How many Christmas trees are in your house? Is just one enough for your family? The holiday season for in my home is a time of..some would say over abundance..mostly I think my husband would say it! The poor fella has to help haul out a lot of storage bins full of holiday cheer from the garage and it’s not his favorite thing in the whole world!
I grew up in a house full of holiday decorations too. Our mom and dad would decorate each and every room of our downstairs with nutcrackers, figurines of every sort and a huge tree almost sagging with ornaments. The day after Thanksgiving was our family day to get into the Christmas spirit-first Black Friday shopping as a big group and then returning home exhausted, putting on holiday music and throwing Christmas decor on anything that didn’t move. I loved how our house would glow at night with icicle lights and tree framed perfectly in our front window. I’m determined to share that tradition with my own children!
I started slowly as a mom with these traditions. When you have babies you’re pretty darn tired and don’t have as much energy to out into..well..anything extra! The ornaments and small decorations are also just something else for them to get into and to try to “taste test” in their mouths! Don’t even get me started on what pets can do to Christmas decor! If one particular tree could talk in my house it would say “Cat, get OFF of me and stop stealing my ornaments”!!!
I want to share with you one of our traditions that started 2 years ago when my kids were a bit older and had Christmas opinions. I overheard them talking about their wish to have a tree that represented them and what they love. It was so genuinely sweet to hear this conversation that mama decided she was going to make an early Christmas wish come true! Like any good Santa I enlisted some elves to help me and I’d like to be your elf this year to give you ideas on how to give your kids their own themed trees.
Step 1 Make your plan
Decide whether each kid will get their own tree or if you’ll be creating a theme enjoyed by all of your kids. (I decided each kiddo would get their own) Think about a theme-what are they obsessed with at the moment? Do they like cars, dinosaurs or the beach? Are they into unicorns or a certain book or movie? This is your starting off point. Next go to Pinterest to see if a clever person has done this theme already. There are creative folks out there sharing their ideas and projects to help you and spark your own imagination.
Next decide whether you plan on surprising your kids or involving them in this plan. I chose the surprise element because I wanted to see their happy surprised faces but not necessarily the frustrated looks if some of the ideas didn’t go as planned. I do believe kids would enjoy participating as a family project too…the question really is..will you enjoy that?
Step 2 Get the tree
We have a huge tree that would still go up with all the family ornaments. Ones that I made when I was a child, ones the kids have made at school, etc, and those special sentimental ornaments collected over the years. This tree was staying!
I shopped the online sales and found one smaller style of tree that was a bargain and had 2 of them shipped to store so that there was no risk of spoiling my surprise plan. Do you stalk the delivery man during the month of December? I totally do!
Step 3 Know your strengths and enlist help if needed
I’d found some great ideas for my two trees on several online resources but could I do them? Some of us have a limit to our DIY capabilities! We also only have so much time in a given day to craft in secret. I reached out to my mother-in-law who’s a brilliant knitter and my mom who is amazing at visualizing outcomes and organizing the steps to get there. They would both be visiting at the time I wanted to pull this all together and I knew I needed their help to do it! I shared the ideas I’d found and enlisted each of them to help with parts of the plan. My mother-in-law would get to knitting ornaments and my mom would help me look for more ideas and some extra items to bring with her. Plan made-we’d all get started
Step 4 Crafting & Buying
The object of this decision was not to go out and spend a ton of money on store bought ornaments. They can be expensive, especially themed ones and I didn’t want to spend much to make this happen. On the flip side, I didn’t want or have time to make everything and set a budget per tree to buy items too. It’s amazing how creative you can get when you have a firm budget you plan to stick to! Ebay is your bestie for this shopping! I looked for great prices on new and used items and thought outside the box on what I could do with them. I also looked around the house for items we already had that we could use in a different way and put them aside if they wouldn’t be missed.
Without further ado let me show you what I did and what I’m doing this year!
The first & second years of the tradition:
The Harry Potter Tree
My son was obsessed with all things Potter that year. His tree was going to be magical. I found some inspiration on Pinterest of other Harry Potter themed trees but much of the do it yourself ideas were out of my comfort zone. I decided to keep my contribution to the simple skills I possess..mostly cutting, using stickers and shopping.
I checked Ebay listings ending within 5 minutes for a couple of weeks and scored deals on ornaments that had zero bids for steals, yay! I also purchased gold owl ornaments, little brooms from the craft category, 20 tiny glass containers with stoppers that I could make into potions, a big package of stickers and neckties from each Hogwarts house. I also bought several clear ornaments from Dollar Tree at 2/$1, some glitter stag ornaments and a bag of little plastic trophies from the party favor section.
To make many of the ornaments I simply cut construction paper squares (in the Hogwarts house colors) and attached the stickers to them. I then used a hole punch to punch two holes in each one and ran some ribbon through the holes to hang them. I took the rest of the stickers and added them to the clear ornaments. This is something anyone can do!
For the potions I simply added sand to each using a funnel and attached ribbon to these as well so they would hang. (We had some leftover playground sand from a previous project and my mom helped with filling all of these). I did the same thing with the trophies, I just tied a ribbon for hanging around each one-they would be Tri-Wizard Tournament trophies. I thought the ties would make a great garland around the tree but I don’t sew. In the end I literally knotted the ties together and it worked.
I need to give a big shout out to my mother-in-law Kay for her contribution to this tree. I called her to ask if she could make an ornament or two and she outdid herself! She arrived with an array of them! She made the Harry and Ron Christmas sweaters and one with my son’s initial. She made a flying key, Hedgewig, a mandrake, a scarf, a snitch, a lighting bolt, a spider and Harry himself.
For the tree skirt I used a leftover piece of burlap from a fall project. I just wrapped it around the tree stand. I wanted to use a caldron from Halloween but that was an epic fail!
The final item was the tree topper. I wanted it to be a sorting hat and it turned out better than I could have imagined! I took a witch’s hat leftover from Halloween (that had cost $1 at Dollar Tree) and stuffed it with newspaper. I had some bronze spray paint already and gave it several coats to age it. Once dry it looked exactly what I was hoping for!
We put it all together after my wizard was asleep and the following morning when he came into the kitchen (where I set it up with help from Grandma and Nana) that moment he saw it was unforgettable! He was absolutely beaming and so incredibly excited!
Now you may be thinking to yourself..there’s no way I can afford to do this. The total cost of this tree was $40! That was my budget and I stuck to it. Obviously thanks to some incredible knitting it was even more amazing but if you don’t have a talented knitter in your family I have some other ideas:
Use the Harry Potter books around the tree or photocopy the covers of each book for ornaments
Spray paint balls and add feathers for snitches
Use small pieces of card stock to make little envelopes addressed to Harry
Add small single socks to represent Dobby’s socks
I hope you enjoyed this themed tree! I’ll be sharing my next themed tree idea soon so stay tuned! The next one will be for your favorite little princess! Janet