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Tree Decorating Ninja Warrior Style

by Brianna Walker

‘Tis the Season for my favorite party—our annual Christmas Tree Decorating Contest. I may be a little crazy all year around, but when this event arrives, there’s no way to hide it. It’s in plain sight for everyone to see.

We really need to come up with a more appropriate name for the party though, because when we invite people to a “tree decorating” party, many people (especially men) all but roll their eyes. This, however, is not a contest that Martha Stewart would lend her name to. It’s more of ‘Survivor’ meets ‘Ninja Warrior’ Christmas edition party. It’s a party we plan for all year. We aren’t the only ones, one lady came up to me this year, “I just wanted you to know how seriously I take this party.” She has been planning on it since March!

We had five teams that had to create something that not only gave not only the impression of a Christmas tree, but also had to build that tree with the essence of a particular era: 1920s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, and 2020.

The party began with a mini talent show—in which one team really blew everyone away with a pretty amazing rendition of mele kalikimaka. Then the “tree”auction, building, and decorated started in earnest.

The first tree to auction was the retired tree—or maybe just the tired one, as the challenge to this tree (besides creating it) was getting to it. Every person had to hop through tires and up and over a small wall to get to their tree. In or out, through the tires they went, carrying all of their decorating items (rake tines and semi tire chains) and the tree itself—which they would have to build in the era of 2020.

The second tree to auction was the disco tree. A trio of bars, welded to a bicycle wheel that was attached to a drill press allowing it to spin as the decorators attempted building and decorating a tree out of glowsticks to capture the 1980s era. Later, this poor team was sabotaged so they had to work with  eye patches and only one hand. Watching them try to fasten glowsticks together one-handed on a spinning tree brought everyone much laughter.

The third tree took their team to new heights as they got to decorate a Douglass fir—the only real tree at the party. But before anyone starts thinking they got an advantage, the tree was hung from the shop rafters and could only be reached after one was harnessed and climbed an 18 foot rock wall. The age range for the party reached from 2-86. As one can imagine, this tree didn’t have much interest with the older generation which allowed the teenagers to purchase it for the low price of only $4! They won best effort by the judges from all the work they put in scurrying up and down the wall trying to carrying feather boas and paper snowflakes—their best guess on what a 1950s tree might have been like.

The fourth tree was a newsy little gem, designed to keep its team members up to date on all the happenings in Agri-Times Country. An electric chain hoist lifted the members to a platform where they built a three-dimensional tree out of newspapers, and salt dough ornaments that they baked in the shape of whiskey bottles and guns to represent the 1920s bootleg era.

And the last of the “trees” was in honor of my grandma. My grandpa used to rise and shine every morning at 5. My grandmother wasn’t nearly as chipper that early in the morning. My grandpa would say “The morning is the best part of the day!” And my grandmother would nod her head in agreement, “You’re right,” she’d say. “We just disagree on where to spend it!”

So for the team that just wasn’t ready to rise and shine, they got to lay down on floor creepers, and decorate a horizontal tree in the dark while someone outside spun the stalk so that all the sides of the “tree” could be decorated with their balloons and tinsel and painted hippy ornaments to showcase the ‘60s.

Laughter and growns ensued over the next hour as teams tried to figure out how to best navigate their sabotages and challenges to create their essence of a Christmas tree. At the end of the night, the judges chose the 2020 tree as the winner. They made ornaments that read: "cancelled," "masks required," "our meeting will be by zoom," and "what now Fauci?"Who would have ever thought that tire chains, masks and popsicle sticks could look so fun and festive? This party definitely showcases our crazy—but what’s the holiday season without a few nuts in your fudge?

Wishing you a holiday full of crazy! Merry Christmas!

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