Decorating Our Mini Tabletop Tree & Making A Window Banner

There are a few more holiday projects going on (aka: getting crossed off the list – woot!) so let’s get right into it. Last year I grabbed four of these 3-packs of white felt tree ornaments from Target. I picked them up about a week after Christmas when they were marked down to ten cents per set instead of a dollar, which meant that in total I had 12 mini felt trees for 40 cents. They seemed kinda perfect to make a casual little banner that looks like hand-cut paper but is actually felt that I didn’t have to cut (which is win/win). Sidenote: this is my hand but it looks so much like John’s that it’s scary. Are we becoming one person? Can that happen? Should the person that we’re morphing into be called Shon or Jerry?

Anyway, next I grabbed a random ribbon remnant from the box of leftover ribbon in the closet that I recycle for gift wrapping and laid it out on the floor with my little trees under it to see the spacing. You can see that they had little gold strings around the top of them for hanging, so I just clipped those off.

Then I grabbed 12 paperclips from the office supply drawer. Bada bing, bada boom. Sure, I could’ve sewed them each in place or used smaller/cuter clips (like mini clothespins or something) but I didn’t want to be fussy about it and just wanted to make the window look festive using things we already had around the house. Call me crazy but there’s something deliciously casual and sweet about white felt trees, navy ribbon, and little silver paperclips. But if you’re feeling fancy you could get cute binder clips or teeny tiny clothespins instead.

Behold… another mini tree!

Yup, our tabletop tree is ba-aaack! You can check out last year’s mini tree here (and the 38 homemade ornaments that I whipped up for last year’s Pinterest Challenge). Or you can just feast your eyes on this year’s beauty. Oh but don’t mind that mangled little gray pashmina I tossed under it for the time being (I think using some sort of silver faux fur could be awesome).

As for the ornaments the only theme is: meaningful, sweet, handmade, and treasured. Basically in the words of Clara, it’s full of our “special special favorites.”

We piled on a ton of ornaments that we love love love – whether they were from a local craft fair – like the Virginia ornament below – or even from a few amazingly crafty readers at book tour stops, like this sweet one with Clara’s baby silhouette…

Look at this fun felt YHL one that someone else made for us at another book tour stop. So cute, right? And in the background above it you can see John’s bike ornament that I got him last year and an old disco ball from Target over five years ago (along with a small brass french horn, which is what John played in high school band – mah man).

This odd little moose-related ornament might be our favorite. It’s two freshly wedded moose snuggling up to each other. We picked it up on Alaska on our honeymoon. Cue the collective moose aww.

Another favorite is this burger one that we bought in honor of none other than the Burg-meister a few years back. And check out that cute felt owl above it (another reader-made ornament from one of our tour stops- have I mentioned how crafty you guys are?!).

Basically it’s a tree full of awesomely mismatched and meaningful treasures. You can see that our homemade antlers, spray painted animals, & glass bulbs full of brightly colored paint still have a spot up there, they just get to be surrounded by everything from preserved gingerbread cookies to an old empire state building ornament that reminds us of our time spent in NY where we met back in 2005.

And of course we had to bring our new DIYed chalkboard into the festivities, so John faced his chalk-is-screechy fears and made a little Starbucks-ish drawing, complete with a snowman (he dipped the chalk in water before writing, which you guys suggested for vibrant colors and less chill-inducing screechiness – which seemed to work well, especially with the colored chalk). You might have seen it on instagram last week. I added some snowflakes and then Clara got to work drawing “a pretty rainbow for Santa.” The family that chalks together stays together.

Now this formerly un-festive corner makes me straight up jolly.

Oh and in the spirit of holiday updates, here’s how the little ornaments that I glued to magnets are now faring with three holidays cards up there to keep them company. I’m happy to report that they still look just as cute as they did without cards. And since we snapped this pic yesterday afternoon three more cards came. Woot! I love finding them in the mailbox. #cardnerd

Oh and check out this amaaazing advent calendar we got from our friends the Pohls in Germany (their three year old daughter named Clara is our Clara’s penpal – more on that here). They sent this traditional German advent calendar where you unwrap each envelope or box to find little treats like a tiny doll, candy, stickers, even a small package of colorful tissues. So far Clara has been having a blast opening one thing per day.

So there you have our holiday updates.

  • set up the big tree (gradient, baby!)
  • get a live tabletop tree again (like we did last year)
  • decorate the mantel, the built-ins, and the entryway console
  • hang our outside lights & decorate the front porch
  • shoot a Christmas picture of Clara & Burger for our annual holiday card 
  • make an advent calendar for Clara? Ahh I’m behind already!
  • shop for slash make all the gifts on our Christmas list (I’m about 90% done, can’t wait to cross this sucker off!)

We still haven’t hung any lights out front (ack!) or finished all of our Christmas shopping/wrapping, but maybe this weekend we’ll get there. What’s left on your Christmas to-do list? What have you euphorically crossed off already? Is it not amazing to drag a pen across things that you’ve completed? Maybe I need List-Crossers Anonymous. Anyone else having fun with a tabletop tree, homemade banners, or anything else that feels sweetly handmade? Spill the holiday beans.


