US 3924669 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
D United States Patent [1 1 [111 3,
Price Dec. 9, 1975 MEANS FOR DISPOSING OF CHRISTMAS Primary Examiner-William T. Dixson, Jr.
TREES Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Price, Heneveld, Huizenga  Inventor: Roger W. Price, Muskegon, Mich. & Cooper 73 Assi nee: NeeTree Co rat M k l g Mich rpo ion, us egon  ABSTRACT  Filed; Man 21, 1974 A means for displaying and disposing of Christmas trees and the like including a flexible, resinous plastic, PP N05 453,263 generally cylindrical envelope having an open end and a closed, sealed end with a central aperture or perfo- 52 us. Cl. 150/52 R 229/57 rations in the eleeed end for reeeiving the trunk of the 51 int. 01. B65D 81/00- 13651) 65/10 tree- In ene fen, the elesed end ineludee e felded 58 Field of Search 150/52 iz- 229/57, 53 sealed seem eeusing Said envelePe erew" ever stand under the tree. In another form, the closed end 5 References Cited includes a rounded, arcuate sealed seam causing said envelope to dome over the stand beneath the tree. UNITED STATES PATENTS The envelope is folded below the tree during its dis- Swann to cover tree base and to collect needles 23:33:; 2233; 229/57 dropping therefrom and is pulled up and over the tree 317501731 8/1973 Brnim iijjiiiw 1:: 1231253 mm e needles following Such display- 3,758,024 9/1973 Bethke 6t 3] 229/57 Clainls Drawing Figures US. Patent Dec. 9, 1975 Sheet 1 01*2 3,924,669
0 m 2 M at A Z 7 i Z v 475;? Cl ne/S7074 /7 W If FIG. I.
US. Patent Dec. 9, 1975 Sheet 2 of2 3,924,669
MEANS FOR DISPOSING OF CHRISTMAS TREES This invention relates to devices for displaying and disposing of Christmas trees and, more particularly, to a bag or envelope for both displaying and disposing of Christmas trees.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The display of natural pine, spruce, and other evergreen trees in and around the Christmas holidays and other holiday seasons has been commonplace for centuries. As is well known, such trees are generally cut and brought indoors for erection in the living and working areas of homes and other buildings. Since most of such displayed trees are not living, they tend to dry out allowing the bark, needles, and other portions thereof to drop and fall therefrom. Such fallen needles are often tracked all over the floor areas of the house or building and their removal is often quite difficult, especially from rugs and carpets.
The problem is especially acute at the end of the display period when the trees must be removed from the house or building at which time they are very dry and brittle. The trees are removed through doors or other openings which are normally of a dimension smaller than the trees. Such removal, therefore, leaves a marked trail of fallen needles.
Although various methods have been previously employed in an attempt to confine or prevent the dropping of such needles, such methods have generally entailed the use of large pieces of cloth or other materials which must be saved from year to year and either cleaned or washed between uses. The use and storage of such materials can, therefore, be very inconvenient. Further, along the path of removal of the trees and especially at doorways and similar restricted passages, they are wholly ineffective.
An associated problem is that of providing a convenient means for covering the base of the tree and the supporting stand in which it is erected while the tree is being displayed. Such covers normally are also made from reuseable fabric which, of course, must be stored from year to year causing additional inconvenience to the tree buyer. Cleaning them for reuse is frequently a frustrating and time-consuming task.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, it is the purpose of the present invention to provide a disposable envelope for natural and other Christmas trees and the like which is received about the trunk of the tree and thereafter is folded about the base to provide a decorative covering therefor. The folded envelope also collects any needles or other materials dropping from the tree. After display of the trees has ended, the envelope may be pulled up about the sides of the tree and gathered at the top thereof. The tree is thereby enclosed to entrap any fallen needles to prevent their scattering in undesired areas during removal. The invention thus serves the multiple functions of providing a decorative concealment for the base or stand, a during-use litter collector, and a container for both the during-use litter and for all the litter normally incident to removal of the tree.
