Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Uh Oh, Christmas Tree

This year our Christmas tree is a few things:  Unique.  Creative.  Weird.  Cool?  DIY.  Pretty.  Cheap!  Easy.

With a few reservations, I do like it.  We originally planned to do the traditional (for us, anyway) real seven foot tree.  I figured we could teach Madison not to touch it, just like we have with the chemicals under the sink, the glass in our buffet, the trash can, the (covered) electrical socket, etc.  But then, when she saw her first Christmas tree of the year (for our Santa pictures at my aunt's house), something awful and kind of cute happened:  she pointed to an ornament on the tree and said, "Bawl."  Madison is pretty good at minding simple rules, but when there's a "bawl" on the line, all the rules go out the door.  She LOVES to touch, "catch", throw, and kick balls.  She loves to put them on her head, in her shirt, in a bag, under the couch, or in her crib.  Other than me, they're pretty much her favorite thing (sorry, Patrick).

So I knew that having any "bawls" in her reach was going to be a nightmare.  I started brainstorming:  what if we put the tree behind the couch with a baby gate?  (Answer:  she'd climb over the couch or over the baby gate.)  What if we just had a tabletop tree this year?  (I would never get into the Christmas spirit.)  What if we didn't use any ball ornaments?  (We would have about three ornaments on the tree.)  What if I just did the regular tree after all?  (Terrible twos would come early.)

Then, feeling defeated, I took Madison to Walmart just to look at the options, hoping for inspiration.  That's when I saw it:  5-6 ft real trees for just $19.  At this point, I wasn't thinking about the Madi problem; I was just seeing dollar signs.  I could make this work!  My first thought (which lasted for about fifteen seconds) was to have a HUGE tree topper.  Then I saw it in my head and realized how silly that would look.  Then I thought, "What if we elevated it from the bottom?  Ooh, if we raised it high enough, Madison couldn't touch it!  AND it would be cheap!!!"  At this point, it was a done deal.  All I had to do was convince Patrick to build me a riser, and I've convinced him in the past to do much worse things with his Saturdays.

The end result:

Here's how we (he) did it:
  • He built a box from scrap 2x4's and plywood.  It was going to be wrapped like a present, so we didn't need anything fancy.
  •  He screwed our existing tree stand to the top.
  •  He put 50 lbs in the box so it wouldn't be top heavy with the tree.  That's why he put plywood on the bottom, too.
  •  He cut the bottom off the tree so it could absorb water better?  (I've never understood this part...isn't it already cut?)
  • He manhandled it into the tree stand by himself so I could take pictures for posterity.
  •  He stood back and pondered how crazy the woman he married is.
  •  He realized that the trunk was way thinner than our tree stand was made for.  This threw about an hour's worth of head scratching, sawing, and bolt tightening/loosening into the mix.
  •  This is where I took over.  I reworked the box from our tv into a "gift box" to go around the base and stand. 
  • I stapled (with our staple gun) the box to the wooden riser.  I left the existing folds at the top of the box to help complete the look, hoping that once the branches fanned out it would look good.
  •  I wrapped the whole thing in our wrapping paper for this year...brown craft paper!  The beauty of using it here was that it almost perfectly matched the color of the cardboard underneath, so my less than perfect wrapping job is pretty well disguised.
We did all of this over dinner and an episode of Dora, but at this point it was Madison's bedtime.  So we put her down and (I) got to decorating!

I burned out on the pompom garland making about an hour after Madi went down, so this is what we had the next morning:
And here's the end result!  At least it's the end unless/until I figure out what I want to put on top of the tree.  I also want to make a giant tag or something for the "present", but I want it to match our real presents, so that'll have to wait until I decide which way we're going for labels.
I'm SO glad to be "done" with it.  I'm sure I'll be making small changes right up until Christmas, but the work is over!

Oh, and it passes the Madi uh-oh test (meaning I haven't had to say "uh-oh" yet).  She can touch a few of the bottom ornaments with one finger if she stretches up on her tippy-toes, but I don't see her getting a hold of any of them this year (knock on wood).

Have you put your tree up yet?  Have you ever had to do an edited Christmas tree for a toddler?  What was your edit?  Most importantly, how are you labeling your gifts this Christmas?

Merry Tuesday!

 PS:  I linked up over here!


  1. Love your tree! Can't wait to "smell" it! Mom

  2. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Honey, but it ain't over yet. Our "babies" (age 7 and 4) have broken more ornaments this year than they did when they were Madi's age........Auntie V (Good job on the tree!)

  3. It is beautiful! You are very creative. Madi is welcome to "play" with our tree anytime. I put all unbreakable ornaments on the bottom half, and didn't use any ornament hangers on the whole tree. Ainslee has taken off several to play with, then puts them in the "trunk" of her little car for safekeeping. Auntie C

  4. Cute garland!
    We put all of the breakable ornaments out of her reach, but after the first few days she hasn't shown any interest in the tree. Luke was glad that this is the first year (in his memory) that we haven't broken an ornament.

  5. Resourceful, clever & CUTE! Great solution for the "toddler tree"! :-)