5 ways to fight with your spouse while putting up a Christmas tree.


A few days ago, my kids got into a fight because one of them wouldn’t stop loudly singing “Last Christmas” by Wham.

Why did they fight? Because Acuffs.

But they are not alone in the reality of a good old fashioned Christmas argument. Turns out that putting up a Christmas tree is the holiday equivalent of hanging wallpaper with your spouse. (Few things make marriage as difficult as wallpaper.)

How do you enjoy this festive argument? Here are a few pointers.

1. If possible, get a real tree.
Nothing creates a good fight like adding a large, slowly dying part of the forest to your living room. First of all you have to decide which one. Then there are the needles, the freaking needles. Christmas tree needles are nature’s glitter. You will be cleaning needles up until July.

2. Put the tree in a difficult to reach room.
Aim for a room that requires many, many complicated maneuvers through narrows halls. Nothing will fire up a spouse like a great wall scrape when you carry in the tree. (Bonus points is you leave a trail of sap on the wall.)

3. Yell out instructions. Like Ross.
If your spouse isn’t carrying the tree correctly, yell the instructions louder. Like Ross in that episode of Friends when they were carrying the couch. (Pivot!) Screaming at your spouse is like “verbal mistletoe.” It really makes them want to make out with you. Trust me on this one.

4. Get a tree stand much smaller or larger than the actual tree.
You know who invented the tree stand? Satan. That’s who. I hate that guy so much.

5. Store all your lights in a squirrel nest tangle.
The minute Christmas is over, tie the strands of lights into knots even a sailor couldn’t figure out. That will make for an awesome fight next year.

Those are my 5 tips. They will undoubtedly lead to a real fight, not one of those fake Christian fights where the sun doesn’t go down on your anger. It will go down and so will you, on the couch.

Happy Holidays!


p.s. Have you ever argued with your spouse during Christmas?

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    • Jenna says

      Mine too! I swear I’ve never had such a dead tree before! I think this one was cut down LAST Christmas (yet at the lot it still looked less dead than all the other ones around it…SO not going there next year!)

    • Tim says

      I’m sure it’s far from your greatest concern, but curious, did you get a pre-cut Christmas tree? Do you know if they put a fresh cut on the trunk for you? (If you didn’t just cut it down, you should take at least a quarter inch off the bottom of the trunk or your tree will not drink water, though in my opinion, this is something the folks selling it should do for you.) And also, what variety did you get? Some will drop needs like crazy regardless of whether it’s cut in your living room not drinking water or still growing in the field.

    • JonJon says

      I thought about it but since it was all by itself decided to pass. It’s funny but I actually wondered if someone would remember.

    • Johanna says

      Hey< Joey E, thanks for the link to the previous blog post. I followed the link just to get the origin of the middle finger of punctuation reference, but it was another one of those awesome blogposts reminding me "God calling me to do the thing is what really qualifies me to step out and do it"…
      Pardon me while I go learn how to "book a venue" to do the thing which I am apparently qualified to do.
      The tree is up so I can throw more decorations at it later as I recover from my audacity in obeying God to share the gospel.

    • Carrie says

      Rooooe my gosh! I have been giving satan the middle finger of punctuation for my whole life! I finally started capitalizing it, protesting the entire way, because I felt people would think I was a poorly educated person, who was unaware that proper nouns were to be capitalized. However, there is nothing proper about satan. He deserves a little “s” because he’s the little god of this world. Just sayin!

  1. Garrett says

    Then, after the tree is finally and tediously set up, knock the entire thing down as you put the star on top. Gleefully yell “TIMBER!” for a nice touch.

  2. says

    Want a real battle? Suggest to your wife that you should replace your tree (which is artificial) with a wall tree or “magical” evergreen netting that will hang from the ceiling because it takes up less space.

  3. says

    Glad this post doesn’t relate to me.

    Singleness has solved the “fighting with spouse” problem for me.

    Also, I have a fake tree. Cause nothing says Christmas like a lime green, miniature tree. :)

        • Michelle says

          My tree is made of three plastic coated wire coathangers, duct tape, fairy lights and tinsel. Stands about 18″ high. The kids got the real fake tree out from under the house (it’s about 4′ high), but decided that they didn’t want to spray for spiders and decorate it, so……

    • says

      This post definitely reminded me of Christmas past growing up. Nothing said the “Love of Jesus” more than your parents screeching.
      As a single my tree has been pared down to a fiber-optic branch in a gold pot. I actually kinda love it!
      Merry Christmas Acuffs!