The envelope may be inexpensively mass produced and thrown away with the discarded tree thereby obviating any need to either clean the bag or store it from year to year. It also prevents the tree from scattering litter outdoors pending the arrival of the removal agency. Many trees, when dry, are unpleasant to handle because of their stiff, sharp needles. This invention materially alleviates this problem.
A related purpose of the invention is to provide a display and disposal envelope having a closed end including specially designed sealed seams. Two types of seams are disclosed, one being an arcuate sealed seam, the other beinga folded, rectilinear sealed seam. With either type scam, the closed end forms a domed or crowned receiving pocket over the Christmas tree stand or base during display of the tree.
In either of the alternative embodiments, the envelope comprises a flexible, cylindrical, resinous plastic bag or envelope including sides, an open end, and a closed end having a central aperture therein for providing the dome or crown over the tree stand. The central aperture is either a generally circular hole or a series of intersecting lines of perforations which, when broken apart to conform to the size of the tree trunk, provide an aperture through which the trunk of the tree can pass. The cylindrical bag has a size approximating the cross-sectional area of a tree including its branches.
In one form of the closed end of the cylindrical envelope, an arcuate, heat-sealed seam extends in the plane of a diameter of the envelope and curves outwardly and toward the open end of the envelope between opposing sides of the cylinder from the central aperture.
In another form of the closed end, the cylindrical envelope includes opposing V-shaped gussets in the sides thereof and is folded upon itself generally in the shape of a W". Thereafter, the bag is sealed along the folded edge and a corner of the folded, sealed edge is removed to provide an aperture for the trunk of the tree. One portion of the folded, sealed bag is then pulled out to properly position the trunk-receiving aperture.
Decorative indicia may be marked or printed on the one surface of the bag such that they are exposed when the bag is folded about the base of the tree during display. Thus, it serves as a decorative concealment of the tree-supporting base. Following the display of the tree, the flexible envelope is pulled up and about the sides of the tree and gathered and tied at the top thereof to completely enclose the tree and prevent the scattering of any fallen needles or other materials in undesired areas during its removal from the display area.
These and other objects, advantages, purposes, and features of the invention will become more apparent from a study of the following description taken in conjunction with the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a first form of the present invention shown enveloping the trunk and branches of a Christmas tree erected in a supporting stand as it would be just prior to disposal;
FIG. 2 is a side elevation of an erected Christmas tree wherein the first form of the disposal envelope is folded about the base and supporting stand while the tree is being displayed;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional plan view of the disposal envelope folded about the tree base and supporting stand taken along plane IIIIII of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, perspective view of the display and disposal envelope of FIGS. 1-3 shown enveloping a portion of a Christmas tree;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary, plan view of a length of flexible envelope material from which the first form of the display and disposal envelope is produced;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary, perspective view of a second form of the display and disposal envelope shown folded about the base and supporting stand of a Christmas tree;
FIGS. 7A7F illustrate the folding and sealing of the second form of the present invention, FIG. 7F being a cross-sectional plan view of the folded envelope taken along plane VIIFVIIF of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary, perspective illustration of a modification of the invention; and
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary, sectional view taken along plane IX-IX of FIG. 8.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to FIG. 1, a typical natural pine, balsam, spruce, or similar tree 10 having a central trunk 12, a plurality of branches 14 extending outwardly and, in the case of some species of tree, downwardly therefrom, is shown supported by a supporting base or stand 16 on a supporting surface 18. Typically, such trees are cut near the ground to provide an extending butt portion (FIGS. 1 and 4) of trunk 12 which may be inserted through suitable securing means 17 of the stand 16 to support the trees in erect, stable positions. In accordance with the concept of the present invention, either form of a display and disposal envelope or bag 20 or 40 is received around the tree 10 such that it may be folded down around the butt portion 15 and base 16 to provide a decorative cover and needle collection means (FIGS. 2 and 3) as well as being pulled around the sides of the tree for disposal of the tree following the display period (FIGS. 1 and 4).
