Merry Merry, everyone!
I have to tell you, I am finding this whole Christmas thing to be a lot of responsibility! I had sort of assumed kids came installed with the abiding knowledge and love of Christmas. They would naturally be all about the Christmas, and we would make their Christmas dreams come true. But they totally don’t! They have no idea what Christmas is all about, and when you try to tell them, they aren’t like, “Ohhh, that makes sense!” They have questions, and it’s fun to watch G’s thought process- she’s so smart and growing up to be such a thoughtful little lady! But it also feels weird to be actively misleading her, ya know?
But I’m not actually a Grinch! I am also loving getting to experience the magic of Christmas with kids that can fully participate this year. And! It’s our first year in our new house, which has me inspired to make it extra-special and start new traditions for our family.
One thing that made Christmas extra not-special in years past were the disagreements Pete and I had over our tree. I am a die-hard real tree lady- but I am also an enemy to the Christmas tree. I have killed almost every tree I have had, each year in unique and disasterous ways. Last year I don’t even know how I did it, one day the tree was fine, the next all of the branches were laying flat downward against the trunk and our ornaments were intermittently falling off it. The needles weren’t dried out, they were still green and fresh and perky. It was more like how I look in Barre class doing arms when they are like “just one more transition, you’re stronger than you know, the shaking is how you change your body, 90 more seconds…” and I am like WHA!? 90 seconds!? Not happening as I drop my arms and slump my shoulders in shame. That was our tree last year, our tree gave up. It was sad.
Pete does not care for Christmas trees. And he definitely doesn’t care for their removal process, which he usually decides needs to happen like the second the presents are unwrapped. And I can’t blame him, who wants a dead droopy tree in their living room? So he has- probably wisely- been campaigning for a fake tree for years. But I just couldn’t wrap my head around it- until last year I saw Bradley’s post on their flocked Christmas tree. It reminded me of my favorite artist, Will Cottons, candy landscapes and I was obsessed with it. So Pete and I made a Christmas-Compromise- he would get his fake tree, and I would flock-it-up!
I did a lot of research on the best “artificial” (that’s the PC way to refer to them, fake is a little disrespectful- don’t you think?) Christmas trees and finally decided on the Fraser Fir from Balsam Hill. I also did a lot of research on flocking techniques, and settled on Sno-Flock, promptly ordered my supplies, pictured below, and got to work!
Our tree arrived last week- and guys- I was so so wrong about the fake tree. I am obsessed with ours. I have actually not found it much more “convenient” than a real tree. At least this go around having to go through and open each individual branch and fluff them up was a pretty big pain. But according to the literature, that’s just what you have to do when it is brand new out of the box, and next year it won’t be so bad. But our tree came in this smart storage bag, on wheels, with a smaller second bag for the top piece. I unpacked it, wheeled it into place, and activated the “SMART FLIP” technology where you just push down this handle and it flips over branches splayed. OMG guys. I felt like Inspector Gadget. Wham Bam instant tree! I spent a goodly while going through branch by branch unsmooshing and opening up them up, and then once it assumed a pleasing shape, I got to work on the flocking.
There are tons of you-tubes and guides, and I watched a lot of them, but it was really very easy. You just take your little squeeze bottle of water and spray down your area, and then sprinkle your sno-flock over it which dries/sets pretty quickly. The real next level technique is to spray the branch, then do your dusting, and then as the powder is falling try to use the squeeze bottle to spray the airborne powder towards the tree in mid-air. That method created the most “realistic” clumps.
I kept my flocking pretty conservative. Pete wasn’t initially 100% sold on the look, and I didn’t want to overwhelm him. I tried to give it a good even dusting all over, and I love how it looks- and most importantly so does Pete! Well really most importantly, so do the kids. Grace thinks I am a legit sorcerer who made it snow on our tree. I’m very pleased, though next year I might hit it with another layer to build up the snowdrift a bit.
Another thing I think made Bradley’s tree such a star is that they really went for it on the look with the exclusively pink ornaments- and the way the whole styling of the tree compliments the overall vibe of their house. I knew I couldn’t do something quite so disciplined, but our living room also has a pretty specific vibe, and I wanted our tree to look like it fit with the design of the room. I decided to only use ornaments that fit with the color palette of the room, which meant a lot of pumped up pastels. I went through the ornaments we already had and sorted them separating out the ones that worked with the palette.
I filled another box with “Texas” and western themed ornaments to take out for our little tree at The Shmamptons. Other special ornaments, especially ones I have made with the kids, went into another pile. The other part of our fake-tree-compromise is that Grace gets her own real tiny tree for her room that we go pick out as a family- and Harry will get one next year too. This arrangement satisfied my need for the family tradition of going to the Christmas tree lot, it’s manageable for Pete, and Grace is enchanted. She was even more pleased that so many of her ornaments were ones she made, and she has been busy art directing me to craft even more snowflakes and paper chains to get the tree to her exacting standards.
While the majority of our ornaments did work with the newly established palette- my Grandmother and I collected Wizard of Oz ornaments together for years which were particularly perect, we still looked a little sparse. So I went on Etsy and loaded up on mercury-glass balls in sky blue, pink, lilac, and yellow to fill in the holes. I thought it might be a little (unnecessarily) stressful working within my self-imposed constraints- but I have actually found it liberating. There are just so many Christmas things out there, and having some guidelines has actually helped me focus and choose better pieces to add to our holiday decor collection.
We finished everything off with our Biscuit tree skirt, and the whole situation is just delightful to me. It’s fun and whimsical and oozes Christmas-y magic, but still feels like it could sort of live in the room year-round. I am going to be genuinely sad to take the tree down this year. But hopefully, since I can’t kill it, Pete will let us keep it around a little longer. I mean, you never know, maybe we will become one of those families who leave our tree up year round! Super normal stuff! 😉
Images by Molly Miller for Peppermint Bliss