Christmas can be the most joyous time of year. Or it can be a fireball of anxiety and chaos. This year, I choose joy. So if you’re also craving a Christmas that’s just a little more laidback and fun-focused, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s how I let loose and let my family enjoy the holiday without all the micromanagement of years gone by.
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If you’re joining me today from the My Home Style Christmas Tree Blog Hop, then you’ve probably already seen Becky’s gorgeous tree over at Daly Digs. Welcome! Becky has amazing style and I love how she incorporates fun elements for her family. If you loved her Christmas vibe, you’re going to love what I have in store for you!
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There was a time in my life when I had two Christmas trees; a fancy tree the guests were allowed to see and a family tree. The fancy tree would always be front and center in my home for hosting our annual HOA’s Holiday Party.
That tree was pretty fancy and I was fancy right alongside it. (see more of the fancy tree here: Traditional Holiday Decor On A Budget)
Then we sold that house and downsized into a historic California Bungalow. With only 1200 square feet of living space and a lot less storage space than our suburban home, I decided to cut our Christmas tree allocation in half. Downsizing Christmas to one tree for the whole family meant that I had to completely re-think the way I approached decorating our Christmas tree.
If I was going to make sense of the collection of mismatched, vintage, and handmade ornaments from my wife’s youth plus allow additions that my daughter makes every year, I had to lean into it. The result?
A COLORFUL, FUN, + NOSTALGIC CHRISTMAS TREE
The first year we leaned into the family Christmas tree was 2019 and we haven’t looked back since. Here are the elements I use to make our family tree feel intentional and not haphazard:
VINTAGE HEIRLOOM ORNAMENTS
I lucked out when I married my wife, Christine. Not only is she one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve ever known but she also comes with a major benefit: a family that treasures memory-making. Many of the vintage items we display in our home are actually hand-me-downs from Christine’s family members who are no longer with us. Peep our bonus room that could be mistaken for a Moore Family Museum:
The first year we decorated a Christmas tree together, I was instantly charmed by my Christine’s collection of childhood Christmas ornaments. The majority of her collection is comprised of ornaments handed down from her late Aunt Judy who lovingly crocheted and crafted every item on her own tree with her husband, my wife’s late Uncle Johnny.
Judy’s love of red and white Christmas decor sets the base colorway for our decorations every year. The red isn’t a fire engine red. It’s a 1970s orange-y tomato red that perfectly matches the ceramic ornaments Christine painted in elementary school. If red and white is the primary color combination, the first accent color is yellow to match my personal favorite ornament: Christine’s Christmas Stocking Big Bird, circa 1980.
Since Christine’s family celebrated each year with hand-crafting Christmas ornaments, we decided to carry on that tradition with our own daughter. Every year, we add a new ornament to our tree that she has made or painted herself. The collection, which we plan to pass along to her when she moves on from our home, started with her six month old handprint salt dough ornament and shows off a bit of her evolving personality every year:
They’re not perfect. She’s pretty young. But part of the joy in accepting the nostalgia of Christmas is letting go of perfection and just allowing memories to happen (more on that later but don’t worry I’m a neurotic and too much laissez faire can be detrimental to my brain).
As our family evolves, so do our hobbies and interests. We’ve begun marking each of our own personalities and tastes with fun new additions to the tree. We call this The Personality Collection. One of us picks or receives a new ornament every year to mark a milestone event, a thing we really love, or just something funny we saw in a store. Last year, our daughter was hellbent on getting a rocket ornament so we had our local gift shop order one for her (shout-out to the ladies at GiftHorse for never laughing at me when I ask for something wild).
This year, I added a super special and sentimental ornament to the tree. It’s the first time I’ve added anything that felt like it came from my childhood and not my wife’s or my daughter’s childhoods, despite being brand new.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know about the long-standing joke that, because I grew up on 90s public television, Tom Silva is my dad and Martha Stewart is my mom. It’s funny because my personality is a lot like a combination of those two and also what eight-year-old gets up early on Saturday to watch This Old House?! This one. Me. I did that.
Last year, I entered a giveaway on Instagram to win a set of hand-turned and painted ornaments made by Tom Silva and his lovely real-life daughter, Kate. I won a set and now I get to stare at these beauties every Christmas:
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My family is relatively young – our daughter is only six years old. It’s my hope that we have many years left to celebrate together and add ornaments to fill our tree until there’s not an inch of green visible. Until that happens, we need filler. So we have a small collection of store-bought ornaments that look handmade or vintage to complement the heirlooms while we grow our sentimental stash.
