The Story of the “Free” Christmas Tree
Last year, our second Christmas in the new house, we got a new, much taller tree for our great room. The one we had before was just too short for the much higher ceilings of the new house.
In our lower level family room, we had been using a fairly large tree that had glitter on it. It was a truly beautiful tree, but the glitter. OMG, can I just tell you how much I despise glitter? It’s like an invasive species that quietly creeps in and suddenly it’s everywhere. We’d set that glittery tree up, and there would be glitter on the carpet, on our clothes, in my hair… We’d track it on our feet to every far corner of the house. I went to work one day, and a kid said, “Mrs. J, you have something shiny on your face.” Yup, more glitter. Even after the tree was put away for the year, I’d find glitter everywhere.
Finally, I’d had enough. This year, we decided to get a smaller (easier to put up and take down) tree for the family room that didn’t take up so much space, and that did not have glitter.
I looked all over online and read many reviews about flocked trees. I love the look of a slightly snowy branch, but wanted to ensure we weren’t trading messy glitter for messy flocking. That would have defeated the purpose.
Finally, I found a tree from Target that fit the bill, but unfortunately was not available for shipping. So we went to the store to see it in person.
The flocking was just the right amount, and looked like a gentle snow had just brushed the branches. I shook the tree to make sure it wasn’t messy. Perfect. Even after a good shake, nothing fell off. The only problem was that once we got there in person, it seemed a bit too short. It was a 6-footer, and in person, standing next to it, it seemed smaller than I’d imagined.
There were two boxed trees on the shelf, so I suggested to my husband that we pop down the road a bit to Lowes and see what they had.
We went to Lowes, and they had nothing we liked, so we headed back to Target to buy the first tree. We were gone maybe 30 minutes. You can see where this is going, right? By the time we returned those two trees were gone. And after checking with other Target stores in the area, there were exactly…. none.
I was so disappointed and mad at myself for not just buying the tree. The entire drive home I was searching on my phone for where else to look. Everyplace was sold out. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving and Christmas trees everywhere were apparently flying off the shelves. Most things available to order online had long waits for shipping.
After resigning myself to the fact that I’d have use the glitter tree again, I finally came across a tree on Amazon sold by a third-party vendor. It was flocked, 7.5 feet tall (so taller than the Target tree), and got great reviews. And, delivery was supposed to be the day after Thanksgiving. Perfect! I placed my order.
First, the delivery was delayed. Friday, turned into Saturday, turned into Sunday.
But on Sunday afternoon, the tree finally arrived on my doorstep. We took it downstairs and and tore open the box.
White flocking went flying everywhere. 😞
We drug that sucker right outside and tried to shake off the “excess”. We shook, and shook and shook, and it “snowed” and “snowed” and “snowed”. There was so much flocking. The tree was literally saturated with clumpy, white flocking.
We took the tree back inside, reassembled the three sections, and plugged it in. The top section had lights. The bottom section had lights. The middle section? Nope. 😒
Third-Party Vendor Guarantee
Now what? I went back on Amazon. Since the tree was sold by a third-party vendor and just “fulfilled” by Amazon, I had to file a complaint with the company. I did. Amazon said to check back in 24 hours.
After 24 hours… nothing. The pop-up window said to give them another 24 hours to respond, and if I did not hear back, to contact Amazon again.
After the second 24 hours, I went back to my Amazon account and clicked on the tree. Immediately, a pop-up window appeared that said because the vendor had failed to respond to my 2 messages in the agreed-upon timeframe, my purchase qualifed for Amazon’s Third-Party Vendor Guarantee and they were refunding my money!
I didn’t even know that was a thing, but thank you Amazon! I was still stuck with a clumpy white tree that was dark in the middle, but now that it was “free”, I felt a bit better about.
Since there were no other trees to be found anywhere, we decided to make the best of it. We bought a string of lights and filled in the middle. No dice. The other lights were heavily flocked, so the added strand was oddly bright compared to the rest of the tree.
So I bought a can of flocking at the store and sprayed the new lights. That helped a bit. They are still a little too bright, but workable.
I started calling it my “Charlie Brown Tree”. The top leaned a bit to the side (later, I read more reviews, and others who got their tree about the same time as me also claimed to have leaning trees!), it had gaps in the branches, which were clumped together with flocking, it had mismatched lights, and the stand was disproportionately long. But, our choices were use this one, or put up the glitter tree. 😩
After thininking about it for awhile, I decided it would look better if we could nestle it in a crate or box to disguise the long stand.
And then I had an idea!
Building Our Own Tree Box
We still had leftover wood that I brought home from my parents’ garage. The same wood trim and moulding I used for my DIY Wood Scrap Christmas Trees!
It was late on Sunday afternoon, it was cold outside, and would soon be getting dark, when I said to my hubs, “I think we should build a box to cover the stand.” 😗
My husband really is so sweet. He always goes along with my ideas.
“Do you have some instructions?” he asked.
“Yup,” I replied. “In my head.” 😂
“Let’s do it,” he said. ❤️
Out to the garage we went, and in less than 2 hours, we had ourselves a tree box!
We used leftover pieces of trim moulding and just pieced them together, using scrap 1″x2″s in the corners.
They weren’t all the same thickness or width, and that was okay! I wanted it to be rustic.
Some of the pieces had already been stained, and some were raw wood. Some were lighter colored and some were darker. It didn’t matter.
We didn’t put a bottom on it, but it’s very sturdy and nestles nicely around the tree stand base.
When I first envisioned it, I thought I’d stain it. But after we got it done and tried it out on the tree, I loved it just as it is. I really like the variations of tones in the wood, so for now, I’m leaving it like this.
The “Free” Charlie Brown Tree Comes to Life
Once we settled the tree down into the base inside the box, it was a night & day difference!
The box covered up the awkward height of the bottom stand post, and nestled up nicely to the bottom branches, correcting the odd proportion problem.
It’s so much better than anything we could have bought, and it’s another great way to use wood pieces that have meaning to me as part of my Christmas decor that can be used year after year.
Red, Red, and More Red
I set up my Hallmark Polar Express Santa that’s been under my tree since my children were very small. This year, he’s sitting on a little, red, 75-year-old chair that was my dad’s as a child.
Once I had Santa there, I decided the tree was begging for a red/white theme, and I remembered a plastic tote of all red vintage glass ornaments that I brought home from my mom’s Christmas stash.
This tree is in our lower level family room, which is decorated with all my husband’s sports memorabilia, so the red theme works well down there.
I love that the box is made from wood from my parents’ house, and the tree displays my mom’s ornaments and is accented by my dad’s baby chair.
Yes, the tree still leans a bit to the left, and has some awkward gaps. There’s a bit more white flocking on my floor than I would have preferred, and the lights are oddly uneven.
But it makes me happy.
I don’t know if we will keep this tree, or if I’ll donate my “free” tree next year and buy a less messy, less lean-y, less broken-light one…but for now, all’s well that ends well, right? With the blend of sentimental wood, ornaments, and the little chair, I’m calling this a happy ending. ❤️🎄🔨🪑
Wishing you all the joy of the season,
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