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.”

postcardjar.com

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

  • What a privilege to be in @visitbentonville this weekend to celebrate the opening of @themomentary and our friend, @addie_roanhorse. Addie’s Osage ribbon work- inspired design is featured on this tower at the Momentary and it is just fabulous! 
This new space opens to the public Feb. 22 and general admission is free, thanks to the generosity of the @waltonfamilyfdn.
  • In @visitmasoncityiowa, you'll find the boyhood home of famous composer Meredith Willson. Perhaps best known for his musical, "The Music Man," Willson based the show in large part on his experiences growing up in his hometown.⁣
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Mason City has kept Willson's memory alive through an extensive museum and convention space, which we got to see on our hosted tour of the town, called The Music Man Square. A part of the experience at Music Man Square is a tour through Willson's childhood home.⁣
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Now is the perfect time to head to Mason City for a visit. Hugh Jackman is set to play Professor Harold Hill in a Broadway revival of, "The Music Man." With that show opening in 2020, all eyes will be back on Mason City.⁣
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@thehughjackman @musicmanbway
  • When the @museumofamericanspeed invited us to come for a complimentary visit, we weren't sure what to expect. ⁣
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Yes, the museum is chock-full of race cars, engines, history, and car-related memorabilia. But it also houses other collections like one of old lunch boxes.⁣
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We had so much fun standing and taking in the lunch boxes, looking and trying to find the ones we had when we were kids. Ann had "Charlie's Angels" and Steve had "Super Friends." ⁣
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If you're ever near Lincoln, Nebraska, check out the Museum of American Speed. It's a true hidden treasure in the midwest. ⁣
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What kind of lunch box did you carry to school? Any kids of the 70s and 80s who had the ones we had?
  • Sometimes you find things in your own backyard.⁣
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Just up the road from our home in Crete, Nebraska, we found the National Museum of Roller Skating. Our curiosity piqued, we stopped in and took a look around. There we found the world's largest collection of historical roller skates, costumes, and memorabilia. ⁣
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It took us back to our childhood and spending time at the roller skating rink (do kids even skate anymore?). We remembered crossing over on the turns for the first time and bending at the knees for "Downtown" by Petula Clark. So many great memories. ⁣
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Sometimes, we focus so much on getting away that we forget that we have some really interesting places close to home, as well. The next time you feel a hankering to go somewhere, maybe try going down the street. You never know what treasure you might find and what memories it evoke.
  • This was our Valentine’s Day dessert last year. Chef Kurtess Mortensen at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile created this memorable dish he called “Fat Elvis.” It was a chocolate bread pudding, served alongside banana brûlée and caramelized peanuts then topped with marshmallow cream, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and a candied bacon garnish. We are giddy with anticipation to see what he comes up with tonight! We are budgeting our calories accordingly. 😉
  • “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
– Lewis Carroll
  • It's been a long winter. I need to see flowers again! Are you with me?Let's talk about these flowers. ⁣
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We are often asked about our favorite place we've ever visited. While that question is hard to answer, we almost always mention Tallinn, Estonia, as a contender.⁣
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Estonia has an interesting history. Conquered in 1227 by Denmark, it never again enjoyed independence until  1920. That freedom was short lived, however, as the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1940. Finally, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence and has remained free ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004. ⁣
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Visiting Estonia, we could see the remnants of Soviet control. Large block buildings dominate the landscape. They are of Soviet Communist design: utilitarian in nature with no thought given to design. They look just like the buildings you've seen in movies about the Soviet Union. ⁣
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Now free, Estonians have done what they can to erase the gray days of Soviet control. The Soviet-style buildings are painted bright colors, and flowers abound in the streets. The people are warm, cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. ⁣
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Yes, Estonia is a wonderful country, and we can't wait to return.
  • Each year from late February to early April, hundreds of thousands of Sandhills Cranes migrate through Nebraska on their way north to their breeding grounds. It's considered one of the greatest spectacles in nature, so thousands of people come to experience this incredible time.⁣
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We traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, one of the best cities for crane viewing, last year. Because the best times to view the cranes is sunrise and sunset, we found ourselves with some free time during the day. It turns out that Kearney has a lot to offer in terms of things to do.⁣
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Scroll across our highlights on Instagram, and you'll find the stories highlights we made during our time there. On our blog (link in bio) you'll also find a post we wrote with ideas for 20 things to do in Kearney while you wait on the cranes. ⁣
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Put crane viewing on your bucket list. It really is one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had in nature. And don't worry about being bored between sunrise and sunset--Kearney has too much to offer.

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