TORONTO — For those who like to upend holiday traditions, this trend is for you: the upside down Christmas tree.
This season, social media is rife with photos of inverted pines and firs that are adorning hotel lobbies, shopping centres and downtown atriums with gravity-defying drama.
It's a surefire showstopper for retailers eager to attract shoppers, but the over-the-top stunt is now making its way into some living rooms, with several retailers offering up kits for the home decorator willing to try something different.
But these trendy inverted trees aren't cheap.
Most cost more than $200, although prices range from $60.99 for a modest three-foot model to $1,299.99 for a 7.5-foot pre-lit version.
Calgary salon owner Dave Richards says he's thinking about a purchase for next year, noting he already put up his Christmas tree several weeks ago, before he saw the latest trend.
"I'm in the market for one at the end of this Christmas season if they go on sale — if any are left," says Richards, who is known as DevaDave to his clients and friends.
"In terms of space ... it allows for more movement at the lower base of it. It's definitely a conversation piece more than anything else and I think most people when they're purchasing something like that it's because they are hoping to make the corner of their home a little bit more interesting for guests and all that.
"Is it weird? Hell yes. Very much so."
Richards suspects such a tree would be a good fit for his downtown hair salon, where he is a stylist and wig retailer who caters to cancer patients and people in the transgender community.
But at home, he says he's very much a traditionalist, with this year's decor of balls, bells and angels driven by a white-and-silver theme. He also doubted his four-year-old son would approve of a non-traditional tree.
"There are things that kids like (and) he wants his tree just 'so.' He's fussy," says Richards, admitting he'd otherwise consider a flashier display since he sometimes welcomes clients to his home and often entertains friends and family.
A nine-foot Christmas tree hangs upside down in the hotel lobby of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport and it certainly seems to be a hit with guests and passersby, says marketing specialist Kate Francois.
It's the second year in a row they've flipped their centrepiece, which is festooned with mini passports, planes, suitcases and hand-painted blue and gold globes.
"We've had a ton of interest, actually. We've had a few people come in just specifically for that, they weren't even staying at the hotel but they wanted to come and photograph it," says Francois.
It's certainly not for everyone, says interior designer Jane Lockhart, who set up an upside down tree for a commercial retail display a couple of years ago. But she adds that the trees do seem to be part of a broader trend of more radical home design, possibly fuelled by social media.
After a year of disturbing headlines that at times felt like the world was warping into an alternate universe, an upside down tree might be just what some people need, adds Richards.
"It's a finger up at the establishment of making (Christmas) so commercial," he says.
But then again, many people find comfort in familiar rituals when times are tough, he muses.
"There are probably hipsters who think it's a great idea and it's fun and funky," he says. "But the tradition of going to the lot and buying a traditional tree .... people still want that."