Show-and-Tell: Thrifty Tree Decorating

Well, Josh and I wasted no time!  The day after Thanksgiving, we woke up early, made breakfast (this is an event itself), and decorated the tree.  And… you’re in luck (or maybe not) because I snapped many a photo in hopes of sharing with you!  And… I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t go through each element and item in the process and tell you where I found it or how much I paid for it… so here goes!

In case you didn’t notice, I skipped right over the post that tells how to get the best deal on a live Christmas tree.  This is because (cue sad music) I am allergic to most evergreens, i.e., Christmas trees (cue trumpet mute: “Womp womp wo-o-omp….”).  I know, it sounds sort of pathetic, but in reality I’ve never been able to have a live tree in any home I’ve ever lived in, so I’m not missing anything since I don’t know what I’m missing.

(However, Josh did grow up with live trees, and I know he misses them.  Sorry, Josh.)

So… in lieu of a live tree, I have a lovely little fake one that has stood by me for about four years now, through five different apartments!  Needless to say, because I live in a small apartment, the tree is a small one — about 4 feet tall.  Here it is, pre-fluffed:

Christmas tree out of box

Pre-fluffed

Yeah, not too exciting… yet.  However, after about 10 minutes of “fluffing” as I call it, it looks something like this:

naked christmas tree

A close-up of some of the branches. See? I think it does a respectable job at trying to look real!

I originally bought the tree in October of 2007 at a Goodwill store in Lancaster, PA.  Usually these are about $30-50 in a store, but I paid a mere $8.  I love Goodwill.

Oh, and by the way, I used the table that comes with my Honda CR-V (looks like this), but I think any card table or even a small end table would work fine.  Honda table = free.

To cover the less-than-lovely green Honda table, I took an orange Ikea curtain, draped it over the table, and hid the excess in between the wall and the table (shh… it’s a secret).  The Ikea curtain was originally $19.99 (for two panels), but since it was originally purchased for a previous un-Christmas-tree-related purpose, you know me… I call that free.

Next come the lights — and not a moment too soon, because I really think one of the saddest looking things is an unlit Christmas tree.  For our 4′ tree, we use two strands of 100-ct. white lights.  Both strands were purchased at CVS; they were originally $4.99, but with my (free) CVS rewards card, they were only $1.99 each.  Bam!  Now, this year we’re only using two strands of lights, but the plan for next year is to add another strand (I can hear Teresa Foster’s voice in my head saying “That’s still not enough!”  I know mama, I know).  However, here is the two strand tree, still lovely:

small christmas tree with lights

O Tannenbaum...

Slightly sparklier…

small christmas tree with lights

Tree skirt:  I’m a big fan of tree skirts, but since I usually do the Christmas gift thing early, this means I wrap them pretty early, too.  It’s nothing unusual for me to have all gifts wrapped and under the tree by December 5th.  This means the tree skirt will be hidden for most of the holiday season.  So, instead of actually having a “legit” tree skirt, I wrapped a metallic orange curtain around the base.  This curtain is one of two panels that I got at Goodwill (for my first apartment), originally for $5.

Next come the ornaments!

Here they are in the box after they’ve been unwrapped:

christmas ornaments

Ooh!  Pretty….

About half of these came from Goodwill and Dollar Tree over the years, about 1/4 of them came in a big multi-pack at Hobby Lobby with a 50% off coupon, and the rest were gifts.

You might be scratching your head now, saying “Where are the DIY ornaments?”  Um, yeah… about that…

I don’t have any!  I know, I know… weird for me, right?  It’s not that I don’t like DIY ornaments… I’ve just never tried my hand at them (and honestly, Goodwill has helped me out so much, I haven’t really been lacking in the ornament department).  However, I plan to change that this year!  But more on that in a future post

In the meantime, here is the tree, all blinged out:

orange and green christmas tree

Aaahhhh……..

As you can see, I’m not really into the red and green thing;  I prefer ORANGE and green! (And orange has red in it, if you want to get all color-wheel-nerd about it, so that’s close enough, right?)

Lastly, the tree topper!  This particular tree topper…

waterford ice skating tree topper

… came from… you guessed it… Goodwill.  And in case you’re sitting there doubting my thrift store prowess, Check. it. out:

Uh huh.  That’s right.  $6.97.  Even has the price sticker to prove it!  Also, maybe you noticed the brand of the tree topper?  It’s the Marquis line by Waterford.  As in Waterford crystal.  You know, those fancy folks who make the ball that drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve?  And the chandeliers in Westminster Abbey?  And dozens of sports trophies? Yeah, they’re the big time.