As illustrated in FIGS. 1-5, a first form of the display and disposal envelope 20 comprises a flexible, pliable bag having an open end 22 (shown in phantom in FIG. 1), a closed end 24 and sides 26 extending between the said ends. In the preferred embodiment, bag 20 is gen erallya-right circular cylinder having a circular, transverse cross section as shown in FIG. 3. Other different cross-sectional shapes such as polygonal shapes may also be used. Bag 20 may be produced in various sizes to accommodate trees of various sizes.
Closed end 24 includes a series of lines of perforations 28 intersecting at an apex at the midpoint or center of the closed end of the bag providing a plurality of flaps or corners 30 which are telescoped over and engage the trunk of the tree when the butt portion 15 is inserted therethrough. The lines of perforations are broken apart only far enough to admit the butt 15 therethrough in order to provide a relatively restricted opening preventing needles and other droppings from falling between the trunk and opening, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. Alternatively, a circular aperture 32 (shown in phantom in FIG. 3) may be used in place of the intersecting perforated lines. Either type of aperture is formed centrally in the closed end approximately coaxially with the cylindrical axis of the bag 20 such that its size approximately corresponds to the typical butt end portion 15 of a typical tree trunk 12.
A particular aspect of bag 20 is the sealed seam 34 illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3-5. Seam 34 is an arcuate, heat-sealed seam formed within the plane of one of the diameters of the circular, cylindrical envelope 20. Seam 34 curves outwardly and toward the open end of the bag between opposing sides of the cylinder from the center of the closed end as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. The
seam 34 is sealed completely from the sides 26 of the cylinder to a position adjacent the perforated lines 28 or circular aperture 32 as shown in FIG. 3.
As shown in FIG. 5, one way of manufacturing the present invention with the arcuate, sealed seam 34 is to use a large arcuate cutting and sealing means brought into engagement at spaced intervals along the length of a continuous, elongated, flattened tube of flexible material 36. The cutting and sealing means (not shown) separate defined lengths of the flattened tube 36 by cutting and sealing across the entire width of the tube 36. The sealing and cutting means may also be used to form the lines of perforations 28 as illustrated. The curvature dimension A of the arcuate seam 34 (FIG. 5) is typically approximately one foot from the center of the closed end to the point at which the seam intersects the sides 26 of the cylinder. The total width or diameter of the cylindrical envelope is selected according to the size of the tree desired to be enclosed therewithin.
As shown in FIG. 2, when the bag 20 is folded beneath the tree to form a decorative cover for the base or stand under the tree, the arcuate seam 34 supports and retains the envelope in a dome-shaped or crowned manner providing an attractive and decorative cover.' The dome shape provides a tent, pocket, or space for the stand or base 16 therebeneath and prevents the material of the bag from being constantly in contact with the water contained in the stand. Since the seam 34 comprises at least two layers of the flexible material forming the envelope, the seam is sufficiently resistant to collapse and yet strong enough to support the closed end in the rounded, pocket-like manner.
Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7A-7F, a second form 40 of the invention is illustrated. Envelope 40 also has an open end, a closed end, and sides as does envelope 20 and is utilized generally as envelope 20 in the manner shown in FIGS. l-4. However, envelope 40includes a rectilinear, folded, sealed seam 42 which supports the closed end of the envelope in an upstanding crown 44 over the stand or base 16 beneath the tree when the envelope 40 is folded about the base of the tree.
As shown in FIGS. 7A and 7B, the flexible material from which envelope 40 is made comprises a cylinder or tube 41 having sides 46 and 47, edges 48, and generally V-shaped gussets 50 on opposing sides of the cylinder. Gussets 50 include internal folds 52, extending generally along the length of the tube, and aligned pairs of external folds 54, also extending along the length of the tube where the gussets meet the sides 46 and 47.
