- a potted Norway spruce purchased at auction in October,
- an old plastic milk crate acquired from nobody remembers where,
- a black rubber grain pan not used since the pony died in 2005,
- a red, green, black and gold plaid table cloth from the oval table we owned (that sat six people, maximum, with it's leaf in full time) before getting our larger, oblong table (seats six w/out the leaf, up to 12 with leaves)
- and a tree skirt made with Christmas print fabric and an out of style women's wrap skirt sewing pattern
Answer: a live Christmas tree that doesn't leak water on the floor, fits plenty of gifts underneath, and can be planted outside (landscape your yard!) after the holiday is over.
With so many people in the house this year, I hadn't wanted to get a full-size cut tree. Takes up too much room that we definitely needed for seating and just for being able to walk through the living room. And I swear I will never, ever, do a fake tree (just a personal over-my-dead-body kind of conviction; no offense to anyone who prefers an artificial tree).
So, when I bought a bunch of Norway spruce at auction during the fall for planting across the front of our property, I saved out a nice symmetrical one and designated it as our Christmas tree for 2014.
Having a live tree meant that we did not put up and decorate our tree right after Thanksgiving. In fact, we didn't bring it into the house until Monday Dec 22nd, and it went out again yesterday, Saturday Dec 27th. I got a whole lot of flack for that from pretty much everyone I ran into who asked, all during the month of December, if I had my tree up yet. But I had good reason for waiting so long: this gave it the least exposure to indoor temps, and the best chance at survival when we did plant it (yesterday afternoon). Having an incredibly warm spell lately, with temperatures in the upper 40s and soft, moist ground for planting in will also (hopefully) help this tree live on for many years to come.
(In the past we've tried potted trees twice; both bought from nurseries selling live Christmas trees, and neither one survived more than about 6 months after Christmas. Both were kept in the house longer; one even lived in the basement until spring when the ground thawed.)
Being that the tree was only in the house for five days, and those were busy five days, I forgot to get a picture of it until right before I took the decorations off so that DH could relocate the tree to the row of other Norway spruces planted in October. Hence the not so great picture, above. It was taken in haste with my cell phone, and a whole lot of light coming in the sliding door behind the tree.