(I even Googled my tree topper, just to see what it may have originally cost.  Here’s a link to an eBay seller’s store where they’re currently selling it for $40.99. I’ve found elsewhere from $35-50.)

And… because these things are important to Josh, I let him put on the tree topper:

Look at that face!?  That’s a happy husband.  And in case you were wondering if he was posed for this picture, the answer is no.  He really is that excited.

Ta da!

Now to the rest of the apartment… because when it comes to Christmas, I like to really toe that line between tacky and chic.  :)

Because I have a small tree, but a serious Goodwill/Dollar Tree/People-give-these-things-to-me problem, I have a surplus of ornaments.  And since the green and orange ornaments are the only ones to make the cut when it comes to decorating the tree (I made up this rule and I’m sticking to it), that leaves many more to… put into bowls!  This is obviously a more festive spin on putting balls into bowls (also one of my favorite, albeit often used, decor things).  Here are a few examples of how I’ve done this:

2 tiered fruit bowl with christmas ornaments

Here’s a close up of the bottom level:

Christmas ornaments in a bowl

I don’t like to arbitrarily place the ornaments in just any combination;  I like to group them by color families, or to coordinate with surrounding decor.  Since the walls in my apartment are blue, but I have a lot of orange and natural-colored accents, I like to acknowledge both the cool and warm colors (this is serious stuff).  Here’s a bowl of warmer toned Christmas ornaments:

bowl of christmas ornaments

Ahhh…. the juxtaposition of the cool and warm :)

Here’s a bird’s eye view:

bowl of christmas balls

Did I ask my camera to make the light in the room look like this? No. Did it do it anyway? Of course.

But wait!  There’s more…

colors...

Una mas…

In addition to bowls of balls (ha), I also like to place some of my favorite ornaments in other places, too.  Here’s a bride and groom ornament that my friend, Laura, gave me when I got married.  I’ve placed it next to a small frame that contains Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 (read by our friend, Joanna, at our wedding).

The bride has red hair... like someone else I know :)

Here’s an Eiffel Tower ornament that my friend, Spring gave me when I did the show Madeline’ Christmas (it’s set in Paris).

And lest we decorate for Christmas and forget a garland!  This one (below) was purchased at Dollar Tree, along with the ornaments attached to it.

Smack dab in the middle of the garland is an angel ornament given to me by my friend, Laura.  Let’s pretend it’s the Angel of the Lord.  Okay!

And here’s a wreath (it was a gift from my mother, who knows I’m not really into the red and green Christmas thing):

That’s all I have for now.  In the upcoming weeks, I plan to make a wreath for the front door — I’m thinking a festive version of a sheet music wreath?  A “Things that (P)inspire Me” post very soon!

So… let’s go through the list, just so I can say I told you:

Tree:  Goodwill, $8 (though I know you could find these on Craigslist as well)

Table:  Honda CR-V picnic table, came free with the car

Table cloth: a curtain panel reused from a previous apartment, free

Tree skirt:  a curtain panel reused from a previous apartment (originally from Goodwill), free

Christmas lights: 2 packs of 100 ct. lights from CVS, $1.99 X 2 = $3.98

Non-gift Christmas ornaments: Goodwill, 2 packs were $2.97 each (with about 15-20 ornaments in each pack), so a total of $5.94 for both

I got another pack of four orange class ornaments from Goodwill for $1.97

Orange and green glass ornaments (on the tree): came in a multi-pack for $9.99 from Hobby Lobby (after the 50% off coupon)

Marquis Waterford tree topper:  Goodwill, $6.97

Evergreen garland:  Dollar Tree, $1

Silver glitter ornaments:  Dollar Tree, ten pack, $1

Lime green glitter snowflakes:  Dollar Tree, $1

Jingle bell Wreath:  A gift (Thanks mom!), free

Bride-and-groom, angel, and Eiffel Tower glass ornaments: all gifts, free

Cute and enthusiastic husband:  Priceless  (but also free)

That’s it (so far)…  Hope these pictures and ideas inspired you, and  hopefully you feel encouraged to go check out your local thrift store or dollar store for more ideas and options.

Oh yeah… I almost forgot!  Dog stockings (from Dollar Tree)!!!

And if you’re still looking for inspiration, worry not!  This week is all about Christmas decor ideas, and what better place to turn to than Pinterest?  So I did!