Merry Christmas, everyone! I know we're still 9 days away from the big celebration, but we are one with the yuletide spirit around here. We've been having fun with Jasper this year. He is about to turn 14 months old! Last Christmas he was a teeny tiny little thing and the holiday passed unnoticed by him. This year he still doesn't understand what's going on, but he's taking note of the fun, sparkly decorations that are suddenly taking up residence in his house. I thought I'd do a little tour of the simple yet effective decorations that are filling these festive days with comfort and joy.
We're so excited about our gorgeous new Christmas tree from Balsam Hill. There are many different varieties of artificial trees that you can get from them (you can take a look at them here) They look so realistic in their photos and when I've seen them on TV, so I was ecstatic to get it into our living room and put it through the paces. The tree we chose is a 7.5' Durango Douglas Fir Wide Tree pre-lit with Candelight LEDs.
One of the main reasons that we wanted to upgrade our tree was ease of setup. Our old one wasn't pre-lit and starts out in about a million pieces, so each branch needed to be assembled individually. Our Balsam Hill tree arrived in only a few big sections - all we needed to do was stack the sections together, fluff up the branches, and we were done. There were two pairs of gloves included in the box to help protect our hands while shaping the tree, and I thought that was a really nice touch. I never look forward to scratching up my hands putting up the tree every year.
I adore how wide and full this tree is and we are happy with the number and distribution of the lights. The led lights for sale that we bought have a normal, warm glow to them, which I prefer over the cooler, blue-ish LED bulbs. This is the LED Downlight Sizing Guide we used. The lights are operated with a foot switch, and I didn't know that I cared about having one until now. It really does make a difference with how easy it is to tap on the lights in the morning without needing to squeeze behind the tree to access the wall outlet.
Pay no mind to the fact that the lower portion has very little decoration. With a toddler running around, I fear for the safety of my glass ornaments.
This is the most realistic artificial tree I have ever owned. Look at those branches! The outer portions of the branches have hyper-realistic tips, and then the interior has a more classic artificial needle to add fullness. Once the tree was fluffed and shaped, we didn't notice any holes or bare spots at all.
We don't use our living room much since we spend most of our time in our upstairs den. Since we put up our tree, however, we've been spending more and more time downstairs just so we can sit next to it in the evenings. It has transformed this forgotten room into a cozy, warm haven for sipping eggnog (of which we drink way too much this time of year) and watching Christmas movies.
I'm certainly no professional when it comes to decorating a tree. I just love ornaments that tell a story and that are full of memories. Taking a spin around our tree, you'll find a scrapbook of adornments dating back to 1990 when I was only 7 years old!
The most recent addition is this personalized ornament we got over the summer when we were in Hawaii for a friend's wedding.
This one was from a trip to Hilton Head Island back in 2008. Those shells and that tiny starfish have fallen off and been glued back on more times than I can count.
We love receiving ornaments as gifts.
Another vacation memory from our fall trip to New York City in 2009.
If you want to see some more of the ornaments that we've collected over the years, you can see some photos I posted of our 2011 Christmas tree.
Each year, we wrap our staircase rails in garland and lights. Next year I am determined to replace the garland. We've had this one since we got married and it sheds like crazy.
I got these cute Santa tealight holders at an after Christmas sale at Kohl's during my college days over a decade ago. I was living in my first apartment and these guys were the first decorations that I purchased for myself in "my own home". For that reason, they are very special to me and I've put them out every year since then.
Our mantle is also pretty simple and traditional - stockings that we've had for forever and a section of garland that I wired some ornaments to. The awkward placement of the TV over the fireplace prevents me from getting too fancy here. Is anyone actually a fan of having a TV over the fireplace? I get whiplash every time we try to watch a movie in this room.
Upstairs in our den, the room where we spend most of our time, we added this darling tabletop tree last year. We call it our nerd tree. Why do we call it that? Well...
... because we're covering it with ornaments like this!
... and this! Each year we're going to add something extra to it - we've turned it into a fun holiday scavenger hunt to look for ornaments that align with our geeky interests.
Downstairs in the dining room I added these handmade tealight holders from a new site that I recently discovered - NOVICA. NOVICA is associated with National Geographic and helps support international artisans who want to build sustainable businesses from their crafts. It's a fantastic mission and there are so many wonderful handmade items to choose from - each with a bio of the artist who made them.
Reindeer are such a classic symbol this time of year. They are so versatile, ranging in style from childlike and fun to classy and sophisticated. I am in love with this pair of reindeer that I found on Oriental Trading. They look so refined and elegant, and don't you love the tiny berries and pine cones on the wreaths around their necks? I'm going to be very sad when it's time to pack these guys away until next year.
I don't do a lot of decorating in the kitchen, but I did add a couple of new items this year, both from Oriental Trading. First was a set of 3 resin Christmas trees with a fun, modern cone shape with scroll work and lil' stars on top. I have them sitting on top of a small corner cabinet that I use to store baking supplies, and I love how they look! They're lightweight but still sturdy. They look like they are more expensive than they are, and who doesn't love that?
The snowman is Jasper's favorite decoration. Every morning before he eats his breakfast he has to greet Mr. Snowman by running over to the counter and pointing up at him while smiling. I gotta hand it to the kid, he's got good taste, because I also have a soft spot for this fuzzy little guy (I got him here). He has a sturdy body and dangly legs, so you can perch him on a counter top with his legs hanging off the edge. I love his old-fashioned mittens and hat. I'm totally planning on leaving him out after Christmas is over, because aside from the holly berries, he passes as general "winter decor".
Our third (and final!) tree is a 4.5 ft white Alberta Spruce from Target. This tree replaced a red metallic one that we used to have in our den. The lights on that one died and because they had red wires it would have been just as expensive to buy specialized lights as it was to buy a new tree. Still wanting something a little more interesting than a typical green tree we went with pure white, something we've never had before. It's a pretty little tree that sits in front of a window between our work desks.
I used all of the solid silver ornaments from the old tree. They shed glitter all over the place, but I don't care.
This year I added solid gold ornaments for some extra sparkle and color. I love them.
We're enjoying our decorations this year and soaking in how cozy all of the lights and sparkle make the house feel, especially in the evenings. What is your favorite decoration in your home? Let me know in the comments!
Some of the items featured in this post were provided to us in return for an honest review. We do not accept free product or compensation in return for a fully positive response. Remember our motto: if it sucks, we'll tell ya!