Friday, November 31, 2007

Tree Trimmers ornaments get a family touch By Janine S. Creager Close-Up Correspondent

Click photo to enlarge it. At right, Lyn Schaefer personalizes a polymer clay... (Janine S. Creager/Close-Up Correspondent )

When the six children of Bluffdale residents Lyn and Larry Schaefer arrived home from school each day, they knew that heads would roll. But they were by no means in trouble for some misdeed.

The head rolling was all part of the family business, Tree Trimmers, which began in the early 1970s. Alongside their parents, the children rolled out bread dough to form the heads that would be made into original Christmas ornaments.

The ornament-making endeavor began when the Schaefer's were newlyweds, trying to decorate their first Christmas tree with no money. Over the years, the business has evolved into a full-time retail and wholesale affair, employing many members of the extended family and supplying stores and mall carts throughout the holiday season.

Son Scott Schaefer, now married with a family of his own living in Bluffdale, helped run the family booth at the recent Salt Lake Family Christmas Show at the South Towne Expo Center. He remembers that his friends thought the work was cool when he was growing up, especially since they received ornaments from the family every holiday season.

And members of the third generation are also involved. Lyn's granddaughter and Scott's niece, Elysabeth James, sat next to her grandmother at the recent show learning how to count cash and run charge orders. But that's not the best part of the job, she explains; she gets to skip school on occasion to help with a show, and, she adds, "We earn money."

Part of the fun of Tree Trimmers' ornaments is that each one can be personalized to include names and birth or wedding dates, making them unique gifts that can be handed down to children and grandchildren. This personalization allows customers to tailor the gifts to specific friends and family members.

Through the years the business has continued to evolve. For one thing, the ornaments are no longer made from bread dough dipped in varnish. The family switched to polymer clay a decade ago, making the decorations waterproof, shatter-resistant and nontoxic.

After moving to Utah four years ago, the Schaefers expanded the business to fit the needs of much of their local customer base by including LDS missionary and temple ornaments, and family designs with upward of 20 children and grandchildren.

While Tree Trimmers has focused primarily on Christmas ornaments for the past three decades, the Schaefers plan on expanding their line to include ornaments and gift items for holidays throughout the year, including Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

If granddaughter Elysabeth appreciates the moneymaking opportunity the best, what keeps Lyn Schaefer going? "Repeat customers," she said. "People tell us, 'You're a holiday tradition in our family. We have to get our ornament for this year.' "

Tree Trimmers ornaments are wholesaled to stores, carts and kiosks around the country and can be purchased on the website or one of their many retail shows.

Sandy resident Jodie Smart is one the repeat customers who made sure she stopped at the Schaefer's booth at the Christmas Show. "I love the ornaments. I like them to be personalized. They're really original and I'm into cutesy things. They've become a holiday tradition in our home for years. They're so much nicer than the poured resin ones I see from other companies!" she said.

* For more information about purchasing ornaments, go online at

Or Call 801-699-7268


The Traditions of Family Ornaments and Decorations from TREE TRIMMERS warms souls with the spirit of Christmas.

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