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The Art of the Christmas Tree

Every year, as the the holidays roll around, I contemplate what kind of Christmas tree I want to get. And inevitably, they always turn into little art projects. 

vintage doll christmas tree ornamentWhen I was first starting out, my grandma gave me some little vintage dolls and I covered the Christmas tree with them. One year, I made my own ornaments by spraying lacquer on mini bagels and hot glueing a raffia bow and hook on it … they were very cute and lasted forever!

Now I like ornaments that reflect light and sparkle bright. I also like to add a ribbon to make it look like the old fashion ribbon candy I remember as a kid. 

Over the years,  I have done a variety of Christmas tree types. I’ve done a medium size tree, which I trimmed up about 8″ on the stump. Then I stood it in a soup pot, inside a fiberglass urn, with bricks wedged to hold it up … and viola, a tall tree that is off the ground so it works for a small space. 

Picking out and decorating my table-top Christmas Tree.

Mary Beth Evans' Christmas Tree for 2016For an even smaller space, or for years when we may not be home for Christmas, but still want the glorious tree smell and twinkling lights, I have done a table-top tree. Once again I cleared the stump and put it in a large wide vase. Last year I found a great piece of soft bark at a floral supply shop and wrapped the base. I really loved that little tree!

This year I did a more standard sized tree, but I picked one that had a crazy, ET finger-like branches at the top. It added height and was quirky, so I went with it and did a little explosion of balls on the top. I believe in letting the tree inspire me to try different things. It’s creative and fun, and it makes each year memorable!

Of course the key with all of these is making sure to keep whatever the vessel is filled with water so your tree stays hydrated and lasts the entire holiday season.

What about you? Do you have favorite Christmas tree traditions that you do year after year? Or do you shake it up and try different things? 

22 Comments

  1. We haven’t been able to break away from the old tradition of buying a cut Christmas tree – as bad as I want to, looks like it’ll have to wait until after our little ones grow up for a few years.

    Our new tradition is to hit up Lowe’s and Home Depot on Dec. 26th when their Christmas lights go on clearance. After doing this for a few years, we’ve got quite an arsenal of lights and trinkets and we can decorate however we want – inside and out!

  2. Ever since my children’s godfather passed away we no longer go to the Christmas tree farm like in the past for a hayride. But never the less we still decorate the artificial or the live one from a store and watch gone with the wind while doing so. It’s a tradition my sister and I started when we were teens and will always do! Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

  3. NancyMcCarthy

    Your tree reminds me of how creative my mother is & the way she decorated every year. Unfortunately she didn’t pass that gene down to me, but she still has fun decorating every year, just on a smaller scale. And every year, when I get my front door wreath down from the attic, she fixes it for me. Or makes me a new one. She loves to just sit & make the bows, or knit scarves & hats. She’s so crafty & artistic. I love to go as a family & pick the Christmas tree out every year, and the kids love to decorate it. And the next day my OCD forces me to redecorate so that the ornaments are evenly spaces out. 😊 Happy Holidays to you & your family!

  4. Stacey AKA BraveWidowMama

    I absolutely LOVE Christmas! I have such fond memories of staring at the Christmas tree as a child marveling at it’s beauty.

    We’ve always put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving as a family. A couple of years ago, our tradition changed. I had spine surgery that year and was not physically up to getting the tree up. My oldest son lived in another state at the time and the younger kids were 13 and 9. I told the kids we’d have to wait until I could get someone to come over and help. The next thing I knew, my kids were lugging in our huge artificial tree and boxes of ornaments. I sat on the couch watching as they got that tree up and decorated it and the entire house all by themselves. The Christmas miracle was that they did it all without getting into a huge argument!

    Even though I’ve healed, my kids still enjoy putting up the tree and decorating with mom watching. This year, they made an angel theme with everything in silver. Every time I go shopping I look for a couple more angel ornaments to add to the tree. I can’t wait for what they do next year!

