Christmas tree

Three days to go in advent calendars!

2016 Lego advent calendar collage

Wow, we’re onto day 21 so there are only three more flaps to open – and school has now finished for the year around Australia so the excitement is definitely building now ūüôā

Lego City now has a Christmas tree, complete with a star on top and some lights.

Lego Christmas tree with star on top and present beneath

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas…

Our Friends advent calendar now has a Christmas pudding to add to the feast – and it looks pretty good!

Lego Christmas pudding in front of a Christmas tree

Time for Christmas pudding with some Lego Friends!

Lego advent day 10

There was a lot of excitement last night when my son opened flap ten of the Lego City advent calendar to find a Christmas tree! He enjoyed putting it together, placing it beside Santa’s seat and then ‘creating a scene’ (his words!) with all the parts of his calendar to date.

A Lego Christmas tree and Santa's seat (City advent calendar)

A lamp, a seat and a tree all waiting for Santa!

Combing a Lego girl's hair (Friends advent calendar)

Combing Lego hair!

On the other hand, my daughter was very disappointed to find she had nothing to make last night. That’s not to say she didn’t get much as she did – there was a bag of blue hair related items for her to play with instead. She has enjoyed brushing, combing and drying the Lego hair, and has added the crown and some hair accessories to one Lego girl so far.

By this morning, she was happy with what she got but still disappointed to not have built anything.

Lego skiier with hair accessories from the advent calendar

Lego Friends’ hair accessories on display

So again the calendars are fun but the City one is proving more engaging and closer to the idea of building Lego.

If you missed what the calendars gave us yesterday, you can catch up on day nine. Read the introduction to our Lego advent reviews for the whole picture.

Ribbons on a Christmas tree

Christmas tree covered in sports ribbons

Liz also supplied us with a photo of the ribbon-decked tree – I think it looks great!

We have small Christmas trees in the kids’ rooms, which they love:)

This year, a bit of ahead of me getting out the usual decorations, my daughter decided to decorate the trees.

She grabbed out some school sports ribbons and other sashes to use instead of tinsel. It actually looked quite effective and is a nice acknowledgement of her sporting achievements over the year (she was just after the colour and instant gratification, but I liked the display of her achievements!)

 

Who decorates your Christmas tree?

It may seem like an obvious or irrelevant question, but who decorates your Christmas tree?Three chidlren decroating a Christmas tree

I discussed this with some Mums at kinder yesterday as we watched the kids decorate their kinder tree – a real Christmas tree sits in their group area with baskets of tinsel and ornaments so they can decorate and redecorate it as they wish. It’s a simple and fun activity for them.

Allowing children to decorate a Christmas tree

One Mum doesn’t let her kids near the tree and decorates it all herself so it is done properly and looks perfect. And Dhrynio commented last week¬†that her mother-in-law had always decorated their tree so Dhrynio’s husband didn’t know how to do it!

Other Mums let their kids decorate the lower parts of the tree however they want. The upper part is either done by the parents or is directed by the kids but with parental assistance.Yong boy and Dad hang an ornament on a Christmas tree

A blog post I¬† read recently mixed both these traditions (I can’t remember where I read it – I’ll add the link when I find it!). She let the kids go wild and decorate the tree in the evening. Once they had gone to bed, she pulled everything off the tree and started again, doing it her ‘control freak’ way! She gave the kids the fun of decorating and herself the reward of having a perfect tree she could enjoy. I’m just not sure how the kids would feel when seeing their creativity was replaced by Mum’s perfection.

Protecting special decorations

Most of us keep certain ornaments – fragile and particularly sentimental ones –¬†out of the kids’ reach and put them on the tree ourselves.

One Mum said she kept nothing from her daughter to provide the lesson of caring for things and being careful. I love that principle and her courage (she even lets her touch glass balls imported from Europe!), but I just don’t want to risk some of my more precious decorations to a curious and lively two-year old!

Many of my more precious ornaments are actually precious because they were made by my daughters when younger Рthey are fragile at the joins, etc rather than because they are glass, and precious because they are not replaceable.

Child participation and perfection

Can you have it both ways – let everyone put decorations on the tree for fun and have a tree that is stylish and perhaps artistic?

It may be a bit hard to manage both on one tree (although I have this image in my head now of a tree done perfectly on one side and chaotically on the other, and just rotating it as suits the time or audience!)

To me, a solution is to have two trees or two rooms/areas and treat each differently.

For example, have a stylish tree in a formal lounge room and let the kids be creative with the family room tree.

Or maybe it can be a time share thing – let the kids decorate the tree on 1 December but redecorate it on the 19th or so so it is ‘perfect’ for Christmas Day photos and any gatherings you have in the house in the last few days.

So who decorates your Christmas tree?

Did you set your own decorating tradition or have you copied what you did as a child?