Folded seam 42 is formed by folding and sealing the above-described gusseted envelope or tube generally in the shape of a W as shown in FIG. 7C. The envelope is first folded along a center fold 56 at the midpoint of the envelope between pairs of external folds- 54. Center fold 56 thus has external and internal surfaces 46aand 47a, respectively, formed by the opposing sides 46 and 47 of the envelope. The envelope is then folded along two intermediate folds 58 each of which is positioned intermediate the center fold 56 and one of the pairs of external folds 54 of gussets 50. The entire envelope is thus folded into four equal sections as shown in FIG.
7C such that the portions of end edges 48 in each of the four sections are parallel. Further, each pair of external folds 54 lies along and is parallel to center fold 56 while intermediate folds 58 are parallel and immediately adjacent one another.
At one end of the folded tube, the aligned end edges 48 from each section are heat sealed rectilinearly and parallel thereto after the above folding, as shown in FIG. 7D, to provide the sealed seam 42. Thereafter, the corner 60 of the sealed seam 42, including a portion of center fold 56 and portions of all of the external folds 54 of gussets 50, is cut at an angle as shown in FIG. 7D to form an aperture 62 for receiving the trunk of the tree to be displayed. Thereafter, the internal surface 47a of center fold 56 is pulled outwardly toward the opposite corner 64 of sealed seam 42 to position the aperture 62 to receive trunk 12 and to form the crownshaped or domed tent or pocket 44. The remainder of the sealed seam 42 extends generally vertically upwardly to support the crown 44 while folded portions 54 and 56 flare outwardly behind the crown as seen in FIGS. 7E and 7F. The surface 47a of the envelope flares outwardly in front of the tree and therebeneath to provide a decorative cover and needle-catch basin. Crown 44 thereby provides a pocket or space for the stand 16 and also keeps the flexible material of the envelope 40 out of contact with the water contained in the stand as well as providing a more pleasing appearance for display purposes.
Either of the envelopes or bags 20 or 40 is preferably formed from a thin film or sheet of resinous or synthetic plastic material of a gauge which will permit it to be flexible and pliable and yet which includes sufficient inherent strength and resiliency to resist puncturing by the extending branches and needles of the trees fitted therein. The material also preferably has the capability of stretching slightly in order to accommodate any irregularities in the trees to be enveloped thereby. It has been found that resinous plastic materials such as polyurethane and low density polyethylene having a thickness in the range of about 0.002 to 0.004 inches are well suited for the manufacture of these envelopes. Such materials may be either colorless or transparent as shown in FIGS. 1, 4, and 5 or may include suitable coloring or pigmentation in order to color the bag white, green, red, or any other desirable color in harmony with the tree, its decorations, or the display surroundings, Of course, other materials such as paper, plastic-covered paper, or the like may also be used to make the envelopes.
As shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 5, and 6, the bag may also be marked or printed with suitable predetermined indicia 70 comprising decorative designs or worded messages, such as Merry Christmas, which convey the greetings of the season during which the disposal envelopes 20 or 40 are intended for use. In the preferred embodiment, such indicia 70 are printed or silk screened on the exterior surface of the bags during manufacture along the sides 26 in the areas between the open and closed ends 22 and 24 around the surface of the closed end 24. Accordingly, when the envelopes are folded down about the bases of the trees and supporting stand 16, the printed surfaces will be folded outwardly such that the designs or messages comprising the indicia 70 will be conveniently exposed and highly visible thereby adding to the decorative appeal of the envelope.
FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate a further refinement of my invention in which a circular ring 80 is provided. The ring 80 may be of any suitable material such as plastic or paperboard and may be decoratively colored or imprinted. After the tree is erected, the ring 80, which is initially an elongated strip, is seated around the tree, formed into a circle, generally concentric with the aperture in the closed end of envelope 20 or 40, and is then secured by suitable means such as bend-over tabs or stapling. The ring 80 forms an upstanding wall. The bag or envelopes 20 or 40 are then seated thereover and allowed to loosely drape to form a concave depression 81 between the ring and domed or crowned pocket around the tree trunk. This hasthe advantage of providing a catch basin for needles during the trees use. These needles will be automatically trapped when the bag is erected. In the preferred embodiment, the ring 80 has a diameter equal to the maximum diameter of the tree to be displayed with the envelope. The strip for the ring 80 may be coiled for compact shipment and, like the bag, may be disposed of with the tree by inserting it in the open end of the bag just before the end is closed.
