This my absolute NUMBER WON favorite Christmas hack! It comes from my friend E Jay.
Behold! A self-watering tree stand! It saves your knees! It saves your gifts from getting wet! It’s easy! Plus, it takes the guess work out of watering your cut tree!
By using a siphon method you can easily see your tree is “drinking”, and how much! No more getting on your knees and sticking your hand under the boughs!
You can get the general idea from this picture, or you can read the step by step directions that follow (this set up will not work with a rotating stand.. as far as I know):
Here’s what you will need:
- Christmas tree stand (with a water basin)
- 3-5 feet of tubing (you can get away with 3 ft., but you will want some room to play with)
- A separate container to act as the reservoir
- Use something with a small opening to keep kids and pets out.
- 2 medium or large binder clips
- A permanent marker (or a sticker, piece of tape if you don’t want to permanently mark your reservoir)
- Another pitcher or tub (temporary) *not pictured*
- Measuring tape/ruler *not pictured*
- Towel *not pictured*
- A live Christmas tree (or is that a rake/aluminum pole?… you know, for Festivus!) It’s currently October and I don’t have my Christmas tree… yet.
- cut the bottom ~1/2 of the tree to expose fresh wood (see “Christmas Bonus” & “Added Bonus” at the end of this post)
- a small box, thick book, step stool (to temporarily raise the during assembly reservoir)
- A gift bag larger than your reservoir
- Tissue paper
- 1 rock to act as a weight (+1 for draining post-season)
Let’s get started!
Step 1) Before you put your tree in the stand, measure the outside height of your tree stand’s water portion (basin). Subtract 1-2 inches.
My stand is 6 inches from the floor to the top of the tree stand’s water basin. I subtracted 1 inch. So I’m going with the number 5. Remember your number for your reservoir.
Step 2) Mark your reservoir from the bottom up, using your previous measurement. This will act as your max-fill line after everything is set up.
You can use a sticker here if you don’t want to permanently mark your container.
Step 3) Put your Christmas tree in the stand (make sure it isn’t leaning) and tighten the brackets around your tree. Here is my stand. Bring your tree with attached stand inside your home and put it where ever you desire. I typically put an old towel down first. This helps to slide the tree if you have hardwood or tile floors. The rest of these steps will be done on location.
Step 4) Put one binder clip on the lip of both reservoir and tree stand’s basin. Trust me, do this now. Leave the tabs in the up position.
Step 5) Fill your reservoir (not the stand) with water to the top (above the marked line… ALL of the way to the top… well, minus an inch or so). Put the reservoir as close to the tree stand as possible. Pro-tip: Use a small box, thick book or step stool to lift the reservoir a bit higher than the Christmas tree stand’s basin. You’ll remove this later.
Step 6) Get a small towel ready to dry your hands with or mop up any dribbles. Fill a separate tub with water and put near your tree stand (I use a dish tub from my camping supplies). Slowly dip your tube into the water starting with one end (coil the rest of it under the water). Keep the first end fully submerged. Make sure to get all of the air out of the tube.
Un-pro-tip: If all of your supplies are clean (and sanitized) you can do the “look what I can do with my straw” technique that we all practiced in restaurants as kids. Do this only if you are using straight (clean) water.
Step 7) using your index fingers on both hands, plug both ends of your now “pre-filled” tube.
Step 8) Keeping one finger on one end, while putting the unplugged end through both up-tabs on the reservoir, feed the tube to the bottom. The binder clip is there to hold the tube in place. You can clamp it instead if that works for you, just be careful not to kink the tube.
Step 9) Repeat for the empty tree stand (keeping the end in your hand LOWER than the reservoir’s current water level. This is why your reservoir should be lifted a bit higher than your stand’s basin. Use the towel to clean up any water dribbles. (Stay down there for the net step.)
Step 10) While you are down there, try to coil the excess tubing around the basin. This is why you want your tube length longer than shorter. Use a rock as a weight for the end of the tube in the stand.
Step 11) Remove the box (book, or stool) from under the reservoir and watch the water level go down. This is how you know it is filling the tree stand. If it isn’t going down, repeat steps 6-10. Common error: the end of the tube in the basin came up higher than the reservoir.
Step 12) Refill the reservoir before the water level reaches the end of the tube inside. I like to use my overly priced watering can with a long neck. But I’ve also used pitchers and drinking cups. If it is working for you, skip to the bottom of this post and mix the Christmas tree formula in the “Christmas Bonus” section. Continue to refill the reservoir with the formula or plain water until it equalizes at the mark.
Because of your Christmas spirit (or science, I’m not really sure which), the levels of water will equalize. This is how you will be able to SEE how much water is in your tree stand without getting down there. Just look at the line on your reservoir! (((You did remember to remove the height from under the reservoir, right? If not, you will have a watery mess in a few minutes!)))
ADVANCED PRO-TIP: Disguise the reservoir as a Christmas present with a gift bag and tissue paper!
You can always look inside the bag for the level and refill as needed.
You don’t HAVE to add water just because it is below the line. The line is there as a reference so you don’t over water and get your floor and gifts wet. But I typically keep the water at this marker. Just make sure there is still water in the reservoir and only occasionally use your fingers to do a dip-check in the tree stand basin to ensure there is still water and the tube hasn’t jostled out of position.
Bring back the tub.
Step 1) Put your reservoir in the tub and turn it on its side, being careful to keep the end of the tube submerged at all times. You can slide the tube out before you lift the reservoir out of the tub.
Step 2) Stop the end of the tube with your finger while it is submerged. You can have someone take the water and dump it. OR if you are going this alone, lift the plugged end out and try to keep it as close to the floor as possible.
Step 3) Tilt the reservoir and put the tube inside, making sure it is still flowing as you release it.
Step 4) Empty your tub.
Step 5) Repeat Steps 1-3 often since the two water levels will continue to equalize until both are virtually empty.
Step 6) Celebrate the fact that you don’t have a sloshy mess to clean up as you schlep the tree outside. Sorry, I don’t have a hack for the pine needle trial….yet!
Here is my recipe to keep my tree looking fresh:
***It makes a lot. More than I have ever been able to use in the initial set up of my tree. So, store it in a safe place away from kids and pets….or share with your neighbor.***
- 2 oz reg. bleach
- 8 oz Karo light syrup
- 2 pinches of Epsom salt (~1/8 tsp.)
- 5 qts. tap water
Mix all ingredients until everything has dissolved. Ready to use.
Use the cut-off 1/2 inch to paint a scene from your year (family vacation, birth of a baby, a ‘gotcha’ date, wedding, a move…etc.). For me, 2020 might be a Corona virus image. *wink*
Now you have a record of some of your memorable events throughout the years. It’s fun to reminisce as you hang them on your tree year after year!
Merry Christmas y’all!