Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tacky and Terrific: Our Christmas Decorations

I'm not gonna lie to you, guys...I'm not great at decorating.  Not at all.  But when Christmas comes around each year, I haul out all my tacky things and enjoy every second of it.  My kids do, too.  So much so that they decorate and un-decorate (is that a word?) our tree multiple times a day.  I wish I could say that that's the reason it looks the way it does, but honestly, it's not.  My tree has looked pretty shabby since I first set up a tree in my one-bedroom apartment when I was nineteen years old.  It has, however, gotten progressively worse.
First of all, my tree is fake.  And it's not even a good fake one.  There are bare spots everywhere.  But, hey, it's pre-lit, so that's one less thing I have to do.  That cloud has a silver lining and all that.  This tree was purchased on clearance at Proffitt's department store my second year of college for next to nothing, and it totally reflects both its age and its price.  I pushed for a real tree this year, but Brandon nearly laughed in my face over that one.  Seems he's not into the needles and all that, and he also made a good point---no matter how pretty the tree is, it's still going to look pretty bad due to our ornament assortment and all those grabby little toddler hands pummeling it daily.  In the end, I agreed.  And this is what we've got:

See the ribbon?  That's not me trying to be all fancy or any nonsense like that.  That's practicality, folks.  We used to have tinsel, but that was too tempting for the littles, and most of it was pulled off within the first few minutes of putting up the tree.  Then we moved to beads, but to two little princesses, those seem to make fabulous necklaces, so that was scrapped.  And the ribbon?  If they pull this stuff down, I've got a spool of 100 feet of the stuff, so bring it on.
Our ornaments aren't matchy-matchy like some people's gorgeously-coordinated trees.  It's a complete mish-mash of ornaments collected over the years.  Here's the break-down.

We've got personal interest ornaments.  Those are obviously my British ornaments (only a slight obsession acquired during my multiple trips!), and that's Julia's ballet ornament, which was mine when I was little.

And Brandon's personal interest?  I always tell the girls to hide this as best they can, but for some reason the sheer yellow-ness of it makes it always visible.

We have handmade kids' ornaments.  Glitter and painted pottery are favorites around here.

We have the traditional "first" ornaments.  Our first Christmas together (when we looked like babies ourselves), the girls' first Christmas as babies...and, shame on us, Sawyer doesn't have one yet, but not for lack of looking.

And then there are tacky Walmart shatterproof ornaments.  These, along with the shatterproof balls, are disappearing slowly.  We don't know where they go, but each year we mysteriously have less and less.  Must be an ornament ogre out there, just like the sock thief that lives in the dryer.

Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care...and with those quick-release plastic hooks.  Obsessively safety-conscious mommy won't allow nails.  They're the old-school cheap stockings with our names school glued and glittered on them.  I love it.  When I was growing up, my parents had fancy stockings for us, and I always wanted the ones with names like I saw on TV.  My kids have known no other kind.
This year, our gingerbread houses had to move higher.  Instead of our kitchen decorations, they became mantle decorations.  While making a huge mess making these, we found out the Brynn just cannot be trusted not to scarf down an entire house and spread icing all over her face and anything near her.  So up they went.

Crafty I am not.  But these Target kits make things as easy as possible for me.  Even that does not mean it's easy.  Seriously.  I dyed my hands red and green and am waiting for it to wear off.

Our kitchen decorations now consist of this cookie jar from my childhood:
And Santa's cookie and milk pit-stop area:

There are two cups and only one Santa, I know.  One's for milk, and the other is probably for something a bit stronger to warm him up.

And these are my Sarah, Plain and Tall houses.  They have been my Christmas decoration pride and joy since 1994.  What do they have to do with Christmas?  Well, they're all decorated for the holidays, of course!  (And they've done a much better job than I've done on my house.)  My aunt gave me these when I was eleven and I loved the book and movie.  Now my girls love them, if only to use as props in their princess figure playtime.

So, now that you've been on a tour of my random decorations, let me say that I do realize that I have no theme and none of them coordinate at all.  But you know what?  I love them.  There is not a single decoration here that doesn't hold some memory or another.  Whether things were made by hand, bought to commemorate an occasion, or given to us by our friends, we love each and every thing that we carefully place (and in my kids' case, place again and again) on our tree and in our house.  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas over here, and we're all super-excited.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.  I hope your traditions mean the world to you like they do to us.
How do you decorate?  And how do you celebrate?  I'd love to hear all about your family's quirkiness!


  1. We are a lot alike. I have to admit though that the thought of not having a real tree makes me cringe, it has been a tradition for me since I was born to go out and buy a fresh cut tree each Christmas. However, we, too, have no rhyme or reason to our Christmas decorations. Our tree is made up of a hodge podge of random decorations Chris and I have gathered since our first Christmas together in 2001 and collected from various relatives. Nothing matches and ranges from handpainted (by me and Conner) little suncatchers to things bought from various craft fairs. We also have the infamous "first" ornaments, our first Christmas together and Conner's first Christmas and the ornament, that means more to me than anything, is a pewter ornament that my aunt and uncle gave to me the year our first son, Dakota, passed away. It's just one of those "Christmas from Heaven" ornaments but it means so much to us especially since they are both gone now too. It's the memories that seeing these decorations brings that makes it Christmas for us. If we were to ditch all of our ornaments and buy all new ones due to a sense of wanting to be stylish it wouldn't mean anything to us anymore. It wouldn't be Christmas for us. I love my family and I love this time of year because decorating our tree is like looking though a scrapbook of everything we have done together and it always brings back such wonderful memories.

  2. I think you've got some great stuff Jen:-) We haven't even put up our Christmas decorations yet. Both my kiddos have mid Dec. birthdays and I just hate having Christmas stuff out when we are hosting birthday parties. We'll be busting it out this weekend. We also have a crappy fake tree we bought on clearance at big lots a few years back, and ours is not pre-lit. We've also got those cheapie stockings that I personalized with a gold puffy paint. Maybe I'll start buying some nicer stuff when it goes on sale after christmas.

  3. Tiff--I think we only had a real tree once in my life. And we came home one day and it had fallen over in our dining room. I think my mom decided never again at that point! Love your special ornaments!!

    Delia--I totally understand! Julia's birthday is in January, so we're always stuck with getting the decorations down before her party.

  4. Hi Jenn, I love your decorations and your tree. It's a bit like Charlie Brown's but bigger. Every year I say I'm going to get rid of those old ornaments and every year we keep putting them on the tree. My favs are the photos & handmades of my now adult children. You and your children will cherish all these old memories. Every year putting up the tree is an act of remembrance of things past.

  5. I love your hodge-podge tree! I wish we had more meaningful ornaments on ours. Right now, it's mostly ornaments we thought were cute and/or funny. I really can't wait until Joshua starts making them for me!

  6. I noticed my gratefull dead space your face ornament made it to the very back of the tree this year. Oh well at least Homer is still prominent.