Well, it’s that time again. It’s the time when all the wonder and sparkle of the holiday season gets tucked back into boxes and stored away. And when you decorate with vintage items, packing is a very important thing to do right. Ceramics need to be bundled up with tissue paper and bubble wrap and then tucked into a solid plastic tub. Yes, plastic, not cardboard. Cardboard boxes, while they may be free if you reuse that box from your new toaster, they do not hold up well over time and can easily collapse. I highly recommend purchasing large plastic tubs with lids. But what I really want to offer to you today is the proper care and maintenance of aluminum trees.
The last thing you want is for your tree to look like this:
To prevent your tree from looking like this poor fellow, with its sad and tattered branches, just follow my three easy steps!
Take one of the sleeves your branches came in and a branch. Hold the branch gently somewhere in the middle with the portion that goes into the trunk down. This part goes into the tube first! Then gently guide the branch in – but not all the way!
When you have about four inches or so left after guiding the branch in, gently tap the end of the sleeve on a hard surface, this will guide the rest of the branch into the sleeve without your hand forcing and crushing the aluminum. Have patience, it could take awhile.
If you still have a bit of aluminum sticking out of the paper sleeve, gently take your pointer finger and find the end of the aluminum pole then gingerly push the branch in until it is all the way in the sleeve. When it comes time for the holidays once again, be sure you pull the branch out by the end that goes into the trunk! This way your are continuously putting the “needles” in the same direction each time you handle the branches.
And there you have it!
Once you have done this for all of your branches place all of the branches back inside the box. It is better to fold all of the flaps over and put rubber bands around the box rather than folding the flaps into each other. If you fold the flaps into each other your risk crushing the branches. Then place your box somewhere with nothing else on top of it! You’re dealing with 40-50 year old cardboard! It is rather fragile.
Now, what to do if you’re missing some of the sleeves? Make them! Butcher paper measured the length of your branch and about an inch in diameter with some tape will do just fine. Additionally, you will sometimes find that the aluminum that makes up the needles has sprung loose. If this happens fear not! Gently pull the aluminum down using your thumb and index finger and then wrap scotch tape around tapering downward onto the branch pole.
December 2020 Update: Recently I stumbled upon someone who is making replacement sleeves on Etsy, which you can purchase here. Secondly, I revisited The Evergleam Book, which is absolutely amazing and I highly recommend. In it they address something I am regularly asked, which is how to clean or polish an aluminum tree. In the book author Theron Georges suggests using a purpose-made polishing glove that has cleaning fluid already in the fabric. It’s a very time consuming process because it requires you to run each needle between your fingers, and you must be very gentle in doing so as not to tear off branches. I have not yet tackled such a method of cleaning, realizing how time consuming any process would be. However it is something I may try in the future if I have a smaller tree I see in need of cleaning. If I do this, I’ll be sure to share the process on the blog.