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Way back in 2012 when I originally wrote this post I had four cats. FOUR! And, as luck would have it, all four were big into climbing trees. Especially my itty bitty kittens born in my guest room when I invited a feral cat in there :) As a person who has always loved decorating Christmas trees having four cats made having trees difficult. I would often come home to a tree laying on its side in the middle of the living room ornaments broken all around.
The cats were constantly climbing the tree and tipping it over. And sometimes they would make crazy biscuits on the tree skirt and pull just so that everything toppled. I’d hear a crash and then spend then next however many minutes cleaning up broken ornaments. And so, back in 2012 I decided to come up with a way to keep my tree upright.
That’s when I hid my ugly Christmas tree base with a gift!
So it’s 2021 now and these days I have only one cat. She’s a chunk and not overly interested in physical activity. Every once in a while I’ll find her high atop something and I always wonder how in the heck she got that squatty body up so high?! And in the four or five Christmases I’ve had her now, she’s never ever tried to climb the Christmas tree. But this year, oh my heavens, this year she’s decided she’s gonna haul that fluffy butt up into my trees!
Last year was the very first time I didn’t have to worry about my trees tipping andI used a tree collar on my Boho themed tree. It was so pretty! And so lovely! Though I had 2 kitties one was sickly and not very active and the other a grounded fatty and it was fun having tree skirts and collars, again. But this year with Maybe deciding she’s a climber I’ve gotten up to my old tricks. I’ve covered my ugly Christmas Tree base with a gift!
Boxing up your tree base hides it away in the stash of gifts around the tree and it is super sturdy making tree tip overs rare.
I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed to see my tree laying across the ground with a cat next to it licking her paws like she had no part in the mayhem. But then I got my faux gift base wrapped in pretty red paper with white snowflakes. And I got a reminder of just how pretty it looks with nothing but presents under the tree.
Since I’ve hidden my Christmas tree base with a gift 8 out of nine years (and 2 or more trees a year) I’ve had a lot of experience with this particular DIY. And so this year I am updating this post with my method that has evolved over many years. (You can see the old post here). Gone is the open bottom. Having a fully closed box makes everything even sturdier than the old version. And since finding a perfectly sized box has been more difficult, possibly because they are sitting on a boat somewhere?, today’s tutorial shows you how to make a box from scratch using the boxes you can find.
Ready to tackle this super cheap and easy Christmas Tree project?
Supplies Needed to Hide Your Christmas Tree Base with a Gift:
- Tape Measure
- Cardboard Box (I used 2 small boxes from Walmart and scraps from a medium box)
- Straight Edge
- Utility Knife
- Cut Resistant Gloves (optional but cheaper than a co-pay and far less painful)
- Masking Tape
- Wrapping Paper
- Scotch Tape
Back when I first wrote this post back in 2012 I was able to find a pretty perfectly sized cardboard box straight from the store. I’m not sure if it’s a pandemic thing, or what, but I’ve only been able to find rectangular boxes but no square ones in 2021. And I think a square gift covered tree base looks better underneath the tree. Plus takes up less space so you can put more real gifts on the ground.
This year I have 2 different Christmas trees and I custom made square boxes the perfect size for both. The good news is it isn’t hard nor is it expensive to make a perfectly sized box, it just takes more time.
To start you need to know what size box will work best for your tree.
Assemble your base. Measure the width from one leg to another. For this tree the base measures 18.5″ from one leg to the next. I’m going to add an inch for a little wiggle room and so the length and width of this box will need to be 19.5″. Next measure the height, where you can have the top of the box be without touching the lowest limbs. And there are 9.5″ from the ground until the closest I can have the top of the box sit without messing with the limbs. Now I’m going to make the box a little shorter than the max height, making the box 9″ tall. To cover this Christmas tree base with a gift, I’ll need to make a cardboard box that measures 19.5″ x 19.5″ x 9″.
How to Make a Custom Sized Cardboard Box
Since I am making a custom box anyway, I decided to use 2 Pen & Gear small sized boxes from Walmart that I already had on hand.
For your box you’ll need to cut 4 sides that have a top and bottom flap to fold and form the cube shape of the gift.
Measure the folding flap on the bottom of your cardboard box (mine measures 5.5″). From the fold line measure and mark the height you want your box to be (mine is 9″). Using a yardstick or similar straight edge, lightly run your utility knife along the mark. You don’t want to cut all of the way through the box, you only want to score it to fold the box to form the top. Measure from the score line the size you’d like your top flap to be. Using the straight edge then cut through the cardboard.
* Quick Tip – I’m not great at math on the fly and so I just made my top flap the same size as the bottom, 5.5″. But that meant that I had a gap in the top of my box I needed to patch up. To create a flap that will meet along the top of the box divide the length of your box by 2 and take a little off of that number so that the top flaps do not overlap.
Next we will cut corner pieces that will hold the box together. Cut 4 pieces that are 3″ wide and half an inch shorter than the height of your box. Score the cardboard (cut only through the topmost layer) right down the middle of the piece longways. Fold to form corners.
Taping Your Box Together
Fold your corner piece and using masking tape adhere it to the inside of the box, the straight edge of the corner matching up to the side of the box.
Tape all four sides of your box together into one continuous piece attaching the corners to either side of each piece. If you are using a smaller box and have the cut outs on the flaps you can cover those with a thin piece of cardboard and tape.
Heat up your hot glue gun. Wrap the taped pieces of cardboard together to form the box shape. Hot glue that corner into place.
Gently peel away the tape one side at a time and hot glue all of the corners of your box into place. Place the tape back over the corner for extra hold.
Because I used smaller boxes to make larger ones the bottom flaps of my boxes were never going to perfectly meet up. However, it’s super easy to patch this well enough to work as a Christmas tree base gift.
Using scrap cardboard cut a piece that is larger than the hole in the bottom of your box. Flip the box over and glue or tape the cardboard piece into the bottom of the box to patch the hole.
Securing Your Christmas Tree Base into the Gift Box
If you’re using a rotating Christmas base (or any other kind of base that needs to be plugged in) cut a small X at the bottom of the back side. Gently push the plug through the cut.
With the Christmas tree base inside the box, tape it to the bottom. This isn’t the time to be cheap… Make sure you have that sucker stuck in place so that you can move the box any which way and that base will stay exactly where you placed it.
Turning the Box into a Gift to Cover that Christmas Tree Base!
Close the flaps of the box up and tape shut. If necessary cut a piece out of scrap to bridge the gap if the flaps don’t perfectly meet.
Measure the center of the box by placing your yardstick from corner to corner and marking the middle. Then switch to the other two corners and do the same. Cut the center out. Look down into the box. Can you easily place the tree straight into the tree base inside? If not make the hole larger as necessary.
Quick Tip – If you need to plug your tree into the base for it to work make sure that the plug in from the base is sticking up through the hole. Use a piece of tape to temporarily tack it into place so that it doesn’t fall back into the box.
Place wrapping paper pretty side down on your work surface and center the box top side down onto the paper.
Quick Tip – If your box is larger than the paper you have two options to make the paper work. First, take 2 lengths and tape them together on the underside of the paper. Match the pattern as well as you can.
If the pattern doesn’t allow for this cut a piece of paper and tape it onto the back side of the box. Wrap the box making sure you have enough length to cover the front, sides, and top. Tape down the loose paper onto the already papered back. This works best if the back of your box is unseen.
Once the box is wrapped use your finger to find the opening in the box. Gently tear the paper and place the pole of your tree into the base. Decorate as you please!
This post has been updated from its original version published in December 3, 2012.