As will now be appreciated, the flexible plastic disposal envelopes 20 or 40 may be conveniently used to provide both a decorative cover and needle-collection means during the display of the tree as well as-a disposal means after display of the tree is ceased. A Christmas tree is inserted in a disposal envelope or bag 20 or 40 with the butt end 15 of trunk 12 extending through the central aperture 28, 32, or 62 in the closed end 24 of either envelope. The closed end 24 is pushed up adjacent the bottom branches of the tree, and a supporting base or stand 16 is rigidly secured to the butt end 15 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 7E. After the mounting of the stand 16, the tree may be erected in a suitable area for display, and the flexible bag 20 or 40 folded downwardly about the trunk end 15 and base 16 as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, and 6. Typically, one surface of the bag will be exposed in this position with the folded bag extending completely over the area of the supporting surface under the tree. This area represents the projection of the cross-sectional area of the tree on that supporting surface. Thus, in this position, any indicia which have been printed on the bag will be visibly exposed. Further, any fallen needles or other materials which drop from the tree into the envelope will be retained within the bag when the sides are drawn up around the tree for disposal. Generally, in the folded position, the edge 23 (shown in phantom in FIG. 3) of open end 22 is folded under the remainder of the envelope to provide a smooth, evenly exposed edge 25 about the base of the tree.
Following display of the tree for a desired length of time, the disposal envelope or bag 20 or 40 is drawn or pulled up about the sides of the tree as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. Any fallen needles are retained within the bag during this step during which the entire tree is enclosed and enveloped within the bag 20. Thereafter, the open end 22 of the other bag may be gathered and tied together with suitable securing means, such as a length of string or a twisted wire fastener, to effectively seal the tree and needles therewithin. In this position, the tree may be carried out of the display area within a building without allowing any needles or other materials to drop therefrom.
While several forms of the invention have been shown and described, other forms will now be apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, it will be understood that the embodiments shown in the drawings and described above are merely for illustrative purposes and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention which is defined by the claims which follow.
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
l. A display and disposal envelope for controlling litter from a'Christmas tree or the like, which tree is adapted to be supported by its trunk in a stand on a supporting surface, said envelope comprising a cylinder of a flexible membrane having sides, an open end, and a generally closed end; said envelope, when said sides are erected, having a cross-sectional area large enough to receive a tree; said closed end having a center, aperture means located at said center for receiving the trunk of the tree therethrough, and a sealed seam located at said closed end extending across the entire width of said closed end, and joining and closing said sides of said cylinder at said closed end except for said aperture means which allows a tree trunk to pass therethrough; said sealed seam including means for supporting said closed end in an upstanding, crown-like tent over a tree stand such that the remainder of said cylinder sides flair downwardly and outwardly beneath the supported tree during display to form a curved catch basin under the tree for retaining needles and other droppings from the tree, whereby when said envelope is folded into said catch basin, said envelope approximately covers the projection of the largest cross-sectional area of said tree on said supporting surface, and may be pulled up around the tree when the tree is to be removed to enclose the tree and any matter dropped from the tree during display.
2. The display and disposal envelope of claim 1 wherein said envelope is a circular cylinder having a circular cross-sectional area when expanded; said sealed seam including an arcuate seam extending in the plane of a diameter of said cylinder and curving outwardly and toward said open end between opposing sides of said cylinder from said center, said supporting means for said closed end including a plurality of layers of said flexible membrane sealed together in an elongated arc along said seam, said plurality of layers being resistant to collapse and sufficient to support said closed end in a dome-like shape providing said upstanding tent;
3. The display and disposal envelope of claim 2 wherein said envelope includes predetermined indicia on at least one surface thereof; said indicia being positioned such that they are visibly exposed when said envelope is folded about said base during display of said tree.
