LEDs are as American as apple pie and baseball. Well, maybe not; but this holiday season has given some pretty high-profile exposure to the semiconductor technology, including Martha Stewart's own brand of LED tree lights. Could it be the quintessential American homemaker's stamp of approval, or skyrocketing energy rates that prompted the shortage I experienced in pursuit of warm white LED minis?

Even if LEDs have a ways to go to top the archetypal Edison bulb, my hunch is that the inventor himself would prefer LED for its technical capabilities that enabled the color-changing, interactive LED spectacular I experienced at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill. Avi Mor and the team at Lightswitch Architectural landed the project when someone from the Morton Arboretum called to ask if they put lights in trees. "We said, not exactly, but we have a bunch of ideas," recalls Mor.

Eighteen months later, the first installation of Illumination wowed; this year, the enchanted outdoor lighting display doubled in size. My favorite part of the one-mile hike was the Crystal Promenade; it boasts gorgeous crystal chandeliers strung tree-to-tree catenary style, followed by the Symphony Woods lighting choreographed to several classic opuses. Tree Lights could also be considered an 'active' design, as it encourages thousands to go for an entertaining walk through the woods despite the cold. These lighting, colors, and active designs should inspire a happy, healthy holiday season.

By Megan Mazzocco, Senior Editor