WALLA WALLA -- Honey, I shrunk the tree.
Those who want some holiday cheer without the cold and hassle can choose their tree from a tiny indoor forest. From now through Dec. 11, 32 miniature Christmas trees festooned with tinsel, baubles and ribbon are on display at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center. Only the highest bidders, however, can transplant these tiny trees to their living rooms.
This is the third annual mini-tree fundraiser put on by the Junior Club of Walla Walla, a women's volunteer group that raises money for local charities and scholarships. Every year, Junior Club members choose local organizations as their "core projects" and coordinate fundraisers for these projects.
This year, all proceeds from the mini-tree silent auction will go to the Blue Mountain Humane Society, Walla Walla Community Hospice, Friends of Children of Walla Walla, Habitat for Humanity, YWCA and the Herring House. The Junior Club also provides a scholarship to two local women to help with college payments.
In November, the Junior Club distributed miniature trees to local businesses and artists. Since then, the trees have taken on some distinctive flair.
The branches of Misbehaven Spa & Salon's tree hang heavy with nail polish, a hairbrush, a stylish cap, and samples of lotion and conditioner. Ornaments made from metal bike parts adorn the Allegro Cyclery tree. Miniature books and bird ornaments decorate the Book & Game Co. tree and nearby, garlands of shells trim the Aloha Sushi mini-tree, with a gift certificate and a bottle of wine as stocking stuffers.
There are trees for golfers, wine lovers, quilters, sweet-toothed people, and even one for New Year's.
"It is becoming easier for us," said Colby Burke, first vice president of the Junior Club. "People really know about it, especially local businesses. Some people are asking us if they can do a tree next year, which is exciting for us."
The trees are decorated at the expense of each business or artist. This year, more than 30 trees came back dressed to the nines from sponsors such as Bright's Candies, K Vintners, L'Ecole No. 41, Holly's Flowers, Beehive Hairhouse, Marcus Whitman Hotel, Willow, Walla Walla Community College, YMCA and more.
"Now, the companies are throwing things in, like a gift certificate to a store or a hair salon throws in a free haircut," Burke said. "It drives up the value of the trees. It's really neat that these businesses are helping us make these trees more valuable."
Each tree starts at a minimum bid of $20. The silent auction will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 11, and the trees will be available for pickup or delivery on Dec. 12.
Katrina Barlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.