4. The display and disposal envelope of claim 2 wherein an upstanding ring is provided to encircle the base of the tree, said envelope when folded about the base of said tree being seated over said ring and draped to form a concave annular pocket between said ring and the dome-like tent around said tree and forming the catch basin for materials falling from said tree.
5. The display and disposal envelope of claim 4 wherein said ring has a diameter at least equal to the maximum diameter of the tree to be displayed with said envelope including its branches.
6. The display and disposal envelope of claim 2 wherein said aperture means comprise a series of perforated lines meeting at a central apex, said lines defining a plurality of flaps engaging the trunk of the tree when the trunk is inserted therethrough.
7. A display and disposal envelope of claim 1 wherein said cylinder sides include a pair of V-shaped gussets extending along the length of said cylinder and opposing one another across said envelope, each of said gussets including a center fold extending inwardly of said cylinder and a pair of external folds where said gusset joins the remainder of said cylinder sides; one end of said cylinder being first folded upon itself along a center fold midway between saidtwo pair of external folds of said gussets, said center fold having internal and external surfaces, said cylinder also being folded along two intermediate folds midway between said center fold and each of said pairs of external gusset folds such that each of said pairs of external folds lies along said center fold with the end edges of said folded end of said cylinder being parallel to one another; said folded edges being sealed together parallel to said end edges of said folded end of said cylinder forming a closed, sealed edge on said envelope; said aperture means including the corner of said sealed edge including a portion of said two pair of external folds and a portion of said center fold being cut at an angle to provide an aperture for receiving the trunk of the tree therethrough whereby when said internal surface of said center fold is pulled toward the corner of said sealed edge opposite said cut comer, said portion of said cylinder adjacent said sealed edge forms a crown-like tent surrounding the stand of the tree with the remainder of said cylinder flaring outwardly under the tree to catch any matter dropped from the tree during its display.
8. The display and disposal envelope of claim 7 wherein said envelope includes predetermined indicia on at least one surface thereof; said indicia being positioned such that they are exposed for viewing when said envelope is folded about said base when said tree is in use.
9. The display and disposal envelope of claim 7 wherein a ring is provided to be generally concentric with the aperture in said envelope, said ring providing an upstanding wall to support said envelope adjacent its open end when said envelope is folded over the stand below the tree; said ring causing said envelope to form a generally annular concave catch basin for litter between the ring and said crown-like pocket around the tree.
10. The display and disposal envelope of claim 1 wherein said cylinder has a width dimension approximating the largest diameter of said tree including its branches; means for closing said open end over the top of the tree whereby the tree is completely enclosed within said envelope for disposal by pulling the sides of said envelope about said tree such that said aperture is adjacent the lowermost branches of the tree.
11. A display and disposal envelope for controlling litter from a Christmas tree or the like, which tree is adapted to be supported by its trunk in a stand on a supporting surface, said envelope comprising a cylinder of a flexible membrane having sides, an open end, and a substantially closed end; said envelope, when said sides are erected, having a cross-sectional area large enough to receive a tree; said cylinder sides including a pair of V-shaped gussets extending along the length of said cylinder and opposing one another across said envelope, each of said gussets including a centerfold extending inwardly of said cylinder and a pair of external folds where said gusset joins the remainder of said cylinder sides; one end of said cylinder being first folded I end of said cylinder being parallel to one another; said folded edges being sealed together parallel to said end edges of said folded end of said cylinder forming a closed, sealed edge on said envelope; an aperture located along said sealed edge for receiving the trunk of a tree therethrough whereby when said internal surface of said centerfold is pulled outwardly through said cylinder sides away from said aperture, said portion of said cylinder adjacent said sealed edge forms a crown-like tent adapted to extend over and around the stand of the tree with the remainder of the cylinder flaring outwardly under the tree to catch any matter dropped from the tree during its display.
adapted to surround the stand of the tree.