This Kansas mom’s Christ­mas tree sure is a beauty

The Wichita Eagle - - Front Page - BY SUZANNE PEREZ TO­BIAS sto­[email protected]­chi­taea­gle.com

Mary Billings wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent for Christ­mas this year.

Her 1-year-old daugh­ter, El­iz­a­beth, would crawl into or pluck or­na­ments off a tra­di­tional Christ­mas tree, she said. Billings prefers live trees but doesn’t like to keep them wa­tered, and last year’s dried up quicker than you can say “Don­ner and Bl­itzen.”

So the Wi­chita mom and owner of Love of Char­ac­ter, a party sup­ply and pa­per goods shop at Hillside and Dou­glas, spent a re­cent af­ter­noon sculpt­ing a life-sized Christ­mas tree from about 150 bal­loons and placed it near the stair­case of her Col­lege Hill home.

“It’s def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent, but I love the way it turned out,” Billings said.

She shared a photo of the tree on In­sta­gram Tues­day evening, and the post has gar­nered more than 1,000 likes.

Billings, who opened her shop

in the Dockum build­ing in 2016, has be­come some­thing of a bal­loon-art ex­pert lately, craft­ing bal­loon arches and gar­lands for spe­cial events as part of her busi­ness. She said the Christ­mas tree was in­spired by a sim­i­lar tree posted on In­sta­gram last month.

“I de­cided this would be a fun way to still have a tree, and try out a new con­cept for the shop,” she said.

Af­ter play­ing with sev­eral col­ors, she and a col­league de­cided to mix pas­tels and pearly dark col­ors for the tree, in­clud­ing a sub­tle pas­tel pink which “added a fun girly touch for my lit­tle miss,” Billings said. They crafted sev­eral bal­loon gar­lands of dif­fer­ent sizes and joined them to­gether to cre­ate the tree, which is topped with a stuffed Santa Claus, also dressed in pink.

So far, daugh­ter El­iz­a­beth hasn’t messed with the bal­loon tree. “She just kind of stares at it,” Billings said.

And in case you’re won­der­ing, the fam­ily doesn’t have a cat.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Mary Billings, owner of Love of Char­ac­ter, a shop on Dou­glas, cre­ated this bal­loon tree in her home.

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