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.

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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

  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
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Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
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It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
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What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome
  • Our daughter, Meghan, is a cardiac ICU nurse. Despite all of the current uncertainties in healthcare during this pandemic, early this morning she put on her scrubs and went to work a 12+ hour shift. 
She is not alone. Across the country and around the world, healthcare workers are putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk to help others. It's what they do. Every. Single. Day. 
We are incredibly grateful that there are selfless people like this in the world and we pray for them and we hope you'll join us. 
We couldn't sleep this morning, so we wrote instead. Click on the link in our bio to read our morning thoughts and prayers.
  • Trying to decide where we’ll travel this weekend. Covered porch? Living room? 😉
  • We are staying home. 
We've been here for almost a week now because Ann is one of "those people." You know the ones. Those people with an underlying health issue. Those people with a suppressed immune system. One of those people who could become seriously ill, need hospitalization, and even die if exposed to the coronavirus.  Those people need your help to stay safe and live. And all you have to do is stay home when you don’t NEED to be out.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen photos, videos, and witnessed first hand people of all ages (but mostly young people) gathering in groups for what us mid lifers would consider “non essential” reasons: birthday parties, movies, youth sports practices, St. Patty’s Day celebrations at the bar, spring break at the beach, and the like. 
We don’t understand it. 
We try not to judge. 
But just for a time during this worldwide pandemic, could we ask people who are participating in non-essential activities to consider who “those people” most at risk really are?

Those people are already battling serious illnesses.

Those people want to see their grandchildren grow up.

Those people need to do their jobs as nurses and doctors.

Those people are first responders. 
Those people run the grocery store, and the pharmacy, and the gas station. 
Those people pray for you and your generation. 
And what about those other people? 
The ones you know.

Those people who made sacrifices to meet your needs.

Those people who took care of you when you were sick.

Those people who went to your games and cheered you on. 
Those people who taught you in school.

Those people who helped you pay for college.

Those people who cooked your favorite dish for you.

Those people who taught your Sunday School class.

Those people who have forgiven you.

Those people who will always love you unconditionally.

We keep wanting to scream, “It’s not about you, it’s about those people!” But the truth of the matter is, IT IS ABOUT YOU. 
You have the power to help.
You have the power to influence others.
You have the power to flatten the curve.

And by not changing your behaviors, you also have the power to harm. 
How will you choose to use your power?j
  • We’re sharing your postcards and encouraging you to help others and stay positive. 
If you’d like to send us a postcard, mail to: Postcard Jar, PO Box 334, Crete, NE 68333.
  • Stuck at home? We're just social distancing here in Nebraska and thinking up ways to experience travel without leaving our home. ⁣
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We have a NEW BLOG POST (link in bio) with more than a dozen ideas of ways you can curb your wanderlust while stuck at home. ⁣
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What are you up to today?
  • It’s Day 2 at home together and here’s what we’re up to. Let us know what you’re doing in the comments below.

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