  1. Donna Jean says

    i’m thinking about trying to make a paper chain garland w/ my 2 1/2 year old son. i figure that i’ll use my handy dandy paper cutter to cut strips and have him help me tape them together? am i crazy? i’m thinking about figuring out a way to hang Christmas cards from it, too.
    love those felt trees – so cute!

  2. says

    We have a little tree in our house that I love. Our first apartment was very small, so we had a very small tree with very small ornaments. This little tree has given way to a bigger tree with bigger ornaments, but I’ve always loved the tiny ornaments. So we have a little artificial tree with all of those little special ornaments from our first Christmas spent together. It sits in our upstairs back bay window and lights the back room quite nicely. It’s always fun to see it greeting us as we walk in the back yard.

    Good job on your holiday list. We’re working through our list too, but it has far more items in the “not checked off” state than your list does.

  3. Karen T says

    I love Christmas trees filled with treasures only known to the people that live there. We stopped using the pretty—but to us—not as special matching ornaments long ago on our tree (they have homes elsewhere!). Every year the girls love finding all of “their” ornaments…ones they’ve made, or were given. And each year we can’t wait to find out if our now 7-year old gingerbread man has made it to another Christmas. He’s had a few repairs over the years (his red-hot candy buttons have fallen off more than once), but so far he’s only missing one arm. He’s our fave. :)

    Cheers to your memory tree!

  4. says

    Dude, can you give me your brain? You guys are so crafty!! I’m always reading and catch myself thinking: “Why didn’t I think of that?!” I’m proud to say I am D.O.N.E. with my Christmas shopping (which is a huge accomplishment considering I did all of mine on the 23rd last year) and most of the decorations are up. I wanted to make a wreath for the door, but we’ll save it for next year. My boyfriend and I are still on the hunt for a special ornament to mark our first Christmas together!! Eeeek, and that advent calendar makes me jealous. I wish I had one for myself! :)

  5. Michele says

    OK what is wrong with me and my fridge? Stainless steel = magnets don’t stick (in my house). I want to do cute bulb ornaments too!!!

  6. Courtney Downey says

    Super cute mini-trees! You’re so creative! I wanted to share my DIY ornament idea that I just completed. My brother got married in September and I saved their invitation and other inserts that came with (i.e. travel guide, brunch info, even the tag they put at the table). I bought a clear glass bobble (pack of 4 at Hobby Lobby), then took the invites and such and cut them into strips. Then curled the strips around a pen and put them into the bobble. I topped it with a cute bow of their wedding colors and attached a tag they put at the table with their names and wedding date. IT IS SO STINKIN’ CUTE (if I do say so myself). Happy to send you pics of the final product.

    Love your site by the way and as we get ready to buy our first home, I plan on putting some projects from your book into play. Thanks for a good read always! Merry Christmas!

  7. Carol N. says

    Man hands???

    Seinfeld reference.

    Just kidding! I do not have long fingernails at all and my hands look masculine, especially since I inherited my dads large knuckles.

    • says

      Haha, I have really short fingers and John has really long ones so our hands never look the same- that’s why it’s so funny that somehow this shot is merging the two!


  8. Amy says

    I also got the tree ornaments last year on mega clearance. My son hung them on our large tree. They are so adorable. I am hoping to get more discounted ornaments this year.

  9. Angie says

    I picked up those same trees last year (in green, red, and white) and hot glued them into a table runner. I’m NOT using it as table runner this year, as I think my 2 year old will try to pull it off, so for now it is hanging like a banner on a door. I love how these trees look. I like your version as a garland, but I have a garland problem. There are 5 Christmas garlands hanging various places in my apartment and I keep wanting to buy more! In need an intervention!

  10. Meghan says

    I have that same moose ornament- it was the cake topper at my husbands and I’s wedding. Now it is front and center on our moose themed christmas tree thats in our bedroom.

  11. Dana says

    ah! 1, i don’t know what i love more – the picturesque quality of a mini-tree (is there anything that’s not adorable when it’s tiny?) in front of the chalkboard, or all of those handmade felt ornaments! maybe one day you’ll have enough that felt ornaments will be your main tree’s theme! (perfect if there’s another little new babe running around)
    2, i’ve been trying to get in touch with my german heritage a little and have really enjoyed the dear clara series (so weird/awesome how they’re “every day” is so different/similar to ours in the states) but since you posted their last names, i’m wondering if i may be distantly related to your pen-pals! my last name is puhl, which was apparently altered from pohl during immigration. i’ve NEVER met any other pohl’s or puhl’s until one day i was getting something engraved with my intitials.. the girl who was engraving said hers were the same. her name was Dana Pohl! (so weird) and we were able to figure out we were in fact related. i love how small the world is and how connected we all really are. anyway, there was no real point to that second comment except to thank you for going beyond inspiring us to be crafty, but to also inspire us to think of our families and where we came from. i will now make my german family proud by making a german advent calender :)

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