I recently was given the honor of decorating the Christmas tree for the Home and Family show on the Hallmark channel. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to design a tree from scratch.
There was a lot to consider: Theme, color palette, the style of the house, how the tree would ‘read’ on camera. Also, I wanted something that would interest viewers, satisfy the producers, and frankly, wow anyone who walked in the room.
The show is called Home & Family, so it was natural to choose as a theme, “Home is where the Heart is.” That phrase brought up so many of the concepts of what the show means to me – relationships, traditions, sharing, warmth, heart-felt connections. I wanted the tree to nod to tradition, because we all have our own when the holidays come around; but I also wanted it to have a more updated and fresh reflection of Christmas. So with all that in mind, I chose a palette of silver and lime green, with other green hues as accents, and a brush of earthy brown. Heart and house shapes would be depicted in the ornaments, I wanted the bulk of designs to be handmade, and there would have to be sparkle. Beaded and jewelry elements must be represented – I am a jewelry designer! Once those decisions were made, I went craft crazy!! (If you missed the video, you can watch it here.)
A few tips for decorating a tree.
- Real or faux. You decide. There are pros and cons to both. Real: Biodegradeable. Smells great. Less expensive. Messy to clean up. Faux: Easy clean up. Lasts for years, and saves you money in the long run. Fire resistant. Doesn’t smell good. The choice to get a faux tree that comes pre-lit was perfect for us.
- Lights first. Rule of thumb: for every foot of height you have on your tree, use one 100-bulb-string of lights. As for placing the light strands, you can spiral around the tree from the top to bottom, zig zag, or wrap each branch.
- Garland next. Most folks think garland should go on last, but I find it ends up making a mess, looking wonky and getting in the way.
- Next, ornaments. Consider your tree in 2-foot high sections. For each section, use ten large, keepsake or signature ornaments around the tree. After those are placed, fill in with twenty smaller accent ornaments.
- Finally, finishes. Sparkles, tinsel, and floral accents help unify the tree and fill in any design voids. And the topper is usually placed on last, signifying that the tree is complete!
I had five different ornament designs on our tree. Here they are, along with how to make them.
This is a design created by Carol Duvall and used on her show and designed as a rubber stamp. The stamp is no longer available, but Carol gave me permission to publish the template here. And here are the assembly directions. I made 3 sizes, enlarging the template 130% and 150% on my printer for the larger sizes.
Cinnamon Dough Garland and Ornaments
1 cup ground cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons white glue
Mix ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together.
Roll dough between two sheets of waxed paper to between ¼” and 3/8” thick.
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and use a straw to make a hole near the top for hanging.
Place ornaments on a parchment lined cookie sheet and leave to dry for 3 to 5 days. Turn ornaments over every day to ensure even drying and prevent curling.
Once ornaments are dry and hard, string with ribbon and hang on tree.
Woven Paper Hearts
Template is here. These are traditional European basket-style ornaments. I’ve seen them credited to the Germans, the Danes and the Swedes. They are sturdier when made out of card stock, however, I find that working with stiff paper can be challenging. A compromise of one piece of lighter weight paper and one piece of card stock seemed to work perfectly. Traditionally each half is cut in three strips. I like to make some of mine asymmetrical by cutting one with 3 strips, the other with 5 in different widths (this explains the placement of cut lines on my template). If you want to see some really complicated and beautiful versions, look here.
There is a nice explanation on how to weave here.
Once the heart is woven, attach a handle and hang.
My large rosettes were about 27” long by 3” wide. I scored the paper at ½” intervals. Glue together the ends, flatten out and attach a medallion in the center to hold into place. Repeat the medallion on the back side. For the smaller ornaments, strips were 18” long by 1-1/2” wide, folds were made at 3/8” intervals.
If you love the rosettes, you might want to pre-order my pal Cathe Holden’s book, coming out Spring 2013.
Finally, I offer my (sort of) fabulous and oh-so-simple icicles! Tear a piece of aluminum foil approximately 5” long by 4” wide. Roll into a tube, then softly twist the tube. Pinch the bottom so that the icicle comes to a point. Insert a wire ornament hanger through the top and place on your tree. If you really want to make them fancy, spray with adhesive, and sprinkle with glitter. They look amazing from a few feet away, and cost practically nothing!
I simply cut the shape out of 4 papers (template here), folded in the center, glued them together, and placed on top of the tree. This template can be enlarged or reduced (to make an ornament!) to suit your needs. Oh, and since I only needed one chimney, two of the paper pieces had the chimney removed. Be sure to line up your pieces before cutting off the chimney.
So here it is, my finished Home is Where The Heart Is tree. I don’t know if I succeeded in any of my hopes, but I do think it’s a very pretty tree. What do you think? Will you make any ornaments for your tree this year?