The baked goods sale and raffle also continue in 2020 with some modifications.

VACAVILLE, Calif. — Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, you may already be looking to string up the Christmas lights and decorate the tree.

You can skip a little of the hassle of finding the perfect tree this year, while helping out a good cause. The annual Vacaville Festival of Trees is auctioning pre-decorated Christmas trees (along with some other added goodies) up until Dec. 3 in order to raise money for Opportunity House shelter.

Opportunity House is a non-profit focused on addressing homelessness. Proceeds from annual festival activities support the shelter, which needs as much help as ever. COVID-19 restrictions instituted in mid-March forced the temporary closure of the thrift store, typically an ongoing source of revenue.

In one of those ironic twists that we’ve seen so much this year due to coronavirus, publicity chair for the Vacaville Festival of Trees Karen Nolan said that the annual fundraiser to help the homeless is now homeless itself.

“We’ve had a home for 20 years, and suddenly, we don’t have a home,” Nolan said.

Traditionally, the Festival of Trees is in-person at the Recreation Center on Davis St., but that was not possible this year due to COVID-19. Before, the festival “bounced” from place to place, but there was always somewhere to go when the event date rolled around.

When the festival landed on the more permanent Recreation Center spot, Nolan said it was the perfect place to host the event because Vacaville’s Merriment on Main was just two blocks away, and people would come from the big Downtown tree to see the hundred or so smaller ones crowded in the gymnasium of the center. 

That’s when organizers started seeing the Recreation Center as their “home” for the holidays.

“I think there’s something about seeing them all in one room together trying to out do each other that you just go, you just kind of go from tree to tree […] each one is more fabulous than the next,” Nolan said.

The online auction site may be debuting amid coronavirus, but it is actually something the festival organizers have been wanting to use for years, Nolan said. Pictures of the trees up for auction are on the site and people can bid right then and there.

“So, instead of having what used to be 100 trees where everybody would come and look at them, we’ve got a little more than two dozen trees right now, and they’re scattered around town,” Nolan said.

Strolling Downtown Vacaville, business and office windows are decorated with incredibly unique Christmas trees. From candy cane extravaganzas to Oakland Raiders-themed trees, there may be fewer trees to auction this year, but the selection is just as strong as ever.

“It’s more amazing every year,” Nolan said. “I don’t know if it’s 30 years of experience of decorating Christmas trees or the renewed energy that new people bring into it through the year. But, yeah, they’re always just so interesting.”

When bidding on a tree, you are not just getting a unique Christmas decoration, but many also have a bunch of other added items. For example, ‘A Weekend in the Woods’ tree decorated and donated by a local Girl Scouts Troop comes with a tent, s’mores kit and everything you need for your next camping trip. The ‘All I want for Christmas is my PPE’ tree comes with antibacterial soap and face masks.

In addition to the tree auction, the Festival of Trees will also still be doing their baked goods sale, the Festival of Treets. Jumbo brownies and Rice Crispy treats, miniature pumpkin bread loaves, holiday cupcakes and bottles of Reindeer Root Beer will all be available. The items can be packaged for gift giving as well. You can also buy buckets containing three dozen ready-to-bake, frozen cookie dough balls in both classic and holiday flavors.

The annual Festival of Trees Raffle will also still be held Dec. 1 – 3.  From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., festival supporters can view raffle items, purchase tickets and enter drawings at Opportunity House’s Vacaville Thrift Store at 107 Peabody Road. Bidding for Christmas trees and the neat add-ons that go with them has already begun. You can check out and bid on the Christmas trees here.

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