One of the joys and challenges of being in a new home at the holidays is that you have a whole new space to decorate. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, so even as we were house hunting, I had an eye on how each home would look at Christmas. I started to realize that I wasn’t willing to give up the cathedral ceiling I was used to in our old home. Each year, I nudged for a taller and taller tree, but I couldn’t get Big Guy to go much taller than 8 and a half feet. Still, it always looked majestic.
Fast forward to our new home. It has cathedral ceilings in the great room, but the layout is a bit different. The peak of the roof falls behind the television on one side of the room and behind the chimney on the other. Since we’re not going to block either the chimney or the television with the tree, we can’t go quite as big as I’d like. Don’t get me wrong… we can still fit an 8 and a half foot tree, but it would start creeping up on the ceiling. But the bigger issue is that the fireplace is massive. The chimney is about 6 feet across. The hearth is wider at about 9 feet. The surrounding brick goes the entire length of the room (23 feet), not including a door on one side and a large door-sized window on the other. It will be easy for a tree to be dwarfed by the fireplace.
Then something wonderful happened. We won an artificial tree, wreath, and garland via a giveaway from Renea at A Nest for All Seasons and Treetopia. Truth be told, I never really wanted an artificial tree. I love the real thing. I love the smell most of all. But, when the world sends you a sign, you can’t really ignore it, so I figured we’d give it a shot. I actually entered the contest for the wreath and garland, which I thought would be pretty above the fireplace. When they told me I’d won a 6 foot tree, I thought, “What am I going to do with a 6 foot tree? It’s too small for the great room, but too big for our current layout in any of the other rooms.” Luckily, they were willing to give me a slightly less expensive 8 foot tree. That’s when things started to get a bit crazy. Because that’s when I had The Big Idea. If I couldn’t get a tree that was big enough to really stand out in our great room, why not get TWO trees to work in tandem?
My husband thought I was crazy. This is hardly unusual. He said, “It’s not in the budget.” He said NO. He said, “Where will we store these trees?” I thought I was a bit crazy, too, but my friends and family on Facebook are total enablers. They said, “YES! You have to!” So, I worked a little Christmas magic on my husband and I bought a second tree (8’ lighted Balsam Spruce) with his reluctant support.
The final effect is quite grand and just how I imagined it! The two trees connected by the garland and wreath create a whole Christmas-y forest effect. Even Big Guy admitted that it looks nice. See? Sometimes over-the-top and crazy ends up being just right.
I had a vision in my head of a very natural feel with burlap and pinecones and burgundy. I planned to cover the mantle with the garland and fill it in with a variety of snowmen decorations. And then I had one of those moments where everything changed. We have some masks from a stop in Venice during our honeymoon Mediterranean cruise and I loved how they looked with the greenery. So I went instead with burgundy and gold. The (new) tree skirts are double-sided, thankfully. Burlap on one side and a soft cream fabric on the other. The whole effect is subtle, but I like it a lot. Of course, there’s a Mickey. In fact, that tree on the left is entirely Disney. I’m a bit of a fan! [If you look really closely, you may find one other unexpected set of objects sporting Mickey’s head… I’m not telling, though!]
I chose the Merry Mixed Pine Wreath and Garland from Treetopia because it was the most classic-looking. The wreath is supposed to be 36”, but I think it’s more like 32”, and that’s with a lot of fluffing and stretching on my part. I added the ornaments and haven’t had time to add a bow (it came with a red bow, but it didn’t at all match). The glass ball ornaments are a recent purchase from Target. I’m very happy with the garland, but I wish I had gotten a 4-foot wreath because the one we got looks just a bit small on the chimney, especially since it isn’t a full 3 feet.
What to do with all of the décor meant for the mantle? I used it on the hearth instead. The tall snowmen and chubby tree have been in my collection for years now. The shorter snowman, bird (how adorable is he?! I bought three different ones because I love them so much), and lighted Noel are also from Target.
Big Guy and I both really enjoyed Venice, although we had our first fight as a married couple there! We did a Murano glass tour a and a walking tour, but we spent the majority of our time shopping for masks and cordial glasses. I’m glad we did, because (10 years later…) I still really like these matching masks.
As I mentioned above, we did an entire tree in Disney. It started as a bit of a joke, but it turned out that we had enough ornaments to cover the front half of a tree (with the kids helping to decorate – I could have covered a lot more!). This isn’t at all surprising… I decorate the tree each year wearing a Santa hat with Mickey ears, and this year I was also wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and PJ bottoms. What can I say? I love the Mouse! We actually have a nice variety of Disney ornaments. There’s plenty of Mickey, of course, but also Cars, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh, princesses, Prep and Landing, Spiderman, Wall-E, and a lot of Star Wars, among others. We’ve also got some resort and park ornaments. Now I have an excuse to get more.
With everything else decorated, I found myself with two shelves and nothing to put on them. I stumbled across these simple wooden red stars at Jo-Ann Fabrics. They match my original décor plan better, but I think they still work. I paired them with my metal words – “believe” and “dream.” The third word, “love,” is in the middle of the mantle. You can find Wall Words at Abacus Gallery. If you’re ever in Freeport (or Portland, Ogunquit, Kennbunkport, or Boothbay Harbor), Maine, definitely stop by. Such fun shops! You can also purchase Wall Words online. The faux mercury glass jars are also from Jo-Ann Fabrics, and they are filled with battery-powered LED light strands from Target. I managed to buy one blinking and one not, but you can’t see that in the pictures, thankfully!
As you can see, I’ve got our stockings hung. We’ve got some beautiful handmade stockings made by Big Guy’s aunt, and I will share pics of those at some point, but they don’t match, and they don’t hang quite right, so I have another idea for those. We can’t use up ALL of the decorations in just one room! Right now, though, LadyBug thinks the Christmas decorations look pretty grand, and the fireplace (which is usually hidden behind our couch) looks just right for sitting down with some Christmas books. Shhh… don’t tell, but I snuck in a Kwanzaa book and a Hanukkah book, too!
Well, there you have it… our great room is finally decorated and ready for a visit from Jolly Old Saint Nick. We’ve got a couple of other small trees around the house, as well as a table top display in the front foyer, but I expect that more space will get a Christmas touch as the years go on. I do think I may have to get a set of decorations for each holiday for the mantle. Just to keep things interesting…
Disclosures: None, really. The folks at Treetopia kindly upgraded the size of the tree we won, but we purchased the second one at the regular price. The rest of the links are just for ease of shopping! All opinions are my own, of course.