, shapes and sizes — in­clud­ing Fraser fir and Nor­way spruce lookalikes, from un­der six feet tall to over 15 feet, both lit and un­lit trees, and even trees that are pre-lit with LED color and clear lights. (You can al­ter­nate be­tween the two with one click of a re­mote con­trol.) Trees start at about $349, and each comes with a stand, stor­age bag and ex­tra bulbs.

Un­de­ni­ably, these ar­ti­fi­cial trees make life eas­ier; no wa­ter­ing, no nee­dle drop­ping, no light hang­ing and no messy cleanup. But one thing is miss­ing (and it’s ar­guably the most im­por­tant): the smell of a real tree. Un­til com­pa­nies fig­ure out how to have ar­ti­fi­cial trees emit a real scent (I am sure that’s com­ing soon), I sug­gest hav­ing a good-qual­ity ev­er­green-scented can­dle or dif­fuser.

The pret­ti­est fake flow­ers:

Al­though de­cent fresh flow­ers are read­ily avail­able at gro­cery stores these days (Trader Joe’s is an ex­cel­lent source for cut flow­ers, and Whole Foods for or­chids), most of us limit our pur­chases to spe­cial oc­ca­sions. How­ever, flower ar­range­ments, pot­ted plants and or­chids from Diane James made en­tirely with fake stems (the com­pany de­scribes them as “faux flo­ral cou­ture”) are pretty enough — and re­al­is­tic enough — to make you sec­ond-guess their sta­tus. The com­pany’s epony­mous founder stud­ied fresh flo­ral de­sign in Europe, and over time she per­fected a “just-from-the-gar­den” style that she suc­cess­fully ap­plies to faux ar­range­ments. All bou­quets (small ones start at $143) come in vases filled with “faux wa­ter” (a pro­pri­etary blend that re­sem­bles polyurethane) and are loaded with per­ma­nently ar­ranged fab­ric blooms. Each flower is botan­i­cally cor­rect in color and style, and many of the pe­tals are hand-trimmed by one of six flo­ral de­sign­ers who work in the com­pany’s Con­necti­cut-based studio. The ar­range­ments are sea­sonal, and the com­pany de­buts two col­lec­tions a year.

The coolest fake can­dles:

The most im­pres­sive in­ven­tion I have seen in a while is the drip­less, wax­less can­dle from Lu­cid. Here’s how it works: The very real-look­ing “can­dle” is made of a syn­thetic ma­te­rial that never burns down. (You can even put it in the dish­washer to clean it.) The can­dle holds liq­uid paraf­fin, which the com­pany sells by the bot­tle. Just twist off the can­dle’s top and fill the can­dle with the fluid. When you put the top back on, the can­dle’s fiber­glass wick falls into the liq­uid paraf­fin and draws it up. Light the wick and only the liq­uid paraf­fin is burned, so there is no soot and no drip­ping — no more wax all over your table­cloth and no more scrap­ing wax out of vo­tive hold­ers! And un­like bat­tery-op­er­ated can­dles, Lu­cid can­dles have real flames, so the glow is ex­actly what you would ex­pect from a tra­di­tional can­dle. Fun fact: These can­dles are based on a de­sign that the Lu­cid par­ent com­pany has been mak­ing for use in churches for 30 years. The com­pany has spent the past sev­eral years per­fect­ing the tech­nol­ogy for home use. The new de­signs will be avail­able next month through Lu­cid’s web­site ( lu­cid­can­dle.com). The can­dles range from $56 to $110, and the liq­uid paraf­fin is $13.50 for a oneliter bot­tle.

The most lux­u­ri­ous fake fur throw: Over the past few years, faux fur throws have be­come a sta­ple in dec­o­rat­ing mag­a­zines and cat­a­logs, but all are not equal. The first time I felt a re­ally good faux fur throw was at the home of New York-based dec­o­ra­tor Katie Rid­der; I re­ally couldn’t tell whether it was real. When asked where it was from, Rid­der shared that she reg­u­larly or­ders the faux fur throws from Restora­tion Hard­ware. She uses them in her projects at the foot of beds and along the backs of so­fas in liv­ing rooms and fam­ily rooms. The throws, made from syn­thetic fibers, add tex­tu­ral in­ter­est to rooms as well as a soft and silky touch. The throws start at $109.

Cour­tesy Lu­cid Can­dles

Lu­cid Can­dles are made of a syn­thetic ma­te­rial that never burns away.

Cour­tesy Restora­tion Hard­ware

Restora­tion Hard­ware’s ruched faux fur throw.

Faux flow­ers from Diane James. Cour­tesy Diane James

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