7 tips for a beautiful Christmas tree

Beautiful Christmas tree and lights in St Petersburg

An elegant Christmas tree in St Petersburg

Decorating a Christmas tree is a once-a-year activity that gives pleasure to many, and is worth spending a bit of time on.

I think there are two techniques or models for Christmas tree decorating Рthe throw on as much as possible model (often experienced when children are involved!) and the classy or stylish model. That is, some people just want colour and glitter while others want it looking a certain way.

Personally, I think¬†both approaches look good and have a special place. However, today’s tips are for the more deliberate Christmas tree approach – although adding them to a more chaotic tree is good, too!

Creating a stylish Christmas tree

  1. put larger ornaments and thicker tinsel lower on the tree, leaving the top half for smaller and finer ornaments
  2. hang things towards the centre of the tree as well as on the outer edges – it gives more depth and interest (and gives you more hanging space overall!)
  3. hanging lights first makes it easier to hide the cords and get them evenly distributed. It’s just easier to do, too. Again, remember to put lights towards the centre of the tree as well as on the outside – twinkling lights behind the tinsel and decorations adds some magic
  4. work with one colour at a time when hanging ornaments to get them evenly distributed – for example, hang all the green balls then the red bells to spread red and green across the entire tree.
  5. no matter how stylish you¬†want it to be, remember Christmas is about family, magic and memories so don’t hide away your treasured mementoes just because¬†they are not your theme colour or style. Put one or two as a centrepiece or off to the side where you will see them when sitting in your favourite chair. As well as the sentimental¬†value, they will make your tree unique and interesting – and could serve as a nice conversation starter, too
  6. stand back occasionally and look at the tree as you go – if you get each stage looking good, the whole will be balanced and effective
  7. avoid fragile ornaments on the bottom branches as they are likely to get knocked around when presents are put under the tree.

If you are serious about a colour theme for your tree, you can even choose wrapping paper so the pile of presents under the tree will match ūüôā

So, how do you achieve a ‘perfect’ look for your Christmas tree?

Do you have other tips for decorating Christmas trees?

* Image courtesy of 123rf

The Most Memorable Chistmas

The most memorable Christmas for me was Christmas 2007.

Our income that year was very tight. We did not have enough money to buy a tree. My son was four years old, so, not having a tree was not an option. I was heart-broken at the thought of my son not having a beautiful Christmas tree.

Pencil drawing of a Christmas treeI decided we would make one. I borrowed an overhead projector and downloaded a picture of a beautiful tree and a fireplace. My son and I spent all day drawing this wonderful tree onto paper on our wall. When we completed drawing and coloring we took out all of our decorations. Each decoration was carefully taped to our “new” tree.

That Christmas Eve I taped Christmas lights unto our tree. My son woke up Christmas morning to a beautiful tree, a fireplace, and presents. I will never forget that Christmas. My son still loves to make our own special tree.

We didn’t need the money that I thought would buy a great tree and provide a great Christmas. We only needed each other and some simple creativity.

* Image courtesy of 123RF

 

Real or fake?

A decorated Christmas tree
So what sort of Christmas tree do you have in your house? Did you think about it or just go with habit or the first option?
I LOVE the smell and atmosphere of a real pine tree in the house, but I feel terrible cutting down a tree for a few weeks’ pleasure. So here are my thoughts on which type of tree is ‘best’.

An artificial tree is good because:

  • doesn’t kill a real tree
  • cheaper than buying a tree every year
  • doesn’t droop or go brown over December
  • no mess (pine needles can be a pain to clean up)
  • fire-retardant so safer
  • often on sturdy stands which may be safer than a tree held in a bucket by a few bricks
  • easy to access – most big shops sell them and you can even order them online!
  • it is lighter to move around – and easier when folded – than a real tree
Whereas a real tree has the smell, atmosphere and a unique character. You could use it for firewood or compost/mulch but most people struggle with getting rid of it after Christmas. So on  practical level it’s not so good but it still has a strong emotional pull…

 

Christmas Trees

What sort of Christmas tree do you have?

There is nothing like the smell of a real tree in the house – it is fresh and very Christmassy. I think the Christmas tree smell is so related to Christmas for us in Australia as it isn’t a common smell for us – and it is very different to the smells of our bush and gum trees!

Not everyone likes the pine needles across the floor or having a bucket of water in the lounge room, so some people prefer an articifical tree. Over a period of years, the artifical tree is the cheaper option, too.

Personally, I love the real tree – the smell, the sense of Christmas – but have an issue with killing a tree just for my pleasure so we use an artificial tree in our house. However, we also decorate trees in our garden for the real tree affect.

I just saw a collection of Christmas tree stories in this blog, too. But I would love to hear about your Christmas tree preferences and memories – maybe an Australian collection will be very different from a northern hemisphere one?

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