decorating our tree

I finally got motivated to decorate our tree…kind of.

The boxes of ornaments are still in the attic. Every year I want a ‘beautiful’ tree. The kind you see in a magazine or on Pinterest. Every year I redo the tree about 5 times. It is ridiculous. You don’t have to tell me that a magazine worthy tree is not important. I know. I know. This year, I’m letting go of all that. I told the kids I’d make a paper chain and they can cover the tree in whatever else they want. Maybe not the best decision – we now how full sheets of construction paper hanging on the tree, but they had fun and that is far more important than my dream vintage curated white glistening tree.

My dad will be building me a big worktable in the future. For now the floor works fine.

Me: “No, no.”……as she looks up with her innocent little eyes as if to say, “Me? Can I possibly be doing something I shouldn’t?”

Her response every time I tell her “No, no.”


Now before you think our tree is looking too great based on those photos…let me remind you FULL SHEETS of construction paper are hanging on it. Oh, and that paper chain…it only wraps around the top 1/3 of the tree. Now someone please pin one of those images on your Pinterest board so I can say I have a pinterest worthy true. Hop to it. Thank you.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Jessica R - Oh my goodness I adore that face! And I know they don’t share the same genes, but… once again I’m sitting here thinking to myself, “wow, LO looks like FireCracker in that picture!” They truly are sisters. Love it.

    And as someone who is rather obsessive about Christmas decorations, I applaud you for letting your kids have free rein with the tree. I can only hope to be that laid-back one day 🙂

  • Ashley E - Love the tree! Kids are great for decorating–L decorated the tree last year with toys around the house, and this year she added to my mother’s very beautiful (pottery barn inspired) tree, a model magic snowman. Sweet. 🙂 You have to enjoy it, because they won’t do it forever.

  • tobi - i let my kids decorate. and have since they were wee little. they are 8 and 5 now. and there have been times when there were strands of bead garland in giant clumps and the tree branches sagging from the weight. in the past, i only put plastic ornaments on, but let them do it. this year, they still did ALL the decorating, but i let them put the “special” glass ornaments on. they felt quite special putting those on. and we havent lost any, and our tree has been up for over a week! mind you, i do have clumps of garland still and about 15 ornaments on one branch, but i’ll take it. one day, they wont care about decorating it. i hope that day never comes, but in the meantime, i’ll take my crazy tree. and btw, last year, i had LOTS of construction paper on my tree too! has the cat discovered the tree yet? and i love that squished up nose of LO’s. so cute.

  • Tonya - Haha…you so have trouble on your hands! Little one with her tongue stuck out….that is so stinking cute!!!!

  • Laura - You have been pinned, my dear! How did you know I wanted to make a paper chain for my tree this year?! And, btw, has Firecracker had a growth spurt? She looks so different in the most recent pictures. Merry Christmas!

  • Lynn - Love your thoughts on decorating your tree… funny! My youngest is thirteen and I miss the homemade items so much! Little One has the best smile and it must be hard to tell her no, no!

  • Joanne - I love that you are posting earlier in the mornings than you used to! This is one of the first things I read on my computer each day. Love it!

  • Lori - love it!!! They will always remember the day they did that. Hey! I’m getting a white one that is fake on sale after Christmas to hang all my kid’s keepsake ornaments..the ones I don’t want broken everrrr. ~ To put in my bedroom each year ~ just a thought!!!!!! hugs.

  • emmybrown - ha! You are so funny! I did Pin that paper chain for the tree, because I LOVE it! I’ve been wanting something different for my tree this year too….a paper chain just might have to do! 🙂 And, I didn’t think Little One could get any cuter…..but Oh, My!!!! She is the cutest thing ever in those pics! <3

  • Sadie - Ok, that last one of Little One made me cry again! She always makes me cry tears of joy! That face is the most beautiful face ever.

  • Hili - She is amazing . How do you get her to look at the camera like that ? Do you look at her through the viewfinder ? It really looks like she is having eye contact with a real person and not looking at a camera.

  • Amber Campbell Hibbs - The pins are racking up. 🙂

  • Brandi - First off, Little One’s crinkled nose. I die.
    Secondly, Mom’s are not meant to have “perfect” trees or anything else for that matter but it’s all worth it to us! And just to make you feel better….As I was decorating our tree, taking each ornament out of tissue paper, I would put the tissue back in the box…my two year old son decided that he wanted to decorate the tree with the tissue paper….the whole bottom right side of our tree has tissue paper stuffed in it. I left it there and every time I look at it…it makes me smile. 🙂

  • katherine - hi ashley! why don’t you get another tree for yourself? that’s what i would do in that sort of dilemma. a tree for the kids to decorate and enjoy….and one for you to get your dream tree, maybe even spray paint it white? haha one can go in the studio the other in your living room! anyway, little one looks so cute especially with her big smile!!

