Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas Home Tour

This year, the family Christmas gift exchange has only one rule: all gifts are homemade. Which means... I have been trolling Pinterest like it is my job. That's what this no-blogging-lately streak has been about. I cannot wait to show you what I've made!!

Post-Thanksgiving week started out at full steam: every year, I'm so busy with work and other projects that Christmas just seems to blow right by. This year, I decided to be smart and put the tree and Christmas lights up the day after Thanksgiving. It was great! At 60 degrees and sunny, I can't ever remember putting up lights wearing a t-shirt and jeans. With only 8 days left until Christmas, it now looks like a holiday explosion in our house!

On the inside, here's my ever-changing mantel:

And the tree?
I'm so torn when it comes to tree decorating. Like the artwork in my house, I want it to mean something. Don't get me wrong - I love the department store-looking trees and I wish I was capable of doing that myself! But, I still like my ornaments to have some kind of sentimental value. As a young couple, Ben and I have been trimming the tree together for three years, which isn't quite enough time to accumulate a ton of "us" ornaments. In the meanwhile, I have a handful of cheap (and unbreakable!) red and silver ornaments that I picked up from Garden Ridge and Michaels. I love the idea of a few large pieces on the tree, so I made a few big paper ornaments with cardstock. It was missing a little white, anyway. Next year I think I'll go with the big balloon + string ornaments a la Katie.

Here are a few of the "highlights" from our family tree, including:

The quick and easy paper ornaments

 A big star, a blingy pear... two things I bought just because I liked 'em.

 A bunny - possibly Todd's albino cousin.

A beautiful glass starfish ornament given to me by my mom, a gift from Hotel Del Coronado when we all visited (Ben's and my family) San Diego last November...

An Ohio State snowman (whoa, lighting!! Sorry.)

A bird, 'cause- well, I really like birds.

 Ben's family loves anything that says "Joy" around this time of the year, because they once hoped that he would find joy in his life. Very cute! The star was another gift from them. :)

 Here's the night shot..

The photos are a little dark - It was night time and I was excited about taking photos! Moving over to the empty wall next to the door, I threw a handful of pinecones and ornaments in a vase. I used an old silver reindeer next to it. The vase was already there (score - $15 at West Elm in Chicago) and I cut down some tree branches from outside for the vase. I couldn't resist hanging a few ornaments on!

I used a ton of things I had laying around for the mantel. The mantel has always been a challenge because it's extremely shallow - only 6 inches deep. I have mixed feelings about the assymmetry of this setup. The garland was initially hung there only temporarily. What do you think?

I would love to bring fresh greenery in, but I'm a) not lucky enough to have a good evergreen in my yard and b) Ben has allergies so I try to keep things synthetic around here. The mirror (it's huge, $25 from Kirkland's), the candelabra, and topiary were already on the mantel earlier in the year. I threw the topiary in a white Ikea vase and tied a red ribbon around it.

I found the wreath at Michael's a few years ago and have not been able to find one like it since. If you know where I can get a good one, please let me know! The reindeer is an old item from Kohl's at least 2 years ago (he's slightly embarrassed about the butt shot). Are you seeing the JOY theme? Stocking holders were from Target last year, and the stockings themselves were cheapies from Garden Ridge. I made the tags on them. 

The chalkboard was completely an experiment! It's a piece of shelf that I cut to size for an office project, and was just a scrap I had laying in the garage. I painted it with spray chalkboard paint (my first chalkboard paint adventure ever) and after 24 hours of drying, I started drawing and writing on it. Maybe I'll turn it into a XX days 'til Christmas countdown??

I really like the idea of turquoise, so in the front room, which is a little less traditional, I put a handful of turquoise ornaments in - yet another - vase. I have a handful more turquoise ornaments displayed around the room.

On a completely unrelated topic, I just got this knotted felt pillow from West Elm and l.o.v.e. love it!! There's new artwork up, which I'll show you soon.

 Here's the view from the kitchen to the stairs. Figuring that the kitchen needed something festive, I put up a pre-made arrangement on the door with another red bow.

The garland is zip-tied to the stairs, haha :)

Oh- and can't forget, here's the quick outside shot:

How's your Christmas decorating coming along?
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