First things first: The Tree.
This is one fat tree, lemme tell you. We went to a cut-your-own farm, and SOMEHOW found ourselves looking at the 8-10 footers... our ceilings are not 8-10 feet. Details, details. We found that the more mature, taller trees had a better shape (the perfect triangle!) and tended to be fuller all around (particularly at the top). As luck would have it, many of these larger trees also have a bare trunk for a couple feet before the branches start. So we simply cut the tree to our height, leaving the rest of the bare trunk behind, and lugged this sucker home!
Next Step: Decorating the Tree!
We are some crazy-lights people, so 345 strands of lights later... ok, maybe not THAT many strands, but close! We make sure to fully light from the inside to the outside of the tree before thinking about hanging ornaments. I, also, hang ornaments inside for depth and interest- I found some mirrored star ornaments (Ikea) which reflected all lights and other colors awesomely! I put all of those puppies deep in the tree.
Also at Ikea, I picked up two other types of ornaments: some black & white and red & white Scandanavian folk style bulbs, and some clear bulbs with red bursts inside. You can see both in the pics above and below- I cant tell you how much these new ornaments make me happy!!!
Another thing we like to do is to have an ornament that is for/represents each member of our family... this gets to be A LOT of fun (read: I took poetic license. Liberties.)
First we have me and the beau: I am the mixer- I love how retro it is, and obviously I am le chef de extraordinare. I am also le French language master. The beau is the Grill Meister, and if you've had his ribs, you understand why!
Then we have my brother...
Apparently, he is an alligator.
With grey hair and a cape.
Ok, I will admit that this has nothing to do with my brother, but it cracked me up and I liked the idea of getting him the most ridiculous ornament I could find. Besides, it is hand-crafted. From Germany. He should feel honored I found such a high-quality piece of art.
We found a great golf ornament for my father, and a pagoda for his fiancée.
This piece of awesomeness is for the beau's brother's girlfriend, who works at an aquarium- I think anyone would be honored to be associated with such a character, don't you?
And this guy just made us happy- Santa is a bad-ass snowboarder.
Ok, ok, enough with the close-ups, you say, and give us some full-tree-action? Well, alright already, here it is:
Ta-da! I love it. We have a good amount of basic ornaments, and I look forward to accumulating more and more personal (unique!) ornaments in the years to come!
Now, onto the stockings!!!
These babies are from Target, and I instantly fell in love with these guys when I saw them online. I love how bright and fun the green is, and (in case you can't tell) that white one is more of a cream. I like the knit look- it feels more authentic and cozy... like these were actual socks that we hung by our, er, TV with care. Plus? POM-POMS!!!!
Anyways, it wasn't all snowflakes-on-my-lashes and holiday cheer trying to get these. You would think it's just a simple trip to the Big T, pick up two of each color and call it a day, wouldn't you? BUT NO! The first (yes, first) store we went to had all but a second green stocking. So, we bought them and figured we will just hit up another store for the final one. Only to go to another store and see they were almost completely out of this style! This is when I start worrying obsessively. They did have an extra cream, so we bought that one just-in-case. THEN, I called every single Target within 20 miles in the hunt for the stocking... I finally found it, and, after sitting almost an hour in rush-hour-traffic, that sucker was MINE!
Totally worth it.
Yup, that's me!
And here are the stocking holders! Side note: who knew stocking holders were so freakin expensive?! Back to the matter at hand: these were totally DIY holders. The base was from Target (and THESE were just as hard to find as the stupid stocking!!! Every time they came into stock, they flew off the shelves! Sigh. Luckily, the store with the stocking had a ton of these guys, which is total fate,) and the picture frames were from Michael's. A quick bead of super glue (hot glue solidified instantly,) secured the frame to the base, and VOILA! Instant personalizable* stocking holders! Now, you can buy these in a store, but they will be a good $5-10 more expensive than crafting it yourself. We also picked up some garland and cut off a piece and glued to the holder for added decorating awesomeness.
The rest of the garland went around the chandelier... BONUS!
We threw a set of battery-powered lights (maybe 15-20 lights per strand) in with the pine cone centerpiece to make it more festive- I totally love this effect! It is one of the first things you see coming in the house, and really added a sense of romance and magic. Confession: both this and the chandelier garland ideas were courtesy of the beau. But I will take all the credit that you may chose to bestow on me.
This little guy has been with me since college. I gave him an update this year by spray-painting the base white, and dusting the needles ever so lightly with more white spray paint. The overall outcome is awesome- looks like a blue spruce or a light snow dusting! I also found some silver glitter/shimmer spray paint and put that on, cuz... why not?! Love.**
Other un-pictured decorations include the previously-posted dining room table centerpiece, some garland on the metal railing, candles in red, silver & green scattered around the house, and a fantastic red, green & white outdoor light arrangement!
And now for the horrors that no one tells you about. The embarrassment that comes after the lights go off. The death of the tree:
Our tree skirt is made of pine needles.
Oddly, this tree started falling apart in record time. Which was, ya know, fun. Always a good thing to have your tree, that has to survive not one, but TWO Christmases, to clutch desperately to the needles within two weeks of bringing it home. And we had an automatic waterer! Not fair, tree nymphs, not fair. Anyways, every time someone touched the tree- hell, every time you BREATHED on it- a shower of needles would pitter-patter to the floor. This made getting presents out from under the tree particularly amusing.
We ended up cutting the branches off the trunk, and putting those in a trash bag, instead of carrying the whole thing out of the house. If we did the latter, for one thing, we wouldn't have been able to get the full width out the sliding door, and secondly, there would have been a mammoth trail of needles the entire way. The divide-and-conquer method definitely kept all carnage to one area of the house.
So there you go! Our holiday house in a nutshell. Ho ho ho.
*I will make this a real word. Watch me.
**I have pictures from this, and the spray painting re-do of that little white basket: promise, promise, PROMISE to post that soon!