Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cheapass Christmass Part 3: The Tree

Ok, this wins as my favorite installation of Cheapass Christmass hands down--the tree!

First off, I realize there are some purists out there that love a real tree and the act of going out with their family to some snowy Christmas tree lot (or farm) to pick the right tree. Therefore, this method might not be up your alley.

When we were living in Lansing we always made our pilgrimage to a tree lot to purchase a real tree.

We did this mainly because a fake tree would have been very difficult to store. Extremely difficult to store.

However this year, we (read: I!) decided to go the fake route.

Why? Quite honestly, a real tree just won’t feel the same down here. I have heard that they allegedly have Christmas tree farms down here. Somehow I picture a big dusty field with a few green firs poking up, sagebrush threatening to overtake the field, and tumbleweeds rolling by. Of course the weather plays a factor in our decision this year too. Can you imagine going to pick out your tree wearing shorts and flip flops? Blasphemy I say!

So I hatched an idea to actually make our Christmas tree this year.

Back before I had Chunky, I watched a lot of the Home and Garden Channel. I think after you have kids, you realize that your dreams of having an stylishly decorated house vanish. Christmas time was always the best time to watch this channel. On a tangent, when I was shopping at the world's largest Christmas store in Frankenmuth one February, I noticed these HGTV "celebrities" shopping there as well.

On one of their Christmas shows--some show that I can’t remember the name of now, (Design on a Dime? Room by Room?) they made this really funk-a-licious hoop skirt Christmas tree that hung from the ceiling.

It was just a series of graduated hoops covered with a white glitzy garland, attached together, and then hung.

Aside from being white and glitzy, it was pretty darn cool.

So after much showering and pondering on how to make my own Christmas tree it came to me.

Behold the materials:


Here we have a six-foot pre-lit spiral tree decoration (you mainly see these in front yards, but they are made for indoor or outdoor use); fake pine garland; and twisty ties (I’m not sure what their real name is but they’re like those flex-cuffs rent-a-cops use and you can find them in the floral department of a craft store).

After assembling the tree I got to work. I took the pine garland and lined the spiral of the tree attaching it with the twisty ties.


It took approximately 38 feet of pine garland. I ended up buying 3 packages of 18’ of garland. After tree assembly I had a good 16 feet of pine garland left. I’ll show you what I did with that at the end of this post.

Here's a picture of the tree with one garland wrapped and secured:


After attaching all the garland, we trimmed the twistie tie things and Chunky and I decorated the tree.


And ta-da, we were done.

Note that the star is another ghetto Bezzie original They only sell stupid angels for trees anymore it seems. I was raised with a star tree top and I'm not about to sodomize an angel. That's bad ju-ju.

Yes, I know, it’s a tad, um, barren. However, I really enjoy it. It’s a cone shape, it’s green, and it has lights and decorations.

Plus it provides a great place for Squeaky to chill out.


Final price breakdown:

Tree: $14.99
Twistie Ties: $0.99
Pine Garland: $8.45
Tax: $1.98
Total: $26.41

Total Remaining Of $250.00 Budget Goal: $208.80*

*This total was arrived at by using the final total of budget money left after Cheapass Christmas Week 1.

What would a real tree have cost us if we had continued the real tree tradition? Anywhere from $43-45 before tax. I’ve yet to see a fake Christmas tree in a store for under $50.

So we saved anywhere from approximately $16 to $19 The best part? This tree collapses flat each year. Much easier to store than a real store-bought fake tree.

Tip of the week: Like many people have said—sometimes you have to change your expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I would love a nice full, luscious real tree, but for this year, this tree will do. Even if we don’t use it again next year, it doubles as an outdoor decoration.

Another great place to find a Christmas tree if you're not crafty enough to make one yourself--Freecycle. I can't tell you how many Christmas trees I've seen people post on there. Thing is you have to think Christmas in July. Most people get rid of theirs when they move or do spring cleaning.

As a postscript, I researched what a box of non-personalized Christmas cards would cost on $22.00. Yeouch. Again, you can find them for cheapy cheap at Walmart but those ones look kind of cheap. Even cheaper than my handmade ones. I won’t tell you who’s ex-boss used to make her send out hundreds of Christmas cards on her behalf every year and she would buy the cheapest looking ones she could find at Walmart and sign said boss’s name to them—muhahahahaha!

Oh! And I almost forgot! Here's what I did with the extra 16 feet of pine garland I had leftover:


I took a strand of white lights I found in my Christmas boxes and fake misletoe and rigged up my headboard. Pretty cool huh? Looks like something you might see on HGTV. Ha!


Blogger Sherry W said...

I like it!

8:28 PM  
Blogger Inky said...

I love the tree idea!! You shoul do do a "CheapAss Holiday Decorating" book!

9:17 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Nice tree! At least you have one. I'm debating on whether or not to get one this year. It gets costly to get a tree, lights, decorations, etc. I really do want one though... You're brilliant though. :)

9:41 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Awesome! Love your tree!

10:03 PM  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

I love your tree! And your creativity! I remember the show with the embroidery hoop tree too. (I watch all the HGTV Holiday shows!)

10:20 PM  
Blogger helen said...

oh Bez, i loves it!

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Knit Mongrel said...