      • Nicola says

        I have such bad childhood memories of Christmas b/c of my father yelling and swearing at everyone–even more than usual. :P

        Ugh! Now that I’m single again and my kids are actually old enough to help hold the tree, everything is much smoother!

    • Trici says

      I’m single too but still battle with the real tree…this year, the fighting occurred with my mother because as we ere dragging the ridiculously large tree into my teeny condo – my mom left the door open and my dog ran away! Thankfully we found her a bit later but that beats tree needles, sap, scratched walls, and a squirrel (ode to National Lampoons Christmas vacation…lol)

  4. Myra says

    An added bonus with real trees is that what came in must go back out. And I’m convinced that somewhere between all the times it needs water (and whose job is that?), it must grow more needles in preparation for removal day.

  5. says

    Yes, but I am starting this new thing where I try to let go of old stuff. (Hint: It’s not easy..)

    I decided a while back that real Christmas trees are for the birds. That time was around summer many years ago when a Christmas tree – long since dead – was drug from its home and thrown on a fire. The fire went at *least* five feet higher in the air after that dried-out old thing was put on it.

    Soooo yeah…fakies rule!!! :D

    • cindyr says

      Great idea, Bryan. . . You are very thrifty. They sell plastic holders similar to that at Dollar General. I SPLURGED a few years ago and bought a few.

  6. says

    so yes–Christmas trees bring out the worst in a marriage.

    that’s why I’m for fake (trees not marriages)

    First year we lived in a tiny place where I insisted on a ‘regular’ size tree.

    My family squeezed into our living room and talked to one another between the branches.
    smelled wonderful, though

  7. Maury says

    I love the Friends reference. Too funny. In fact, way too funny Jon. Didn’t anyone ever tell you to dial back the snarky sense of humor or risk being labelled the Christian “Jon Stewart?”

  8. Laurie says

    In our last house (read: MOBILE HOME) we actually had a permanently attached eye hook in the wall that we left year round. Every Christmas we WIRED our fake, falling over, cracked stand tree to the wall. It was delightfully tacky, but saved us the cost of a nasty divorce.

  9. says

    Have I ever argued with my spouse during Christmas? Are you kidding? Let’s play a little game. You try to think of a set of circumstances in which I *haven’t* argued with my spouse. Go ahead, I dare you. (Not to worry, brethren. Forty years together and still going strong.)

    • Mary Beth says

      Yup — 28 years here and I think we’ve covered every Christmas arugment (and then some) twice. In fact, we started the tradition of a Christmas argument BEFORE our marriage, as our wedding anniversary is 12/28 — and there are an unfathomable number of stupid things that can be argued over just before a wedding!

  10. Hanna says

    This is my second Christmas being married, and when we put up our tree we were laughing remembering that last year the whole time we put up our tree I was crying becuase we were fighting and wouldn’t stop putting up the tree because I love Christmas. The first year of marriage is crazy fest.

    • Christy says

      “I was crying becuase we were fighting and wouldn’t stop putting up the tree because I love Christmas ”

      Oh my gosh… Funniest thing I’ve heard today

  11. says

    “Have you ever argued with your spouse during Christmas?” – Ho Ho Ho, is this a trick question? One year I wrote in my Christmas letter that every year we survived putting the lights on the tree was another Christmas miracle. We bought a pre-lite tree a few years back. Made all the difference.

  12. Jessica B. says

    “Why did they fight? Because Acuffs.”

    “Because Acuffs” what? Because “they’re” Acuffs? Because Acuffs ______________ (<–insert verb of awesomeness here)?

    Eh…whatever the answer, it sounds like they're normal kids. Who fight. About silly stuff. In between bouts of being trained up in awesome.

    Merry Christmas!

  13. says

    Up until this year we have spent about 2 weeks with our families over Christmas break. This leads to the annual fight: Should We Have a Tree or Shouldn’t We? My husband can’t get in the spirit without one, and I’m obviously a Scrooge because I don’t like coming home from vacation to a corpse in a tree stand.

    • sus says

      I am also a Scrooge. I refuse to put up the (fake) tree years that we are not going to be at home for Christmas. There is no way I could leave it up while we are gone, because the cats would destroy it. And there is no way I’m going to put it up only to have to take it down two weeks later during the rush of preparations of a cross-country trip. My husband sees the logic of this. The kids, well, they’re getting it.