    I hope everyone has a blessed holiday season with their families. That is really what it’s all about!

  5. First, I want to say thank you for sharing the photos of your trees! And I absolutely love your tree this year! I love funky things & this tree is perfect!

    I don’t have a tree tradition but this is my favorite tree story. Ten years ago my mom & aunts put up my grandma’s tree while she was out of town so it would be up when she came home for Christmas. (I lived with my grandma.) That tree stayed up for over six years. lol It was in a second living room in the basement that we never use so it wasn’t in our way so we left it up. haha There were many summer nights where we would sit down, turn on the tree & chat. We made such wonderful, sweet memories around that tree all times of the year. After my grandma passed away 4 & a half years ago my mom took the tree down after the following Christmas. The year she passed away & the next (I still live in her house) I put up her aluminum tree from the 60s. I love retro stuff so I had a lot of fun with that. I’m not home enough to enjoy a tree & I spend the holiday at my parents so I haven’t put up a tree the past couple years. My aunt has since moved in & she put up the aluminum tree this year though.

    This year my aunts bought a hot pink, two foot tree for me. It matches my hair perfectly! lol It’s so awesome & I love it! I set it up at work since I don’t really have a place at home & I spend more time at work than home anyway. haha Maybe each year I can get a Christmas tree to match the color of my hair & that could be my tree tradition! Could be fun! And colorful! haha

    I hope you & your family have a wonderful holiday season!!

  6. Cyndi Clark

    I love Christmas for several reasons and try not to let it be a commercial holiday for me and my family… but I must admit that I LOVE theme decorating each Christmas, the tree included. Last year my daughter and I went to the mountains and gathered two hundred pinecones ourselves and sprayed them with gold glitter and hung them in our tree with traditional plaid ribbon. It was beautiful. This year I opted for another traditional but rustic theme using black and white plaid ribbon, red and olive green fabrics and the vintage red truck with a tree in it theme. Very rustic country. 🙂 Out tree is only decorated with our family ornaments and white lights. No glitter. No ribbon. Plain but very meaningful. I’m loving this year’s look and my family likes it too. That’s what it’s all about for me; cultivating a warm family environment that shows them I love them and celebrate the real reason for the season.
    Instagram: cyn4Jesus for pictures. 🙂
    God bless!!

  7. Lorraine (dramamamanot)

    Hi Mandy and Marybeth, I must admit I too love the traditions around our Christmas trees. When I was first married my aunt made these pins that were made of a doile and flower pinned to the corners of the buffet tables at my bridal shower. I used them and added other red ornaments to them. My tree was fancy before the kids came along. Then all their school made ornaments started to be added on. I also started each year buying each child an ornament that represented them. (This years ornament to my oldest son was a snoman offering a ring with a diamond to a snowwoman and my youngest son’s was a scout in uniform because he achieved Eagle in scouting, so the ornament has meaning to each.) The tree became a mismatch of ornaments over the years. Not so fancy anymore but one of love and family. My children each year would take out their own boxes of ornaments to add to the tree. My oldest son moved out last November and started his own tree. Naturally I told him to take his box of ornaments. That left less for my tree. I decided it was time for a change. I gave my eldest my old tree and purchased 2 new trees. One for in the living room which is now decorated fancy again and a smaller tree in the family room with my other 2 children’s ornaments. They both look beautiful in their own way. I also have 2 other trees, a mini 1 foot tree with mini ornaments that my youngest son uses the lights as a nightlight and then a pink tree with usually purple balls but this year my daughter decided she wanted it to look more mature so she decorated it with silver decorations and balls. So yes, the tree has changed throughout the years. I even had visions of creating memories for my children by having the whole family to search for that perfect Christmas tree to cut down. But after so many years of frustration because the kids would fight, I would freeze and we were never able to find a tree that we all agreed on, so that idea fell to the wayside. I then started with the artificial tree. I do think the Christmas tree and Christmas tree ornaments holds special meaning to so many. We each can conjure up memories surrounding Christmas trees from our childhood or Christmas’ past. Merry Christmas to you both. God bless and keep you and yours.

