It’s 2017. It’s not time to talk about 2016, but before I move on with new content for the year I need to talk about this year’s Christmas party! Given the number of posts in the past month that have mentioned said party, I think I’ve made it pretty clear that this is my big event for the year. (Much like the elves at the North Pole, I call this party The Big Show.) I get a lot of requests for a photo recap of my Christmas decorations every year, so this year I’ve actually gotten that together, largely due to the assistance of my friend Hiran who arrived early to take pictures!
First, I want to start with the menu. Again, I think I’ve made it clear that I spent A LOT of time in the kitchen getting ready for this little Festivus Festivity. Here’s the list of sweet treats on the menu that night:
- York Peppermint Brownies
- Peanut Butter-Oreo Brownies
- Carrot Cake Cookies
- Orange-Cardamom Madeleines
- Browned Butter-Pecan Cookies
- Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
- Almond Pillow Cookies
- Gingerbread Bars
- Apple Butter Pie tarts
- Cardamom-Cashew Balls
- Pineapple Cheesecake Bars GF
- Nutella Mini Cheesecakes GF
- Gingerbread Mini Cheesecakes GF
- Mint Chip Fudge GF
- Butterfinger Fudge GF
- Rocky Road Fudge GF
- Ruffle Crispy Treats GF
- Pecan Bars
- Oatmeal Fig Bars GF
- Lime Poundcake Trees
- Lemon Cream Bars
I’m afraid I don’t have any pictures of the savory bites this year (fool that I am), but here was the savory menu:
- Olive and feta palmiers
- Mushroom pinwheels
- Pizza pinwheels
- Pesto palmiers
- Olive and Rosemary Mini-muffins
- Arancini GF
- Eggplant meatballs GF
- French Onion Dip Bites
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip Bites
- Green Bean Casserole Cups
- Cranberry and Brie Bites
As for cocktails, this year I went with two signature cocktails of the evening: a Cranberry Mule and eggnog. My party crowd is different every year, so it’s often hard to predict what will be popular. For instance, last year we went through SO MUCH EGGNOG. I think I had to fill that punch bowl three times. This year, my crowd was all about the cranberry mule. I had to fill the drink dispenser several times. Pro tip: freeze a couple bags of cranberries when you’re planning to serve large volumes of anything cranberry. They serve as ice without watering down the beverage. Also, I bought those punch cups at the dollar store (I think the dollar store is called Dollar Tree here). I’m really happy with them. They also came in colorless*, cobalt blue, and rose. (I also have them in rose, but I’m not as in love with those)
So now, let’s move into the real meat of this post: the decorations. I have a handful of Christmas trees in my living room, but the main attraction is an 11-foot real tree.
I get a lot of questions about the main tree, so here are the answers!
- How many ornaments are on the tree? I believe it’s between 3,000 and 4,000. I counted one year and there were 3,000 but I’ve definitely bought more ornaments. Of course I’ve broken some ornaments during that time too, but I think I’ve bought more than I’ve broken.
- How many lights are on the tree? Again, I don’t really keep track. I can say that there are six types of lights on the tree: white mini lights, multicolored minilights, multicolored pearl lights, multicolored globe lights, another type of multicolored globe light (that I can no longer find and it makes me sad), and bubble lights. I think there were about ten strands each of the white mini lights and the multicolored mini lights. Then maybe five strands of multicolored pearl lights, five strands of multicolored globe lights, and two or three strands of bubble lights. That adds up to around 3,600 lights I think.
- Why do you put so many types of lights on the tree? I like the additional depth that you get from having lights of differing sizes and colors. I love colored lights, but having the white lights (mostly on the interior of the tree) brightens up the tree a lot.
- Do you use a ladder or something to get up there? Um, yes? I’m often shocked by this question. As for the ladder . . . you’ll see.
This year I had to go to a new tree lot because my old tree lot (a local berry farm) decided that they didn’t make enough money selling trees to justify selling them this year. I was disappointed already, but then I had to trust a new set of tree lot guys to deliver and set up my tree. And guess what? They did a bad job and the tree fell over. Luckily, my mom and I were there as it was happening and we grabbed it before it fell all the way down. I was near my cell phone so I called a neighbor. Who brought some more neighbors and we wired the tree to the bookcase.
Since I decorate all the way around the tree, my friends are used to being about to walk around behind there. The picture wire we used was almost invisible, so I decorated the wire. All of these ornaments are broken ornaments that I had lying around.
Speaking of broken ornaments, my mom arranged some of my broken ornaments on my coffee table tray. I don’t love my coffee table, but I love that it has the glass top with a shelf underneath. I change up the contents of this tray seasonally, so even when I don’t want to go all-out for a holiday at least I have one little spot of seasonal decor.
