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Ecology-Lovers’ Christmas Tree: It’s Rented

It’s a great time of year to rent items that we usually buy and save some big bucks. The most unusual rental around probably is Rent-a-Tree, a promotional service offered by Ikea that seems to be taking Los Angeles by storm. Here’s the deal:

The trees are live Douglas firs shipped from Vancouver, B. C., and measure here from 5 1/2 feet to 7 feet tall. The cost is $10 for the rental with a $10 deposit. You are given a “Tree Lease” and, when you return the tree Jan. 5 or 12, your deposit is returned or Ikea will give you a $20 gift certificate applicable to a purchase of $100 or more.

This is such a good deal that Ikea’s 5,000-tree inventory should go fast. If, by chance, the trees are gone by the time you get there, consider the 2- to 3-feet live Italian stone pines, decorated with Swedish-style ornaments, for $9.

Ikea, 600 N. San Fernando Road, Burbank, (818) 842-4532. Hours 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. MasterCard/Visa. For some reason, it’s traditional that men rent their tuxedos and women buy their party dresses. When you give it some thought, it makes more sense the other way around. Men should buy a tux, and women should rent that party dress.

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Styles change so little in men’s tuxedos that the $150 plus it takes to purchase one is an investment that will hold for several years. On the other hand, a good special-occasion dress costs upwards of $300 and usually is worn only once or twice.

Renting a gown costs a fraction of the retail price of the garment. At Starlit Soiree, the price range for rentals is $50 to $195; the $50 rental dress would sell in the area of $300, and the one at $195 would retail from $900 to $1,200. A deposit equal to the amount of the rental is required upfront.

Starlit Soiree is in Beverly Hills at 8950 W. Olympic Blvd. (213) 275-5570). Hours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays or by appointment. MasterCard/Visa/American Express. The gown rentals at One Night Affair start at $35, and the top rental price is $150. A $600 black Victor Costa gown was renting for $60 the day I checked. It’s cash or check only. The deposit is your credit card number.

Dressed to Kill has rentals that begin at $100 and top out at $350 for gowns valued at up to $12,000. Bob Mackie, for instance, costs $200 to wear for an evening--certainly a small price to dazzle everyone in an original Bob Mackie. A damage deposit of $250 is required.

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One Night Affair, 3222 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (213) 453-7782. By appointment between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Dressed to Kill, 8762 Holloway Drive, West Hollywood, (213) 652-4334. By appointment only. JEWELRY GEMS: Metro Jewelry, a local manufacturer of costume jewelry that is seen in many Southern California stores, will be selling its excess stock at wholesale and below at its factory in Van Nuys this weekend. The inventory is heavy on duster earrings, the kind that dust your shoulders, which fashion-conscious women are sporting these days.

This merchandise is not for the timid, but for those who like their jewelry kinetic and colorful. Just about everything will be $10 and under. For example, earrings that retail for $38 will go for $10. Bracelets that are usually $24 will be tagged $6 to $8. The sale is Saturday only from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Metro Jewelry, 15825 Stagg St., Van Nuys, (818) 988-1900. Cash or check only. HOT LAST-MINUTE BUYS: Three extraordinary deals are being offered at H.R.D. Distributors that could fill any gaps on your gift list. Shaker knit sweaters (for men and women) that retail for $38 are sailing out in several colors at $9.75. Jimmy Z outer-wear jackets (they’re $75 at most stores) won’t last long at $28. And if these aren’t hot enough for you . . . L.A. Gear long-sleeve T-shirts selling around town for $18 to $20 are all tagged at $3.85. From $18 to $3.85! Now THAT’S a bargain!

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H.R.D. Distributors, 18318 Oxnard St., Unit 4, Tarzana, 818-708-1941. Cash, checks only.


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