The Zero Dollar Christmas Tree (or, how to make your own)

Gadora has before mentioned the almost bah humbug-like attitude I possess when it comes to decorating for the holidays. It stems from the ruthless way stores shove glittery Christmas crap at us earlier and earlier every year. Hey, before you get started… I’m all for the Holidays. I like my family. And I’m down with the Chocolate Vegan Chili recipes, and consuming way too much dessert. I simply identify more closely with Charlie Brown’s philosophy: “I won’t let all this commercialism ruin my Christmas!”

My first Christmas in New York I lived not far from The Met on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was a small studio, fit me just right, but there was no room for a tree. Armed with winter gloves and gall, I strolled over to Central Park and clandestinely plucked out a few fallen branches. Dragged them the few blocks home and up to my roof where I deleafed them, sprayed and adorned them. “I’ll take this little tree home and decorate it! And I’ll show ’em.”

Charlie Brown Christmas…

By December 15th of this year we’d not done one thing to prepare for the holidays. No light strung, no sweets made, no nothing really. We’d planned our second annual Festivus for the Rest of Us party—where decorations (and tinsel) are abhorred—but I  knew the BFF was secretly hankering to bust out the Christmas boxes. “How about I make us a tree for the party,” I pose. She squealed. Gadora intended to repurpose the branches I’d witnessed her saw off a tree a few days earlier, saving them the fate of the trash can. It would be our Zero Dollar Christmas Tree… no tree felled, we’d craft the ornaments ourselves and enjoy an evening with the girls while pulling it all together.

Our tree.

Armed with nothing more than a branch and yard clippers, we got to stripping. Took every last leaf off the branch, careful to leave the few acorn tops attached. This was the one branch we had to work with. Last week it taunted passers-by on the sidewalk, threatening to scratch them if they dare pass. And this week, it would adorn the bar. The biggest centerpiece ever.

The Twig - pre Tree...

With the tree bare, we gave it a quick spray of red.

Red is for Santa.

We then searched the garage for a suitable base. An empty coffee can, some rocks from the bed out front and dirt and water would do the trick. Took us a few tries to prop the tree at the proper angle, then fill and refill the coffee can with just the right mix of rocks and water. Having run out of spray paint, red duct tape was used to jolly up the can.

The base.

Determined to flex our Martha Stewart prowess, we would make our own impressive snowflakes. Admittedly, the first several were terrible. Gadora remembered simply folding a squared piece of paper over onto itself, and then again: perfect little square with which to make a flake. Nope. Flakes are quite the opposite of square, and as such, the starting paper fold would require the interwebs. High hopes.com was our winner, and we came away with this…

We needed snowflakes.

And another. We delighted in the way each distinct way of cutting our own papers caused patterns of flurries to emerge. We each created such different flakes from one another, but yet our own cuts made a family of flakes that all resembled one another. We relished the Festivus miracle we witnessed with every unfolding flake.

More flakes.

With the new tree firmly placed on the bar, we stood back to marvel at our crafty selves. We were proud. To glam it up, we added a few spindly gold stars and sparkling pears (yes technically these cost money… but they hadn’t been outside of their Christmas boxes in years, so we’ll call them ‘repurposed’). We made bets about how many times our tree would be knocked over at the Festivus. And I’m happy to report we all lost that bet. Nary a guest complained that we’d done a lil decorating for the Festivus. Charlie Brown would be proud.

Festivus Tree...

• • •

Festivus Web ~ Festivus quotes from Seinfeld. Lots of em.

High Hopes ~ What Gadora used to facilitate the flake making…

Paper Snowflakes ~ Templates for 6-sided flakes.

Wiki How ~ A step-by-step how to make a 3-D snowflake for yourself. Fancy.

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4 thoughts on “The Zero Dollar Christmas Tree (or, how to make your own)

  1. hey chicky-
    showing mom how to write a comment on your blog – she thinks you’re so crafty! she wants you to come and fix one for her…. i’m heading back to cc tomorrow – come on down and make some sandcastles….
    luv ya, lori

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