  14. Shane says

    Let us not forget the exponentially growing collection of keepsake ornaments that MUST be on the tree. Every. Single. Year.

    Someone needs to engineer a Christmas tree with the tensile strength of…I don’t know…steel.

    And don’t get me started about watering the tree in the false hope that “it won’t shed as bad.”

    Even after all of that, I still Love Christmas!!! And yeah, I guess I still love my family too. ;)

    • amber says

      oh my gosh! i know what you mean. my husband has been getting Christmas ornaments since he was about 8 (27 now). some of them are huge and we never know where to put one specific one. it seriously is about the size of a dinner plate. we pick the biggest hole put it in and decorate around it.

  15. Priscilla says

    6. Get a kitten. Argue about whose turn it is to get it out of the tree. Then argue about the appropriate punishment for getting into the tree. Repeat bazillionty times.

  16. says

    We only fell victim to the light tangle…and we have a real tree too!

    My husband had nothing to do with the lights, naturally, as the Steelers were on, but my 4 year old did take his place with her impatience and un-helping (when a child tries to help and actually makes it worse).

  17. Chris B. says

    I’m just disappointed that you didn’t give Satan the “middle finger of grammar” by uncapitializing his name. You must not hate him that much. ;)

  18. Casey says

    Yep! We have a a real tree. And we have argued EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. Until this year. He brought the tree home,and no it wasn’t the one I had requested. I didn’t say a word. And when he offered to help with lights I distracted him with a UofL game and quickly strung the lights. Then let the kids decorate! Never fear we argued about all the remaining christmas decor and he topped it off by backing into the garage door in my BRAND NEW VAN. A great time was had by all. ;)

  19. says

    Let’s not forget waiting to cut the string, holding all of the branches in place, until the tree is upright and next to the sofa table—SO that when you cut the string the branches come flying out and take out the (Willow Tree) nativity set. Hypothetically speaking of course.

  20. says

    I have a few memories growing up of my parents fighting as they put up Christmas decorations. My favorite one though is the year they got into a doosey of a “verbal wrangling” over whether or not to retire the fake Christmas tree.

    You see the tree was a bit of an antique, but had sentimental value to my dad, who was also the miser in the family. My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t excited about using the tree again when they discovered that some time during the previous year in storage, the new puppy had discovered it in the basement, and decided to pee on it… several times. My dad argued that the rank ammonia smell that rivaled most smelling salts was contained to just the box. My mom’s nose was convinced otherwise. Ah the joys of middle-class, midwestern memories of Christmases past! They say smells elicit the strongest memories… perhaps this is why I remember this moment so vividly.

    And to answer your question, “Have you ever argued with your spouse during Christmas?” I’d have to reply, “is sweet baby Jesus the reason for the season?!”

  21. says

    Singing “Last Christmas” too loudly?

    Pretty sure that’s impossible.

    Unless, of course, you over-whispered the “Merry Christmas” right before “I wrapped it up and sent it…” That part has to be whispered. It adds just the right amount of creepy-stalker longing to a song that would otherwise be just another “Christmas sucks because I’m alone” song…and therefore makes “Last Christmas” stand proudly in its own sector of slightly disturbing (and yet delightfully hummable) Christmas music.

  22. HeatherS says

    How about the argument over whether or not the tree is standing straight after it has been wrestled into the stand. We get snippy with each other every year over that one. This year the tree only fell over twice before we got it to stay in the stand correctly. Luckily it leaned against the wall and didn’t go completely over! You are right, tree stands are made by satan. My husband is actually pretty patient about the whole thing as I insist on going and cutting down “the biggest tree in the woods” (his words) and he grew up with the whole fake tree thing.

  23. Mark says

    My wife says that the only time she saw her parents argue was at Christmas when they set up the tree. We have continued this family tradition even though we have a two-piece tree stand we have nicknamed “the marriage saver.”

    Sadly and surprisingly, within a week of setting up this year’s tree, one section of it sagged and started dropping needles like crazy (though the rest of it remained healthy). There was no way it was going to make the distance to Christmas. Happily, our neigborhood Boy Scout tree sellers gave us a new one free of charge.

    Still, the process of doing two trees in 10 days–set up, decorate, undecorate, take out, set up–led to some blasphemous moments, not least was my threat (retracted the minute it was uttered) that it was time for an artificial tree.

