My Crazy Christmas Tree


This is one of those projects that cause Morgan to say, “You’re so insane.”

I’m a big fan of real Christmas trees. Whether we go out in the woods to choose one and cut it down, or pick one out in front of a store, a real tree is Christmas to me. And maybe because when I was growing up, my parents always had a fake tree. In similar fashion, Morgan–who has almost always had a real tree growing up–longs for a fake one.

The human spirit is so contrary.

I turned this Christmas tree issue over in my mind for weeks. While I love real Christmas trees, they can be a hassle to handle, getting them in and out of the house, in the stand, and so on. Do I really want to handle a real tree on my own? They have some truly lovely fake trees now that are pre-lit (no tangling with lights!) and some that are “slim” trees that would fit perfectly in my small living room. I looked at various slim pre-lit trees, mostly in the 7- to 8-foot range. The nicer ones were a tad expensive, but if I’m going to buy a fake tree, it would be smarter to make an investment in one I truly love, not just buy a quickie cheap one that I would eventually be dissatisfied with and want to replace. I can’t afford a nice fake Christmas tree right now.

Meanwhile, I was distracted by brink-of-winter preparations at my new farm, much more focused on hay and fencing for the animals, and trying to get the house painted and feeling like my own. As the temperatures got a little colder, it hit me that there was no coat closet here, so I’d turn over in my mind the need for a coat tree or there would be coats scattered all over the house all winter. Then I’d remember the Christmas tree and think about that again. Then I’d spend the day getting hay and forget all about my other winter conundrums again. Then I’d wonder how I was going to paint that very tippy-top part of the wall over the stairs.

Then I’d worry about the fact that we had no Christmas tree again.


So I went to K-Mart and bought an inexpensive coat tree for $29.99 and two packages of plastic green hangers for $1.79 per package and I came home and put the coat tree together.

And hung the green hangers on it.

And strung lights and garland.

And decorated it with ornaments, balls, dried orange slices, cookie stars, and gingerbread men.

Morgan came home and said, “That is NOT our Christmas tree!”

Then she got on Facebook and started sending pictures of the tree to everyone she knew. They called it epic and the best tree they’d ever seen. She brought a friend home for the weekend and her friend said she wished it was her Christmas tree. Every time someone comes over, she can’t wait to show them the tree. Me, too. The tree makes people laugh, and that’s a good thing.

I’m not quite done decorating it yet. I’m planning to add more ornaments and some popcorn garland–if I find time to make it. But here’s the tree:

Now Morgan loves the tree, and so do I. There are many years and many Christmas trees along life’s road, and most of them are forgotten or blend together in the haze of time. But one day, Morgan is going to be decorating a tree with her children and she’s going to say, “Let me tell you about the time Granny Suzanny didn’t have enough money to buy a tree and you know what she did…..”


Best Christmas tree ever.

And even better?

After Christmas, I’ll have a coat tree!

P.S. I haven’t figured out yet how to paint the tippy-top of that wall yet. Perhaps I need to find a holiday into which I can work a ladder purchase.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 13, 2011  

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73 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 12-13

    Suzanne, that is the BEST tree ever! You are amazing! So happy for you, with your new farm & making new memories. Merry Christmas!

  2. 12-13

    Beautiful piece of art. I wonder how you could do a table top version or one for the porch. I like it that you can see through it and see all the ornaments. I bet it would go viral on youtube. you can get a tree after the holidays half off or at a garage sale in the year. I love my very skinny trees, so easy to decorate on your own and put away. i have had mine for 8 yrs and pd 40 half off after Christmas. I also have 2 skinny table top ones too, 4 foot and got them for 20. they fit in nice places like by the fireplace or on a table in front of the window. all you need is a place to hang the lights and the ornaments and for Santa to know where to bring the gifts, right!!

  3. 12-13

    Your creativity is amazing. Love it! :yes:

  4. 12-13

    I like your tree. One of the favorite trees our family had was when we spent Christmas at Snowshoe…while there was a beautiful tree in the lodge, I wanted one for our condo so I put a string of lights on a naked branch stuck into a 2-liter pop bottle wrapped with a white towel and adorned with twisted pieces of tinsel from candy eaten earlier.
    My grandmother used to make pretty trees from thorn bushes and gumdrops.

  5. 12-13

    The kids are right – your tree is epic!!! My only question is how do you keep the cats out of it?
    Necessity really is the mother of invention. One tree-less Christmas I put the ornaments in and hanging off of one of those three tier metal hanging baskets in the kitchen.

