This year, I was itching for a different look for my Christmas tree.
At first I was thinking I would flock my Christmas tree (since we always have a green tree), but then I came across an old illustration of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their children around a tabletop Christmas tree circa 1845.
"If only I could create a Victorian Christmas tree," I thought.
I had a feeling it would make a great TV segment, too.
This is the "segment pitch" I sent to my producers on Home & Family for creating a vintage, tabletop Christmas tree.
I loved the look of the open branched tiers that created large gaps in between levels so you could see the ornaments well.
An elevated tree is also a practical idea for keeping my dogs away from the Christmas tree.
I made a decision!
This year I would have a "Victorian-style" Christmas tree!
The only problem was, I couldn't find any trees that looked like this at any of the tree farms or garden centers.
Actually, I did find one source online for "Silver Tip firs," but a 4-foot tree cost close to $100!
There were also plenty of fake Christmas trees that could be fashioned to this style by bending branches, but that's not what I wanted.
So, as they say, "Necessity is the mother of invention," and I set off to design my own vintage Christmas tree by custom pruning and cutting a Noble fir tree I bought off the lot.
SELECTING A CHRISTMAS TREE FOR VINTAGE STYLE
A hallmark of the vintage tree style is to hang large beautiful ornaments from each level that can be seen in their full glory.
Sturdy tree stems are a must!
This ruled out any of the weak-limbed Christmas trees such as Douglas fir or pine.
I set my sights on Noble and Nordmann fir trees which were in good supply in my area.
After finding the perfect Noble fir specimen, I made a design plan and dove in!
I presented "Vintage Style Tabletop Christmas Tree From Common Noble Fir" on the Home & Family show where I shared the technique.
Landscape and garden designer Shirley Bovshow demonstrates how to create a vintage tabletop Christmas tree from a common Noble fir to Cristina Ferrare and Mark Steines on the Home & Family show!
Below is a loose transcript from the show, detailing the steps for making your own tabletop Christmas tree in the vintage style!
Good luck and please ask questions in the comment section below!
STYLE ELEMENTS OF VINTAGE CHRISTMAS TREES
-Christmas trees of all sizes are elevated on tables.
-The table has decorative elements in addition to the tree, including a silver or porcelain tea pot, gifts, and candles, creating a hospitality vignette.
-Christmas tree has a series of odd numbered, evenly spaced, tiered, horizontal branches with a visible main trunk.
-Candle style lights instead of string lights since electrical Christmas lights weren't produced until the late 1800's.
-Silver tinsel. In the 1800's, silver tinsel was made from real silver!
MATERIALS FOR SHAPING VINTAGE CHRISTMAS TREE
-3-5-foot Noble fir or other strong branched tree
-Brown paint to camouflage cuts in trunk
-Floral wire for connecting branches, closing gaps between branches, and reinforcing branches for heavy ornaments
-Wilt Pruf, an anti-dessicant for keeping your Christmas tree fresh for extended period.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR TRIMMING A VINTAGE CHRISTMAS TREE
Before you begin cutting, make sure to set your tree on the display table that you plan to use.
This will give you the proper perspective and vantage point while cutting.
Don't place your Christmas tree on the floor unless you plan on displaying it on the floor!
When a tree is placed on a table, you see the underside of the higher tiers so it's important to see how the trimming looks from below.
1. Place Christmas tree on a lazy susan on top of the table to make trimming easier.
2. Look at tree from all sides and find the best side for the front.
3. Open the branches to locate 4-5 "crotch branches" that radiate from main trunk and make a unified circle tier or wreath shape.
4. Starting from top, outline your tiers with twine.
5. Step back and review outline, make adjustments.
6. Start trimming extraneous branches outside of your outlined area, starting from top to bottom.
7. Clean main trunk of all needles and paint over cut marks on main trunk with brown paint to camoflauge.
Step back periodically to assess the branch tiers and make sure you cut off branches that are sticking up and above the outlined tier, or hanging below it.
Use green wire metal to troubleshoot and tie branches to close up a gap within a tier and to reinforce weak branches for heavy ornaments.
I always spray my Christmas trees with Wilt-Pruf to keep them looking fresh throughout the holiday season.
DECORATIONS FOR VINTAGE CHRISTMAS TREE
Start by decorating from inside the tree beginning with large, heavy ornaments working from top to bottom.
The Noble fir's branches are strongest near the main trunk and become thinner at the tips.
Remember to step back and look at the balance of all your decorations every few minutes.
Add draping garland in the middle and experiment with different styles.
I designed a "chandelier" effect with my pearl and glass garland as well as a "necklace" effect on another level.
Place battery-operated candle lights on tips of branches and secure with metal wire.
I found some at Walmart for 1 dollar each.
Placing the candles will be a challenge as they are heavy.
Using 22-guage floral wire, reinforce the stems from underneath where you plan on placing candles.
Add tinsel last using as little or as much as you dare!
Watch my TV segment on Home & Family show, then take a look at the photo gallery below!
PHOTOS OF SHIRLEY'S VINTAGE TABLETOP CHRISTMAS TREE
Enjoy these photos of the finished Christmas tree as seen on the Home & Family show!
Vintage, Victorian-style tabletop Christmas tree by Shirley Bovshow
A beautiful angel tree topper is a perfect fit for this vintage-style Christmas tree.
Glitter red bird ornament and swaths of gold ribbon, pearl garland and silver tinsel.
Big, bold red and gold swirled ornament
Battery-operated candlestick Christmas tree lights are held in place with wire and gold garland tied around each base.
Old-fashioned angel statue draped in rich velvet is part of the vintage Christmas tree tabletop vignette.
Closeup of gold, red, glass and pearl ornaments.
What do you think?
Want to create your own vintage tabletop Christmas tree?
I'm here to help you.
Merry Christmas friends!