“Why didn’t I ever think of that?” a friend said when I mentioned the way I’ve started watering our Christmas tree.

It’s not a new idea, but I thought I might document it here in case it might save just one person from the hassle of sloshing around with a watering can under their tree every day.

If we can do that, then it will have been worth disappointing everyone who came here hoping to read something about hiking.

You shouldn’t have to see your tree from this angle

The world is full of people who, for various reasons, don’t crawl around under Christmas trees.  If you are one of those people, I’m afraid this post will not be at all useful to you.  (If you’re a regular visitor of this site, though, that should be a familiar feeling by now.)

There’s also a chance you’re already watering your Christmas tree with a siphon.  If so, great! You may want to stop reading now.  I have nothing useful to tell you, except that sometimes it’s cheaper to buy two four-packs of McNuggets than one six-pack.

For everyone else, here’s a guide for a method to water a Christmas tree without ever having to crawl around under it again.

Guide for unleashing the power of physics to improve your life (and water your Christmas tree):

Things you’ll need:

  • Water
  • A bucket
  • A Christmas tree in a stand
  • A piece of clear tubing long enough to stretch between the bucket and the stand (available at any hardware store – here’s what it looks like at Lowe’s)
  • Gravity

From that list, you can probably already see where this is going, but since this is the site where you can find ten-page trail guides for two-mile hikes, it seems fitting to go ahead and bust out a step-by-step guide anyway:

  1. Chop down an innocent pine tree.
  2. Put it in your house, after making sure there are no woodland creatures hiding in it.
  3. Absolve yourself of guilt. According to a 2010 study discussed in the New York Times, “the environmental impact of real Christmas trees [is] quite small, and significantly less than that of artificial trees.”  You’ll have to find a better way to get on the naughty list.
  4. Water the tree the old-fashioned way, just this once, so that the tree doesn’t die while you’re futzing around with the next steps.
  5. Now that you’ve filled the tree stand with the normal amount of water, measure the distance from the top of the water level to the floor. (Also, sorry I didn’t tell you that you’d need a measuring instrument in the “Things you’ll need” list.  You’re also gonna need a Sharpie in a minute.)
  6. Stash a bucket behind the tree. If the tree doesn’t hide the bucket entirely, lean some presents against it, or stick a bow on it to make a festive Christmas bucket.  Here’s our tree:
    You can’t see the bucket back there at all, on account of all the glitter-and-popsicle stick ornaments blocking the way.  And even if you could, utilitarianism is festive!

    Festive Christmas bucket, full of good cheer
  7. Using a Sharpie or piece of tape, put a permanent mark on the inside of the bucket, at least one inch LOWER than the water level in the tree stand. (Once the siphon is set up, if you accidentally fill the water level in the bucket higher than the top of the tree stand, your whole day is going to be ruined.  But you won’t do that!  You’re a responsible person.)
  8. Optional step: In a loud voice, say, “Alexa, play Christmas music by Sia.” If you don’t have an Echo, nothing will happen.  But if you do, that is some peppy Christmas music, right?  (And if you don’t agree, just say, “Alexa, play Christmas music my Michael Buble,” and we’ll just pretend this whole thing never happened.)
  9. Fill the bucket with water, right up to the mark you just made. BUT NEVER HIGHER THAN THAT MARK!  Sorry for screaming.  It’s important.
  10. Create the siphon. This is the hardest/grossest/final step, and I’m still working on perfecting the technique.  Your goal: Connect the water in the tree stand to the water in the bucket without having any air bubbles in the tube.Here’s one way to do it: First, put one end of the tube into the water of the tree stand, as low as you can.  Insert the other end into your mouth (I know, I know).  Slowly suck the nasty pine water out of the tree stand with your end of the tube slightly elevated, allowing time for air bubbles to work themselves out.  When the nasty pine water gets close to your mouth, put your thumb over the tube opening to hold the water in place, then plunge the tube into the bucket before removing your thumb.Did it work?  Sweet!  Did you accidentally drink nasty pine water?  Sorry!  You can check out this WikiHow article for some different siphoning techniques to try (Method 2 on that page doesn’t require putting the tube in your mouth, which is a plus).  There are also siphon pumps you can buy, if you want to be really froofy about it.

    Once you get it set up, that tube and gravity will do all the work for you. It works slowly — you can use a flashlight to see tiny particles getting sucked into the tube to verify that it’s working. If you don’t see any air bubbles in the line, you should be all set.

    Just sit back, relax, and let science do all the work for you.  ALSO, REMEMBER TO NEVER FILL THE BUCKET ABOVE THE MARK YOU MADE IN STEP 7.  Sorry for screaming again.

That’s it!  Now you can water that bad boy by just walking up to your tree, all civilized, pitcher of water in one hand, crystal snifter in the other.  You just pour the water into the bucket without even pausing your conversation about opera and hedge funds or whatever civilized people talk about.  No more clambering around under the tree, spilling water on your carpet, and getting scratches on your arms and pine needles in your eyeballs.

Have a better method?  Please share it in the comments!

Whatever holidays you celebrate, here’s wishing you a relaxing end of 2018, and may your 2019 be filled with the best kind of adventures.  And no pine needles in your eyeballs.

Comments (6)

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    1. Mike

      Thanks, Rei! I hope you will forgive me for suspecting that when you say “they,” you mean “we,” but still, this does indeed look like a pretty good solution. I still like the bucket/hose/science method, but this doohickey would probably work better for some folks. Thanks for stopping by, if you’re a human! (Or even a friendly personality construct.)

    1. Mike

      Thanks, Haley! Every year, we go to the tree farm with the intention of getting a reasonably sized tree, and we leave with the first runner-up for the Rockefeller Center. That’s what we get for letting the kids have a vote.

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