  6. 12-13

    The “git-er-done” gal has struck again. Me thinks you’r eat up with talent. I’m wondering if you wrapped lights around the ends of the hangers,when you turned them on they would shape the tree. Also , if you hang strings of popcorn from one hanger across the tree to another hanger, it would also shape the tree. How did you even think of a great idea like that.Or you can leave it alone, it looks great as is. Or you could wrap some evergreen around the hangers, just kidding, too much work anyway. “lovin it”

  7. 12-13

    That tree is AWESOME!

  8. 12-13

    Love it!

  9. 12-13

    Love your tree! One year I was treeless and I put ornaments on my big scheffelera (sp?) houseplant…looked pretty good too! It’s true, Christmas is what you make it.
    You were lucky to find green hangers!
    And ditto to jane’s comment, fake trees are really cheap after Dec. 25. Mine is a skinny one, takes up a lot less room.

  10. 12-13

    ohmygosh, woman, you’ve outdone yourself…simply amazing! Imagination and insaneness go well together to create the best of things :sun: They don’t call them coat trees for nothing!

  11. 12-13

    You go girl!!! Love it!

  12. 12-13

    This reminds me of the year I was 4. We didn’t have enough money for a tree, so mom stole construction paper from the school she worked at and made a construction tree on the wall, complete with paper ornaments. And that is the only tree I really remember! So good for you: it is beautiful!

  13. 12-13

    Suzanne, check out Lowes and Home Depot after Christmas for great buys on pre-lit trees. I purchased one a couple years back for $20, was a $200 tree!

  14. 12-13

    Well I should have known you would find a way to launch a new trend. I can see years from now people explaining what base color the coat tree should be. That is certainly unique and pretty! I wrote about the 4 reasons why Real trees still win out for me( I may have to reduce it to the 3 reasons if your trend catches on.

  15. 12-13

    Necessity leads to adventure. It is beautiful. We now have the non-living tree. A hard choice for us. The reason, it sits in the front window and not far from it is our wood stove. We like to have our tree up from the first of December till the New Year. We do hang a fresh wreath away from the stove and it always smells like we have a fresh tree. What a great memory your tree will be. Love it!

  16. 12-13

    This is perfect. You have such a creative mind. And it doesn’t take up all your space.
    MN Mona

  17. 12-13

    Your ingenuity reminds me of the year my son was in a small apartment. Everyone kept asking him if he was going to put up a tree, but he didnt have that much room. So he PAINTED a tree and ornaments on the wall, lol. I had to chuckle of course. He knew he had to repaint the walls anyway, so he just had fun with it. It was quite memorable. And by the way, your tree looks great!

  18. 12-13

    Hah hah. So funny but yet so Greenwich Village artsy! Give your mind one single thread and it spins miles of ideas! Cool looking tree!

  19. 12-13

    It’s BRILLIANT…It’s CREATIVE…It’s PERFECT! Christmas is all about making memories….well you’ve certainly made yourself a Christmas tree to remember. I love what you said about Morgan telling her children about the Christmas tree Granny Suzanny created for ‘our’ first Christmas at Sassafras Farm. What a wonderful way to remember the beginning of this new adventure for all of you. :)

  20. 12-13

    Thank you for this post-your tree really makes me laugh, and i could use a good laugh today! I don’t know what your land looks like as far as greens go, but you could always get soem pine cuttings and use them to decorate for that pine-y smell in your house.

    I love your creativity!

  21. 12-13

    And the cat(s) can’t climb it and knock it over! Brilliant!

  22. 12-13

    This is great!! Reminds me of the time my grandmother was getting me a toilet for Christmas. If my husband would have picked it up in time, before Christmas like I wanted him to, I had planned on putting a small tree in the bowl and decorating with toilet paper, small plungers, and Preparation H boxes…. would have been a hoot …. that kind of thing that makes fun memories. Yours is going to do the same. Hats (or coats) off to you for bringing more FUN into your house for the holidays!! :)

  23. 12-13

    She’s right – you ARE insane! :D Love the tree. Love your spirit.

  24. 12-13

    I love your tree. Just wanted to tell you I got my tree a couple of years ago after Christmas at Sears. Marked down 75%off. It is beautiful and nobody ever thinks it is fake. I love it and no hassle with the lights easy to put together just decorate. Anyway, i think I might try a similar idea of your tree just to see what the kids would say. Merry Christmas. love your stories. Mary

  25. 12-13

    What a lovely tree!!! I want one just like it. I reallly really want one. Going to get a coat tree, wait I have one in the barn. I’ll raid the closet for green coat hangers. Now the children(grown) can not gripe about my not having a Christmas tree.