Dude. Brilliant. Our tree is six inches tall and sits on our coffee table, and I think it cost the same as yours. I feel cheated, though mine lights up with 2 double A batteries. :)

11:51 PM  
Blogger LilKnitter said...

Hey Bezzie! I had no idea you were regularly checking out my blog! Yippee!

I've been lurkin' yours, too! I dig the sort of minimalist modern tree you have there - you can totally be stylish while being a cheapass!

Happy humid holidays!

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I love your tree! That turned out real nice. I take it though Chunkie is not part of it! And you know I have always liked your star! I love what you did with the extra garland and mistletoe. Easy storage for that tree and if you do want to get a real one next year you have a decoration for your yard or porch. Love, Mom

1:11 AM  
Blogger Poops said...

You. Are. Brilliant.

I'm brilliant and I wouldn't have thought of that in a bazillion years. I love it!

I second the book idea, btw!

6:25 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

It's great! I don't do a star or an angel....the first year I had Xmas at my own apt (with now-DH), we were too broke to get anything but a fake we decorated it with little toys that had been collected over the years from McDonald's happy meals and put a stuffed Grover at the top. :)

6:58 AM  
Blogger Penny Karma said...

Yeah, you won't put an angel atop your Christmas tree but you have no problem with whipping innocent pygmy marmosets.

You're SICK.

P.S. We're snowed in today!

8:29 AM  
Blogger KnitterBunny said...

Ah, Bezzie. I do so enjoy reading your blog. :)

However, I view it not as Cheapass Christmas, but "how to get back at mom for all of her consumerism driven Christmas drivel." ha ha ha

8:44 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I love it! And I prefer the term minimalist to sparse. Very cool - you guys did an excellent job on the decorations.

And the headboard is so HGTV/TLC - I'm quite jealous.

9:09 AM  
Blogger T. Budnik said...

I dig, porky pig. I dig.


9:33 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Great tree solution!

I had a friend in NY who had to make due with almost no money one year. She was an artist/dollmaker, and had a giant, almost-life-size cow, made from (maybe?) pink satin, with glittery stuff embroidered on. She decked the cow with lights. It became her new family tradition.

My grandmother had a little arrangement she had made called "Instant Christmas". It was a rod with lights and garland draped over. Hang it up, plug it in. Voila!

Growing up in a college town, we always went looking for trees behind dorms and student apartments right after they left for winter break. Mr. SABLE and I used that method quite successfully for several years in Ithaca, too.

Around here, precut trees are a much better deal than u-cut trees. If you go shopping for a pre-cut tree really close to Christmas, you can drive a hard bargain, because they want to clear the stock.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous cathy said...

That's the nicest fake tree I've seen (and coming from a New England real-tree-or-nothing-purist, that's saying something) :)

10:47 AM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

Elizabeth's comment reminds me of what my parents do every year...we decorated, but did not put up the tree until about the 20th or so...I didn't catch on until I was out of the house. They both worked for a private HS in LA and were waiting to see if there were any xmas trees left over/still alive/small enough to bring home after the girls had gone for the holiday. If not, out came the smelly broken fake tree from the scary attic.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's effin' awesome Bezzie! Truely you are ingenious in your ideas!

Smooches to you! Tee hee hee

11:59 AM  
Blogger turtlegirl76 said...

Somebody's getting geared up for the Mad Scientist's return! Hee hee!

I love the tree. I have a little 2 footer with lights attached (only half of them currently work). If I were to get something to sit on the floor, this sounds like the perfect cat-proof alternative! Cool!

12:09 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Great idea!

And your bed looks awesome!

Chunky looks excited about the whole Christmas season thing too.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Now THAT is a great idea! I'll have to show this to B. I have a feeling the one on our lawn is going to disappear...

12:43 PM  
Blogger sgeddes said...

Love the tree! Looks like a hit with the whole family.
I'm really digging the whole cheap ass Christmas series.

1:07 PM  
Blogger ZantiMissKnit said...

That is a great idea, and your bed looks festive too!

We almost always get a 3-4 foot tree, but stop short of buying the Charlie Brown tree on the lot. ZMrK will start crying if he thinks about the trees that don't get bought (don't tell him i told you that!)

3:02 PM  
Blogger Ceallach said...

Excellent....i got a fake tree years ago for 49 dollah, and mebbe reduced furterh after the holiday.

Which solved the tree issue...not my issue, mind, but DH's issue, as he does not like killing a tree.

So fake tree it is...

But then at another point I put two pine garland onto a tomato tree for a little tree for DS to hand Advent ornaments on.

5:03 PM  
Blogger mamma said...

I love it. The tree, the garland on your bed, it's so festive. I think it looks great.

Now that the Mad Scientist has passed, how soon before he can join you?

8:22 PM  
Anonymous kristi and otis said...

Awesome tree! We have a Charlie Brown fake tree bought on clearance at Michales with a 50% off coupon...we can't do real trees...Otis thinks we brought him his own personal toilet facility.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Alisha said...

I love the tree too. You keep this up you could write a book about how to do a cheapass Christmas. Seriously. Hell you could end up with your own show....Cheapass make overs by Bezzie.

You owe me a new computer screen cause I spewed tea when I read the whole sodimizing of an angel bit.

Your rock!

9:13 AM  

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