Introduction: Mount a Christmas Tree Topper That Doesn't Fit Your Tree

About: The only thing I enjoy more than building things is taking things apart. You don't truly own something until you've voided the warranty. Profile image by Achim Grochowski (via wikimedia project)

After several years of searching, my wife finally found a Christmas tree topper in the style that she liked. When December rolled around, we started putting up the Christmas decorations and I went to put the topper on the tree. I quickly discovered that the opening in the bottom of the topper wasn't quite wide enough to fit over the top of the tree without forcing it on, which I didn't want to do because the topper is made of glass. Also, the bare area at the top of the tree wasn't long enough to hold the topper stable. I suppose that's what you get for buying a topper without measuring the tree first.

There's no way I'm telling my wife that her new topper isn't going to work. Instead, I waited until later that day when she left the house for a couple of hours and built an adapter that would enable the two to fit together. It only took me a few minutes to assemble, and I spent less than $5 on supplies.

Note: My tree is an artificial tree. This general idea may work on a natural Christmas tree, but natural trees have a lot of variation so you'll have to improvise a bit.

Step 1: Measure

I inspected the tree top and discovered that the "trunk" of the tree was a round pipe wrapped in bark-colored fuzzy stuff. The inner diameter of the pipe measured 9/32", and the outer diameter was 9/16".

The tree topper has a flared base. The narrowest part of the base measured 5/8". The widest part of the base was hard to measure but was clearly wide enough to fit around the outside of the tree (even taking the fuzzy stuff into account).

Step 2: Supplies

I used the following supplies:

  • Wooden dowel rod - 1/4" diameter
  • Rubber grommet - 1/4" inner diameter, 9/16" outer diameter
  • Super glue
  • Scrap cloth
  • Tape

Tools used:

  • Garden shears
  • Scissors
  • Marker or felt tip pen

When selecting supplies, get the thickest dowel rod that's smaller than the inner diameter of the tree's pipe. If you get a rod that's the exact same diameter, it will likely be too big to fit. If you go too small, the rod will have a harder time standing up straight.

Be careful when selecting a grommet, as they have two diameters. The inner diameter should match the diameter of the dowel rod. The outer diameter should be at least as large as the outer diameter of the tree's pipe.

Step 3: Prepare Rod

Gently stick the dowel rod into the topper as far as it will go. Pull the rod back out about 1/8", then mark the dowel rod at the base of the topper. This indicates how much of the rod will be inside of the topper once we're finished.

Make another mark on the dowel rod about 6-8" below the first mark. This indicates how much of the rod will be inside the tree.

Cut the dowel at the second mark. I used gardening shears for this (too thick for scissors), but a saw would have made a cleaner cut. Optional: Clean up both ends of the dowel using sandpaper, a file, or a grinding stone. Smooth out and slightly taper the ends to eliminate any rough bits that might scratch something.

Slide the grommet onto the dowel rod so that the grommet sits on the first mark. Secure the grommet in place with super glue. Hot glue or Sugru would probably also work here. Let the glue dry for a bit before continuing.

Step 4: Add Cloth

Lay out your cloth nice and flat. Lay the shorter end of the dowel rod on the cloth such that the grommet lies just below the edge of the cloth. Mark the cloth at the end of the dowel rod.

Repeat this process several every 5-6 inches across the cloth. Use these marks to cut the cloth into a long strip.

Secure one end of the cloth strip to the dowel rod using tape. Wrap the cloth around the dowel, keeping it as tight as you can. Once all the cloth is wrapped, secure the end with more tape.

It's difficult to judge how much cloth you'll need for this part. You ultimately want the cloth end of the dowel to fit into the base of the tree topper snugly enough that it won't fall out, but not so snug that you have to force it. It's best to err on the side of using too much cloth. If you test-fit the topper and the rod is too big, unroll the cloth a bit and try again.

When you've got the right amount of cloth, it will fit inside the topper as shown in the last photo. I tested the snugness by holding the topper vertically in the air, giving it a good shake, and ensuring that the rod did not fall out.

Step 5: Install on Tree

Once you have the adapter firmly inserted into the topper, insert the other end of the rod into the hole on the top of the tree. The grommet should rest against the top of the tree and should not slide up or down the rod. The topper should sit low enough that its base covers up the rod, the grommet, and the tip of the tree.

When it comes time to un-decorate, lift the topper off of the tree and remove the rod by gently pulling it while twisting slightly.