Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland is a Frankenmuth landmark - and a holiday legend
Just how holiday crazy are you? Chances are, even if you think you are a Christmas-a-holic you'll still find Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan a little overwhelming. Bronner's has the distinction of being the largest Christmas store in the world, taking up about five and a half football fields. This is a place that is all Christmas, all the time. But is it more madness than magic? Here's what it's like to dive into the depths of a winter wonderland.
It goes without saying that this is a place where you can get anything and everything Christmas related. Bronner's sells over 50,000 different products. There are artificial Christmas trees and stockings. There are Santas and snowmen of every imaginable size. There is music, lights, books. I found old fashioned ornaments like tin Victorian tinsel and "angle hair" that I had been seeking for years. You see pictures from our tree below! And then there's the unexpected.
Unexpected things like asparagus, for instance. I had never even considered the need for an asparagus Christmas ornament but apparently they are in high demand! There was even more than one style of asparagus ornament! This was my first sign that the sheer size of Bronner's wasn't the only unique thing about it - there is literally everything and anything you can imagine in the form of a Christmas ornament. And I really do mean anything.
I have a strong preference for a mismatched, patchwork tree myself so I can appreciate why people would get so excited to see so many unusual ornaments. And it was cool to see so many travel themed ornaments! Suitcases, beach umbrellas, backpacks, palm trees - all ready for your tree. But things started to get a bit over the top. Is there really a need for ornaments for video gamers, knitting fanatics, and garage sale enthusiasts? But that's not all!
The coupon themed ornaments were a bit weird, to tell the truth. And I'm a pro-coupon girl! It just seemed... tacky... for a store that proclaims that they are a CHRISTmas establishment, and included a religious themed flyer in my media bag, can somehow reconcile an assertive display of their faith with cheap bobbles about couponing and garage sales. I'm sure there are people who feel that they are "religious" about couponing but this seemed like a stretch, even for my fertile imagination.
Also rounding out the 'tacky' category quite nicely were ornaments that pretended to be from dead people. Yes, you read that correctly. These chintzy looking balls said "You may miss me but I"m spending Christmas with Jesus this year". Who exactly would buy one of these? Who would give this as a gift? Worse yet: Who would sell something like this?! It was awkward and alarming all at once.
But before I start to sound too much like Scrooge, there were a lot of displays I really did love. There were gorgeous ornaments in jewel tones and bird designs and I found myself wishing I was creative enough to pull off a seamless theme like that. I loved that not everything was red and green and still looked extremely festive.
If you find yourself inspired by a particular color or subject matter, you can steal some crafty ideas from the display trees. I loved the different themes, like Chocolate Mousse, that adorned the trees and the creativity and humor of the collections really shone through. Can you see the doughnut below? Definitely a great idea for anyone who's feeling crafty but needs a bit of a helping hand.
The relationship between Bronner's and the town of Frankenmuth is a unique one. Frankenmuth is driven by tradition and Christmas is driven by tradition. Bronnner's is driven by Christmas and Bronner's driving more traffic into Frankenmuth than anyone else. It's a circular relationship that works very well. It would be crazy to visit Frankenmuth and not go to Bronner's - it really is the heart of the town, of the community. I loved the colors and creativity and even a bit of the cheesiness. But my Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland experience was a mixed one as it was difficult for me to reconcile the tacky - and sometimes tasteless - ornaments with the faith based philosophy that underpins their business.
But it's entirely possible that I might just be a little too Bah Humbug for Frankenmuth and Bronner's. 2 million happy visitors can't all be wrong, can they? So I'd love to hear from you!
Have you ever been to Bronner's or a place like it? Do you love visiting holiday themed places or are you a little bit cynical about them? Please weigh in with your opinion! And wherever you are, and however you celebrate, I wish you all a safe, happy, peaceful holiday season.
PS - Check out our tree pics below!
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Here's some pics of our Christmas tree this year (with a couple of new ornaments that I bought at Bronner's).