Polar Express Tree

“Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”
― Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express

The Polar Express was one of my childhood favorites. I even remember the first time I picked the book up at a school book fair. The rich colors on every page brought to life the North Pole. Not only did I love the story, but I loved that at the center of this magical story was a locomotive. Even as a baby, I enjoyed trains more than most. My parents even considered moving near the railroad tracks for me. Although I’m older now, I still enjoy the holiday classic with my husband. We aboard the Polar Express in Bryson City, North Carolina every year during the holidays. It’s one of my favorite traditions with Ryan. I decided several years ago to start this tree. It’s one of my favorite trees for sure! From the quilted tree skirt to the conductors hat, I love it all.

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I started this tree with a few ornaments from Hallmark and nothing more. I’ve slowly collected train and Santa themed ornaments over the last few years. Several of the Santa ornaments are Jim Shore creations. The glass ornaments and miniature water globes are from our train excursions. I found the postcards last year at a shop here in Atlanta. I also have the Lionel Polar Express circling the tree and gifts. I added the lanterns this year, because who doesn’t love a lantern??

I’ll leave you with a few tips for your holiday decorating.

  • Add coordinating decor underneath or around the tree.
  • When possible, by multiple of ornaments for continuity.
  • Add filler (ribbon, picks, etc.) to create a fuller tree.

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Check back next week for another round of trees. Leave your tips below in the comments section.

Starbucks Tree

For the next several weeks, I’ll share each of my trees with you as I complete them. I’ll provide the meaning behind each tree, decorating tips, pictures, and more.

First up is Starbucks. This is a red and white beauty with a wonderful wintery mix of ornaments on display. The ornaments I’ve collected from Starbucks over the years are the highlight of this tree. From red cups to coffee delivery trucks, I’ve got it all. In addition to the Starbucks ornaments, I’ve added sweaters, snowballs, mittens, and sweets to this tree. I always include a variety of glass or plastic balls as well. This year, I found ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ embossed ribbon. I love this ribbon, it’s beautiful. Plus it’s cold outside, and you need a hot chocolate from Starbucks to warm you up. (Side note: most of our trees are slimmer to save space). I added some wintery picks to the top and a metal tree collar to the bottom.

Why a Starbucks tree? It all started in high school when I was a barista. I really enjoyed making specialty drinks for my awesome customers. I came to know many of them, and the positive atmosphere was contagious. It was truly a wonderful experience for me. I also remember decorating the store for the holidays and those crazy Black Friday mornings. Back then we put snowflakes all over the windows and played Christmas music. The displays were beautiful and bright. Starbucks continues to be one of my favorite coffee shops. The funny thing is that I don’t even drink coffee. I love a good hot chocolate though, and I eagerly anticipate the release of their holiday merchandise every year.

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Now that you know the meaning behind my Starbucks tree, here are some Christmas tree decorating tips for you:

  • Vary the sizes of your ornaments, go big!
  • Attach ribbon with pipe cleaners or garland ties. You can also use the branches, but I don’t like to do that. I want my tree to look fuller.
  • Tree toppers are a great way to add interest. Whether you want to add picks or a larger item, think outside the box. It doesn’t have to be a bow or star.
  • Use a bow maker if you don’t know how to make a bow. I have one, and I love that thing. You can purchase one at your local craft store.
  • Photograph your tree to determine whether ornaments need to be moved or if it needs more.

I really love the way this one turned out. It also looks really pretty up against our dark gray walls in the living room. Only six more tree to go! Stay tuned.

 

Christmas Prep

Hallmark’s Ornament Debut is this weekend, and I can’t wait. I caught a peek of their Christmas merchandise over the weekend. We bought an adorable ceramic Snoopy on Friday, and I’ve already figured out my 2017 gift wrap favorites. We will pick up the rest of our pre-order ornaments on Saturday. Here are a few ornaments from July.

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As soon as retailers start introducing their holiday merchandise, I’m ready for Christmas. September is when I usually catch the bug. I start planning my décor, purchasing new Christmas items, purchasing more gifts (I buy throughout the year), and impatiently waiting to transform our home. I know some of you won’t even think about Christmas until Thanksgiving, which is fine. Christmas is my absolute favorite, and I want to spread that joy out as long as I can. The way I see it, my love for Christmas and early decorating are only going to impact my household. So pour me some hot chocolate and turn on my holiday Pandora station.

