Christmas trees are very expensive in Ecuador, so we decided to build one out of driftwood found on the beach. I spent several weeks collecting the wood. Then I had to find the center of the boards they were uneven, so I balanced each board like a seesaw and marked it and Leo drilled a hole in the center to match the curtain rod we used down the center (about 1 inch in diameter). He then cut PVC pipe that was just a hair bigger than the curtain rod in diameter. The pieces were about 2″ long for between the bottom boards and about 1-1.5″ for between the smaller boards at the top. He cut one PVC pipe 24″ to go on the bottom.
Then Leo started assembling the boards starting with the bigger boards that we had arranged by size, each getting smaller than the previous board. He put the first board over the curtain rod that was placed into the 24″ PVC pipe. Since the PVC pipe is a little bigger than the hole in the board the first PVC pipe was cut to about 24″ to serve as the part that will go in the pot to hold it up, as well as holding up the first board. Next goes the separator, then the next board, until you reach the top, with a little part of the curtain rod sticking out to hold the topper. My topper will probably be a Santa Hat if I can find one in Ecuador or an inexpensive Panama Hat.
Leo put in the 24′ PVC pipe into the pot’s center. I held it in place while Leo dug up sand from the beach and filled the pot. He stopped every third of the way to place in a piece of wood (rectangular) that just fit in. It had a hole in it the fit over the PVC pipe. He alternated the three boards. First and third were placed East to West, the second one went North to South. This was to help stabilize it, because we have very strong winds off the ocean. After each board he added more sand until he reached the top. I covered the sand with shells. We turned the boards. The bottom one went N-S, the next two made an X, the next N-S and then and X and so on.
Next comes the nightmare of stringing lights. It was trial and error learning. First he put a small notch in the middle of each end on each board to hold the lights in place to stop slipping. The lights are from end to end on each board. Sometimes Leo crisscrossed the lights at the middle bar and sometimes used a plastic tie. Start at the top and go down, going from board to board. You can see we ran out of lights, so we used the white string of lights we had, and finished it, going down the pot as well. (It’s a 1.5 hour bus ride each way to get more lights, so you can see why we make do here in Ecuador.) We used hot glue on opposite sides of the pot to keep the lights separated. Hey, I never thought I’d have a tree, so I am thrilled. (I saw a tree similar to this in a store here in Ecuador. It was 1/2 the size and cost $69.00 vs free). It had no lights. The pot I used cost $7.00. The decorations cost $21.00. The lights cost $17.00 (way more expensive here). Total: $45.00. Not too bad considering a fake tree (green) this size costs over $100.00 with no lights or decorations. (They do not import live Christmas trees here.)
I made decorations for the tree out of shells and styrofoam balls which I painted. I did buy some styrofoam stars and some blue glitter balls at the store to put on the tree. I will hot glue the decorations onto the undersides of the boards. I am pretty sure that will be it.