“Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…”

“…What will you look like thiiiisss yeeeearrr?  Will you be tall?  Colored with balls?  Will that fat cat, make you fall?  Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas treeeeee….”

(Bear with me, ya’ll, as posts go, this is a longun’.  But it’s likely the only one you’ll get of any substance this holiday weekend.  Have a safe one, everybody!)

What kind of Christmas tree do you like to do?  Fresh or Artificial?  Do you have basically the same tree every year– maybe with a few new additions– but overall the same feel?  Do you prefer the traditional colors, like my Mother with her red and gold, or do you branch out with wild, unusual color combinations (like I typically do)?  Do you have multiple trees with multiple themes; or do you go with one, big, grand number?

I will admit, I like to do something a little bit different every year…  I collect cool vintage pieces year-round, and have a larger-than-necessary stock to choose from when it comes to decorating time for the holidays.  I’m also on the verge of being one of those people with more than one tree.  Oh sure, we’ve done a tiny tree in Fox’s room every year, and usually I do a small one in the kitchen, but now that I live in a bigger house, we will eventually have two living spaces, and I will want to do a full-size tree in each of them….  I’m hoping to maybe score another six or seven foot artificial in the next year or so, probably on some after-season sale if I can…  I envision one campy, colorful tree, covered in deer, vintage oddments, and homemade ornaments; and one luminous, classier tree, adorned with simply my collection shiny brites and a ton of glass balls.  Of course, it’d be super-swell to have a finished living room to put that in as well!  Ah, dreams….

Foyer Wall Arrangement, Xmasified

Foyer Wall Arrangement, Xmasified

***

I remember the first Christmas trees that made a real impression on me.  As a small child, they were all magical, but as I grew older, some real favorites emerged, and I began to notice some real use of personal style in adorning the trees.  I admired them closely.  I formed opinions.  I took notes….

*My mother’s tree has always sort of been traditional, classic tree perfection:  a bajillion white lights; strands of beads that look like cranberries; golden balls; literal silver bells; red-painted popsicle stick sleds and ornate, handblown Radkos.  Our elementary school creations are displayed next to knee-hugging elves from my father’s childhood with the same level of pride.  She does a really, really beautiful mix of handmade/ lowbrow and expensive/ antique.  The effect is quite magical.  It seems to epitomize what a storybook Christmas tree looks like, something you would see pictured in Clement C. Moore’s classic tale.  I’ve always loved her style, her tree is always gorgeous.

*My aunt Lola’s tree has always been a sort of retro throwback experience:  usually a fresh tree, hers is coated with the classic-large colored bulbs, as well as strands of delightful bubble lights (love, love!); then decorated with ornaments, many of them frosted balls, and 60’s snapshots of her children framed in shapes like stockings and candy canes; it’s topped with a glowing star and coated in a layer of dripping, silver aluminum tinsel strands.  The mid-century feel to her tree has always influenced my holiday tastes in a more kitschy fashion, and how!

Vintage Santa Die Cut ('80s I'd Guess From the Country-Cozy Feel)

Vintage Santa Die Cut (’80s I’d Guess From the Country-Cozy Feel)

*Clara, my girl scout troop leader and high school best friend’s mom, kept her tree to several rotating color themes.  Always elegantly tailored to be mostly theme-appropriate, she would do metallics one year, red and green the next, and on the third year– what I felt was revolutionary and gorgeous– cranberry reds with mauvey pinks.  Hey, it was the late 80’s.  Her gift wrap choices would always be selected to match the tree, and she likely used more ribbon *on* the tree than on her packages… I seem to recall wired satin positively cascading down the sides of that thing!  She had matching tree skirts and everything….

*My Mom’s friend Judy seemed to pioneer shabby chic before it was really a *thing,* gravitating to worn, whitewashed antiques and cottage prints in large granny-garden blooms.  Her elegant tree was usually a snow-frosted evergreen, coated in reflective metallics, pearls, and crystal.  She would finish it by tucking large, faux, pink rose blooms into the branches.  It felt very Victorian-meets-Cinderella.  Incredibly feminine, but it was clearly designed as part of the room.  I think it was the first of those kinds that I’d ever seen.

At some point I figured out that the most beautiful Christmas trees (heck, holiday displays in general) are the ones that reflect the tastes of their owners *as well as* giving you that joyful spirit of celebration that is so important.  When I realized this, it empowered me to go ahead and do what I wanted to do– make a *me* tree!  From then on, I always strive for fun, festive, whimsical and colorful!

***

My Advent Ornaments

My Advent Ornaments

Cheapie Holiday Rings

Cheapie Holiday Rings

Our tree will likely go up in the den in the next few days, and I was trying to think of how to decorate it.  Our family room is sort of dark with the way it is positioned in our basement, and an entire wall is taken up with the mantel (mostly color neutral and again, dark).  The bulk of the furniture being an enormous grey sectional and ottoman on beige carpet (also color neutral/dark).  I’ve worked a bit on adding some colorful elements in there: orange and lime bins on the shelves for holding games and puzzles; turquoise and orange wall curio; teal and lime art; throw pillows in mix of the three colors.  It used to be that in our other homes I would strip the room of these the-rest-of-the-year accessories, but these are larger pieces that are the only thing giving the room life.  I don’t want to take away, I want to add on top of….  Which puts me in this sort of strange position where I need to incorporate orange and aqua into the Christmas thing, and try to do it cheaply and seamlessly.  Yeowch.