  • Debbie C - Little One’s smile keeps getting cuter. Looks like Firecracker is teaching her a thing or two about having sass. ;D

  • Sundee - Question – the mug someone gave you with china on one side and the dotted line that I believe goes to another mug with Oklahoma on it. Do you find that the marker comes off over time or do you take care to wash them by hand?? I want to do that with my nephews for their gifts to their parents this year, but I want to be able to tell my sister how to wash it. Help!! All the tutorials speak to how to do it and bake it on, but nothing about how it wears. Anyone with any insight?? Please e-mail me at sundee 98 at gmail dot com.


  • Elizabeth - You are handling the (temporary) death of your dream tree better than I. This was the first year we let our son (5) help decorate the tree and he and I were both in tears multiple times (ok, I’m 8 months pregnant, so I’m pretty much perpetually in tears). At one point I yelled at him, “I’m not letting you decorate the tree again until you are 10” (ok, this was after he had broken the 3rd glass ornament because he WOULD. NOT. LISTEN.) Next year I think I’m getting him his own little tree he can hang whatever, however on– I’m not a big enough person to deal with the non-Pinteresty tree. GOOD FOR YOU!!!!

  • Molly - This tired mama needed a laugh this morning – thanks for sharing Little One’s “trouble” face. Too cute and just what I needed to start my day!

  • Elizabeth C - They look like they had a bunch of fun (more mess=more fun, right?) I made a Christmas count-down with my 7 year old brother the other day and as we hung it up, I said “Well, no one is going to pin that!” But he loves that he got to write all the numbers and gets to pull a star off everyday.

    Maybe you need two trees: one for mom and one for the kids!

  • Lindy Gregg - I FINALLY broke down this year and set up two trees–one downstairs (where all the kids’ bedrooms are) for them to decorate however they want– and one upstairs in our main living area, for me to decorate as I want! It’s the greatest solution ever! They’re happy–I’m happy–it’s a win-win!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Oh- that little squishy nosed smile- you are so right, trouble! And to me- mismatched, kid made trees are the best kinds of trees!

  • nichole - :> I love the thought of the perfect tree, but my husband and 3 kids just want to have fun decorating. We only set up a 4 foot tree this year and before the Christmas music was on pandora and the smell of sugar cookies filled the air….our tree was falling over because of all the decorations the kids had put on. I am not touching it, it was so sweet!! (instead I made wreaths with my husband and put them all over the house)Everyone is happy!!

  • amber - Hilarious. As I’m typing this, the lights on my own tree are flashing on &off, because my 3 year old thinks it’s awesome. Kids make Christmas extra fun;). In their own special way…lol

  • Caroline - I really did want to pin the image of your paper chain! I love how there is a different paper on the “inside” of the chain as well as the outside!!

  • Caroline - Little One is SO adorable with that cute little smile!
    and I’d love to see the whole christmas tree, with those FULL SHEETS of construction paper on it! Do post a picture of it!
    Children’s work and ideas are the most precious! 🙂

  • Katherine - That’s it. My kids will be decorating the entire tree next year. I’ll put the lights on and then WELCOME the whole sheets of construction paper. We moms put way too much pressure on ourselves. Something about YOU backing away from the tree-decorating struggle has lifted a weight off my shoulders (even though the tree is finished for this year!). Thank you for being real!

  • Juli - My fancy ornaments that I purchased pre-kid (read: breakable) reside in the attic. Our tree has kid-made ornaments on it now, felt shapes cut out w/ random things glued on, God’s eyes in bad colors and lots of of those paper mache kraft ones that you buy at the craft stores covered in marker scribbles. I even have one clay one that looks JUST like poo! Somehow, they come together magically on the tree!
    I love that squinched up nose. My 11 yr old and I sit and marvel at her cuteness each day!

  • Tracy a - Oh Ashley, I love you! I can’t pin it now, but I will later! Friend, I am beginning to understand that feeling you have been describing while waiting for Little One. I have a lump in my throat, knowing that there is an unknown amount of time and several oceans between me and my child. I didn’t really understand how different this could be…and hoe difficult. Thanks for paving the way.

  • Julie - I love little one’s scrunched up nose when she is smiling. My youngest does that, too!

  • Corrie Anne - So sweet. That’s about as far as my crafty skills would go so I love it!!!

