Ask Design Mom Week — Christmas Tree Decor

November 5, 2009

Question:
I’m in a new house, new life and looking ahead to the holidays, I realized that our decade plus years of marriage/college/med school/residency tree decor might be in need of a slight makeover this year. I’m just looking for ideas — new, old, swanky, homestyle, yadda, yadda. Any advice or pictures to find, etc.? Thanks!Stacey



Answer:
Love this question, Stacey. People have strong opinions about Christmas Trees: They should have the same decorations each year — it’s tradition! They should be filled with ornaments made by children! They should be flocked! Flocked trees should be outlawed! They should change themes every year! Only fresh trees count! If it’s not pre-lit, I won’t use it!

Feel free to have whatever opinions you prefer for your own tree. It seems to be such a personal, emotional thing. Depending on some mix of childhood memories, current marketing schemes and adult expectations. And there’s no right answer. Just know this, when you put lots of twinkling lights and pretty baubles on a tree. In your living room. And turn the house lights low. It’s bound to be beautiful.

But if you’re really wanting a change this year, Stacey, this is what I’d recommend. Hit the holiday aisle at your favorite store (let’s say Target) and find an ornament you love the best. Your very favorite one. And then build a tree around it.

If it’s a white feathered bird, then you could do the whole tree in birds and nests and white accents. If your favorite ornament is a gold glittery ball. Why not go gold all the way. Gold ornaments. Gold snowflakes. Gold ribbon. If you’re starting from scratch, focusing on one color will definitely give you the biggest impact for the least amount of money. (I love the ornament pictured from Crate & Barrel.)

Looking for more inspiration? Martha has dozens of Christmas Tree ideas here.

What about you, Dear Readers? Any opinions on Christmas Tree decor?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michele November 5, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I love Christmas and all the trimmings and have amassed a collection of things I love. Many of the items would be edited out by designers, but the ornaments for my tree tell our story. There is the usual array of red and gold shiny baubles, but we have a couple of cat ornaments to remind us of little friends who travelled the globe with us and moved on, a chef ornament that connected with pins to commemorate the year without a kitchen following an earthquake, a Rockefeller Tree ornament to remember the Christmas in NY, a Christopher Radko or 2 to celebrate the arrival of a daughter, and a gaudy feather flamingo to commemorate my survival from a really awful year – never forget to laugh. Unpacking each year becomes a little walk down memory lane and I love it.
In recent years we have spent Christmas in England away from our tree and I wanted to find interesting way to dress a tree that was different from home. Martha Stewart at Kmart (alas no longer I fear) was my answer and now I have a new color scheme (jewel toned hues) that come really well packed for shipping back to the US at some point, and best of all well priced. This year I will freshen the supply from Target (lovely selection and price) and keep adding to the collection. My advice, don't worry too much, take it too seriously and use lots of twinkling lights and candles!

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2 Carissa Rasmussen November 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Hobby Lobby has my favorite selection of Christmas ornaments because they are very affordable (this week they are 50% off).

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3 Amy November 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I recommend hitting a craft store like Michaels or Joann's and going during a sale (there are good ones between Thanksgiving and Christmas) and using coupons for holiday decor not on sale. I was able to decorate a 4 ft. pre-lit tree last year for under $30 this way. I recommend picking a main color and one accent color and running wild with it! Good luck!

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4 Breanne November 7, 2009 at 12:59 pm

One year I was throwing my best friend a bridal shower in December. I knew I wanted blue to be a big part of the design, but I didn't know what else to do. At the grocery store, there are so many holiday magazines that have big spreads of beautiful Christmas decorations across rooms. I bought a copy of Veranda because on the cover was a blue Christmas tree (someone has told me that is a Jewish thing? But I know they don't celebrate Christmas – is it just if they want to have a tree to feel festive? I have no idea). Anyway, I just went to target and bought ornaments and decorations to match the ones in the magazine. Then I just decorated as close as I could to the pictures. My friend's shower was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen!

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5 Beth Handley November 9, 2009 at 2:32 am

I love our tree. We use all blue small twinkle lights and a variety of vintage-looking and homemade ornaments that all have memories attached to them.

Just found this blog and I wanted to share something fun that happened a few years ago by accident, which I now do on purpose with our tree.

It was a crazy year and we were having a very hard time coordinating time to get the tree decorated. Finally we got lights and the garlands on it and then had to wait a few days to continue. The thing is, with just the lights and the garland, it was a fabulous looking minimalist,understated tree. I loved it and enjoyed it. We did put all the ornaments on a few days later and enjoyed our wonderful family-tradition tree.

So – now that is a new tradition. Minimal for a few days, then add ornaments a few days closer to Christmas. It doesn't answer the question directly but thought someone else might enjoy decorating the tree in stages and enjoying 2 different looks in the same season

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6 Laurie November 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

I say – Go VINTAGE! I have been going crazy over vintage christmas decorations for a couple of years now – troll Etsy and Ebay – you can find so many fabulous things – and really affordable! It's fun and "green" and original!

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7 cors November 17, 2009 at 4:40 am

.: Ermm.. would anyone go online to buy their ornaments? :-? The tree decoration is up to the owner, but the real thing might not revolves around the tree we decorated, but it is all about the spirit of Christmas. Yeah, the tree comes annually, but the emotions that comes with it is priceless~ Love your tree, but Love your family more~~ ;-) :.

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8 Beth Handley November 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

puzzling comment…I think checking out Etsy and ebay are great ideas for getting vintage ornaments for a great tree. I got some of our decorations at Salvation Army and garage sales. Going online is an excellent idea!

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