I’ve curated ornaments for approximately eleven trees over the past five years. As I’ve mentioned before, all of my trees are themed. I coordinate everything from ornaments to gift wrap. Since we have furry friends in our home, I can’t just put a tree anywhere. I usually place the trees in rooms that our cats are not allowed in, like my craft room. I’ve also been slowly introducing trees into the common areas as the cats get older. This year will be a true test, because I’m hoping to put up three in our living area. All of that said, the first step is deciding on location.

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The second step is figuring out which trees I want to display, because I can’t put them all up. I usually only display 5-7 and rotate from year to year. This year I am introducing a circus themed tree, which I’m really excited about. Now once I’ve determined which trees, I then have to figure out what I’d like to add or change. I am continually adding to my trees, thus making them fuller and better. I also watch a ton of videos with designer tips, and I take photos of ideas I like when I shop. So I figure out what I need, and I start shopping.

Once I’ve gotten a grasp on the trees, I start focusing on other interior décor for the holidays. We change out all of the table linens, plates, bedding, and add our villages.  I try really hard not to buy a bunch of new stuff every year, but I always find something I’ve got to have. One year it was new pillows, last year it was stockings, and this year it’s bedding. I’ve actually already ordered it!

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Finally, it’s all about planning the exterior lights. Ryan and I both love Christmas lights.  Thanks to television shows like the ‘Great Light Fight’, I envision a grand display. Those shows really get my mind going, and then I’ve imagined fifty new possibilities. Ryan typically agrees to one or two ideas every year. One day I’ll have the display that’s in my head. We actually sit down together and map it all out so that Ryan knows what to do. I’ve been banned from the lights due to my perfectionistic tendencies. Imagine that. I at least get to decorate the porch.

Now that I’ve explained the ‘planning’ process, you’re probably wondering when we start decorating. I start putting up the trees on Halloween or November 1st depending on my schedule. It typically takes me a week and a half to get the interior done. We don’t put the lights up outside until the week of Thanksgiving. How do you decorate for the holiday season? I’ll be sharing all sorts of holiday related things as we get closer. Stay tuned.

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Weekly Favorite Finds

So I’m a bit later than usual with my weekly finds, and that’s because I wanted to share my Saturday with you! Parsons Christmas Shop in Cumming, Georgia opened for the Christmas season yesterday. I’m already ramping up for the holidays, and I couldn’t wait to see their new products. This shop is so much fun, and you’re going to get something new every year. Ryan and I always make plans to go opening day, because we love Christmas. I thought I’d share some photos from the shop, as well as three items I picked up yesterday.

Aren’t these trees adorable? I just love the upside down tree, and I’m thinking I need one for my circus themed tree. I also really liked the lights on the smaller tree, because they create depth and texture. Parsons had several beautiful trees on display in addition to their holiday villages. They do such a terrific job!

I did some damage yesterday, but I thought I’d share three really unique finds from my shopping spree. If you saw my Christmas posts last year, you know that I go all out when decorating my trees. Each tree is themed with matching gift wrap, accessories, and a tree skirt. My newest tree celebrates the book and movie The Polar Express. Both the Santa ornament and the lantern are for that particular tree. I loved the large size of the Santa ornament and its reference to believing. I want to incorporate some larger items this year, like I did with my Nutcracker tree. Moving right along, the lantern is going to look adorable under the tree with the train. In the movie, the conductor waves a lantern very similar to this one. Both of these items really capture the essence of Christmas spirit. I recently saw a picture of a tree that included a holiday ladder. As seen in the pictures above, the team at Parsons did the same thing. I wanted to incorporate a holiday ladder on Ryan’s Peanuts tree. We will add the character Woodstock to the ladder, which is going to be super adorable.

I’m so excited that the holidays are quickly approaching. I am actually decorating our home for fall today, and I’ll be putting up our Harry Potter tree very soon. On October 31st, this home will be transformed for the holidays. Stay tuned for all of the exciting things we are planning for the  most wonderful time of the year (which is September-December).