Well, never let it be said that I don’t love an artistic challenge!  I was mulling the whole thing over, how it was all going to work, and I ran across a multi-pack of giftwrap at Wal-Mart.  Now, let me just say, that I have a weird thing about giftwrap.  I’m a fan.  I like the process of wrapping a gift, and as is obviously inherited from my father (not a reference I expect you to *understand* unless you’re related to me, but anyway), I want them to look beautiful when I’m done.  I don’t like to spend a lot of money on the wrap, and I have some picky little details that I prefer when I go shopping for it:  I love solid colored papers, and random patterns with no directionality– especially dots and stripes!– and ones with stylized Christmas trees, particularly if they are scattered every-which-way.  I don’t know why on the trees, but there it is.  Every year I buy a  few more rolls than I really need, and then I stash it after the season.  Next year, “Santa’s” gifts will be wrapped in the ‘old’ papers– hopefully unremembered from holidays past– so they look perfect under the tree but don’t happen to be wrapped in the same prints as our family gifts.  (Why would Santa Claus use the same wrapping paper as we do?  That seems unlikely!)  I have a heckuva fun collection of great giftwrap.

Closeup Of Advent Ornaments

Closeup Of Advent Ornaments

Anyway, back to what I was saying.  I found this four pack of paper for $2.88, and everything came together in my head– wham, bam, thank you ma’am!  (Three out of the four papers can be seen in these foyer pics.)  I walked the rest of the Wally holiday aisles, where I also got a couple of types of lime green ornaments, and two packs of these plastic novelty rings.  Orange ornaments are a no-go in the store shelves this year, as is always the case with me.  I am always likely to choose a color that is next to impossible to find ready-made in Christmas ornaments, I guess it’s that liking a challenge thing.  Fifteen years ago this impossible color was pink, then it was lime, and about five or so back it was the aqua and teal blues.  I’m using all of those colors this year (along with the classic red and kelly green), which is fine because *now* I have plenty of these tones, but the orange will be something I need to work on…  so I have.

I picked up those two 12-packs of plastic rings because they were the perfect mix of the cutesy details I like, in the right colors, for super cheap.  I knew from the moment that I dropped them into my cart that they’d likely end up with their finger prongs snipped off, and I was right.  (I used wire cutters and lots of pent-up aggression, if you’re wanting ideas on how.)  It wasn’t until I got them home that I noticed that there were exactly 24 of them, perfect for assembling an advent calendar….  fresh off of my working on the gingerbread ornaments, my mind immediately went to matchboxes.  I knew I could get them cheaply, and wrapping them in scrappy bits of scrapbook paper meant that I didn’t have to do the laborus task of priming and painting them– a win-win in the fast, cheap, and easy department.  (HEY!  Who you callin’ “Fast, cheap, and easy?!”)

I literally spent three nights watching TV and assembling these, and it really was relaxing and SO fun.  It became a little challenge of mine to not use the same paper on the main body/ outside of the boxes more than once, and I did it!   I used punches for making the numbered circles, and switched up their look here and there with bits of washi tape.  The last step was to hot glue on the plastic design doodads and fill them with candy.  One individually wrapped Life Saver fits well, and if you fiddle a little, you can stack up and fit two Andes mints.  I’m going to put them all on the tree the last night of November, and every day leading up to Christmas kiddo can enjoy a little treat– AND they help bring in my colors and make my tree cuter!  Best part?  The entire project– candy and all– cost me less than seven dollars!  

***

Foyer From Above

Foyer From Above

All of that little box wrapping got me thinking about that fun giftwrap that I had bought.  I don’t have a tree ready for gifts to be wedged under yet, and even if I did, I wanted to highlight that cool paper a little more than just that.  On one of my trips upstairs to get another cup of coffee, my eye hit these canvases in the foyer, and again, a lightning bolt of an idea hit me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the little cluster of what I have hanging there, and moreover, I like the positioning and arrangement of it.  I find the cluster of it visually appealing.  I didn’t really want to take it down, but I definitely want that area to be festive… I want *every* area to be a little festive!  Wrapping the canvases like gifts was sooo easy, and I love the way it looks– it keeps the layout but changes the view.  Wonderful!  Beyond that, I added a few holiday doohickeys– trees and a fawn– as well as a couple of vintage die cuts.  The Santa cutout I just stuck directly on one of my paintings (since it has the orange, aqua, and red I’m trying to work together anyway) with a little loupe of painter’s masking tape.  It’ll come off perfectly when I’m ready for it to.  Overall, just a cheap bit of giftwrap and some thrifted paper cuties is enough to totally jazz up that area for the upcoming season– and it makes me excited to get started on the rest of the house!

Tell me what your holiday decor inspiration has been this year!  Are you looking forward to any part of your decorating process?  Do you think my color combo is crazy?!  Are you inspired to giftwrap any other non-gift items in your home?

 

(((Just an odd note:  For any of you that are worried that my family is unrepresented in the tastes of these holiday displays, rest assured that I very much consider them in all of this– orange being THEIR favorite color– and they completely love all of the festive efforts.  I swear it’s not all as selfish as I make it sound!)))

 

 


 


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