Saturday, December 19, 2015

Oh, Christmas Tree!

I have a love/hate relationship with decorating the Christmas tree each year. I love how it looks when it's done, but I do not enjoy the process. Usually.

When the kids were still children, not young adults, I used to combat my lethargy by making the trimming of the tree a kind of family party. The kids "helped" decorate; we had cookies and hot chocolate. Result: I was exhausted and frustrated before the job was done.

And I had to sneak back after the kids were in bed to rearrange the decorations.

Fortunately, the children grew up! One year, Emily got a co-op placement at IKEA. One of her tasks was to decorate their display trees. She came home with some very useful tips for decorating a tree.

This is Katie, helping decorate the tree that year.

  1. GARLANDS Once your lights are on the tree (assuming it's not a pre-lit tree, which ours is), put on the garlands. (In the picture above, the garlands crisscross. This year, I had them all go in the same direction, and I like it better.) I use garlands -- lots of garlands -- that have light-reflecting, luminous quality -- glittery, transparent, or pearls, to pick up on sparkle of the lights.
  2. LARGE ORNAMENTS Hang your largest ornaments. I used to only put these at the bottom of the tree, but I've found that they actually look good dispersed all over the tree. With younger kids, I made sure to have the plastic ones near the bottom of the tree.
  3. SMALL ORNAMENTS Hang your smaller accent ornaments in the spaces between the large ones. 
  4. ADJUST Go around the tree tucking some ornaments further into the hollow centre of the tree. This will layer your bling, so that when you look at one ornament, your eye is drawn deeper. It also ensures fewer gaps (or glimpses of the bare branches and trunk or electrical cords).
At this point, you can sit back and enjoy the beauty. 

This year, for the first time in decades, I hung most of the decorations myself. Steve assembled the tree and then went out for meetings. Our son Peter helped me place the garlands, and then it was just me. And you know what? I actually enjoyed it. It was quiet, no rush, no hostess duties, no childcare duties. Just trimming the tree. 

After thirty years of tree-decorating, I've acquired a few favourite ornaments, and I enjoy each one of them. Here are a few of my favourites.

I created this Santa in needlepoint more than twenty years ago.

The golden leaves are some of my favourite ornaments.

The twinkle lights also add a pretty element to other Christmas-y elements in the living room. 

I also have a lovely Holy Family sculpture made of Israeli olive wood, a gift from my parents-in-law. I've photographed it before, and am still struggling to find a picture I'm satisfied with. Here are two previous captures. 

And here is this year's picture.

I think I still prefer the one I took in 2012. I'm going to keep working on this picture.

How do you do the tree in your house? Is it a one-person "chore" or is it a festive affair? Do you even let the kids near the boxes of ornaments?


  1. I love your tree. We always had a real tree but after a one time, Tanya and I have gone to the fakes. We have storage. Until we lost Ella, she would drive us all from the house until the lights were on the tree. Then and only then were we allowed in and we all decorated the tree from littlest to oldest. Our tree was themed in memories and favourite decorations. Bronwyn HATES ornaments that play endless tinny tunes. We had one which we always hid in a hard to access place on the tree and when she was out of the room, would fire it up so she would rush in and frantically hunt for it to kill it.

    1. Ah, what is Christmas if you can't annoy each other?

  2. Your tree looks so elegant! Sort of the way I imagine mine might look but honestly I never even come close. I like the background in 2012. The red really compliments the wood.

    1. I agree about the red, but I disagree about your tree -- it always looks beautiful to me!

  3. Your tree is beautiful. Having a real tree means the shape and colour is different every year. When the children were younger they helped and every decoaration went on the tree. Three of my Christmas boxes were ruined by water this summer.So this year I went colourful lights but balls are gold or red in various sizes and textures. I added gold wire stars. Simple but looks good (enough!)

    1. We once had a 12-foot tree (in Colorado, when our front room had a loft ceiling). It didn't occur to me that I would need a lot more decorations (especially lights) to cover it. It meant a big splurge, and we've gradually been downsizing since then. Each year we box up a lot of stuff to donate to Sally Ann.

      I love real trees, but Stephen is not fond of stringing all the lights, so the pre-lit option was a big hit.

      As for multicolour lights versus white/gold -- I think both are beautiful. My niece did a rainbow tree one year, with the ornaments stacked according to colour. It was gorgeous!

  4. My tree decorating is at the "try and resist re-arranging all the kid placed ornaments" stage. LOL I do sneak back for some... usually just the ones that are actually barely hanging onto a branch. Plus, my tree consists of home-made glue and glitter objects des arts, the Walmart shatterproof ornaments, Disney ornaments, Captain America, a Stormtrooper, and Star Wars candy canes.
    I do not have a grown up Christmas tree. ha but it's okay for now. my favourites are safely stashed away.

    1. We are in that interlude between when our kids stopped breaking things and when we have grandchildren, so I'm enjoying it for all its worth. I think I gave away a lot of my unbreakable ornaments; I'll have to reinvest!


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