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Attempting Aloha: Dec 1, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ballard Hack: Burlap-covered tree stands tutorial

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Today's going to be an easy tutorial on how to gussy up your plain-Jane small Christmas trees. And it may involve kitty litter...

Like most crafters with a love of home decor, I'm a faithful subscriber to Ballard Designs. And I LOVE their Christmas stuff. Their prices make me roll my eyes, though.

Exhibit A:

Ballard Designs

Cute little 3' tree in a nursery sack with some twinkle lights. I'm thinking, "It's Ballard, so this is probably like $45."  WRONG. Try more like $99. Seriously?  Who buys this stuff???!!!  And will they adopt me?? 

Just kidding.

Kind of.

Someone who actually purchases from Ballard would probably scoff at all my attempts to knock them off. lol

But it's not going to stop me from trying!  So here's what I came up with.

First, I found this awesome store here called Christmas Tree Shops. When I first saw it in July, I thought, "Strange that people would buy Christmas trees in July and even stranger that that store is ginormous."  But then I got one of their mailers, and their store has EVERYTHING. It's like a Dollar Tree but with more home decor and only slightly more expensive. It's awesome!

Anyway, when November rolled around, their mailers included...wait for it... CHRISTMAS TREES! Go figure, right?

They had a 20% off entire purchase coupon, and these 4' flocked trees were marked $10 each. I snagged the last two (on November 2) and brought them home. Awesome!

I originally intended for these little guys to go on my front porch and was going to just leave them as is (cuz sometimes I get the lazy bug). But when I put the poor things out there, they toppled right over with the tiniest of breezes. Lame.

So I knew I needed to beef up their bases, and I knew the Ballard way had to be hacked.

I had some burlap that I had purchased from Hobby Lobby. I believe it was $4.99/yard. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. And don't forget to print your 40% off coupon. You can always find them on their website. :) 

I knew I needed something heavy in mine to weight it down. We have some rocks in the yard, but it was cold, and I wasn't in the mood to play scavenger hunt. So I searched our garage. WOW!  There's a whole stash of failed bunny supplies in here!! Sweet! We have a rabbit, and our girls want to keep his cage in their bedroom, but he really stinks. So my husband keeps purchasing all this stuff to try to see if it will help the cage smell better. None has yet satisfied him. So I was VERY happy to find some scented kitty litter AND a huge bag of cedar chips. Awe. Some. The cedar chips alone would work if you're not trying to weigh down your trees (ie, if you're keeping them indoors), and that HUGE bag cost $7 at Walmart in the pet section.

If you cross your eyes at this pic, it looks less blurry. ((cough cough))

I knew the kitty litter would go right through the burlap holes, so I first took two plastic grocery bags and layered one inside the other and then place the tree stand inside the two like this:

STEP 2:  Pour in some kitty litter (or whatever other thing you've chosen to weigh down your tree if you're using them outdoors). You can skip this step if you're keeping them indoors.

STEP 3:  Add cedar chips to bulk it up sufficiently.

STEP 4: Take the two sides of the bag handles, and tie them in a knot as tight around the base as you can.

STEP 5:  Pick up the tree (holding on to the bag also, so the tree doesn't come out of its stand) and place it in the middle of a piece of burlap. I didn't cut my piece until after I had it wrapped up, so I don't know how large they were, but I would guess 1/2 yard to 3/4 yard. It will depend on how bulky you make your base and how much excess you want sticking out around the top.

STEP 6: Take a piece of jute and wrap it around a bunch of times (real tight). Be sure to keep your first end a little longer, so when you're done wrapping, you have something to tie the two sides together with. I left mine in a simple bow. You could, of course, embellish with a flower or something.

STEP 7: Cut the excess burlap down until it looks even and just how you want it. :)

I liked their twinkle lights, but I decided to keep them off and added these pinecones that I scored for $1 also at Christmas Tree Shops.

I simply hot glued them on. All 85 of those bad boys.

UPDATE: Since I know not everyone has Christmas Tree Shops nearby, I've found a link to a set of 30 mini pinecones on Amazon for less than $3.

Once I had mine indoors, I decided I really liked them by the fireplace, so they're staying there this year!

Who knew kitty litter would come in so handy in home decor, right?

Ballard definitely has one on me as far as staging and photography goes, but at a savings of $170+ ($85 PER TREE)?? I'm pretty proud of mine.