  26. 12-13

    There are going to be lots of husbands happy when the wives buys items to make trees like that just because they will have lasting things in the house that are usible.
    Morgan get with it and do something like that in your room for Christmas.
    I’m LOVING the tree!!!!!
    How do the cats like it, are they staying off?

  27. 12-13

    Fantastic. Saw a similar one on the cancer floor one day. The nurses and younger patients had decorated an IV trolley.

  28. 12-13

    GOOD FOR YOU SUZANNE. Instead of boo hooing about not wanting to invest in a tree right now you pull up your “FARMER BOOTSTRAPS” and turn the whole experience into something fun and pretty.

    Maybe you could challenge Morgan to see what she comes up with for her room. Make it a contest. Real or artificial pine trees not allowed.

    Trees will come and trees will go, but this one will be fondly remembered forever as your very first tree at Sassafras Farm.


  29. 12-13

    Well, if you guys want a tabletop tree you can re-use get a mug stand –you know, one of those things made of metal or wood with three or four pegs or arms where you hang mugs by their handles. Then get fishing line or fine string or wire and suspend little ornaments, clusters of cranberries, construction paper ornaments, tiny popcorn balls, cotton balls dipped in glue and then glitter, etc. Kids can have a lot of fun helping with a piece of foil, some cardboard and old beads from necklaces.

    Maybe next year you can buy a small evergreen bush or tree and put it in a pot or bucket with soil. Then after the holidays you’ve got something to add to your landscape. I remember my dad and mom looking around on a family member’s farm for a small evergreen to dig up for Christmas. Then you have something outside to decorate.

  30. 12-13

    Hi! Love your Christmas tree! Just think, no needles to clean up!
    For your paint problem, try using a broom handle attached to your paint roller. It should fit right in the handle of it. :sun:

  31. 12-13

    Genius! Always scratching my head to come up with something new in the shop. Love the tree….very creative! :happyflower:

  32. 12-13

    It’s wonderful – You are amazing!

  33. 12-13

    What a great idea!!! Love it Suzanne! :snowman:

  34. 12-13

    I love it! An idea for next time:

  35. 12-13

    In the Winter of 1969, we moved to a small garage apartment in Spencer where we had our first Christmas as man & wife. We too were poor. A friend allowed me to cut down a small tree from his property, but we had no money for ornaments. I worked as an announcer at the radio station where they had hundreds of old 45s in COLOR. These were pretty rare, but the owner didn’t want them so we decorated our tree with many colored 45 records.

    It’s funny, but I don’t recall any tree as “special” since. They all looked pretty much alike except for that first one. I’m sure that many years from now, the same will happen to you and this special tree also.

  36. 12-13

    OMG! You ARE the cleverest woman I’ve ever known! I :heart: THE TREE!!!!

  37. 12-13

    This is BEYOND fantastic!!! You may have started a new tradition. :reindeer:

    Blessings from Ohio…Kim

  38. 12-13

    Suzanne, you are beyond brilliant ! Yes this is an EPIC tree!!!!!!!

  39. 12-13

    Someone please “Pin” this on “Pinterest!” Totally inventive and great to look at! I also question how you keep the cats away from it. Mine would have been hanging from it immediately!!

  40. 12-13

    Simply unique and I LOVE IT! You always seem to have a way of making the best of a bad situation. We women are inventive and have a way of working things out to suit us. :snowman:

  41. 12-13

    Lol… you are awesome!

  42. 12-13

    The answer to your tippy top painting area….. a hotdog roller, which is a very small version of a regular roller and cover. Use a long pole or just duct tape the handle to a long piece of trim or whatever you have. Works great, it just takes a little more time than a regular size roller. Always work safe. Congrat on your new life here. Hugs

  43. 12-13

    Hilarious , marvelous, you.
    I love how you instinctively know how to hook Morgan into your funny, prudent, life embracing schemes. She is learning so much being around her very unconventional, but loving, mother. I know you miss your mom.
    This tree is a tribute to her, and the courage she somehow bequeathed to YOU !
    laur/st. louis

  44. 12-13

    The cats haven’t bothered it at all!

  45. 12-13

    If the guys in the white jackets show up……just stick some antlers on their heads and call them Dancer, Prancer, Comet….
    Seriously, I think it’s probably one of the most unique trees I have seen in a long time and absolutely adorable!
    Merry Christmas Suzanne….heavy emphasis on the “merry”

  46. 12-13

    Thank you for making that tree! Your blog is the quiet part of my day, often on my lunch break at work when no one is allowed to mess with me. I just started a new job, and moved, and have been trying to get ready for Christmas and have not had one quiet moment for weeks until now, and then I saw your tree. I missed you!

