Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Creative Holiday Problem Solving

My mother in law asked me to come over last Saturday and decorate her Christmas tree.  After I got hers up I was really in the mood to go ahead and get some of our decor out, even though I usually wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving.  The problem at the time was that our Christmas tree was too big for our current living room.  Unless I bought a really inexpensive one, a new tree is out of the budget right now.  I'd rather wait until after Christmas too see if I can find a good deal on a nice one, or wait to buy a new one next year when I've had time to set aside some extra funds.  A friend of mine offered one that no one in their family wanted that had belonged to a relative who had passed away.  First problem solved.

I picked up the tree 2 days ago.  Its fiber optic, so there's a halogen bulb in the base and a little wheel on a motor to which you attach transparent discs.  The light shines through the disc allowing the colors in the fibers fade and change.  There were extra discs, one which was clear with only black parts.  I realized this meant I could convert it from multicolor to only white lights, which made me really excited.  I prefer white because it allows your decorations to show and take center stage.  The borrowed tree was lesser enough in size that I could pick through my Christmas decor and use items in only colors that match my home decor.  I found a huge spool of chocolate brown ribbon with sparkly turquoise threads running through it that I had bought probably 4 years ago and forgot about.  I spent hours artfully looping the ribbon and attaching it to the tree with floral wire.  I sorted all of glass ornaments down to only shades of green, blue, and brown.  I spent an unnecessary amount of time deciding exactly where to place birds and flowers.

Once I was finally satisfied that all the ornaments were placed just so, it looked lovely... for about 2 hours.  I noticed the fibers were no longer glowing and asked Babe Jr and Mr Backwoods if either of them had unplugged it.  They both said no.  Babe Jr checked and it was still plugged into the outlet.  At first I was concerned that covering the base with a tree skirt had overheated it.  I checked the label on the base followed instructions to let it cool, hit the reset button and plugged it back in.  Nothing happened.  There was a spare bulb in the box, the old one didn't look blown, but I figured it was worth a shot so I replaced it anyway.

Still nothing.  I realized even the motor for the color wheel wasn't working so we gently lifted the tree off the base, slid it out and opened it up.  Mr. Backwoods tinkered a bit and we decided the tree had already been used many years and had finally worn out or there's a short somewhere that we can't fix.  We put it back together and I had Babe Jr squeeze in next to the tree to hold the base while I placed the tree back in it.  We got ready for bed and I crossed my fingers hoping that after it sat overnight it might miraculously start back up again in the morning.

Of course when we got up the next day it was still dead.  But then I realized that the light Mr. Backwoods wears on his hard hat underground is the same size as the bulb that goes in the tree.  And luckily, he has an extra since he upgraded to a lighter version that doesn't require an attached battery pack.

He gave the OK to use his spare for the tree.

I just have to remember to charge the light when I'm not using it for the tree.  The tree skirt easily covers up the cord and battery.  The lights won't twinkle or fade in and out without the wheel, but at least they glow.  And I don't have to completely disassemble the tree and start over. 

Another problem solved.


  1. Gorgeous..Only you would think of all that to fix it.

  2. Wow! Your tree is SO pretty!!!