Top Holiday Gifts and Decor for 2010

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Finding the best and newest items for holiday gifts and holiday preparations is easier, thanks to a survey of home and garden industry experts by Schultz Communications, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based marketing company.

Finding new and unusual holiday gifts and decor is always a challenge. After all, the tired old choices (think fruitcakes and sweaters) are not going to excite anyone in the 21 century. Schultz Communications asked a panel of home and garden experts to pick top holiday decor and gift items for 2010, and the selections range from solar-powered Christmas lights to a timelapse camera that creates videos for sharing on YouTube and Facebook.

Beginning with holiday decor, here are some top picks for Holiday 2010:     

Holiday Lighting Goes Solar
The bright, festive look of holiday strand lighting is now possible without the need for ugly electric cords and electrical outlets. Solar Light Strands use ultra-efficient LED lights, not old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. LED Solar Light Strands save energy because they are powered by the sun. They offer lots of design options, such as lighting up a tree that is hundreds of feet from the nearest electrical outlet. LED Solar Light Strands come in two lengths, 50 or 102 bright LEDS. Each strand has seven (7) different blinking settings. These lights are attractive enough to leave them up all year for patio and deck accents. Available in white, red, blue and green. The 50-light strand sells for $24.95 and the 102 light strand sells for $49.95 at http://www.naturehills.com.

Keep Christmas Trees Fresh and Green
The smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree infuses a home with holiday spirit, and the beauty of a real tree still cannot be matched by artificial trees. Unfortunately, a fresh tree can require daily watering or it will dry out quickly inside a heated home.

With just one application, a new product called Vacation will keep a Christmas tree fresh throughout the holiday season. Simply mix one 8-oz. bottle of Vacation with one gallon of water and pour the solution into the tree stand reservoir. Once the solution is absorbed through the trunk, Vacation will keep the tree green with less needle drop for up to three to four weeks. (Vacation can also be used on poinsettias and other potted plants.) An 8-ounce bottle of vacation sells for about $10-13 at garden centers, hardware stores or online at http://www.naturehills.com and http://www.highcountrygardens.com.

Watch Plants Grow in "Fast Forward"
Anyone interested in garden photography or creating timelapse videos will love the easy-to-use Timelapse PlantCam. To create a timelapse movie, simply set the camera to take still photos at the desired time interval (every 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes,...up to one photo per day). After counting down each interval, the PlantCam will automatically take a photo and then start another countdown interval. When finished taking photos in timelapse mode, the PlantCam will automatically convert all of the photos into a video clip that will play the recorded event (a garden growing, for example) in "fast forward." It is also great for recording any sequential event, such as decorating a Christmas tree or watching a snowman melt.

Timelapse PlantCam takes high resolution (4 megapixel) images for crystal-clear viewing. The camera is very easy to use, and setup takes just three minutes. No tools, software or wiring is required. The rugged, weatherproof design makes it sturdy enough for year-round use. Timelapse PlantCam makes a great gift for $79.95 at (888) 811-9464 and http://www.wingscapes.com.

Organic Growing 101
The Organic Ready-to-Grow Kit from EarthBox is the perfect gift for a beginning gardener with a sunny patio and for the "master gardener" who is willing to try something different. The Organic Ready-to-Grow Kit contains everything needed to grow organic vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. Included are a 2.0-cubic-foot bag of organic OMRI Registered potting mix, a 20-ounce bag of 8-3-5 organic OMRI Registered fertilizer, and a 16-ounce bag of organic OMRI Registered dolomite with trace elements. The heart of the system is the patented EarthBox growing container, which measures a compact 29 inches long, 13.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall. The EarthBox even comes with casters (so it can be easily moved) and a water-conserving soil cover. The EarthBox controls soil conditions, eliminates guesswork and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden--while using less water and less fertilizer.

The Organic Ready-to-Grow Kit is available for $59.95 from http://www.earthbox.com and http://www.naturehills.com.

Kiss My Grass
Call this gift a nod toward organic fashion. SafeLawns.org has introduced a stylish yellow t-shirt with "Kiss My Grass (it's organic)" on the back and the SafeLawns logo on the front. The shirt is made of 100 percent organic cotton (of course), and it comes in men's and women's styles and sizes. One shirt is $24, two shirts $20 each, three or more $18 each. Order at http://www.safelawns.org.

Kitchen Herb Garden
Gardeners and cooks appreciate fresh herbs all season long, especially during the winter months. There is no way that store-bought herbs can rival the flavor of freshly snipped herbs growing right on the kitchen windowsill. To make growing herbs easy for everyone, High Country Gardens offers a collection of four favorite cooking herbs planted in beautiful 3.75-inch ceramic pots designed by renowned artist Guy Wolff. Rosemary, thyme, oregano and Italian parsley are well suited for a kitchen windowsill or sunny spot and will provide fresh herbs for weeks. The Kitchen Herb Garden includes everything needed to grow fresh herbs, including pot saucers. It sells for $39.99 from http://www.highcountrygardens.com.

Grow Something Exotic
Growing tropical fruit trees in a container offers ornamental beauty and food for nourishment. Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere by Byron E. Martin and Laurelynn G. Martin includes all of the expert advice needed to grow a taste of the tropics (think coffee, papaya, finger lime and much more) without leaving the comfort of home. The Martins' easy-to-follow instructions on how to grow, harvest and care for tropical fruit trees in small pots will ensure success for first-time growers and seasoned gardeners alike. Packed with 160 oversized pages filled with color photos, growing tips and even recipes, this book is guaranteed to inspire and delight! $18.95 from http://www.logees.com.

And for the Person Who Has Everything…
Imagine a delightful concert of wind chimes during the day and a colorful light show at night. The new Color Changing Solar Wind Chime gently plays pleasant notes when blown by a breeze, and it lights up in seven changing colors at night.

Four solar panels provide power for an LED light contained inside a beautiful crackled texture glass sphere. (Not electric outlet is needed.) At night, the LED light progresses through seven colors, one color every three seconds, and its light is refracted through the glass, creating star-like patterns on walls and floors. The central sphere of the Color-Changing Solar Wind Chime acts as a striker for the five chimes that hang from the canopy, producing a gentle cascade of tones in breezes. The copper-colored finish gives this wind chime a lovely appearance. (The Color-Changing Solar Wind Chime is also available in a silver finish.) $44.95 from http://www.naturehills.com.

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RANDALL SCHULTZ
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