  47. 12-13

    You are simply brilliant! What a great idea. Now I am thinking…

  48. 12-13

    Sharp, crafty lady!

  49. 12-13

    love the tree! It is just wonderful As for your wall and the ladder, perhaps you can get one of your neighbors or one of the youngsters to trade out cookies or bread or some service for doing the painting and I am sure some one has a ladder you can borrow. Good luck!

  50. 12-13

    Love it. What a memory maker. Such whimsy and fun.

  51. 12-13

    Hilarious Suzanne! Looks great though 8) Wish I’d thought of it as it’s taken 5 hours to dress our tree today :shocked:

  52. 12-13

    I love it! Your so creative! :sheep:

  53. 12-13

    You’ve outdone the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!

  54. 12-13

    What a wonderful tree and memories you have created! That is totally awesome and I love it!

  55. 12-13

    Check out these other non-tree Christmas trees here:

    Looks like you’re in good company!

  56. 12-13

    :lol: Love it…very unique tree. I am surprised though that you didn’t think of turning a wire tomato tower upside down and stringing lights around it. I saw that done some place on another blog. Didn’t look half bad. Ha ha!

    Mrs. Turkey

  57. 12-13

    I “pinned it” earlier this afternoon, MomCat… :lol:

  58. 12-13

    Great job getting all the hangars to ‘hang straight,” balance issues like working with a mobile. I gave up trees a few years ago when I realized I was not able to move as well as needed. But the ornaments, I wanted to show off the years of beautiful ornaments without the problems of a tree. You’ve found a great solution…Congratulations on being super creative!

  59. 12-13

    It certainly is unusal, I was guessing a lot of different trees, but nothing like this one! :happyflower:

  60. 12-13

    That would have to be the most creative Christmas tree I have ever seen, great job Suzanne.

  61. 12-13

    That Christmas tree is totally awesome! I love it! And I know it will be remembered fondly for many years to come. Great ingenuity.

  62. 12-13

    You are making memories. I love it.

  63. 12-13

    Morgan, I know you know this, but you have the most awesome MOM!

  64. 12-13

    A very unique and crafty tree! Love it. As for your painting issue, you can buy an extend-a-pole for either rollers or brushes.You have to buy rollers or brushes that have a screw end. We got ours at home depot but I think they’re common enough that you can get them anywhere. I can paint my barn with it while standing on the ground. No need for a ladder.

  65. 12-14

    Love the tree! and speaking of ladders..on another blog (sorry,can’t remember where) they used a step-ladder and decorated it as a tree..
    YES, memories are made this way…
    ~~Peace & Love & Healing & Blessings~~

  66. 12-14

    I know this question has NOTHING to do with Christmas or trees, but, I have been wondering….. Did the former owners say whether or not YOU HAVE RAMPS growing on the land, somewhere? :hungry:

  67. 12-14

    Cathy, yes, of course I asked that, LOL! No. Not that they knew about, which means I will have to plant them, starting this spring!

  68. 12-14

    Neat tree. Here is a tree you might like
    I saw this one made out of a ladder and I wish I had thought of that.
    We have a fake tree I bought on sale after Christmas a few years ago. That is the best time to look for fake Christmas trees they are 1/2 off or more. On it is a collection of ordiments we collect though out the years. From old to new to hand made.

  69. 12-14

    What a great tree! Very creative & special. Creating memories for Morgan & you & I know you will talk about this special tree for years to come. Merry Christmas!

  70. 12-14

    TRULY INVENTIVE! This is one you will always remember!

    Mama Carpenter in AZ

  71. 12-14

    What a cute tree and it looks like you had so much fun decorating it.. The Santa hanging on the hanger is so cute.

  72. 12-15

    I keep looking at you Christmas tree and loving it more each time I see it. It is definitely one you will never forget. Good Luck on your new farm. :moo:

  73. 12-15

    I’ve always had the conventional tree, wheather real or fake…I don’t think I could give that up easily…HOWEVER…after the tree has been used for Christmas I have cut the branches off, leaving a few randomly placed stout limbs for hanging things on & made a coat tree ~ cat scratching post combination. I have a very heavy cast iron reproduction Christmas Tree stand that looks like knarled roots with pine cones & acorns, it all looks very nice together…until it gets in the way & I toss it…then I can make a new one again with the most recent Christmas tree or I used a cedar fence post one time too.

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