Decorating Our Tabletop Tree With Handmade Ornaments

As I mentioned earlier this week, we got a real mini tree! And I finally got some twinkle lights up and some ornaments on that guy. I say this with much enthusiasm and hardly any hyperbole: it’s a life changer. I’m in love.

And Clara and Burger love it too (play Where’s Waldo in the dark and find them):

It’s so charming and warm and it looks so sweet with all of the handmade Pinterest challenge ornaments that I made here.

These are the only breakable ornaments that we’ll be putting out this year (since the tree is up on a table, so Clara can’t get to it). And it glitters like the dickens. So yes, it’s my new favorite thing ever. Oh and it was $19 at a local grocery store here in Richmond called Martin’s (outside near the curb) for anyone wondering. And it came with a stand, which is nice.

We even have some King Kong action going on thanks to this gorilla ornament at the top:

As for the tree skirt, that’s actually just a gray pashmina that I had already (I just swirled it around the base a few times to create a little skirt), so other than shelling out the money for the tree, we got to use all of the ornaments that I had already made (which factored out to around 71 cents a pop – more on those here) and even tossed together a free tree skirt.

We actually would have loved to find a potted evergreen that we could have planted in the backyard after the season, but after a few weeks of looking for an un-cut one that was small enough to sit on the table, we had no luck (most of them were 5+ feet tall). So we caved and got a cut one since it was already well into December and we didn’t want to miss the real-tree boat entirely. But if anyone knows of a local source for uncut table-sized evergreens we’d love to hear about it (we tried Lowe’s Home Depot, a few tree lots around town, and a few nurseries/plant stores – but all of the uncut ones were too tall/large to be tabletop ones).

But we were so excited to bring some shortie tree goodness into the living room (this guy easily fit into our car, which was a Christmas present in and of itself). The smell is amazing, and of course it looks… well… real. And sweet. And pretty. Ok, enough gushing. But because I’m a nut, I even made a quick video of the mini tree goodness that we have going on. Pictures are nice, but video almost makes you feel like you’re right there in front of something. So allow me to invite you into our living room for an up-close, in-motion peek:

You know me + shiny things = a match made in heaven. And Clara might just be having the most fun with the tree out of all of us. At least five times a day she runs over to it and points to various animals and gleefully shouts out things like “Rhino!!!” and “Hippo!!!” and “Aggigator!” like it’s the most exciting thing she’s seen all day. Never gets old. Man I love the holidays.

Believe it or not, John and I have never had a real tree in our house as a family (although both of us enjoyed them growing up). We went faux five-ish years ago (thanks to an after-Christmas sale at Target) and appreciated that we only had to haul it home once (having a small car, the notion of dragging home a big real tree each year was a little daunting). And with a pooch we appreciated the no-dropped-needles thing. It can’t be argued that a faux tree looks better than a real one, but somehow when we loaded it with lights and ornaments we still loved our faker year after year.

Here she is back in 2007 (when we had a terrible camera and our blog photos were smaller):

And in 2008 (with the same white and silver scheme):

And in 2009 (when we went crazy for citrus, and even dried fruit to make ornaments):

And in 2010 (with green, pink, and silver shimma goin’ on):

And since experts continue to debate whether a faux tree or a real tree is more eco-friendly (apparently it’s a really close call when it comes to hauling emissions and cutting them down every year vs. reusing a faux one for a while) we knew the most eco thing that we could do after purchasing a faux tree was to use it as long as possible. So we’ll still be setting up our full sized faker in the dining room to enjoy with some Clara-safe ornaments (bonus: everyone driving by will see it glowing in the window). Better get on that though. Eeks, is it really the eighth already? Better get crackin’.

Have you guys been decorating? Any other tabletop tree folks out there? I can’t believe it has taken us this long to give one a try.

Psst- Check out who’s looking more and more like a leftie (here). I guess time will tell!


  1. Stephanie Phillips says

    We did a very similar set up this year. A shorty on the built-ins for my 23 month old daughters to look at and then our large tree in the addition so that it’s visible through the bay window. It’s win-win for me since I got to keep my theme going-on!

  2. says

    I love the mini tree! It’s so cute! Plus, you’ll get that Christmas tree smell which I love oh so much.

    We’re going to get a real tree this year and we’ll see how it goes. I’m very excited because it’s the first time I’ve had a real tree on who knows how long, but I’m missing the faux tree (since we could have already had it up and decorated).

    • Kim says

      Amanda and Sherry – I just love all of your handmade ornaments! So cute and so inexpensive! So many of the bought ones today look so cheapish. I’m so inspired by you both to make my own this year and give out as gifts as well as keep for myself, so thanks!!!!

  3. says

    I have three kids under 6, and the youngest is just about Clara’s age. What we do with the big tree (we have a fake one too- we’re rarely home through the whole holidays and I worried about the fire hazard of a real tree left unattended) is put the breakable ornaments up high where little exploring hands can’t reach them. I have a ton of ornaments because my family tradition was to get an ornament every year on Christmas eve (the only gift we opened on Christmas eve, it was wrapped at our place at the dinner table) and I have a TON that have sentimental meaning to me… and are breakable.
    So the non-fragile ones are on the bottom where they can be taken off and carried around and repositioned by the kids and the top half of the tree is for me. It might not be the prettiest, sometimes the bottom gets really bare lol, but it’s a nice way to display fragile ornaments without having to worry so much.
    Enjoy your first “real” Christmas in this house!

  4. Melissa says

    We went to a local home center yesterday to pick up a few holiday supplies and were totally dismayed that the store was already consolidating Christmas and bringing out their lawn and garden patio products. I need to make a mental note to start shopping for Christmas in October.

  5. amalisa says

    We’ve always had a “little” tree in our house. They do indeed smell great, are easier to decorate and it is nice having some “real” in the house. Regarding the potted tree, I sometimes see them at grocery stores in my neck of the woods. Maybe one near you would have one.

  6. says

    I really like the idea of a small-real tree! We have a couple fake trees (or faux as Lisa calls them) because of the baby, but mostly because our Schnauzer likes to drink the tree water and rip-and-run away with the branches.

    You just can’t beat the smell of a real one though!

  7. Allison says

    We have a tabletop tree–it’s a faker though. I bought it my last year of college and we pull it out every Christmas since. We just recently bought a big, artificial tree this year and, I agree, once you load it up, you can’t tell.

    • WSquared says

      Totally took the words right out of my mouth re A Charlie Brown Christmas! But for a real Charlie Brown effect, you’d have to switch out that gray pashmina for a blue one! ;)

  8. Brianne says

    You may have some luck at a grocery store next year for a small plantable tree. Big Y had small potted ones advertised. I think your cut one looks great though!

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