  8. I love your question about our trees because I put a lot of thought into the holiday decor and I totally want to share a picture XD. I use white lights, a base of red and gold balls, and then the remainder personal ornaments. My children get an ornament every year, and I still have some from my childhood. There are some homemade ones as well. I then wrap red velvet-like ribbon around it in place of garland; it seems to be the most dramatic touch i have done. The tree looks so vivid. When we were kids, we made cranberry and popcorn chains.

    • Stacey AKA BraveWidowMama

      Next year, it would be fun if we could send in photos of our trees. I’d love to see what everyone does. Hey Mandy…can you make that happen?

  9. Christie

    We decorate the day after Thanksgiving. Typically, my idyllic happy and fun decorating while Christmas music plays, is overtaken by chaos, time-outs, and the need for a glass or five of wine. This year blew all the rest out of the water. It was calm, fun, and festive. No bloodshed or wineshed. The kids had fun and Christmas music played. It was terrific. I am, however, dreading next year…I’m pretty sure the chances are nil that we’ll get two good ones in a row. I might even need to do a head count before it’s over based on how good this one was!😂

  10. ILoveMySnK

    Our steadfast tradition so far is an annual HM ornament. I’m loving the kids are now bringing home their special hand made ornaments from school. They also “fully” decorated the tree (from about mid-way down) and I think it’s absolutely perfect that way and am not changing it a bit. They were so excited that they tried to decorate early with mega blocks, purses, bath-tub squirt toys and other small random toys they could find. It was cute, but we opted for ornaments later 🙂

  11. Cathrine

    Here are some Danish traditions for decorating a Christmas tree. In Denmark we don´t have the tradition for trimming a tree. Perhaps that is the reason it can take forever to choose a Christmas tree for many families. Some buy them at stores and others drive out to the countryside to find a farmer, who also have a small forrest of Christmas trees. Bring your own saw and perhaps some hot chocolate in a thermos to keep warm – find your tree, cut it down – and bring it home.
    For decorating we also have many ornaments in many colors, but then we have some different traditions from the American traditions I know of.
    In many Danish homes there are candlelights on the tree – sometimes in combination with electric light. Often the candlelights on the tree are lit on Christmas eve, where we celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts, but for all other times its electric lights – also because of the fire hazard. In top of the Danish Christmas tree we have a star – as a reminder of the star, the three wise men was guided by, to find the crib with baby Jesus. Some families have small homemade paper cones filled with Danish Christmas cookies. An old Christmas song it is said, that the children has to wait for the presents underneath the tree until the tree is eaten (eating the cookies). Another very old Danish tradition is paper braided hearts – often made in our national colors red and white. The hearts can also be filled with cookies or candy. The last decorating tradition which is more or less common here, is we decorate the three with small Danish flags on a string around the tree.
    When I was a child back in the 1980s it was normal that the tree would first enter the house a few days before Christmas – and many have traditions of decorating on the 23rd of dec. and eating “risengrød”, but now it is more common to decorate the tree early in December. I think we Danes begins to decorate the trees earlier because its dark outside at 4 pm.
    This was a little insight in my countrys traditions and I hope my comment did not have too many errors – but its better with errors than I wrote the whole thing in Danish.
    Glædelig jul til jer alle – meaning Merry Christmas to all.
    A Danish fan and follower.

    • Stacey AKA BraveWidowMama

      Thanks for sharing your traditions Catherine. I love the cookies on the tree..how fun!

      Glædelig jul til jer alle!

