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