Spending the holidays in either our “tiny home” or out of our suitcases brings out the creative in us. We have had to figure out how to work with what we’ve got to make the holidays feel festive. Thankfully for us, Eben loves getting involved and is super creative. We have created chimneys out of paper, or stars out of shells, but this year tops them all.

   This Christmas we are in Tanzania. We don’t have our usual tiny stash of ornaments and decorations to liven things up, we don’t even have our mini Christmas tree. We considered making the whole lot out of construction paper, like we have done before. But we figured, since we are in a house we could go BIGGER this year. Without needlessly spending cash on a tree that we would only use once, for a few days, we thought we should make our own with whatever we could find around the house. At first we thought of making a 2D driftwood tree, but after scouring the beach we realized we would be hard-pressed to find more than one piece of driftwood. We were back to the drawing board. That’s when Eben came up with a great idea and we set into action collecting long branches and palm fronds. 

Ellia thought this twig might be good to make a tree with!
Arias was ready to just use this broken branch as the tree.

   It was an extremely hot and sweaty endeavour, but with Eben’s rope and knot skills he made the skeleton shape of a christmas tree out of the branches we found. First we held all the branches in place and made sure they were how we wanted, and then Eben secured the top with rope and created a knotted loop around the bottom so the branches couldn’t budge from their shape. Then he split all the fronds in half and wove them in and out of the branch frame. It took about 2hrs in the hot sun, but we now have an awesome home-made Christmas tree! We are all really impressed at how well it turned out.

Skeleton created. He used the lid of a 5 gallon pale to hold the circular shape until he tied the loop of rope around it.

He added a couple of cross sticks to make sure they wouldn’t move.

Just like basket making when we were kids, but this time to create a tree.

   With some paper snowflakes on the wall, a branch star on the wall, some lights and ornaments that we bought at the market, and a Tanzanian nativity scene, our tree looks amazing. Being in the tropics is no reason to not get festive for the holidays, we made it work with branches and palm fronds.

We’re curious to see how long it lasts. After 3 days up the fronds are starting to curl inwards, because of the dry heat. Hopefully it lasts us until the 25th!

Eben made a palm frond star as an ornament. Video here.

This year’s color scheme, green and white. Palm fronds, green lights, and paper snowflakes.
The nativity scene we bought at the Stone Town market. Some of the key players are still missing but that’s because we are following the story and only a few get brought out every morning.

Story time by the tree.