Twas the day after Thanksgiving and all through the city were cars full of laughter and bags of bows, so pretty. The Austin holiday elves wasted no time, loading trees full of decor pasted with glitter so fine!
Christmas, as most things, is bigger in Texas. Austinites have one, giant-sized holiday tradition that looks like a cheery cup of creativity poured all over the cedars that line 360 Loop, Capital of Texas Highway.
Each year beginning in November, the beautifully decorated trees along 360 become a sparkly focal point of holiday cheer, almost as if by magic.
While this decorating tradition continues to expand each year, there are a few unanswered questions that arise from the masses of people who are new to Austin each year. Keep in mind, this tradition stemmed from sheer holiday cheer, so there is no organized website, Facebook page or phone hotline you can call to get logistics. With that said, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
FAQ about 360 Tree Decoration
Q: Who decorates the trees?
A: Groups of families and friends gather together on the roadside to create memories and share a great Austin tradition. For example, I found a local mom named Kelly Chausovsky and her children, Alina and Samson, taking their holiday photos while decorating a tree.
Q: Is it legal to decorate the trees?
A: Good question. There are no tree police as of yet, and you will not be ticketed or arrested for decorating the trees. Just be respectful to the community and kind to the trees.
Q: Do we decorate the trees along 360 only?
A: Not necessarily. However, each neighborhood may react differently. Tradition states that on 360 it is acceptable to decorate…until it’s not.
Q: Are there rules to decorating the trees?
A: No, there are no rules. But there are a few tips that may be helpful on your first decorating occasion because these roadside trees are not like the tree in your home.
Tips for Decorating Trees on 360
Bigger is definitely better. As a rule of thumb, you want your decorations to be visible from the street.
Bright and shiny objects make the tree sparkle during the daylight hours. And by using a solar-powered string of lights, your tree can also sparkle at night.
Consider the elements when you’re shopping for your decorations. Wind and rain can be problematic. (I personally put this theory to the test.)
Take plenty of string to fasten decorations in place.
Plastic makes for longer lasting decorations.
Be creative. Themed trees are the most photographed.
Don’t use this as an advertising opportunity. It looks tacky.
Last, but not least, ALWAYS return to your tree to collect decorations. This is how Austinites have been able to keep the tradition alive.
There’s a First Time for Everything
My first experience with the 360 trees happened about three weeks ago, after five years in Austin. My mom and I took my “tip list” from above and tried out our skills. What I found: the experience is worth every smile and memory!
I learned that my tip about taking the elements into account is a necessity! After just one week, my tree imploded from the rain and wind. Thankfully, a friend came to the rescue and we not only fixed it, but highlighted our tree by adding a banner-style string up.
Take pride in your tree. Have at least one member of the decorating committee check up on it after the initial decorating. When winter weather persists and the elements play a hard bargain, give your tree a little fluff. Be neighborly enough to check on nearby trees as well.
Be part of the holiday beauty that blankets our dear city by choosing your tree and sharing your photos! We’d love to see your tree photos on our Facebook page.
Have you or will you be decorating a 360 tree this year?