A tumbleweed tree is a low-cost alternative to the tradition pine or fir. No hatchet required.

This Christmas, why not settle for something different? Try a tumbleweed tree—instead of the traditional green one—which is in plentiful supply around these parts. That’s what my wife and I are doing again this year.

Here are a few suggestions should you decide to include the lowly tumbleweed in your Christmas celebration.

1)   Consider girth. Most tumbleweeds are as wide as they are tall. Will it fit through the front door without losing too many branches along the way?

2)   Spray paint or au natural? Some opt to spray paint their tumbleweeds. My wife and I just go for look-what-blew-in-when-we-opened-the-front-door.

3)   Gloves. I used a pair of Pratt Well Service gloves to handle the tree that we had leftover from a service project in Greensburg after the tornado. You will not want to handle a tumbleweed without some kind of protection.

4)   How will you get it to stand up? For our first tumbleweed tree, I used a bench-mounted vise grip that sat sideways on the floor, in true redneck fashion. This year, I used our hedge trimmers to cut some “branches” along the bottom, as well as trim the bottom “stump” enough so that it would fit into our Christmas tree stand. It was an inspired idea that worked.

5)   How heavy are your ornaments? Choose your lightest ornaments. Tumbleweed tree branches are not too sturdy and that four pound golden star might just be a little too much for the tree to bear.

6)   Balance/counterbalance. Keeping suggestion #5 in mind, be sure to add equal weight on all sides to keep the tree from tumbling over (ok, a bad pun).

7)   What if you see a better tumbleweed blowing by while you’re driving out west? If you have a large enough garage, chase it down and bring it home. Save it for next year. You really don’t want to pull off of the ornaments, lights, and garland off of that tree. That will probably be the end of it if you do.

Now that you’ve trimmed, decorated, and put up your tumbleweed tree, brew up some hot chocolate or cider, put on a Christmas CD of your favorite kind of music, sit back and enjoy the ambiance. Tumbleweed Christmas … it doesn’t get much better than that.