Simple creamy white globe ornaments (plastic!) fill any holes and provide additional contrast against the dark greenery of our tree. These are probably ten years old so at this point, they basically are vintage!
AN ARTIFICIAL TREE THAT LOOKS REAL
For years, I believe that I had to buy a real tree to get that perfectly vintage look. I was wrong. I admit it.
A few years ago, we bought the older version of this tree and letmetellyou. It’s showing a bit of wear and does need some fluffing after being stored every year but even so, I will hold onto this tree for as long as I can because IT COMES PRE-LIT and it has plastic-tipped branches that look so real.
It comes in three pieces that click and lock together to automatically connect power. I don’t have to find the end of the strand of lights to connect to the next one. The second all three pieces are in place, it’s ready to light up via the little foot peddle on the floor or the handy remote that controls all the different color and twinkle pattern settings.
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I opt for warm white because that feels the most true to a vintage style but my kid loves playing with the different color patterns. Here’s the tree during the day and in the evening. Isn’t technology amazing?!
After the tree setup (which takes about five minutes, by the way), I start decorating in layers. First comes garland. Garland is expensive and I don’t want anything too gaudy for this nostalgic tree so I have a hack that saves me time and looks vintage:
POM POM YARN GARLAND
I purchased two skeins of this pom pom yarn from a local craft store almost a decade ago. It’s since been discontinued but I did find a wired version that’s still available. You can purchase that here.
Even if you can’t find the exact yarn I use, you can still employ the method with a chunky yarn or a traditional acrylic sweater yarn that’s been knotted to look like pompoms. Either way, you can save a ton of money by using non-garland garland on your tree AND you can tie bows on your gifts with your leftover yardage (yarnage?)!
Because the yarn is really thin, you want to drape it around the tree for a bigger impact. This way, it’s taking up more visual space than it otherwise would if you just spun it in a circular pattern around the tree.
The next step is to add a tree skirt to cover that ugly fake tree base. Eventually, it will be disguised with wrapped presents but until I get around to procuring and wrapping said gifts, I use another cheap hack:
CHEAP BLANKET TREE SHIRT
That piece of red cloth is a cheep fleece blanket I got from the dollar store a few years ago. It matches the red yarn perfectly and it does a pretty good job of hiding the base of the artificial tree. No fancy $40 tree skirts needed!
To make it wrap around the “trunk”, I simply cut a line halfway down the center of the narrowest
part of the blanket:
I didn’t sew the edge where I cut. I don’t even bother with trying to make it round. I simply wrap it and fold it over itself as I tuck it into place around the base of the tree.
Then I do something many people will disagree with. I add my Christmas tree star before the ornaments.
I know tradition dictates that I’m supposed to add the star (or whatever topper) last but hear me out. I am just over five feet tall and my arms aren’t long enough to add the tree topper without also toppling the tree or knocking a handful of my wife’s childhood onto the floor with my chest. So I add the topper first. It saves me time and anxiety.
This tree has enough tradition anyway.
We opt for a simple star to allow the ornaments to be the real star of the show. The one we have appears to have lost its stand a while ago so we use a dowel shoved into the top of the tree to hold it in place. I told you this wasn’t about to be fancy. But add the ornamentsand it looks perfect:
Well, actually, I let my kid add the ornaments because it brings her joy and hopefully, creates a memory that she’ll carry into adulthood.
Then I wait approximately six hours for her to tuck into bed and I go behind her and completely rearrange the ornaments to my liking because I am the adult here and my ornament arranging don’t result in clusters of ornaments all placed within a foot of the floor and a completely vacant middle section of the tree. Parenthood can best be described as Winsome. Lose some. Steal some.
after (much better)
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My tree isn’t the most visually stunning Christmas tree you’re going to see today and I don’t want you to think that I’m implying my method is the best method. Christmas, to me, is about joy. Our family’s colorful, fun, and nostalgic Christmas tree brings me so much joy. I hope it’s brought you a little joy and some inspiration as well.
Here are links to the items I’ve talked about in this blog post and some fun ornaments to get your collection started:
can see all of the creative Christmas trees my fellow bloggers and
friends have created by clicking the links below:
From here, head over to Yuni’s post at Love Your Abode and tell her I
said “hello!” She’s a doll. If you don’t know her, allow me
to introduce you to one of your new favorite people.
NEED MORE CHRISTMAS DECORATING IDEAS + INSPIRATION?
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Site operating fees are expensive but my commission costs you nothing. thanks for your support!