Hack a Christmas Tree

From Richmond MakerLabs
Jump to: navigation, search

The present situation


My girl is asking when we are decorating the tree in the Ham Village Green. Located between Ham Close and the Grey Court School. How much was the expense?


As you know Friends of Ham Village green (all volunteers) have been decorating the tree on the green for the last four years and were really pleased to do so to hopefully give pleasure to everyone.

Sadly each year it has been vandalized and all our efforts for the community wasted. We have tried asking Maggie Bailey and Ben Skelton from the youth club to make an appeal to leave the tree alone, but sadly it hasn't worked.

We have literally tried everything I could think of - anti shatter balls (they shattered) putting baubles higher up the tree - they simply climbed the tree. Putting red ribbons on instead of baubles - the ribbons were ripped to pieces. Last year was the worst. The lights which we had put on the tree were smashed. We had hidden the battery boxes, but they found them. The police were so incensed because they thought the tree was great for the community, that they went through all their CCTV to see if they could spot the culprits, but to no avail as it was obviously done at night time

.Decorating the tree is quite an undertaking because we have to arrange with the tree contractors to come with their ladders in order to reach the top of the tree and again ask them to come to take down the decorations. Due to health and safety, they now think that the tree is getting too tall for them to safely use the ladders, so that is another factor to be aware of.

We have literally spent hundreds of pounds over the four years, which we have contributed ourselves (the lights alone last year cost £120). So it was decided this year,after consultation with our councillors etc, that it really was foolish to keep wasting money on the tree, when we could instead be using it for other things on the green such as the spring bulbs etc that we plant and the extra hanging baskets that the Friends of HVG pay the council to put up for us around the green and the shops.. I did ask the councillors to let me know if they came up with any other ideas for Christmas that we could use - around the shops or wherever - but so far no one has managed to come up with any other alternative.

If you would like to see the receipts for expenses, i can probably find them for you, but over the years, it probably amounts to at least £400 and counting as we had to replace everything each year. Very disappointing for all of us.


The problem is getting the tree decorate while avoiding vandalism. Friends of Ham Village Green will be happy to get the decorations down after the Christmas festivities (6th of January).

Social engineering

Instead of shaming people for taking decorations down encourage others to decorate it. Please spread the word!

Take ones own decoration and just decorate it. Anybody remotely interested, encourage them to bring their own decoration. Spread the word, have children talk about it at school, find people that can provide decorations simply leave it by the tree.

Set up a sign? If you want, you can decorate this tree.

Put flyers through the door.

This will decorate the bottom half of the tree. But some small children tend to climb up to the top of the tree. This of course is not encouraged. The top bit will need to decorate it.

Hang Christmas cards

Have a card, write it up, laminate it, punch a hole though it and hang it on the tree. Many Christmas cards are normally left over by this time as most of them would have done out to make it in time!

LASER decorations

The idea is to shine laser lights from the surrounding flats and point them to the top of the tree.

Examples of pointers

Laser projector 1

Laser projector 2

Safe Laser pointers.

suggested by H&S LED light shining.

Health and safety lasers

Risk to a passer by:

She would have to try really hard to get hurt. a) be there when it is on b) climb up the tree c) put her eye on the beam d) hold eye open avoiding reflex of shutting e) the laser power will be greatly reduced as it had to go through a double glazed window f) the beam should also be larger than the pupil so not all the power will go in g) the power of the pointer should be less than 0.5 W h) the idea is to have the pointer doing shapes

The only risk is if the laser beam stuns someone in the area, but again, the beam should be on the tree. People should not be on the tree anyway. It should not be more of a surprise than car headlights.

Also, this could all fail and not work at all, so it would be all moot.

Info extracted from the gov.uk laser radiation guidance.

Work done so far

Up to 2016-12-14

As of 2016-12-14 the bottom half of the tree has been decorated by 3 six year-olds using left over decorations from two homes as well as some donated Halloween decorations of the appropriate colours Green and orange.

Grey court head teacher was contacted asking to encourage children to decorate the tree.

Several social networks where used (not many) to encourage christmas tree decoration. Maybe ask HUG twitter to decorate?

When someone took a decoration from the tree: "would you mind putting that back?, If you want you can bring your own decorations from home to put on this tree."

When someone said "it looks rather sad":

>"I did what I could with my left over decorations from home"

>"I have left over decorations from home as well!, I will leave them under the tree so that the children can decorate."

We attempted to use apple pickers to decorate the high parts of the tree but the decorations have to have a large loop to fit through the branches.


Laser pointers purchased Tested from a good distance the point becomes the size of a baubble. Still need to test through a window the diffraction will make the spot bigger.