Thursday, February 11, 2016

Making Christmas For Charity

I absolutely love the Festival of Trees. Not always super fine with the Christian holiday of Christmas. I feel slightly territorial with Santa. I just don't like it when he encroaches into my Halloween decorations. But I really do like decorations. And Christmas decorations are just some of the prettiest.

Last year I decided that it was time for me to do a tree on my own. Here is what I learned about decorating a tree for the festival.

1. Start very early
Especially if you are making the ornaments by hand in anyway. Last minute running around is just not helpful. When my scouts do this charity, we usually have them start making ornaments around mid October. Honestly though the earlier the better. It's just less stress.

2. Garland is not an afterthought
I chose a 4 foot tree for my first time because it would obviously be easier to decorate then a full 7 foot tree. I also was decorating this all by myself, so 4 foot was definitely the way to go. I was doing a Star Trek tree. I bought this cheap gold wire garland with little stars on it. I didn't really think about it at the time, I just know it looked cute and fit with the theme of my tree. However, I soon learned that no matter how much you fluff this fake tree they give you, it kind of doesn't matter because 4 foot trees always look a little bit on the scrawny side. The best trees that I saw had fuller garland, or garland that was made out of thick ribbon to hide all of that.

3. If you think you have enough ornaments make more
It takes a surprising amount of ornaments to fill a 4 foot tree. You'd think it would take way less than it does, but no. From glittery foam badges to little pom-pom tribbles, and last-minute store bought glittery star ornaments, I think I had about 60 ornaments altogether. Maybe a little bit more. But even with everything on the tree it was still sparse as fuck. I learned too little too late that there are websites like Santa's Quarters which do help with this. Which brings me to my next point.

4. Just because the tree is small doesn't mean all the ornaments should be
I made the mistake of thinking 'oh small tree, small ornaments', but 4 feet is a lot bigger than you think it is. Even with the very few bigger ornaments that I had for the tree, it just wasn't enough to save it from looking like a kindergartner had decorated it. 

5. Make sure the tree topper is big enough as well
I had a super cute idea for the tree topper. I had one of those metal works that was in the shape of the enterprise. But 4 inches is way too small, no matter what popular magazines trying to tell you. If you think your topper is too big, it probably isn't.

6. Secure everything last
Because the trees get bought for charity they get moved around, obviously. Everything has to be secured to the tree. I used green florist wire to secure the lights, garland, and the everything to the tree. I also got it to hide the wire in the tree so it wasn't obvious that it was there. Being as that this was my first time decorating, and putting everything together, by myself I didn't think things through and made the mistake of securing the lights and the garland with wire as I put them on the tree. 

Now if I would not have misjudged how much light I actually had and put them on the correct way the first time this would not have been a problem. But the lights were longer than I thought they were. I found myself with lights secured to the tree by wire that was so well hidden I could no longer tell exactly where it was and about 2 feet (maybe more) of extra light. I probably could have just gone and worked my way back up the tree very slowly finding all the wire and dismantling it, but I had twisted the wire really well and it was the last day of decorating so I panicked. I took all the remaining Christmas lights and wrapped it around the base of the tree and hoped that people thought it was intentional. Which bring something else to mind.

7. Everyone loves a skirt
My family doesn't usually use a tree skirt so this is something that I completely forgot about that really does help with the overall look of the tree. A tree skirt really helps the tree look more put together. It has the added benefit of hiding any lights that you may or may not have wrapped around the base of the tree in a panicked state of mind. And it doesn't have to be a traditional green one. You can get one to match the theme of your tree. Or you can make one out of fabric from a craft store. I saw an X-Men tree that had a really cute homemade X-Men pattern skirt around the base of it.

8. You really will need 2 to 4 hours to decorate
Between my ornaments and the misjudged size of my tree, I heartily scoffed at the website when it said take 2 to 4 hours out of your time to decorate. I came in around 11 PM and I didn't leave until around 3:30 PM. Even with a smaller size it really is quite a bit of work because you have to set up the fake tree and fluff it up and everything that goes along with that. Make sure that you give yourself ample time to do everything.

Even though it seems like a pain in the butt, it really is a worthwhile thing to do. Not only does it raise money for the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the trees that don't get sold are then used to decorate around the grounds of the Institute and just brighten up the place for the people that go there. 

I absolutely love this charity and I will, yes, be doing it again this year. This time I will be massively more prepared. No more sparsely decorated trees for me. And in case you're wondering what it looks like, below is my little Star Trek tree that couldn't.


Please forgive the photo and I'm really sorry that I didn't have a picture of the completed topper that actually did look really good, just small. As I mentioned in my last blog post I got a new phone and when the store put everything from my old phone into my new phone not everything went exactly correct. I think that one or two pictures got left behind somehow. I also learned that if you edit any pictures from the 4S the 6S will not always keep the exact edit that you did when it comes to cropping, neither will it let you return that picture to the original picture. 

The link for the festival of trees pictures is at the bottom of the blog post after my favorite pictures I took. I spent almost 2 hours trying to rearrange them and make sure that everything was OK but some things fell through the cracks. Some of the pictures got a little bit jumbled as well when I uploaded them onto the imgur app so it was very hard to match up the tree to the sign that I had taken a picture of, therefore none of the trees have any information on who did them. I'm very sorry for that. 


This is a Kylo Ren tree. I didn't know that they were doing another Star Wars film until after the festival. At first I thought this was Darth Vader. ....I don't watch a lot of TV anymore....There was an actual Darth Vader tree which is in the link.



This was awesome. It looks pretty blank right now but it filled up as the festival went along. It had a bucket of markers by it you could color it with.



Of course one of my favorites had to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tree, of course.



I really have a fondness for ocean themed the trees and I just loved the topper for this one as well.

Here is the imgur link for the rest and for some pictures of the gingerbread houses as well. I can't wait for this year's festival especially because the resolution on my new phone camera is much better.


Also, raise of hands, who is surprised that I actually stuck to a promise to post on as self imposed schedule?