Okay, moving on to the rest of the living room. I have this weird mini-wall between my foyer and dining room and I use that to hang up my Christmas cards.
I make the “tree” out of cool-touch LED lights and Command hooks. (With the amount of Command hooks I use, I think it’s likely I’m keeping 3M in business). I think I bought that star at an after-Christmas Crate and Barrel sale about a decade ago.
I have these two ridiculous hot pink and purple pencil trees that I stick in two corners of the room.
Last year I finally bit the bullet and bought myself the kind of elliptical that my back injuries allow me to use. I love it, but I’m not exactly a fan of this giant ugly thing in my living room. So I decorate it! This is definitely a day-of-party task, since I need to use the elliptical, but I think the haphazard decorations just add to the charm.
I’m not sure if it’s normal to laugh to myself at the thought of me just pretending it’s not there, but I do. I like to say “nothing to see here” while ushering guests into the room. I’m clearly a fan of the dad joke.
A few years ago I really wanted to find a giant wreath form to hang over the mantel and I just couldn’t find one. So I bought a giant wreath at an after-Christmas sale and removed all the greenery. Now I can find these damn wreath forms everywhere!
I have three trees in my accessories room, and I think those trees work nicely in a room full of shoes, scarves, and purses.
This dress form tree is just weird and funny. And if there was ever a room for a dress form tree, it’s one that’s basically a giant closet!
This black tree was a new addition this year. I bought it after Christmas at Hobby Lobby and wasn’t quite sure if I was going to use it for Christmas or Halloween. I’m really happy with how it turned out dressed in champagne and crystal.
There’s normally a sunglasses rack in my accessories room, but at Christmas time I have a sunglasses tree!
Next is the guest room.
This Santa Hat Tree is an old blue tinsel feather tree that I’ve styled in about a million ways over the past fifteen years. I’m really liking it draped in a crystal snowflake garland with lots and lots of red bead garland.
Bathrooms get decorated in my house too!
I live alone and don’t have houseguests for the holidays, so my guest bath doesn’t get a lot of use. A shower/tub is a giant space! Why not stick a tree in it?
My master bedroom only has one little tree: my Walmart jewelry tree. I’m not sure why I bought a bunch of cheap earrings at Walmart one year, but at this point it’s just tradition to continue decorating this tree with earrings.
The master bath gets a little love too! This bath tub tree is usually the favorite of children who come over. It’s a vintage (circa around 1955) tree that I bought on ebay years ago. I stand that on a stool inside the tub and then cover the tub with one of those snow blankets to hide the light cord and ugly-ass stool. I attach the blanket with Command adhesive Velcro strips. Not only is that super-easy, but if I want to throw some stuff under the blanket, it’s easy to pull it up and then press it back down onto the Velcro.
My office is next on the tour, though you already caught a glance. The beverage station lives in the office for parties. At Christmas, a few trees happen to live in the office too.
I love that I can see this white tree from my bedroom. Even when I come home from work exhausted, I get to see this little bit of light through the door.
I also have this silly little curlicue tree on the piano
Here’s a closeup of these funny little branches.
and this pink tree covered with icicles on a high shelf.
So we’ve arrived at what might be one of the strangest things you’ve seen so far: my ladder.
You see, when decorating an 11-foot-tall tree you need a pretty big ladder. And when you don’t have a garage, you have to either put said ladder outside where it will get muddy and nasty (not lots of fun when you need to bring it back in after Christmas) or “hide” it. So I hid it. Just like with the sloppily-decorated elliptical, I really enjoy just kind of throwing stuff at the ladder and seeing where it ends up.
You’ve already seen the dining room, but you haven’t seen much of the decorations in there. Here’s my little lime green tree:
And my rotating vintage silver tree. If you click on the picture, it should rotate!
This is the top of one of my cabinets. Because of the curved top, I don’t feel comfortable really going all-out with this display. Plus, I kind of hate my china cabinet. I think it’s fine, but it’s just not me.
And here’s the top of the other cabinet in the room. I have A LOT of serving pieces and kitchenwares, so I installed a wall of Ikea cabinetry when I first moved in.
The kitchen holds my collection of vintage Santas. I’ve found these at thrift stores and on ebay.
When driving down my street, you first get a glimpse of my side yard lights. I like to think of this as a sneak peek.
I recently had dinner across the street and realized that my neighbors have a view of both the front yard and the side yard at the same time! Also, have I posted a picture of my house before? Am I doxxing myself? Hopefully I’ll never find out!
Oh, and I made these wreaths for the front door!
So those were most of my Christmas decorations. I hope you enjoyed them!
*Note: I know it sounds weird to call glassware colorless instead of clear. But as a scientist I simply cannot call them just clear. All of the options for this particular glass were clear (as in not cloudy). So the glasses pictured were clear turquoise and clear green. Words matter!