Years ago, my family used to crown our Christmas tree with a wonderfully tacky star made from silver pipe cleaners knotted together with Christmas lights. It finally stopped working and now lays crumpled somewhere in our spider-clogged attic.
This year, we have a bush - a bush! - on top of our Christmas tree. It's taking some getting used to. It looks like a red and gold firecracker shooting out of the tree. It's pretty neat, but it also looks like a Who hat from Whoville.
While I work on accepting the bush that now looms over my family's Christmas, I got to thinking about the rest of the tree. Popcorn and berries make me yawn. If our tree is going to end in a bush, the rest of it should be decked out with some unconventional, bizarre paraphernalia, too.
Here is a list of our Top 5 food ornament front-runners.
5. Pickles The Germans have a tradition of sneaking pickles into their Christmas trees. This game should not be confused with Hide the Cucumber. Instead, children and party guests dig through the pine needles and the first person to find the pickle wins a prize. Give it a try. No one really likes playing Party Quirks or charades, anyway. If you can't stand the stench of vinegar wafting out of your Douglas fir, Amazon sells glass versions for less than four dollars.
4. Octopus It might be less creepy to say that your Christmas tree is simply a tribute to the late prophet, Paul the Octopus. Or that you have a soft spot for tentacles. Or maybe you don't have to explain anything. It's your Christmas tree, after all. Just don't be surprised when your friends judge you for hanging something that looks like a Disney villain.[jump]
3. Peppermint Candy These ornaments are peppermints, and peppermints are synonymous with Christmas (or bad Halloween swag.) But these decorations are unsettling. I'm not a peppermint purist - I can accept peppermints in something besides the cane or disk variety. But there's something about the light pink color and layered design that reminds me of a digestive track.
2. Bag of Twizzlers At the Observer/City of Ate, we like to think any free space is ad space. Every bland bulb on your Christmas tree is a missed opportunity, so deck out your be-bushed tree with a bag of Twizzlers. Your creation might become a billboard, but where's the shame in that?
1. Halved Artichoke
Here is an artichoke immortalized in glass and smeared with glitter. Besides dips, tea and medicine, I challenge you to find a better use for an artichoke than this oddly whimsical tree trimming. Plus, is there any ornament more likely to end up on Georgia O'Keefe's tree?