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Last-Minute “Christmas Tree”

Perhaps you are downsizing, or you have moved into smaller accommodations, or you are spending much of the Christmas season elsewhere. If you had decided not to have a Christmas tree this year but are beginning to think the place looks a little bare, there is a simple solution. You can create a substitute Christmas tree, and although it won’t be the real thing, it will give you joy both to create and to look at.

I first used this trick at a school where I was principal. As we prepared for our annual Christmas concert there was no tree out in the hallway near the gym door where the concert was to be held. I thought, “There has to be something that will stand in for a tree that I could put on a small table near the door to welcome people.” At home the night before the concert, I went into my sunroom and sized up all the plants, thinking surely one could serve the purpose. My eye fi-nally came to rest on a large Cuban oregano plant that was nice and bushy and was about 40 cm tall.

This plant has wonderfully decorative foliage as each of the innumerable stems terminate in what looks like a rosette of foliage. The branches are also quite stiff and strong, so I knew that I could add decorations to the plant without harming it or having the branches sag under the weight. You could use any attractive plant that is quite bushy, has sturdy stems on which to hang decorations, and is not brittle.

I placed the plant in an attractive ceramic Christmas pot, although I could have used a basket or a plain metal container spruced up with some kind of Christmas bow or other decoration. I then began to look in the boxes of Christmas “stuff” to see what I could use to decorate the plant. I finally decided on simply using a spool of narrow bright-red ribbon that I found in the gift wrap box. I cut pieces about 20 cm long, curled them with scissors, and placed these “curls” of ribbon here and there on the plant.

I could have used other decorations, such as a small fabric angel at the top, crocheted white snowflake ornaments or tiny Christmas balls. If you try this idea, your imagination is the only limiting factor as to what you can use. Creating the display is fun and the end product can sit on a stand in the front window where the Christmas tree usually is placed. The house will not seem so bare now that you have created a “substitute Christmas tree.” Actually, your creation, depending on its size, can serve as a table centre, a coffee table display or even adorn a holiday buffet.

– Albert Parsons writes from

Minnedosa, Manitoba

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