Dream Tree Challenge: The Heritage Tree

Good morning America, how are you?

I’m here. Still in my pajamas and harboring a post-election hangover and head cold, but what are you going to do? Oh yeah: Christmas. That is what you are going to do.

On this particular occasion I want to thank Michael’s, for not only letting me participate in their Annual Dream Tree Challenge for the third time, but for giving me a deadline and a good excuse to smother myself in tinsel. And you know what? It feels good. 


I also have to thank my friends the Hirschs, because they let me set up this year’s tree in their house. Believe me, not a whole lot of people will give you carte blanche freedom to set up a Christmas scene in their house in October, but they are cool like that. I met the Hirschs many years ago via my BFF Lara – her family was going to their house for Christmas dinner and invited me along, and it was the Christmas after my dad died and I was feeling especially sad, but despite the fact they had never even met me, they bent over backwards to make a stranger feel welcome that night and I have held a special spot in my heart ever since. Sixteen years later, we live in the same town, and I was over for dinner in October, admiring their home, and remarked that it must look beautiful when decorated for Christmas…then the cogs in my brain started turning and before you know it I’m asking if I can come over next week and set up a tree. This is why people need to not invite me over for dinner after Labor Day. For real – it’s dangerous.

Normally I would set up a tree at home, but my holiday travel/work plans are up in the air, and I am booked to set up trees for other people in December, and, let’s be honest, I didn’t take my 2015 Christmas decorations down until Easter 2016. So, yeah. I need to be a little more judicious on the home front this year. And if I do one at home, for once, I want it to be a real tree. I have eleven faux trees in my basement but after doing the White House last year where they use nothing but fresh spruce, I sort of want to go back to the OG tannenbaum. But, like I said, plans are up in the air and Michaels asked for a tree on the early side – I was just lucky enough to have some friends to help me out!

Theme this year: a Heritage Tree. The impetus being this beautiful tree skirt made by Mr. Hirsch from neckties from Mrs. Hirsch’s late father. Is this not the most incredible tree skirt you have ever seen?


I asked if they had any leftover ties and sure enough they had a whole box of them, so I took a few and used them to decoupage over some balls from Michaels. They dried darker than expected but the pattern work look lovely with the tree.


I also made these mosaic style ornaments from their collection of old buttons and Mod Podge collage clay. They look like Italian cookies in person and I want to make hundreds more, they are so fun!


And doesn’t everyone have a jar of buttons handed down from Grandma? This is a nifty way to use them up and visit them on the tree each Christmas.

And oh look, here is Grandma now!


Actually, that is an old photo of Mrs. Hirsch’s aunt. Does she look like fun?


We covered the tree in framed photos of family members, new and old, with particular emphasis on scenes of Christmas past. I had never thought of using photo frames as Christmas ornaments, but Michael’s has a huge selection is all sorts of sizes, and some really good sales, so, this turned out terrific. If you were just starting out in your Christmas traditions, filling a tree with a base layer of framed photos would go a long way! This tree looks pretty great as is, or you could add a layer of personalized, collected family ornaments. Layer it up. It’s Christmas. Good things in abundance!


This year’s tree is probably the most tasteful I have shown on the blog in some years. Part of this is because this particular tree was designed to mesh with someone else’s home, part of it is that it’s almost more challenging for me to be traditional. I LOVED last year’s Granny Chic tree, but I love this one too. Isn’t that the fun of decorating for the holidays? Every year you can switch things up a bit and rotate your favorites in and out.


Here is the important part: There is no right way or wrong way to decorate for the holidays. Some people get sniffy about it and say “only white lights” or “only real trees” or “only red and green” or “only after Thanksgiving” or “only this way”…which is pretty humorous when you think about it. I am a grown woman, why on Earth would I allow someone else to tell me when, where, or how to celebrate? Ridiculous. LET YOU FESTIVE FREAK FLAG FLY. Do what you want. Do it. Get funky if you want to. And good news – Michaels has their largest tree assortment this year, including colored and flocked trees. Lord knows I love a flocked tree. So now Are you feeling inspired to start decorating your own tree? Make sure you visit Michaels’ blog, The Glue String, to see the rest of the Michaels Makers’ dream holiday trees that were created this year.

And Merry Christmas!!!!!


  1. says

    You spread Joy and I love it! Do you get an extra bonus from Santa each year? Maybe you have his address. You see, I need to write him about that rooted hair doll I got back in the 50’s. I need another one, just to show my 13 grandkids how special a gift can be.

    Keep up the good work Aunt Peaches. You bring out the ‘child’ in me. Your tree is a sentimental beauty.

  2. Lynne says

    I googled “Christmas tree skirts from neckties” and the earliest post was from 2005. How did I not know about this?
    With the lyrics from Gershwins’ “How Long Has This Been Going On?” playing in my head (Sarah Vaughn sings in MY head, but you may prefer Ella Fitzgerald), I continued clicking.
    I found photos and tutorials using pants, wedding dresses, crocheted granny squares, burlap bags, faux fur, etc. to make absolutely amazing, unique, personal skirts.
    Once again, Aunt Peaches, you have lured me away from what I SHOULD be doing….and this Jewish girl does’t even put up a tree.

    • Lynne says

      just proofread my comment — AFTER it posted (the best possible time, as we all know) — and that’s not a real word in the last sentence…..it should say “doesn’t even put up a tree.” I know everyone inserted the missing letter, but I still had to officially correct it. And yes, a new song is now playing in my head.

  3. Deb in Oklahoma says

    I love the “heritage” theme, especially using old Kodachrome Christmas photos. I’m in charge of the office Christmas decorations, and we’re going all in next week before Turkey Day. I will keep your “Let Your Festive Freak Flag Fly” credo in mind while decorating, so this could be a little over the top. Okay, it will be a LOT over the top. Thanks for the tree inspiration!

  4. Erik says

    Aunt Peaches! I really needed some inspiration to bring it back to center after this election, and you have most certainly helped! Family, tradition, strength, and memories are all the best nourishment at times like these! And your Christmas tree and thoughtful post are great! You nailed it…hot! Thanks again!

  5. Amy says

    I love your heritage tree. That is such a great way to bring the family into it. I still love, love, love your granny chic tree. Those pom pom sticks popping out everywhere are my favorite. And like you, I’m on the fence about a tree as we are heading to the Caribbean this year on Christmas day(first time ever) and not returning until New Year’s Day. We always get a real tree, but I am afraid it will be a dried out mess when we get back. I know my kids will be bummed if we don’t have a tree, but I’m not sure what to do yet. I will probably end up getting one and keeping the decorations minimal just to make it feel a little bit festive around here.

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