Flocking a Christmas Tree

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Flocking looks great on your Christmas tree.

When you're dreaming of a white Christmas but the weather isn't cooperating, you can always have fake snow indoors. Flocking your Christmas tree creates the appearance of freshly-fallen snow dusting its branches. Using tree flocking spray means the "snow" will last permanently, which is why this treatment is often used for artificial Christmas trees. While there's a fairly simple DIY option for giving a tree that snow-dusted appearance, some people people using commercial flocking spray for artificial trees. There are pros and cons to each method.

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Making Your Own Tree Flocking

Making your own tree flocking and applying it with a paintbrush creates the look of clumped snow clinging to the branches. It's a little more labor-intensive than using Christmas tree flocking spray, but allows you to have much more control over how and where the fake snow ends up. The texture of this snow is also more realistic than the typical result from using a tree flocking spray. Have your tree up and in its stand before you start making your own flocking, since it needs to be applied quickly before it starts to harden.

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How much flocking you need really depends on the size of your tree and how snowy you want it to look, but it's easy to create more if needed. Start with about 2 cups of soap flakes in a bowl. (Buy soap flakes or make them by grating white bar soap on the finest holes of a box grater.) Add about 2/3 cup of liquid starch or white glue and a few tablespoons of water. Carefully combine everything, and make adjustments if necessary until you're happy with the thickness of your mixture. Optionally, mix in a squirt of blue food coloring so the fake snow isn't glaringly white.

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Use a paintbrush to apply the flocking in dollops to the tops of the branches. Start with just a little bit on each branch, then step back and evaluate whether you want to add more.

To give the tree sparkle, sprinkle silver glitter over the freshly-applied flocking. Lay down a tarp or old sheet underneath the tree first. Let the flocking dry for about a day, then gently shake the tree to loosen any stray glitter before you remove the tarp.

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Using Christmas Tree Flocking Spray

A quicker, dirtier and easier way to cover your tree with fake snow is Christmas tree flocking spray. It's essentially white spray paint for your tree. Using flocking spray for artificial trees covers the entire tree with an even coat of color, mimicking the look of a tree just after a fresh snowfall. Treat the tree with just a fine mist of white or use several coats to really transform it. The spray will make a mess, so this project should be done outdoors or with tarps under and behind the tree.

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A third method uses flocking powder. The first step is to spritz the tree with water, then sprinkle the white powder over the damp branches. Once dry, the flocking powder should adhere to the tree. You'll again want to put a tarp or sheet under the tree before applying flocking powder.

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What to Know About Flocked Trees

There's a reason people tend to use flocking spray for artificial trees rather than real trees. While most municipalities have programs that accept and even collect used Christmas trees for recycling, they generally won't take flocked trees. Used trees are often turned into mulch or otherwise transformed in a new way, and the use of artificial chemicals means flocked trees could contaminate these new materials. If you put a flocked tree out at your curb for pickup, it will almost certainly still be there until you remove it.

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An artificial Christmas tree is already bound for a landfill when you're done with it, so flocking doesn't do any harm – as long as you're confident that you're still going to want the tree to be flocked next year, since there's no way to completely remove dried flocking (though dried flocking powder can be largely removed if the tree is sprayed again).

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Pet safety may also be a concern, if you have a dog or cat that tends to nibble on your tree or otherwise eat things they shouldn't. You don't want them ingesting flocking of any kind.

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