How to Put Away (and Set Up) Your Christmas Tree in 20 Minutes

This is our Christmas tree this year.


It took me 20 minutes total to set up, light and decorate, and you want to know why?

Because I am a GENIUS, that’s why.

A freaking GENIUS, I tell you.

A freaking GENIUS, I tell Greg especially, who thinks I’m more annoying than smart, but what does he know?

Just in case you want to be a genius like me, I’m going to let you in on my system so you, too, can half-ass Christmas decorating and half-ass the clean-up and make it look like you used your WHOLE ASS.

I started a year ago with this project and did follow-up testing this year to be sure it works, and it does, so I’m sharing something tried and true, here. You can take this to the bank! Except not literally because taking your Christmas tree to the bank would be weird. And God knows we’re not weird around here. We are GENIUSES.

Last year at this time — the end of the Christmas season when it was time to dismantle everything — it occurred to me that we assemble, light, and decorate our tree every year, followed in rapid succession by undecorating, unlighting, and unassembling the same tree. No offense to people who do things the Right Way or the Best Way, but this method does not match our family personality very well, so I told Greg we were done with it.

“We’re done with it,” I said to Greg.

And Greg said, “What are we done with this time?” since I’m regularly done with things Normal People do. Things like putting away clean laundry and making beds with top sheets. Done, I say. No one has time for these things. Why do we keep doing them?

“We’re done decorating the Christmas tree and then undecorating it 4 weeks later,” I said. “We do this every year,” I said. “We are suckers,” I said. “This is just busy work,” I said, “and we do not have time for unnecessary work around here,” which is the God’s Honest Truth, friends. The God’s Honest Truth.

Greg rolled his eyes, because he’s heard this speech a Time or Two, and he said, “OK, Beth. Whatever. But you get to explain to the kids why we’re not having a Christmas tree anymore.”

And I said, “No. You misunderstand. We are SO having a Christmas tree. We can’t NOT have a Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is IMPORTANT, Greg. I can’t believe you’re even suggesting we ditch the tree. It’s in Bible that we have a Christmas tree. Or at least it’s strongly implied. We can’t celebrate the birth of the Christ child without a pine tree, Greg. I mean, DOY. I’m just saying we don’t have to do all this work with the damn tree, you know? All this assembly and lighting and decorating and undecorating and unlighting and unassembling. It’s ridiculous, Greg, and you know who ends up doing it all? ME. Me is who. Because the kids SAY they want to help, but they LIE, Greg. They lie and LIE. They do NOT want to help. They want to spend 5 minutes putting candy canes on the tree and criticizing what I do with the balls. I know what to do with balls, Greg. I am not a Ball Novice. I do not need to begin the Christmas season with Ball Handling Instructions from kids who do not know what they’re talking about.”

And Greg said, “Ooookaaay. No decorating the tree. You can handle all the balls. Got it.”

But, “Nope,” I said looking at the tree we were about to disassemble. “We are SO having a decorated, ball-laden tree next year. It’s what Jesus would want. Go get the plastic wrap, Greg.”

And Greg did, because Greg is smart and he knows there comes a time when, if the wife is discussing ball handling and plastic wrap, it’s in his best interests to just follow directions.

And then we did this:



That’s right.

That’s what we did.

We laid the Christmas tree down. WITH its lights. WITH its balls. WITH its ribbons. And we wrapped it in plastic wrap.

The whole entire thing.

As is.

Greg HATED it.

I was giddy.

He almost left me.

I just grinned.

“This is not going work,” Greg said. “This is the stupidest idea you have ever had,” Greg said. Which just proves Greg’s memory is very, very, very short.

This year, we got down the plastic wrapped tree and we unwrapped it.



I kid you not.

TWENTY MINUTES LATER (I timed it), our tree was up and looked like this:


Yes, I had to rearrange a few balls.

And yes, we broke one,


…because I accidentally left a glass ball on the tree last year when I thought they were all plastic.

But overall?



I mean, Greg’s looking back because Greg’s a Back Looker and against innovation.

But HALF of Greg and me isn’t looking back. And this half thinks this idea is RAD.

I even improved it this year, man, ’cause two ropes and a sheet work even better than plastic wrap.


One rope for tying the branches up tightly.


A sheet to wrap around the tree:


And a second rope to secure the who shebang, all of which I did with a nine-year-old boy child while his daddy grumbled in the corner.




PLUS, this method will work for wrapping a body, should I ever need to dispose of one surreptitiously. So, LIFE SKILLS, am I right?

In conclusion, I am a genius, and you can be just like me. Take that, Pinterest.






P.S. Those pictures above were selectively taken not to show the mess. This is what the room actually looked like throughout most of December.


P.P.S. Word to the wise: don’t make fun of the “mess” above. That’s actually what “pristine” looks like in this house.

P.P.P.S. I’ve been very hidey the last few days, working hard on my mental health because apparently this is another season where I have to do that. (Hooray for mental illness! It’s a BLAST!) I’ve alternated between Having Things to Say, wanting rather desperately to write to you, and feeling emphatically that My Words are Stupid and I should just shut up already. I’m busy, busy, busy trying to turn up the volume to the voice that says Weird Me is OK, Weird Me is Enough, Weird Me is Important, and Weird Me is Exactly Who I’m Supposed to Be; and Wild and Wonderful, Too. And I’m fighting to turn down the voice of depression because depression always lies. Always. Always always. In the midst of this, while I work my way to the surface and wave in the dark and wait for the dawn, I want you to know I’ve read every single response to the last post on how it’s going, and I’m sending love fiercely to you all. Thank you for waiting for me.

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34 responses to “How to Put Away (and Set Up) Your Christmas Tree in 20 Minutes”

  1. I noticed you wrapped up the tree in one of those excessive top sheets that always come packaged with the bottom sheets. You finally found a reason for them. You’re a double genius.

  2. Please keep listening to the voices (like ours!) telling you that you crack me up! What you say matters. And we say all the time at our house: Normal is way overrated

  3. What you have to say is brilliant, so very real, and always makes me laugh, which I so need. And I am so grateful for weird, genius you.

  4. Beth, please know that whether I am feeling hidey and underwater or showy and in the sun, reading your blog always puts a smile on my face, and makes me laugh, and feel better than before I read your blog! Thank you !

  5. One tiny step simpler: Purchase one of those giant trashbags made for real trees. Open and place tree in the center of the bottom of the trash bag. Artfully (?!?) arrange rest of bag in swirls around the base of the tree to look like tree skirt. After Christmas, pull bag up and fasten at top. Carry to storage space. Done. Next year, carry to tree-spot, unfasten bag and let drop to act as tree skirt. Repeat as needed.

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