Years ago, I started purchasing Christmas tree ornaments when we’d travel. I loved unpacking the ornaments each year and reminiscing about the places we’d been and the things we’d seen. At some point, we collected enough ornaments to decorate an entire tree and I decided that we should have one tree in our house completely dedicated to our travels. This year, the tree is in our basement living room and is a great reminder of the many blessings that travel has brought us over the years.

The Christmas Closet (throwing up, as my husband would say).

The Christmas Closet (throwing up, as my husband would say).

How to decorate your tree

To decorate the tree, here’s what I did.

I started with a 7′ artificial tree, pre-lit with white lights. And, because I love organization, I pulled out my clear tote (I always use clear totes so I can see what’s in them without removing lots of lids and digging through the box) labeled “Travel Tree.”

You’ll also notice that I put like items (i.e. balls, sprigs, ornaments, etc) in individual small totes or ziplock bags. Packing things this way is much easier to unpack and saves a lot of space, which is great, because I promised my husband I would accumulate as much Christmas decor as would fit in the small “Christmas Closet” we designated when we bought this house.

postcardjar.com

Next, I attached large mesh ribbon to the branches by just gathering it every 18 inches or so and tying it around a branch with a flexible wire. I try not to “wrap” the ribbon around the tree as if I’ve taken it hostage, but typical start at the top, and work my way down the tree and around the sides.

 

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Next, I start adding the embellishments starting with the largest things. I used big snowflakes, different sized balls (this year, I used mostly blue, silver and white), inexpensive sprigs I picked up at a craft store 75% off last year, and some glittery phrases like “Joy to the World” and “Merry Christmas.”

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Next, add the ornaments

Next, I added my favorite … the ornaments we’ve collected on our travels through the years and some that were given to us as gifts, such as a little wooden hula dancer my grandparents brought back from Hawaii when I was a little girl. We love collecting ornaments when we travel because they are typically available most places, are inexpensive, and besides, who really needs another t-shirt or key chain? We always hang these ornaments as a family and enjoy talking about where we got each one and sharing memories from those trips. Honestly, it’s probably my favorite part of decorating for Christmas.

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These ornaments are from (starting at the top left): Tokyo, New York City, Alaska, Mount Vernon, Big Ben in London, Sri Lanka, USS Constitution in Boston, Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, House on the Rock in the Wisconsin Dells, Canada, Hawaii, and another one from our trip to Alaska in 2013.

Lastly, add some postcards

Lastly, I add postcards (of course) to the tree by attaching them with a fancy ornament hook I found half price at Hobby Lobby after Christmas last year.

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It is so much fun each year to go through our postcard jar and pick out which ones we want to put on the tree. We typically include several from our most recent travels, as well as a few of our favorite places from trips of the past.

In 2014, the year’s travels were represented with postcards from our Nebraska road trip and a visit to Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park; our spur-of-moment stop at the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota; our trip to see Steve’s parents in the Florida Keys at Easter; and our four visits to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where I was diagnosed and treated for a rare disease call cardiac sarcoidosis.

And, here’s the finished product …

postcardjar.com

Do you have any special ways you incorporate travel in your holiday decorating? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.


PIN FOR LATER

  • The Pioneer Woman's Boarding House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a special hotel. There are eight rooms, each beautifully decorated, and no two rooms are alike. With large bathrooms, a mini-bar, evening reception, room service, valet parking, high-speed internet, and friendly service, a night here is a real treat. Ann snapped this picture of the arrangement of fresh flowers in the Butterfly Room. The bed in the background? That's a Tempurpedic mattress with some of the softest bedding around. We can't think of a better place to spend a cozy night when you @visittheosage and Pawhuska.⁣
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@pwboardinghouse
  • While in Italy, we took a cooking class in the home of a the owner of a small vineyard. During the class, we learned to make several dishes including pasta (which we rolled and cut by hand) as well as Tiramisu. Looking at this picture, we can still taste the freshness of the pasta, the tomatoes picked that morning from vines in the yard for the sauce, and the herbs clipped from a pot on the porch. It was a magical meal, paired with wines they had produced using grapes they'd grown on their own land. Talk about a farm to table meal.
  • The Enchanted Highway near @visit_dickinson, North Dakota, is a 30 mile stretch of road that runs from I-94 to Regent. Along the way you'll find a number of huge metal sculptures that have to be seen to be believed. The size and scale of these creations is such that you'll be filled with a sense of wonder, and a desire to drive on to the next one. This particular creation is called, appropriately enough, "Grasshoppers in the Field." This road is just one more reason for you to hop on up to North Dakota. @NorthDakotaLegendary
  • One of our favorite restaurants whether on land or at sea is @celebritycruises Luminae restaurant. Every morsel of every dish has been thoughtfully considered, prepared, and presented. Take this Chocolate Palet dessert for instance. It's so rich that more than a few bites would be almost overwhelming. But that's okay, as the serving size is perfect. Paired with the scoop of gelato on a bed of chocolate crumbles? Well, it makes a perfect end to a scrumptious meal. A true masterpiece.
  • One of the things we love most about traveling is discovering new things. New destinations, new foods, new cocktails, and new people. What do you like to discover?
  • Our imaginations run wild when we find ourselves in a place so chock-full of history like Deadwood, South Dakota. As we took in the town, we closed our eyes and listened for echoes from the past when Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok lived here. If only the streets could talk. @tripscout @midwestliving⁣
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#southdakota #blackhills #mwtravel #midwestliving #midwestlivingmag #mymidwest #midwestmoment #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #travelblogger #travel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #deadwood #dakota #wildbill #calamityjane #historic #mainstreet #historytour #familyvacation #summervacation #tourists #mainstreetusa #
  • Standing on a hill in present-day Rome, you can look down on the Roman Forum, the center of activity in ancient Rome. We've all heard of Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Marcus Agrippa, and the Apostle Paul, and we know them as ancient historical figures who almost don't seem real. And then you see this space, the very streets where they walked and the buildings they knew. This is why Rome is the eternal city. You can still walk streets and cross bridges built thousands of years ago. Being there makes it's real, and suddenly history comes alive.
  • Is there anything more relaxing than the thought of a beautiful sandy beach? How about one with pink sand, like at Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda? We made a stop here during our visit to the island nation and loved seeing all the folks there enjoying their time splashing in the warm summer sun. ⁣
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Would you like to visit this beach?

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