December 20, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!

When Brian and I decided, about a month ago, that we would not be able to make the trip to get our things (including all our Christmas decorations) from storage in Idaho before the end of the year, I saw a kind-of crazy opportunity in the midst of my disappointment. 
We had an excuse-- no, more than an excuse- a very good reason, to make everything this year-- to have a homemade Christmas in Kentucky. Montana. Sorry, childhood flashback involving Kenny Rogers caught me by surprise there. 
The point is: look at our tree!

(Hard to get a full-length shot in our small space!)

I knew from the outset that this undertaking-- making everything handmade for Christmas-- could go 
two ways: 
1: Mamma, the artist, the designer, the visionary, could take control of everything, adorning the tree with hand-painted blown eggs and hand-embroidered felt birds, miniature glass mosaics and dozens of other delicate pretties, stressing herself out in the process, and ending up with something that, while pleasing to the eye, was not our family's Christmas tree, but Mamma's. A don't touch tree!
2: Mamma could let go and step back, quietly introducing the tools and the methods and watching as the little ones, and even Dad (who is not so crafty, most of the time) discover the beautiful things they can make. Mamma could say 'yes' to more paint and glitter and 'why not?' to another color and know, really truly know that the making of the ornaments was the making of so many memories for our family. And our tree would truly be ours. A hands-on, we-made-it, please touch tree!

I think you can guess which way things went.
This may well be my favorite of all our Christmas trees. Ever.

If you're curious as to the specifics of what's hung on the evergreen boughs, here's the rundown:

1. Salt flour dough snowmen, letters (each of our names spelled out with cookie cutters), trees, etc.
2. Applesauce-cinnamon dough stars, gingerbread boys and girls, and free-form shapes.
3.Borax crystal snowflakes and icicles (both art project and science experiment in one!).
4.Cut paper snowflakes (pinned on with worn old wooden clothespins).
5. Popcorn (popped the old-fashioned way) and gumdrop garland.
6. Puzzle-piece ornaments made at the Missoula Art Museum holiday workshop.
7. Felt matryoshkas made at Selvedge Studio.
8. Gussied -up pine cones via the Christmas craft kit from Sandi.
9. Fabric strip garland also made from the aforementioned kit.
10. Little paper birds (this one was totally Laurelei's idea-and I LOVE it) cut from a roll of wrapping paper (Target) and strung on random ribbons and rick-rack.
11. Glittery birds and apples made one fun crafty afternoon with the Hendersons.
 12. A few vintage keys I had laying around, on pink and red ribbons (okay, so that one doesn't count as handmade, exactly...but, still...resourceful).

And that's our tree.
We love it and we loved every evening, every hot-cocoa- and- Bing- Crosby family craft session spent making it.
Merry Handmade Christmas!



  1. love it!!! I totally get the dilemma about a Mom perfect tree and a kid friendly one. I let the kids go all haphazard this year with the ornament decoration. (I only moved a few..) ..and Liam took care of the rest (by pulling down the whole tree, twice) so it doesn't even matter!

  2. Those are the best types of memories. I tend to take over sometimes too and I have to remind myself that the kids would enjoy it better if they did the decorating. Good job Amber it looks beautiful. We did a paper tree this year since we are not going to be here for Christmas. It was fun!

  3. It is beautiful and I love all the things you & your family have made. Some of my favorite Christmas memories are the trees each year with glass ornaments, multi-colored lights and the handmade ornaments & garland that my brother & I made. My mother always put our handmade items on the tree even if we weren't the most artistic kids. So you were are right, these are what rich memories are made of. Thanks for the peek at your family Christmas.