  24. Jamie says

    On a particular Sunday in early December, a strange thing happens in my house. I become possessed by an evil spirit while putting the lights (white of course) on the Christmas tree. My sparkling personality burns up with the yuletide log and a horribly ugly Christmas light maniac arrives in its place. Once the lights are correctly placed (after many many attempts), the evil spirit drowns in the river like the evil-possessed hogs from the parable. And happy mommy and wife shows back up. It’s like an illness that only shows up for 2 hours on that specific Sunday. Maybe a pre-lit tree is the cure!

  25. says

    Our 2013 Christmas fight started with his choice of new lights for our tree…LED white lights that are so obnoxiously BRIGHT you can’t even see the ornaments. I can’t even look at it without sunglasses. And they aren’t even white…they are blue…like the center of a flame. It makes me want to start singing:

    “I’m Mister Green Christmas
    I’m Mister Sun
    I’m Mister Heat Blister
    I’m Mister Hundred and One
    They call me Heat Miser,
    What ever I touch
    Starts to melt in my clutch
    I’m too much!!”

  26. Anne says

    One of my favorite Friends episodes with PIVOT! I relive it every time I hear that word. Thanks for the Monday morning smile :)

  27. Faith says

    As a sub-point to #1, get the prickliest tree possible, so that when one spouse fails to lift their end properly, the other spouse is getting a faceful of what feel like actual sewing needles. Blue spruce is a good choice for prickliness.

    After 11 years, we’ve seriously improved our marital harmony by always cutting down a fresh tree and watering it every day until it goes out the door.

  28. says

    Love the tree stand comment. Our tree stand frustration has led to the monstrosity that is a massive tree stand bolted to a 4×6 piece of plywood bolted to four 8 foot 2x4s. We have not had a tree fall since it was lovingly created by my husband, but we fight more about getting the stand out of the attic than putting up the tree. Merry Christmas!

  29. lori says

    You forgot one of my favorite moments- the “turn the tree that’s the back/ there is no BACK of a TREE!/ clearly there is just look at it” fight.

  30. says

    Our tree stand was handed down to us by my wife’s aunt and uncle. When they have it to us they told us it’s name was “the marriage builder.” I feel like it’s seeing it’s second generation of arguments.

  31. Amanda says

    Also, be sure to get a tree that’s just about 6 inches too tall for your house so that when you set it upright it the top will drag across your ceiling and leave a nice brown scratch to remind you of Christmas all year long.

  32. Robyn Harris says

    Our kids decided that anytime someone loses their Christmas cool, the rest should start singing “Where are you Christmas?” as stridently and off-key as possible. It’s beautiful to behold, except when I’m the one missing her cool.

  33. crystal says

    Once you have secured the Christmas tree a 2nd time (because it always falls down the first time), make sure you swirl the lights around he tree, making it look like a giant soft-serve ice cream. And when your spouse begins to “fix” it, pick a fight instantly, pout, and be mean to the rest of the family. Then the entire family will join into the great Christmas fight. (and yes, 15 years and running–the fight lives on in the hearts of those who participate).

  34. says

    Fake trees aren’t that much of an improvement. I spent an hour “fluffing” mine. Because I don’t want it to look like I fished it out of a dumpster. And that thing is prickly! I wore garden gloves to protect my hands.

    Granted, it’s a cheap tree. But that’s because if I wanted a nice, pretty fake tree, I’d have to spend hundreds of dollars. Which I don’t have. And it would probably be “pre-lit”, which I hate, because I have strong opinions on how trees should be lit. (Next year I want to get a real tree. Here’s hoping!)

  35. says

    My husband took fishing line to hold the tree in place after many misguided attempts with the metal screw thingys…then he wrapped the fishing line around giant nails which he then proceeded to hammer into the hardwood floors while shouting, “Is it straight enough for you now?” :)

    We laugh about it now, though we are no longer married, and he still hates the holidays.

  36. says

    I could tell you a tale of Christmas tree hilarity that brought us to the brink of divorce, involved peach schnapps and ended with two new puppies.

  37. says

    We actually OWN a tree stand called “The Marriage Builder.” Given to us by my Aunt and Uncle for our first Christmas tree.

    The theory on “The Marriage Builder” is that if you can put a tree up in it, your marriage is going to make it. So far we’ve all made it, although it’s permissible to screw the stand into the floor if needed.


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