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. says

    I love the mini tree! So adorable!

    I’ve decorated the house, but we still don’t have a tree. Its been raining or snowing on the days we were free to get one so far. Hopefully we’ll go tonight. I can’t stand going this long without a tree!

  2. says

    A real tree is one of the perks of living in Maine. Talk about almost zero emissions from cutting and hauling. The first year we lived in our house, I walked over the back 40 into the woods, found a small tree, cut it down and carried it back home over my shoulder. I refused to let my husband (then boyfriend) carry it haha. We do a thing called “Thanksmas” every year now where we all (about 20 of us) get together at an Uncle’s farm, where there is a way overgrown tree farm, and we cut down our trees. This year we each chose and hauled them back to the house with a small working horse (yes, a horse). Then we all ate tons of amazing food, let all the dogs run around, and sat around the fireplace and had our first annual “Young Cousin’s Wine Tasting”, where we drank my uncles homemade wine and at chocolate soaked chocolate cake. Then we put the tree in the back of the pickup and came home.

    I kind of love it. I’ve never had a fake tree and I can’t even picture it living here.

    • says

      Oh – and I love your table top tree. It’s absolutely adorable. I say buy a couple evergreens yourself to plant in the yard, and then when Clara is old enough you can go into your yard and just cut down your Christmas tree. :)

    • says

      Ooh I love that idea! Although I’m sort of a wuss, so I can see myself growing so attached to those trees that we’d feel bad cutting them down! Haha.


    • says

      haha, I guess there are so many around I never get attached to them. It would be so so cute though. You could even plant them in rounds, so you’d be sure to have one ready each year (after the initial 5 years or so). Clara would be about 6 years old when you get to cut your first tree if you planted it next year. I’m totally loving this idea. I mean, worst case – decorate it outside haha. Actually, don’t. If the animals are anything like the ones around here the squirrels will take everything off of it for nesting and just because they can.

    • says

      (and be careful of spruces, some varieties, I think white mainly but some blue – smell fine in the cold but when they get warm inside they will smell like cat urine. Nothing more festive than that). I’m done now. Haha.

  3. Kyle says

    Our Safeway (grocery store) has a ton of potted ones outside for sale. I’m in Northern Va though. (Also, most of them look more like Charlie Brown Christmas trees.)

  4. beth in dc says

    Looks so pretty in the dark. I’ve been meaning to ask: Are you guys feeling like you have oceans of time since you got the book in–even with all the kitchen stuff going on?

    • says

      Sadly we’re still doing projects and coordinating photoshoots for the book, so we have zero time! I feel so late with everything (don’t even have our big tree up yet- still have to finish Christmas shopping for everyone in the family, etc). I can’t wait until the spring/summer of 2012 which is hopefully when book stuff will actually be done (writing it was easy compared to doing all these secret projects and shooting it, haha).


  5. says

    As a young married couple we got our first faux tree at an after Christmas Target sale too! It’s still our only tree but I grew up with real ones so one day I’m sure we’ll spring for the real thing. There are still some living (now very tall!) trees at our old house (which my parents own but rent out) from when we got live ones as a child.

  6. Kate says

    We did the same thing, right down to the pashmina skirt! I have been lobbying for years to buy a real tree, but because we travel for the holidays, we usually stick with our big, pre-lit faker. It’s beautiful, but I have missed the smell of a real tree in the house. This year, as we were wreath and garland shopping, my husband spotted the cute little tabletop trees and grabbed one for me. It looks perfect on a little table in our front window, and seeing it makes me so dorkily happy. Best holiday purchase to date!

  7. Lindsay says

    Love the little tree. It makes made me think of the perfect theme song for your tree, and one of my now favorite christmas songs. Guster’s Tiny Tree Christmas!

  8. Gavin S. says

    This is the first year I haven’t had a real tree in my condo (I’m okay with it because I know my parents will have one when I go home for Christmas). My faux tree is super unique, though, since it’s made out of crab pots! I’m from the beach so it’s really meaningful to me to have a piece of home at my current house in the landlocked part of NC. The best part about crab pot trees is that they come pre-lit, can be folded flat, are interior/exterior, and can be decorated or left plain! I’ve got a starfish at the top of mine and a crab net and lots of seashells at the base. I don’t have a picture so you’ll just have to use your imaginations, but check out the link:

    I love your little table-top tree. Glad you’ve got a bit of that pine fresh scent to fill your living room this holiday season!

  9. Debbie says

    we plan to cut down on a tree on our eight acres at our MN log cabin this weekend. when you divide your time between five homes in four different states, its hard to know where to concentrate your yuletide effort, if any. we decided on our log home this year for the sole reason that we have that 16 foot wide floor to ceiling stone fireplace in our great room w/ 36 foot (at the tallest peak) tall ceilings w/ log timbers & floor to ceiling windows overlooking the snowy lake. tell me that room isnt just BEGGING to be holiday bedazzled.

  10. says

    Yes!! I’ve been a decorating fool for Christmas this year. So far I’ve made some paper ornaments ( ) decorated not 1 but 2 trees {fakies} ( ), and just this weekend I finished making a Mounted Rudolph Head ( ) complete with lit up nose!

    The baby tree looks great btw, and I
    m sure fills your house with that real Christmas tree smell. And as far as fake vs real, I love fake trees!! No mess to clean up all month, nothing to throw away/recycle, nothing to lug home, and best of all it just gets boxed back up when we’re done.

    Nikki @ the ambitious procrastinator

  11. Melissa says

    Love the idea of a table-top tree! My boyfriend is a pretty strict vegan and the thought of having a real tree that was cut down in our house drives him bonkers haha. I grew up with real trees my whole life and while our fake tree looks amazing I miss the smell of the real trees the most. I think next year I’ll have to bring in a mini tree too! Sounds like a fair compromise to me :-)

  12. LIsa P says

    I love your mini tree and can’t wait to see how you decorate your bigger tree! We have a 15-month old daughter, Giovanna, and this year we went with shatter resistant ornaments. They look great and she was able to help decorate which was fun!! My friend told me about your blog two years ago and I have been hooked ever since!!

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