The holidays have rolled around and you’ve made the annual trip to the local Christmas tree farm or ventured to the basement to dig up the faux evergreen, and your Tannenbaum is ready for its moment in the tinsel-trimmed spotlight. There’s nothing that will make your fir beauty dazzle like a frosted flourish. While we can’t summon Mother Nature to top it off with fresh snow dusting, there’s an easy—and elegant—way to add that magical touch (sans ice and snow): Flock it!
Flocking, which is the process of covering a bare tree in white synthetic powder, gives the illusion of a fresh snow dusting while retaining the tree’s natural charm, at one third the price of a store-bought tree that has been preflocked. “A new trend is that a lot of people are having their trees flocked purple, orange, pink, black, and royal blue rather than just the traditional white,” adds Natalie Sare, who offers professional tree flocking services at her California-based Santa’s Tree Farm and Village.
Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or looking to dial up the color on your (to-be) evergreen disco ball, we’ve gone to the pros who’ve seen it all, from gloopy faux snow disasters to an indoor winter wonderland you didn’t intend. If you want to learn how to do it right the first time, here’s everything you need to know about flocking.
Methods of Flocking
While some people go as far as to use soap shavings, shaving cream, and even coconut to flock their trees, the most popular options are 1) flocking kits, 2) flocking sprays, or 3) self-adhesive flocking powder. All three are recommended for easy application. Two and a half to three pounds of flocking should be enough for a standard size tree. Additional items you might want are a tarp or drop cloth to protect your floors, goggles and gloves, as well as a spray bottle and a sifter (a small and a large allow for added precision).
“Flocking a tree is a messy process, so be sure to protect the floor around the area where you’re working,” says Carrie Spalding of Lovely Etc., noting that a tarp or drop cloth can protect your floors. “Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dusty, as well as protective gear (goggles, gloves, a mask).” She also recommends working in a well-ventilated area such as a garage or outdoors to avoid breathing and ingesting the powder or spray, as some may contain fire-retardant chemicals.
How to Flock a Christmas Tree
Regardless of which flocking method you choose (flocking kit, flocking spray, or flocking powder), there are some general tips we suggest you follow to ensure that your tree turns out the way you want it.
- Allow yourself at least three hours to fully flock your tree.
- If you are using flocking powder, mist the tree with water. This will allow the powder to stick to the tree. Add flocking powder through a sifter, filling it no more than half full to keep the powder from falling over the sides of your sifter and creating clumps.
- Begin sprinkling the sifter. Work your way from top to bottom when applying the flocking, and work only on one section of the tree at a time. Start from the tips of the branches and work your way inward. “Shake up and down, not left and right, to help keep the powder from falling over the sides of the sifter,” advises Tidbits & Twine’s Kim Morgan. “Also, use your dominant hand for sifting so that you are more precise with your movements.”
- Apply additional layers (as opposed to dumping a lot on all at once). This will make the flocking appear fuller. For added precision, come in with a smaller sifter to reach inner areas and touch up specific spots.
- Don’t get too obsessive. You can have your tree flocked lightly, showing a little green to reflect freshly fallen snow, or have it flocked heavily, to get more of a post–heavy snow storm effect. “Be sure to put your type A personality in check,” says Morgan. “Remember that you’re trying to mimic nature, so not every branch has to be perfect.”
- Add some dazzle. Before the flocking powder dries, you can add mica powder or glitter for a glistening effect.
- Let it dry. Allow the tree eight hours to three days to dry (depending on the amount of flocking). Simply touch the flocking to determine if it is dry or not.
- Reapply as needed. The flocking can be touched up year after year for a customizable finish.
Pros and Cons of Flocking a Christmas Tree
“The biggest con to flocking your own tree is that it can be messy,” Spalding says. “The tree will lightly shed some of the flocking whenever you take it down and bring it back out. But for me, a little mess is worth it.” Saving hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars for a preflocked tree can make the mess a bit more bearable. By flocking a tree yourself, you also have the option to use a real pine tree as opposed to an artificial version.
Another plus is that flocking extends the length of time in which you can display your tree. “Some people are keeping their flocked trees up beyond January and even through February,” says Sare. “And flocked trees have less needle drop when the tree is removed from the home or building after display.” Plus, as Spalding notes, “Once you have the necessary materials, you can also flock wreaths, garlands, mini trees, and anything else you want.” So go ahead, fellow Christmas fanatics, flock away!
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