Low(er) Budget Christmas Tree Hacks--And a 51 Cent Tree Topper

And here is where I tell you how proud I am of my Christmas tree this year! We have a fake tree that we've had for a few years, except it's really too big for how we have the front room arranged, and it's kindof covered in spider eggs. We are trying to decide if we should Craigslist it, or just hang on to it, but it wasn't going to work this year. For 5 exciting minutes, Husband thought we should get a real tree… And then changed his mind and didn't want a tree at all, but I refused to accept that—and this is the compromise I came up with.

I got a 4-1/2 ft tree on sale for 40% off, so there is much less to decorate and much less for the cats and toddler to mess with. Now, 4-1/2 feet is not very tall, and would mean that Monkey could reach almost the entire tree. Not what I was going for. I have seen pictures of shorter trees on tables, and briefly considered putting the tree on top of our end table, but I was worried that it would scratch up the wood and/or get knocked off easier, so I put it on… drumroll please… An upside-down bucket from the garden section!

This only added $10 to my cart, but a couple feet to the tree! In order to keep the tree on the bucket, I hot-glued the stand to the bottom. (I had to cut off the rope handles, because they were making the bucket sit unevenly.) This way, at the end of the season, I can just warm up the hot glue, peel it off, and then we can store the tree in a normal-sized tupperware bin. (No spider eggs!)

Now, the tree skirt… I had a tree skirt from a couple years ago (remember, my one from last year was tinfoil to keep the cats away) but it was way too short—you could definitely see half of the bucket. I went to Kmart, and picked up a 60-inch round vinyl-topped table cloth for $2.50. I would have preferred a solid color, but hey, you take what you can get. I tossed it in the dryer for about 2 minutes, to get rid of some of the wrinkles, then folded it in half twice to get the middle, and cut a very small circle out of the middle. (Seriously—the diameter is about two inches.) Then I cut along one fold, to get a normal-looking tree-skirt shape. I didn't even hem it, because the vinyl looks like it'll take a good amount of abuse. After I put it around the tree, I used masking tape to keep it together! Since it's going around a bucket, the ends are overlapped quite a bit. After Christmas this year, I may put in velcro and a hem, but I'm happy with it for now.

And now… my proudest moment, the tree topper! We had an angel when we were first married, but she got pretty squished, and isn't quite my style anyways. Actually, two years ago, we were living in a basement apartment with very low ceilings, so we couldn't even put the top section of the tree on… And I shoved one of the stuffed penguins up there to be our tree topper!

I knew I had to do something somewhat better this year, because the tree top would be at about eye level, but I couldn't find anything I liked. All of the tree topper stars at the store were either covered with glitter or butt-ugly/"meant to be admired from afar." So, I came up with my own beautious slightly-more-than-51-cent tree topper!

At the dollar store, they sell foam snowflakes in packs of six. I bought some a few years ago to scotch-tape to our windows, and so I went back and got another pack to do this project with. Here's how I did it:

  1. Roll a piece of cardstock or paper into a cone shape, and make sure that it stays solidly on the top of your tree. I attached it to itself with scotch tape, but you can use whatever you've got. Trim so it's slightly shorter than the snowflakes.
  2. Draw a stripe of hot glue down the center of the snowflake, skipping any holes. Glue snowflake to the cone, with the top of the snowflake and the top of the cone meeting up.
  3. Do the same with the next snowflake, eyeballing about a third of the way around. Glue the outside edges of the snowflakes together, to make sure they keep sticking out properly. Repeat with the third snowflake, gluing the outside edges of each flake to its neighbor.
  4. You could just be done here, but I felt that the white snowflake blended in with the white blinds, and faded in to the background, so I decided to spray paint the whole thing. I tested it on one of the other flakes, to make sure the foam was compatible, and went to town! I used a primer first, and then two coats of silver. I haven't decided if I'll use an over-coat—we'll see how well it holds up.

And there you have it! Mine was more than 51 cents, because I had to buy the spray paint, but I didn't use too much of it. And now I'm looking for other things to paint silver!

P.S. You may notice, if you look at the first picture, which ornaments I put Monkey in charge of… That was a serious stroke of brilliance! It's taken a little OCD-reigning to leave them where he puts them, but those plastic candy canes have been the only thing he's touched on the tree!

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I'm a working, crafting, loving, baking, home improving Mamma, trying to make my corner of the world better. I also happen to write a lot about my little boy, because I think he's fantastically hilarious!

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