How we made our flat Christmas treeI always liked a fat and jolly, real Christmas tree. Height was important but not nearly so much as girth; I wanted a full tree that ever so gradually narrowed toward the angel at the top. Loft living changed my idea of the perfect tree. It inspired us to create a two-inch thick, FLAT tree. I’m in love with it, although not nearly as much as the memory of making it.

We like our loft and have maximized every inch of space, from floor to soaring ceilings. Even with inventive use of space (using unreachable ceiling beams as bookshelves for books long ago read), the loft move was still a serious downsize. Adding a temporary “plant” might have required sleeping with it, had we not concocted this scheme to accommodate beloved ornaments (a euphemism for fond memories). The windows were the only space available to us.

Frankly, I don’t recall exactly how we came up with the idea other than to report that one of us offhandedly remarked, “What we need is a flat tree.” As my husband and I so often do, we engaged in a Mimosa, or wine-fueled brain storm that more closely resembled a sprinkling of one goofy idea that fertilizes another until the front moves on. At times, laughing gets in the wonderful way.

The 22-foot flat tree is nothing more than garland strands tirelessly woven together over a couple of days and adhered to the window with hidden suction cups. Of course, we miss the real thing, the shelling out of a hundred bucks or more, the pine needles everywhere, and the strapping on to the car. Actually, we do miss the scent, but at least this version allows a one-dimensional view of all the memories and a lovely, unexpectedly bright spot when viewing it from the park below.

We now refer to trimming our flat tree as “rolling out the tree,” since it does exactly that: rolls out as a tree and rolls back up into a jelly-roll tree fit for storage. Yes, we take the ornaments off first, but not the lights, which is especially handy since the de-tangling of lights, as we all know, is less than no fun at all. This year, we’re even thinking of resorting to flat presents for all.

Mom's Fireplace
My mom created a fireplace, replete with hearth, out of a desk and brick patterned paper.

In a similar vein as the flat tree, my mother, who was exceptional at creating bright spots from unusual sources, created a fabulous faux fireplace when my brother and sister and I were kids. We were living on Okinawa, where I was pretty sure Santa would not find us. Mom created a fireplace, replete with hearth, out of a desk and brick patterned paper. She hung our stockings there and even Santa fell for it.

In a shrinking world, (or as Tom Friedman says, “The World is Flat”), the flat tree could save a few Fraser firs and light up some vertically challenged domains with joy. Trust me, Santa has fallen for it before.

Note: Anyone wishing to buy this Flat Christmas Tree idea or invest in creating it for production in time for next season, should contact me at: [email protected]

Terri Evans

Terri Evans

Terri Evans is 25+year marketing communications professional, a partner at LeslieEvansCreative and Bcauz marketing (cause-related). She has been a food columnist for Atlanta Intown and Atlanta Buckhead newspapers, and a contributing writer for Georgia Magazine, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and other publications. Evans was also a finalist in a Southern Living cooking competition. She is (and has long been) at work on a novel set in the South (of Georgia) and the South (of France). She's always cookin' up somethin'.

  1. That tree is so beautifully creative! We have little floor space, lots of wall space, complaints about our reluctance to put up a real “tree.” (Our fake tree is on the covered porch, fully visible in the living room, plus we have interior decorations, what’s the prob?)

    You kids have started something. I know that we’re inspired…

  2. Terri,
    Any place you and Lee hang your hats is always magical. I’ve had the great good pleasure to know that you enhance your surroundings with the charm of your kindness and welcome where ever you live. And maintaining the family traditions is a gift for your family and all those who treasure you both.
    You manage to make the story of ‘stone soup’ come alive and I hope you continue for a long time to come.
    Merry Christmas, dear friends! And to quote a wonderful statement you made to Smith Bagley, “Thanks for the addiction and the wonderful place to stay”, lol.

  3. Kathleen Harbin

    Your tree is fantastic! Loved the pics. Merry Christmas to you and Lee!

  4. Melinda Ennis

    For those of us who love Terri & Lee so well, the “flat tree” beats all other creative inspirations, including Terri’s “cork period” which provided a wine-infused wreath that is now hanging in my kitchen, and her “shell period” last year which provided us with an equally beautiful shell wreath that hangs on the door of our little house in St. Simons. The flat tree is a thing of true beauty shining in the night over Piedmont Park and one that represents not only the innovative brilliance of its creators, but their warmth, wit and wisdom. As Michael said so sweetly, Merry Christmas dear friends!, and thanks to Terri, Lee and Keith who have given us “the Dew” to be blessed with every day of the year.

  5. A tree that doesn’t fall over or need water or entice critters with low hanging ornaments (I love the picture of the decidedly not flat dog posing calmly by the tree)- what an awesome creation.

  6. Your tree reminds me of wall hangings we used to sell in Puerto Rico. They could be rolled up and when displayed took up a modest amount of depth. Width and height were up to you. For the Christmas season, an enterprising craftsman created a bright green tree adorned with brightly-colored yarn pom poms. I sent one to a friend living in a tiny apartment in Savannah. Even when he acquired a Savannah Victorian in the historic district, that tree was prominently displayed. It was his favorite gift — until he moved to St. Thomas, and I sent him a Rich’s shopping bag with the Great Tree on it to hang on the wall in his even tinier apartment there.

  7. I loved it already. And then I had company. My granddaughter didn’t believe anything could represent Christmas without being “piney,” and she surely didn’t believe a Christmas tree could be FLAT.

    When she saw the Like The Dew slideshow of possibility…well…it opened her eyes to possibility. Although, beyond the idea of stepping outside of pine, ’twas the dog lounging UNDER the tree that won her over.

    So in the end? A lesson for a lifetime. Lee and Terri? Ever and always.

  8. Frank Povah

    What wonderful humans you are – and with a Mum like that you could hardly help being so.

    Do you remember the woman in one of Steinbeck’s stories, married to a struggling artist and flat broke, who cut out a picture of a ham from an advertisement and put it on the table as Christmas dinner? Was it Whitey or Mac who said “Any kid of hers is sure gonna have a lot of fun”?

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