Ghirardelli Christmas Tree Competition

Ghirardelli Square and the Academy of Art University’s Christmas Tree Grove


Rules and Submission Guidelines:

Ghirardelli Square is happy to partner with the Academy of Art University to bring a festive

holiday tree stroll to the square for a second year. Fifteen trees will be selected to be displayed

at various locations throughout Ghirardelli Square for the holiday season. Each will feature a

descriptive sign with team member names and what inspired the particular design.


General Requirements


This year, teams are not restricted to using a traditional Christmas tree as a base. We ask that

you use your creativity and design a festive, tree-inspired structure that has a 3’ maximum

radius and is approximately 5’-6’ tall. If you choose to decorate a traditional tree, please make

sure it also fits within those size requirements.


● Designs must reflect a holiday and/or department theme

○ If you are not choosing to decorate a traditional Christmas tree, then your

structure should be holiday themed/inspired.

● Designs must be reviewed by the instructor before submission to confirm materials are

available upon build out and comply with requirements/restrictions.

● Students must not alter their design after submission and should be an exact replication

of their submitted sketch

● Execution should be professionally done (i.e. no dripping glue, unfinished or sloppy

work, hardware to secure decor coming apart or falling off, etc.)

● Sloppy or unfinished designs will be removed from display if not complete by November 24th.


Materials & Display

Ghirardelli Square sees a significant amount of wind, fog and people during the holiday season.

● Structures must be able to stand freely and any decorative elements must be secured to

prevent them from flying off or being pulled off. We do not recommend including any

paper elements as these have not typically fared well in fog and rain. Any dyed or

painted material should not bleed when wet. Your structure must be able to withstand the

elements (heavy wind, rain, mist, etc., i.e. materials should be waterproofed). Any

structures showing significant damage will be removed from display.

● Structures must incorporate a battery or solar operated light element, no electrical power

will be provided. Please test lights during installation, but lights must be turned off until

November 26th.

● Materials must be sourced before submitting design to ensure on time delivery to fully

execute design as described.

● Structure must include a secure base (preferably sandbags).

● Students should be mindful of the weight of materials being used to execute design. If

additional support is needed, please make sure it is hidden and does not distract from

the overall display.

● Structures will be displayed throughout the square for one month. These locations have

been pre-determined by Ghirardelli Square and cannot be relocated once installed.

Selected locations are in place for safety purposes and accessibility.

● Trees must be delivered to Ghirardelli Square for installation on Monday, November

22nd and Tuesday, November 23rd.


Submission Requirements & Timeline

Finalists will be determined by the following submission criteria. Please be thorough in

your sketches/renderings and descriptions. Incomplete submissions will not be


• Colored sketch or 3D rendering of your design

• List of materials you will be using

• Brief description of your design

• Department name and director

• Participant names

• Inspiration behind the design

(50 words max for tree placard which will be placed next to your tree)

• Charitable organization you would like us to donate to if you win (this will not impact

judging, but we would like to have this information ready when we announce the



● Final designs submitted by Wednesday, November 3rd by 3PM to Michael Petricca.

● The Ghirardelli Square team will select 15 finalists and informed by Friday, November 5th

● Structures must be delivered to Ghirardelli Square November 22nd and 23rd. Please

coordinate delivery with Greg Grundstrom.

● Teardown/removal must be completed on December 27th and 28th. Please coordinate

with Greg Grundstrom.


Event & Judging

On Friday, November 26th, our judges will walk and score structures on specific criteria (see

attached sample judging form) and announce one winner. The winning team will receive a

framed certificate, a $1000 donation to the charitable organization of their choice and a gift

basket of items from Ghirardelli Square merchants (estimated value of $1000). The structure will

also have a special placard displayed for the rest of the month.


This year, we are also including an interactive element in which visitors are welcome to vote for

a People’s Choice award winner. Voting will take place from November 26th through December

10th and a winner will be announced via social media for bragging rights and a select prize from

one of our retailers.