How lovely are my branches…

My big announcement for today: I have boxed up two freelance projects to be returned to their primary editors tomorrow morning. Two (mostly) down, and one to go, and then I can attack Christmas. Relief tastes like a handful of roasted peanuts chased down by another handful of milk chocolate chips mixed with the slight hankering for something carbonated and pomegranate-esque.

We’ve been talking a lot about Christmas trees over here, and I think I need to ask you a question.

Our Christmas tree is a fifteen year old VERY unstable artificial tree that my parents bought for me when I was living in an apartment in the city. (It’s held together with tape!) If you’re into the Major Life Event sort of timeline, this tree has seen me move to Nashville, marry Jeff, and push out two kids! (I didn’t really push the kids out.)

And if you touch it, it will bite you.

 At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade.


Christmas Morning


What?! Hey!

As much as I would love to go out to the garage right now and start putting the tree together, this year I have to consider our new roommates.

S and H

They’re adorable and I love them, but they will DESTROY my Christmas tree in the same way that they have destroyed our couch and our carpet. (And a few hairbrushes and a TV tray and a Frisbee and our elderly cat’s joy.)

A real tree is not an option, because I’ve seen how they chew on the real trees in our back yard.

What are we to do? If we leave the tree in the box this year, we could hang tinsel and lights around the family room and then decorate the tinsel with ornaments. The kids are willing to deal with that option, as long as the final product looks something like this.

Opryland Hotel

Jeff has suggested that we quickly invent a tree that will spray a bitter dog deterrent every time a quadruped approaches. With less than a month to go before the big day, I really don’t think we have time.

Am I missing an obvious solution? (I tend to miss the obvious solutions.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

42 thoughts on “How lovely are my branches…”

  1. Two things: I LOVE WHEN THEY SPLAY OUT THEIR BACK LEGS LIKE DRUMSTICKS LIKE THAT. Sorry to shout, but man, so cute. Secondly, maybe you could just spray the hell out of the tree with bitter apple spray? My dogs hate it, it doesn’t have an odor much to us, and if you just kept it up, I think you’d be fine!

    1. I toyed with that idea for a few seconds, but I don’t think it would work. First off? The branches would fall out. Secondly? The dogs can run and jump. They would just turn it into a fruit basket sporting event, and somebody would end up crying in a corner. (Me, most likely.)

  2. We wrapped flat cardboard pieces like presents and taped them together, like a baby gate, as our keep-out-the-dogs solution.

  3. For years, our tree was set in a corner with a “fence” made from two crib sides around it. I’ve seen cute Christmas tree fences made from inexpensive picket fence sections from the hardware store. Or you could get a smaller tree and set it up on a table.

  4. Bitter Apple and a can of compressed air. The latter is the greatest deterrent known to doggiekind.

    And it’s time to go natural (with your tree.)

    Merry Christmas:-)

  5. I HAVE A SOLUTION! (PLEASE do not NOT put up the tree!)

    We used this for a cat problem we had…it has a motion sensor and then it doses out a high-pressure spray (non-toxic, obvs). Only thing: when YOU are walking around the tree (note: HOME, and can punish said canines for bad behavior), turn the can off. It works so well that one day I forgot to turn it off, walked around the corner and it got me. I jumped four feet into the air, somehow tripped on some (unstable?) air, and fell backwards. :)

    Not to deter (ahem) you….it’s a GREAT product. ;)

  6. I vote for a real tree (they smell SO good! and the solution that Jordana suggested. We always have a real tree, but I don’t put it up until about 12/15, to enjoy it better yet minimizing the needle droppings. The kids will love it, and then you can run it through the wood chipper at Lowes or someplace & have stuff for the garden. It’s a win-wwin!

  7. Forget chewing on the tree, our dogs always liked to drink the water (we had real trees). I second (third?) the gate solution. We’ve had good luck with simply piling presents to block the tree from (older) dogs, but a gate would let you block them from reaching even the branches.

  8. The playpen option could work ….bought second hand of course. But I like the ceiling thing too.

  9. What she said above. :0) Although I have a larger tree, I haven’t put it up in years and opt for putting up a table top tree that I got at Hobby Lobby on the cheap. It’s festive and sparkly but easy and dog proof. (I can show you a picture of how it looks, if you wanna see. You could fit one on the back of your piano.)

  10. All of the above.

    By the way, by way of explanation as to why my dedication to commenting dropped off rather abruptly back there, take your pick from the following:

    vomiting — sudden — while driving car on freeway
    acute sudden-onset allergic reaction to???
    urgent (urgent!) care visit
    sinus infection
    probable bronchitis
    escaped dog
    not escaped dog believed to have been left behind by visitors departing for So Cal

    There’s more, but really that should suffice. I’ll save some of the details for when I go back to catch up on the comments. Honest. I WILL do that!

    What, did I imply that I would comment every *day* on every post? Like on the day you post it?


    NoMoBlahPo Commenting fail :-(

    But, Thanksgiving Weekend 2011 in *this* family? One for the record books!

  11. Tabletop tree, or… you can fill up a spray bottle with water & spray them when they go after the tree. But with puppies, I say go tabletop. We had a dog that ate 2 ornaments (glass!), and a small Christmas lamp, bulb and all about 8 years ago. (No surgery necessary thank goodness & she is still with us.) So go tabletop. Best of luck whatever you decide.

  12. The year we had The Tail, I knew it was a recipe for disaster. So, we hit the thrift store and bought a 3 ft tree to use as a tabletop. Out of reach and chewable length, easy to decorate, storage is a snap….it might not do the full body morning pictures but it was in one piece by the end of the month which seemed like the important part!

  13. I was going to suggest a smaller tree on a table as well, though I don’t know how well it would deter dogs.

    I’ve decided to not do a big tree this year, as I really don’t have the space for it in my apartment. I have plenty of other holiday decorations, though. :)

  14. The years my kids (and dog) were small, we bought a small tree that we put up on a tabletop. I found an inexpensive Christmas-sy tablecloth at TJ Maxx — bought very long, so it would drape to the floor — and it worked perfectly.

  15. We use the tabletop tree method as well! Kept the cats and dog at bay, since we used a side table that didn’t have much room for climbing or laying on. And used wire and a screw and hooked the tree to the wall for a few years, just in case.

  16. Someone was telling me about how she has a Christmas chair–her mom started this idea.

    It’s so brilliant! Decorate a chair!

    I never ever ever ever cared about the Christmas tree. I am so surprised that kids care. But then, my mom had some strange color coordinated thing going on with the tree that didn’t really involve me…as I recall. I was a weird kid though because I don’t think I liked Christmas.

    Anyway! Enough about my tragic childhood! I can’t believe your DOGS and the AW! factor there.

    Honestly, if it is the dogs that make blogs famous–you really need to milk this thing more because those! are! amazingly! cute! dogs.

    The kids also. The whole family. I am dying, here. Also thinking about how you could maybe pay for their college with some kind of yearly calendar and marketing ops.

    I love the description of relief. Relief sounds so delicious.

  17. One year for Christmas, after acquiring an additional 8 kittens, along with the 4 dogs and 8 cats already in residence(not to mention the 3.5 kids) I knew that I just could not handle a tree and all that it would entail. So I went out and bought about 30 feet of lighted garland and “tacked” it to the wall in a tree-like design. My youngest and I then made origami birds and decorated it. I wish I could post a pic…it actually looked really nice and it was not damaged by any mammal. Just a thought for your Christmas dilemna.

  18. Lit garland! We will not be able to have a tree this year because Teddy the Great Pyrenees + full sized tree = epic disaster. I am going to get some command adhesive hooks and some garland, string it up around the room and hang the ornaments from that. Plus, we found a small artificial tree that we can put on top of our entertainment center. It won’t be quite the same, but it will save me from having to wonder if Teddy is eating ornaments while I’m at work.

  19. 1. When the kids were crawlers, we put a small artificial tree on top of a table.

    2. My in-laws used to decorate a houseplant instead of putting up a tree.

  20. Voting for small tree on table. Kids = gotta have tree. No two ways about it. :-)

    Another idea – Is there any way to keep the dogs out of the tree room for the festive season? Gates on the dooors maybe?

  21. I vote for gating it off somehow if that is possible. Second choice, lighted garland tacked up in the shape of a tree (I never would have thought of that but in my imagination, it really looks super cool. ). Then Dec 26, go out an get yourself a good deal on a more stable tree. Not that any tree will withstand 2 dogs but you deserve a new tree. It has been 15 years and you just finished two big projects!

  22. Nobody likes to chew tinfoil. Put up your tree, but decorate the bottom half with homemade tinfoil bows.

    But seriously, you’re going to have the train those muppet dogs to not chew a Christmas tree eventually, might as well be this year.

  23. As a husky owner, and 99.9% of my friends are husky owners, there are a zillion ways to do it… I’ll do a blog post about it for you (adding to my list)

  24. You probably know this but because no one else has commented on it I’m going to just toss it out there. Tinsel + Dogs = Very Dangerous. Cats, too. Any animal that likes to chew on weird stuff. If they ingest the tinsel it, like string, can get entangled in their intestines and be life threatening and require surgery to save them. So I vote that, whatever the solution, it not involve tinsel. A table top tree sounds really nice.

  25. I realize this does not solve the where to put presents issue, but can you decorate one of your outdoor trees? In addition to whatever your normal christmas decorating is, maybe make one tree your christmas tree?

    We have never lived anywhere large enough to have a christmas tree and have always gone with a 2′ potted “tree” but we just moved and have the room so I am currently mulling over our options. Our neighbors decorate an evergreen in their backyard and it is really beautiful at night and we have a spruce of the perfect height so I think we may go that route.

  26. Please don’t use any tinsel. If the puppies eat tinsel (and how won’t they, really, given the out of control natures of both tinsel and puppies) it can do a LOT of intestinal damage. I have a friend who’s a vet and she says you may as well feed your puppies (and kittens) poison.

  27. I’d go with the baby gate/fence idea. When my dog was smaller I thought he would destroy our tree too, but was pleasantly surprised when he only chewed some of the lower placed ornaments (those are the ugly ones, anyway). Good luck!

  28. How about setting up the tree and letting it sit for a couple of days naked just to see how the dogs react? I currently have my daughter’s 2 yr-old lab/coon hound mix living here and he hasn’t done anything more than sniff the lower branches.

  29. What we did when we had this issue is to use the top half of the tree (it fit into the base well enough) and put it up on a small table. Now our dogs are fine with it and the kid is bigger. We have a small house and the gate thing and boxes to block were not an option for space reasons.

    This year we are going to Disney and not putting one up!

  30. Rats. I totally forgot about the tree and having a dog now. My excuse – a really rotten Thanksgiving week. Let me know what works for you and I’ll give it a try. Our dog is bigger than your two though. Hmmmm.

  31. I am sure other people said this (I didn’t read all the comments, I am lazy) but how about the tree on table idea? We will be doing that because we also have the small puppy situation. Whole Foods has three foot trees, and then we can put the presents under the table (maybe surrounded by fire crackers to keep Coco away from them) and TA DA, tiny Christmas!

  32. I have two dogs, a lab and a dachshund. The doxie would try to drag the tree around if it were anywhere near his level, and the lab would knock it over with his tail. My solution is to take our fake tree, use only the top half, and install it on an end table. Works perfectly, and from the outside you can’t even tell it’s half a tree! Bonus: also takes less time to decorate.

  33. Buy a bunch of vinyl placemats at the dollar store and a roll of double-sided carpet tape. Put the tape on the placemats and position them, sticky side up, around the tree. The dogs won’t cross the mats and you can pick the mats up and move them if you need to. A baby gate or a table tree is probably easier though.

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