Well folks, early November wouldn’t be early November if someone wasn’t trying to jingle you into the Christmas spirit. Usually the spirit hits me in August, which is profoundly inconvenient btw, but this year I held off long enough to let sweater weather set in. And this time it was worth the wait! Every year I pick a theme for one of my Christmas trees, and as Michael’s was kind enough to let me participate in the Dream Tree Challenge again this year, I wanted to push the limits.
Last year I challenged myself to put together a gorgeous, traditional tree for less than $100 (with supplies from Michaels of course). This year, I challenged myself to decorate the entire tree exclusively from homemade ornaments. Grandma style! Nothing on here is actually a ready-made ‘ornament’ in the traditional sense; it’s all handmade or resourced from items intended for other purposes. And where can you find the supplies?
You guessed it: Michaels.
I love the way this one came out. This will be in my top ten, for sho!
It looks real good at night, too.
Now lets go in for a close up…
It’s granny. It’s bohemian. It’s YARNTASTIC!
So, theme trees are nothing new, but I think it’s fun take holiday inspiration from non-holiday concepts. With that in mind, I wanted to give credit where credit is due. These four images have been pinned to the top of my holiday Pinterest board in my head since Valentines…
1. This tree. Cindy from Skip to My Lou put together the most incredible crochet tree a couple years ago. If I knew how to knit, or crochet more than a potholder, I probably would have tried to copy this concept, because it is so gorgeous!!
2. This cathedral. In 2011, thousands of granny square afghans were put together on the steps of the Helsinki Cathedral in Finland (all of the blankets were donated to charity after the event). I’m a big fan of yarn bombing in general, but this is like a whole new level of street art. That fact that these beloved treasures lead into a house of worship speaks of all kinds of metaphors you can take or leave as you like, but seriously, this is ONE HUNDRED KINDS OF RAD.
3. This camel. Obviously. No explanation needed.
4. This village. I’m calling this the Granny Chic tree because the core of it all came from a Granny, specifically, my friend Kiki‘s Grandma Seal (short for Lucile) who made an entire village of plastic canvas crochet. These kits were all the rage back in the day but you can still buy the supplies at Michael’s today (YESSS!). Grandma Seal made her little houses extra special by putting a music box inside each one, then displayed them under the Christmas tree each year. There is a farm, a barn, a toy shop, a train depot, a church…a bunch more. Super precious. VERY SEVENTIES. J’dor! When Grandma Seal passed away a few years ago the village was the one thing Kiki really wanted to take home, and she did, but she has found it difficult to display them in her home. Fact: Cats and Christmas villages don’t mix. It was a Cat-Godzilla thing if you know what I mean. I suggested she nestle the houses inside the tree instead of under it, and Kiki said that was insane, “The Christmas village can only live under the tree or on a sideboard or maybe a coffee table…but in a tree? What craziness are you even talking about? THAT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE.” So I borrowed them and I put them in a tree. And of course, she saw them, and is now insisting they stay in the tree. She will get them back at the end of the season, and they will likely go in her tree next year. I’m telling you people: get your villages off your sideboards and put them in your trees! Let these little houses party with the other ornaments! Set the Christmas village free!
The school house music box plays “School Days” but I think the rest are Christmas jams. Grandma Seal knew what she was doing.
The Swiss Chalet is my favorite. It plays Edelweiss from the Sound of Music. I’m not sure if Edelweiss is officially Christmas music but I know for a fact it appears on Julie Andrew’s Christmas album, and that’s good enough for me. Actually, it’s good enough for all of us. Nobody is stupid enough to pick a fight with Julie Andrews.
If you are not into posts featuring lots of photos, I can tell you now, this is going to go on for a while…
I’m still working on the tree skirt situation. I usually like to put trees up on a skirted pedestal but this particular model was too tall for that. You’d think I’d have an afghan laying around for this specific purpose, but no (and here I was thinking the yarn had gone away for the season). Right now I’m just using a sequin gold cardigan. Weirdly enough, it works surprisingly well. It’ll need to change though because I’m wearing that cardigan for Thanksgiving. Ideas welcome.
I used individual granny squares as the base layer for the ornaments. They make a terrific filler! If you are one of those people who has made granny squares but never got ambitious enough to make a whole afghan, here is your chance to show them off. If you are not into crochet, you can easily purchase piles of granny squares in thrift stores or on Ebay, but there is something to be said for the energy that comes from using things you make yourself. Also, you can use them as potholders the rest of the year. That’s just good news for everyone.
The Christmas spirit hasn’t spread to any other locations of the house, but it will. It will. A garland. Another couple of trees. That chandelier is crying out for a new party dress…
There are tassels and pompoms and every variety of yarn art on this tree, but my new favorite is the Gods Eyes (SUCH A WEIRD NAME). These little yarn spinner things. I guess everyone (but me) learns to make them as kids, but they were new to me, and I struggled a bit. Luckily I got some great advice on Instagram, and then they took off. I’m now making them by the dozen!
But of all the nifty bits in the tree, these branches below are the magic makers.
Adding an airy ‘fringe layer’ of something to the outside of the tree makes such a huge difference. This tree doesn’t have any sparkle in it at all and it felt so heavy…almost kind of dull if you can imagine…but then I added the branches and POW! I’ll give you details on how I made them in a later post. I might need some more for around the house.
Yes, need is a funny word.
Welp. That’s it folks. It’s not your everyday glam tree, but it’s mine. It’s a little old, a little new, a little folksy, and a lot of weird…but it’s mine, and the cat loves it. So it’s staying!
Many thanks to Michael’s for inviting me to participate in their Dream Tree Challenge again this year. Inspired to start decorating your own tree? Make sure you visit Michaels’ blog, The Glue String, to see the other 49 Michaels Makers’ dream holiday trees that were created this year.
PS: From now until November 14, you can get FREE shipping on all Christmas trees that are 6ft or taller on Michaels.com!