  12. Kelley Garner

    We have always had a live tree! I love lots n lots of clear lights and each ornament hold a treasured memory! I have a rustic wooden star that I love!! Last Wednesday morning at 7am as daughter #2 was watering the tree, I watched and yelled as it came crashing down. Water everywhere but only one broken ornament which thankfully had no sentimental value. That night we worked as a family and redid the tree, as I sat in the quietness later that night, I realized it looked better than before, and my tree disaster was really insignificant compared to others I know who have a child with cancer! I am thankful for grace and salvation. I love sitting in the quietness of my trees lights every night and think how blessed I am! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  13. Mary Sivak

    I like the old fashion trees. I have to have an artificial tree due to my asthma ; however; I am wild about the Blue Spruce live tree.. the only one that gets along with me. Since moving to Central Illinois.. they are very hard to come by aka… “good luck ” as one tree farmer told me. I trim the tree the same way every year. I have held onto the ornaments my kids made in school and now I hang the ones that my grandson made me. I have an antique doll that sits in an open space that was the top to the tree that my grandparents had for their first Christmas as married folks–given to me as the first granddaughter. I have also collected one ornament for every year we have been married–those total 42. Needless to say I have a lot of stuff. I do not use tinsel or garland, I use antique blown glass beads and antique tin candle holders. I like to think of this as my traditional tree. Your trees are lovely, I am just not crafty AT ALL….
    Happy Holidays

  14. Patty Yocom

    Love how you decorated the top of your multi-fingered tree top. I always decorate my tree the same way my parents always did. Red lights, red balls, and red ribbons. I have added two crystal ornaments in memory of my parents, but the tree is the same. Reminds me of my childhood and many happy memories of family. Merry Christmas to you and your family. 🌲🎅🏼

  15. Cindy Nelson

    Love ur tree and the decorations being guided by your creativity to match the tree. I love the holidays and all the traditions that go with them. I’m from a large family so we have a gift exchange and the. A glass of wine or beer to celebrate the lives of those in the empty chairs, and family members added through out the yr. then when they all leave and it’s just my little family we saddle up the horse and go for a ride and sing Christmas songs. But most of all we celebrate the birth of Jesus and family
    Merry Christmas to you and your family

  16. I love your Christmas tree traditions! You decorate your trees so beautifully!
    We have a favorite family tradition. Every year, the weekend after Thanksgiving, my girls and I (all the guys are gone) go down to the basement and pull out our Christmas tree and boxes of ornaments. Our box is full of ornaments from when my husband and I were both little, as well as ornaments our family has collected, received, or ones our kids have made over the years. I love to watch my girls giggle and get excited over each ornament as they unwrap them and place it on our tree. Each ornament has a story behind it, whether it is who gave it to us, a place we have been, or how old the girls were when they made it.
    This year we added 4 new ornaments, one from Disney World, one from Disneyland, one from Maude Woods, and a picture of 6 great ladies who have become very dear friends of mine.
    Our tree doesn’t have a theme, but it does hold a lot of memories for our family.
    Have a wonderful holiday season, and enjoy your beautiful Christmas tree.

  17. Thank you MaryBeth for always sharing your thoughts & ideas here with your fans. It really means the world to all of us. Happy holidays to you, your family, & your friends. May you all have a great new year! Cheers 🍷🍷

  18. Our Christmas tree is filled with ornaments from all the places we have travelled over the last 32 years. My children are grown, but still love to help decorate the tree because we reminisce about each one of them as we trim the tree. Love that tradition. Merry Christmas tonyou and your family!

  19. Great blog as always! I love traditions! We didn’t start celebrating Christmas until after my dad left. My step-dad bought us our first tree when he started dating my mom. It was HUGE and all we had were lights and 5 ornaments! We still laugh about it today and it is by far my favorite tree…even if it did look a little funny 😉

  20. Susan Nolen (Suzzy1969)

    Mary Beth,as you…I try different things!….my hubby and I have no children…it’s just us!…but we do have our littlest house doggies and we honestly try and have a Christmas for them!…they are our family and we get them gifts every year!…honestly it’s so sweet watching them open their presents….it’s almost like watching little kids…so sweet!…But thank you for
    This wonderful plankblog post!…you’re just the sweetest person ever!….Happy Holidays to you and your whole family!

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