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The world is turned upside down, so why not have an upside-down Christmas tree?

It all started when Emme Simpkins saw her neighbors’ tree lit up through the window … and it was only November 2. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized that even if it were closer to December, something just felt so off and just somewhat of a disconnect. Something was preventing me from even the idea of pulling out my same familiar Christmas decorations,” Emme says. “This year, I hardly decorated for the 4th of July, I didn’t buy mums until the very end of September, and my skeleton didn’t make it down from the attic for Halloween either. I have a 10-year-old little boy, and I love to decorate for him (OK, for myself as well!), but this year … this whole world and year has been flipped upside down. And then it hit me! If the world was upside down, so would my Christmas tree! Yes! It was the perfect answer. I would still decorate for Christmas — but in a NEW way! A way only fitting for the year 2020!”

upside-down Christmas tree

This upside-down Christmas tree has a handmade root system, and all of the ornaments (except for the filler gold and silver balls) are handmade as well.

As Emme Googled away, thinking she had come up with an original idea, she found out that upside-down trees are — and have been — a thing for quite some time: “… some cultures even do upside-down trees regularly. And people in New York have been enjoying them for their space-saving capabilities. Who knew?!”

If you are wondering why they are space-saving, it’s because the shape allows you to set them up in a way where the bulk of the tree is up high, and thus, you hardly need to move any furniture. Emme says it’s easy to walk around the tree, and you can vacuum under it with ease. So, if space is tight, upside-down may be the way to go!

And, don’t try to hang a regular tree upside down. First off, this doesn’t work with real trees, as they’ll dry out and are too heavy. Secondly, faux trees are engineered to hang in only one way, so don’t try and hang your typical artificial tree upside down. If you want an upside-down tree, order one made to hang from the ceiling, or they even make some that stand on the floor (the star on top acts as the tree stand). Vickerman has a variety of options.

But, back to THIS YEAR and THIS TREE. The ornaments are akin to a scrapbook for 2020. With the exception of the gold and silver filler ornaments, Emme made each one — and they are all related to 2020. And, they’ve all been made in the past few weeks: “I started working on the tree a week before Thanksgiving. You could say that it’s still an on-going project. Just today, I stopped for gas and thought, ‘Oh! I need to make an ornament showing how low the gas prices dropped this year.’ I also recently added the COVID-19 vaccine ornament with a message of hope leading into 2021.”

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2020-themed Christmas ornaments

Many of the ornaments have a 2020 theme and are handmade.

Vaccine ornament on upside-down Christmas tree

The tree is updated with the evolving headlines of the day, like the vaccine.

Fox News Christmas tree ornament

You’ll find the news channels all represented, like FOX News and CNN, as they have all had a major impact on this year.

2020-themed ornament on Christmas tree

Emme shares, “All ornaments were made using either cardboard from all of my Amazon purchases (ha!), wood, glue, Mod Podge, masks, needle and thread, and really my printer, paper and clear fillable ornaments from Michael’s. Oh! And wire! I could not have done this project without floral wire.”

"I Believe In Nashville" ornament

As a Nashvillian, Emme created ornaments to remember the city’s brutal tornado that hit on March 3, 2020.

Pajama ornaments

Imagine seeing these ornaments in 50 years!

Unlike any other upside-down tree we’ve seen, this one has roots that extend onto the ceiling. Emme hid the hook and chain that attaches the tree to the ceiling stud with leftover butcher block paper from a move several years ago. She then attached the roots to the ceiling with tiny Command strip hooks and wire. “My favorite part of the tree that I made was the root structure on top of the tree … I bunched the moving paper together to form these root-like branch structures and wrapped them tightly with the plastic wrap and continued to build off of one and just continued to connect the various parts together,” Emme explains. “I then covered this structure with crunched up dark brown butcher paper adhered to the plastic wrap and then shaped — similar to paper maché — using Matte Mod Podge. The roots sort of just evolved on their own.”

RELATED: Craftiness NOT Needed: 10 Sentimental DIY Christmas Ornaments

Handmade roots on upside-down Christmas tree

Here you can get a good look at the handmade roots of this tree.

Roots for upside-down Christmas tree

“We were living surrounded by this chaos of paper, sticks and glue for a while. After I attached them to the ceiling, I then added curly willow branches to the end of the roots with floral wire. My original idea was actually to just use curly willow branches or tree branches as the roots … but they still needed something structurally holding them to the ceiling and something to conceal the tree trunk. This is how the idea of twisting the moving paper and plastic wrap idea came about.” – Emme Simpkins

Food for thought: Although this tree started as a humorous take on 2020, it ended up having far deeper symbolism. Emme shares how this thought evolved and moved her: “Sometimes [tree] roots can extend for almost a mile on all sides, making the entire root structure sometimes bigger than the actual tree that we see above the ground. I thought this was so significant for my 2020 Christmas tree! Trees can live for hundreds of years and outlast storms, harsh weather, droughts, and even pandemics. Sure, they might get damaged, but if the root structure is intact and healthy, they will most likely survive … Just like our 2020 upside-down world! Even though we might be going through a storm — actually, make that huge multiple storms — and we have definitely been damaged, our roots are still strong and they are extended — globally united!”

The Upside-Down Christmas Tree 2020

We have to agree. The upside-down Christmas tree is a great symbol of 2020. But, this one, in particular, takes the prize.

As we enter into this holiday season and look toward the new year, here’s to continued creativity and finding new ways to look at the familiar.

Thank you, Emme! When not crafting, Emme can be found making faces glow with skincare treatments and lasers as a medical aesthetician at DeLozier Cosmetic Surgery in Nashville, TN.

All photography by Emme Simpkins.


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