Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
An Alternate Christmas Tree
I shot my blogging time buying goodies for our upcoming cookie party and building our Christmas tree. So, let’s look at the tree.
Step 1. Have the folks at the hardware store cut you a 3′x3′ board. I chose inexpensive particle board because I anticipated project failure. My wife is Annie from Field of Dreams, so without a voice of reason I’ve learned to plan for my escapades to turn out not so well.
Step 2. Screw a hook into the center of the board. Tie a string to the hook and to a pencil. Draw a large circle.
Step 3. Screw in hooks around the circle, I had 16 evenly spaced. The light cord will be going around the hooks, so buy decent size hooks. I used 7/8 inch Brass Cup Hooks from Ace Hardware (they are costlier online).
Step 4. Locate a stud in your ceiling and screw in a ceiling hook. You know, the thing your mom hung macrame planters from when you were a kid.
Step 5. Hang a large metal ring (with at least a 3-inch diameter) on the ceiling hook. Your light cord will be strung through the ring multiple times, so you need a decent size ring. You might as well buy a brass ring that looks suitable fancy. I used my wife’s embroidery hoop, again, expecting failure.
Step 6. Plug in your Christmas lights, then string them around the first hook on the floor, then up to the ceiling and down again. You stand on a ladder while your easy-going spouse lifts up sections of the cord for you to string through the ceiling loop. Your spouse threads the cord from one floor hook to the next and then hands the whole mess up to you and so forth.
I used energy-saving LED lights that let you connect multiple strings, for a total of four 33′ strings, 400 lights. The downside is that Christmas light cords contain lead, so we wash our hands after touching them. I also wiped the cords with a damp cloth to pick up as much lead dust as possible — oh yes, lead dust.
That’s version 1 of the tree. In version 2 I’ll make some improvements:
- Get a solid wood board and convince a friend with a jigsaw to cut it into a circle. Then paint it.
- Buy a nicer ceiling hoop. Alternately: use a bicycle hook, the type used for hanging a bike from a ceiling. Stringing the lights is easier if you don’t have to stuff the whole strand through a closed loop.
- Hang ornaments from the light cords.
- Place Christmas gifts inside the tree.
So, why build this funky tree? Well, I thought about a lot of other tree ideas.
- Dead tree from a tree lot. Nah, they’re infused with insecticides.
- Dead tree cut with a permit from public lands. Nah, don’t want to tie it to my sedan like a dead buck.
- Artificial tree. Nah, they’re loaded with PVC and a lot of other nasty stuff.
- Metal tree. Nah, everyone other than me thinks they are ugly.
- Felt tree. Yeah, 7 feet of green felt attached to the wall somehow, and adorned with handmade felt ornaments. I have the felt. I don’t have the logistics worked out.
- Tomato cage tree. Nah, too weird.
- Frankenstein tree screwed together from dead tree limbs reclaimed from my backyard. Nah, no way to store it come January.
- Coat hanger tree. I tried, oh how I tried to make this work as a 3-D sculpture. I know the type of hanger I need, but haven’t found it in local stores.
- Live tree. Oh, totally doable. Except I’m not planting my tree until next spring and it will take a few years to get up to speed.
- Live potted tree from a nursery. Hey, that’s cheating.