You know those “dummy’s guide to” books? I hate them. Seriously, people. The fact that I am buying books demonstrates that I am not a dummy. Give me a little credit.
This entry, however, is a dummy’s guide–not because *you’re* a dummy, but because I am. At least when it comes to construction. And you too can feel like a dummy–and waste most of a weekend–simply by following these step-by-step instructions.
Or you can use this to avoid my dumb mistakes and cut your Christmas-tree-building time down to a few hours. If that’s what you want to do, start at Step Five, and skip steps six and seven. Which leaves you with only two steps. And what fun is that? Just go ahead and do all eight steps for maximum fun and frustration.
Step One: Start with Books
I mean, you could try it without books. That would probably take even longer. So yeah. Let me know how that turns out for you.
Step Two: Over-Analyze
Being the free-spirited, spontaneous folk that we are, we couldn’t begin this project without a detailed cost-benefit analysis. The following graph represents our key findings.
We decided to proceed. Your results may vary.
Step Three: Over-Plan
This is a major undertaking that will affect the appearance of one corner of one room for nearly one month. It’s important that you plan it out in detail prior to engagement.
Start by carefully laying out all the books in your house on the floor, and organize them by thickness, height, and width. Bonus points for arranging by color also.
This step is completely unnecessary and will eat up several hours. Throw in a shirtless kid putting books in the wrong piles and you’ve wasted yourself an entire afternoon. Congrats.
Step Four: Start Small
When you finally realize the utter futility of step three–preferably after you’ve already emptied all of your bookshelves, ideally in the wrong room–you may begin building a base for your tree. Start small in order to create a set-up that will have to be taken down and started again.
Use big books, but not too many, and place them super close together.
Important: Be sure to start stacking the next set of books really far in–leave at least three or four inches between the outside of the first level and the outside of the second level.
This critical step will ensure that the tree circumference decreases in size at a precipitous rate, leading to a completed tree that is wider than it is tall. Continue to stack in this manner until you have at least five or six layers that will have to be undone in order to get the proportions right.
Step Five: Start Over
This is actually the first step that accomplishes anything, so you might want to stop and get a drink first. Maybe watch a little television or troll Facebook for an hour or two. Wouldn’t want to get ahead of yourself.
Ready now? K. Start with as wide a base as you have space for. Then start stacking books in alternate fashion, moving each level in from the previous level by less than an inch at a time. Try to choose books at each level that are more-or-less the same thickness. It’s okay to stack two books to match the thickness of other books on the same level. Don’t obsess–you can always adjust any leaning by thickening one side or the other.
This part will go pretty fast. Sorry.
Step Six: Add Some Fancy but Unstable Adornments
It’ll look great and get tall in a big hurry. Fortunately, however, it will come tumbling down quite readily without much effort, and take some of the more stable substructure with it, creating additional work. Plus, it’s fun to retrieve all the fallen books from the hollow in the middle, which can easily lead to more damage to the substructure.
Step Seven: Repair the Damage and Finish Stacking
This is the second productive step. Take another break to draw it out. It’s important to forget to take a picture at this point. You’ll be glad for the lack of evidence of your productive work, especially if you have more than a dozen shots of all the unproductive steps.
Step Eight: Light it Up
If you’ve done it right, you won’t get to this stage for at least a week from the start. But when you do: