Whether it’s a two-foot table decoration or a massive 20-foot behemoth for a cathedral ceiling, no one wants the Christmas tree to fall over. Apart from the damaged tree, there’s the mess to clean up and potentially broken ornaments. Fortunately, preventing that is easy with a little bit of common sense and moderate effort.
First, a little elementary physics. Don’t panic! No math involved. Trees are unstable for the same reason a baseball bat held heavy-end up in your palm is. But, wait, you say. The tree is bigger at the bottom than the top. The baseball bat is not.
But one thing is the same: in each case you have a tall rod that can rotate around with a push. The taller the rod, the less force is required to make it rotate. Once it starts, it continues until it reaches equilibrium (in this case, the ground) – unless there is a force in the opposite direction to stop it.
So, the key to making a stable Christmas tree is to make sure there are forces opposing any sideways motion. That’s not too hard to do. You just have to keep a couple of simple things in mind.
Give it a secure base. That’s obviously most often achieved by using a Christmas tree stand. That can be as simple as two boards nailed into the bottom or it can be a large plastic or metal base. Two things help: make it as wide as possible and as heavy as possible.
A wide base provides a resisting force by pushing back against the floor anytime a force pushes the tree sideways. The wider the base, the bigger the opposing force. A heavier base provides the same kind of opposing force, just by a different means. It’s hard to push a heavy object over when it’s close to the ground.
But that base can only produce a stable tree if the tree is well secured to it. That may involve pushing the screws far into the tree. Or, it may require that you fill the base with material that keeps the tree from tipping. In every case, ensure that the bottom of the tree is perfectly flat and snug on the bottom of the base.
If you’ve done everything reasonable you can with the base, you might need to work at the other end. If you secure the top of the tree, it can even more effectively resist sideways motions. You’d have to snip the line to get it to fall. If your tree is tall, or likely to be subject to accidental shoves, this may be the way to go.
Kids, dogs or cats who like to climb the tree can all produce a Christmas tree that is horizontal rather than vertical. Not good. But very hard to guard against 24/7. Securing the top of the tree with a thin, invisible line is a simple solution.
Screw a small hook into the ceiling. Thread a thin, transparent length of fishing line around the upper branches of the tree and loop the other end over the hook. Tighten until the tree is about to be lifted off the floor, then slacken slightly. Flexible, strong and secure. And practically invisible.