Photography: Eric Piasecki Photography1 of 8
Like snowflakes, no two Christmas trees are alike. Where one person loves sparkle and color -- the brighter, the better—another prefers the reserved elegance of a muted palette. And, of course, many people’s style and tree vary from year to year, inspired by the nature outside the window or, in Martha’s case, the beloved grandbabies gazing up at the tree in wonder. Let the four distinct and pretty themes in this story spark your creativity, whether you aim to adopt a new look from topper to trunk, or make a sampler of easy ornaments to mix in with your treasured standbys (or give away to friends and loved ones).
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Every little thing you love -- from teensy toys to mismatched collections of vintage holiday items -- has a home on this tree. Start by choosing a palette (we picked bright, happy colors), then fill pipes accordingly: We spray-painted plastic toy animals, spelled out joy and merry with letter magnets, and interspersed tiny wrapped presents, Advent calendar-style. Play around with the placement until you like the overall look (avoid grouping similar objects).
No room for a fulsome tree in a smaller den or living room? No problem. This tree is less than six inches deep and can hang on or lean against a wall.
About the Tree
Everything you need to make this tree is readily available at your local home center: plywood, PVC pipe, a saw, and epoxy. This wood is four by six feet, but you can adjust the size.
Thread-wrapped temari-ball ornaments, abchome.com
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All About ABCs
This year, Martha created her tree to stimulate the curiosity of her toddler grandchildren, Jude and Truman. The crisp graphics of homemade alphabet flashcard ornaments play off the shapes and textures of letter cookies that sparkle with colorful sanding sugar. (You can also use the flash cards as personalized gift tags or spell out names with cookies.)
Martha used a playful palette of fresh, kid-friendly colors. The sides of plain wooden blocks were painted in a range of contrasting colors and made into simple, Montessori-inspired ornaments. She rounded out the look with classic metallic ball ornaments -- shatterproof, so they’re safe around the kids.
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Silvertip firs tend to be symmetrical and have plenty of space between branches to hang large ornaments. This kind of tree is fairly lightweight; here, it’s anchored in a bucket filled with rocks and water, which is placed inside a wooden crate painted to match the ornaments.
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Terrarium on a Tree
Pine trees aren’t the only plants to incorporate into your holiday décor: Make ornaments by nestling popular terrarium plants (succulents, ferns) inside balls of angel vine, and hang them from a cluster of bare branches for an understated, sophisticated style. Succulents are best in smaller balls. Selaginella and other small ferns work well in large balls.
Made with Moss
The branches are rounded out with ornaments fashioned from Styrofoam balls covered with reindeer moss in shades of chartreuse and dark green. Any of these crafts is a sweet little gift -- prepare a bunch and send them home with friends when they stop by around the holidays.
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This arrangement of branches is designed to resemble a leafy tree. It’s set in a patinated vase with a bed of mood moss; rocks hold the branches in place. Use deciduous branches foraged from your yard. Look for ones that will radiate sideways, so that ornaments hang easily.
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Lots of Tartan
Red- and yellow-based tartans are a twist on the traditional Christmas colors of red and green. The ornaments are easy to make by winding bias strips of plaid fabric around Styrofoam balls, or by folding and snipping ribbon into banners and finishing them with kilt pins (for either a Scottish or a decidedly punk vibe).
The More the Merrier
This can be a wonderful starter tree. Not only are these ornaments speedy to make, they’re incredibly economical. You can churn out dozens -- and complete the look with inexpensive gold balls and picks.
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This stout, radiant Norway spruce has been flocked using a nontoxic spray kit, so it appears as if it’s dusted with snow. The tree is in a traditional stand that has been placed inside a galvanized tub.
Sno-Jet flocking, by Peak Seasons, 951-351-7778
Precut Norway spruce, simonsonfarms.com
French-upholstered Belgian-linen wing chair, in Sand Linen and Weather Oak Drifted, rh.com
Samoke handmade silk carpet, abchome.com