So, you’ve put up your Christmas tree. You’ve got all the decorations looking gorgeous. Everything is going great. Then, comes the finishing touch. The addition of the tree topper. And what do ya know? The stupid thing won’t stay upright!
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I know you’ve been there. You may even be suffering from the crooked star (or angel) syndrome, right now. But, don’t give up. I have been using this trick to keep my Christmas tree topper straight for years.
So, take a deep breath. Grab your cup of coffee (or wine). Sit back, and let me tell you a few simple ways that I have found to conquer the wayward Christmas tree.
How To Keep Christmas Tree Topper Straight
Beginning with those crazy, swirly, springs
You know. The ones that come attached to most tree toppers. I am not sure how it happened, but somewhere in the world lives a person who thought that it would be a good idea to add that springy thing to a heavy ornament. Then, expect it to stand straight on a branch that can barely hold itself upright.
It’s hard to believe that in all of these years, and with all the inventions that we have come up with that no one has invented something better for a tree topper.
Seriously, we have put a man on the moon. We can reach out through waves to people all the way on the other side of the world in just a matter of seconds. But, keeping a star straight on a tree… nope. That seems to be beyond our mear mortal minds’ capabilities.
So, here is what I have come up with to keep my Christmas tree topper straight and upright. A very basic. Simple. Dowel rod. Yep, that’s right. I said, a dowel rod.*
That and a couple of zip ties* is all it will take to get your star sitting straight. And this is how it works.
That flimsy little stalk that comes at the top of every artificial tree is simply not strong enough to hold the weight of anything more than the needles attached to it. But, if you can extend the center support, you will have something to work with.
Dowel rods are amazing little tools. They can be used in a lot of different ways. I use Dowel rods for all sorts of projects. So, we can add this one to the list.
Now, it doesn’t take a very long dowel rod to work. You just have to use enough to proportionately distribute the weight that you are adding.
About 10” of length from a 3/4″round dowel is adequate for most toppers. But a longer dowel can be used for heavier objects.
Starting from the top of the tree, maneuver the dowel rod down through the branches. The idea is to keep it right against the center pole.
Leave about 3-4 inches of wood protruding above your last needles (not counting that last long piece). Then, use the zip ties to attach the dowel rod to the center pole.
Make sure to use at least three zip ties. One at the bottom of the dowel rod and the other two placed at the center and at the top edge. Pull them as tight as you can get them.
Next, twist the spring down over the dowel until it has a super tight hold. Then, use that long branch tip at the top of the tree to wind around the spring and camouflage it.
Tip – if you add the topper during the tree assembly and before you put that last tree section up, it will be much easier to get it secured tightly. But, I am assuming that you may already have your tree up and not willing to disassemble the top portion.
You can see one of my trees from this year with the star mounted. I just wanted to show that the dowel rod is very easy to hide with a bit of ornaments and stems.
On a Side Note:
I did find this tree topper stabilizer* that can be purchased. I tried it out. It works okay for lighter-to-moderate weight items, but really only keeps it straight and does nothing to secure the piece to the tree. A hard bump can send it toppling to the ground.
I also found this other stabilizer.* It holds more securely IF you can get it on your tree. The issue for me was the twist mechanism which has to be twisted down the length of the center pole. Not easy to do with branches protruding out in all directions.
After testing both devices, I decided to stick with my DIYed version. But, if DIYing isn’t really your thing, by all means, give one of those a try!
This technique has been working quite well for all of my stars. (FYI – you can see how I built that shipping crate here, and find the instructions for building that star, here. If you want even more of my decorations, check out last year’s Christmas tour!
Moving on to the angel tree toppers
Now with angels, the base is a bit different. Most of these have a cone-shaped piece of plastic that is supposed to slip down over the treetop. Sounds simple enough, right?
Except, no matter how many branches you stuff up her bum, she always seems to be on the brink of diving to her death in a display of protest. This is how I lost my most cherished tree topper several years ago.
Since I was quite devastated over her death, I decided to make sure that no other angel could succumb to such a tragic end.
Before attempting to sit another angel on my tree, I tried several techniques. This is the one that worked the best.
It requires the addition of a styrofoam cone.* You know the type. You can find them in just about any craft store. Or use that link to buy one online.
With this method, I like to use the 1/4″ round dowels. It is easier to push inside the styrofoam. However, I go a bit longer on the length to get a strong stable hold.
First, test the cone out under the angel’s dress. Slip it inside the plastic sleeve and see how well it fits. The idea is to get a nice snug fit.
You may need to cut some off of the tip of the cone, or you may need to remove some excess from the bottom. But, most of the time it is fine as is. Just work with it until the cone fits snuggly inside the plastic sleeve.
Next, use the dowel rod technique from above. Attach the dowel rod to the center tree support just like before. Except for this time, instead of twisting a star on top of it, you push the styrofoam down on top.
Actually, it is better to press the cone over the dowel rod before attaching it to the tree. That way you are not applying force to your tree.
Then, once the dowel rod/cone piece is locked in place, slide the angle down over the cone. That’s it! Now your angle can stand proud like she was meant to.
With this method, the angel will need a tad bit more overhead room. It will add about 10″ to your final tree. (win/win) So, just keep that in mind.
As you can see, it is better to get the topper attached before moving on to the other ornaments. She is really stable and I have no worries that she will fall to her death.
Let’s talk about real trees:
With a real Christmas tree, you can accomplish the same effect without needing a dowel rod. But, only if you plan ahead.
On a real tree, you can snip off the tiny branches that are attached to the main truck. If you clip off enough, you will get to a much sturdier part of the trunk.
This sturdier section should be more than adequate to hold your topper in place. Then, you can trim the tree to blend with this new height adjustment. Depending on the tree, you may not need to do much trimming.
But, let’s assume for the moment that you didn’t plan for the need to do any trimming. Or maybe you already have your tree finished and you just want to keep your Christmas tree topper straight.
In which case, you can use either of the above methods. It works perfectly for artificial trees, but there is no reason you can’t use it on a real tree, too.
One Last Tip:
You can spray-paint the dowel rods to match your tree. I did that for the tree that I flocked last year. And you can’t even tell it is there.
Now, if you need help with your tree lights, you can see what I did to solve that problem, here. Happy Holidays!