  • Susan - Ashley, You are so in tune with your children’s needs and you knew your children needed to decorate the tree. They are budding artists and this will fire their creativity even more. I would love to see the whole tree, no matter the sheets of construction paper, as that is a tree decorated with love. Cherish these days because they grow up so fast. And they grow away from you fast too, before you can blink it feels like to me. I so miss the handmade ornaments; maybe I can get the grands to make me some this year!
    Little One is Miss Firecracker #2! Or maybe “Bottle Rocket”?

  • Jessica P - Little One makes me happy! That tongue and mischievous grin…PERFECTION! Our tree is a far cry from any “pinterest-worthy” image this year too. Decorations only go 2/3 of the way down so our little one won’t be tempted to grab and destroy. Ah well. It works!

  • Lara - Made me laugh out loud. I have 3 boys and 1 girl.
    I never had a tree growing up so really wanted to
    “do” a tree. My solution, a white one for my daughters
    room, a green (fake)one for the boys,(upstairs landing), and the
    real one we cut down as the family tree I decotate.
    Everyone is happy. We have sat and made ornaments together
    and still do, my oldest is 16! They love pulling out their earlier efforts and comparing them to the recent ones.

  • Bribedell - My three year old has redecorated our christmas tree at least twice a day since its been up. It was super frustrating for a week & then I realized…she’s three & Christmas is not all about a perfect tree or decor! Us mom’s need to relax & breath more I think 😉

  • Kim - Love the tree! There will come a time when you can have your dream tree and you will still miss this crazy tree 🙂 Little One is getting cuter everyday. What a sweet baby!

  • Jenn - I just got a white tree at Walmart last night for $39. They had 4 ft ones for $25. Not a bad deal to have your very own tree!

  • Gina - That is a Pinterest worthy shot of your tree and great shots of your kids too! I am glad I am not the only one who hasn’t brought out ornaments this year. I had brought a few things out but my 3 yr old and 19 month old are too interested in things and pulled things down much to my other kids’ dismay. We have construction paper, drawings, and pipe cleaners hanging on our tree.

  • Sarah Whitworth - That last picture of Little One is possibly one of the cutest you have shared of all your children–and you have shared tons of cute ones! Thanks for the glimpses into your life.

  • Karen - I know what you mean about the tree! I used to think that if I didn’t have the “perfect” tree that Christmas would be horrible! But a couple of years ago I started letting my kids decorate the tree.For the past year or so just my daughter will do it and my tree could not be more perfect! It’s beautiful because it is a reflection of her.

  • Angela A - I wanna see the whole tree.

  • Emily Nelson - Little One is CUTE CUTE CUTE! You capture the best expressions. Love your perspective on life!

  • Kristin S - Most perfect tree ever.

    And that shot with Little One’s legs/feet in the foreground…. killed me.

  • laura - I love that smile and how she scrunches her nose like her mommy and sister:)

  • LeighP - I was actually just reminiscing about my life before kids and marriage where I collected clear glass ornaments and my tree used to be all sparkle and silver and twinkling white lights. I still have those in rubbermaid bins in the basement under the stairs! In recent years our tree is a rainbow of plastic colored balls, felt and wooden ornaments. It is bright and cheery and extremely kid friendly. I do love it but I also miss my cherished collection of glass where every year I added to a curated collection of lovelies. Oh well. Some day I will have space and energy to put up two trees. For now I enjoy the magic I see in my son’s eyes with his festive tree (that I don’t have to worry about breakage with). Oh…and of course you have been pinned!

  • Julia Leinen - oh my goodness! that smile just made my day! SO COMPLETELY GORGEOUS!

  • Ruth Abel - I actually love the paper garland idea. So I did pin it. You can not tease us though with that description! We need a full reveal.

    Also, those last two pictures of Little One are my favorites of her that you have ever shared. Swoon! So adorable. Merry Christmas to your family and God bless you!

  • Renae - Prettiest paper chain I have EVER seen!

  • Will @ Bright.Bazaar - I do love a paper chain – so simple but so fun and festive! 🙂

  • Becky @ Farmgirl Paints - hey girl where did you get those barny lights in your studio? i’m kinda dying. just when you get a minute. want some to put over our kitchen table:)

  • Jenna Knight - So fun!! and she is a doll baby!!!!!

  • Erin - I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but my mother is that have a magazine perfect tree type–and she always did, in our formal living room. The tree we spent most of our time around and the gifts went under was the one that the kids decorated. It was her way of having the best of both worlds I suppose!

    Little one is so darn adorable!! You can really tell in the pictures how comfortable she is has become with her amazing and loving family!!

  • Mary - Depending on how dried out your tree gets, you might consider spray painting it white after Christmas. Call it a Winter Tree and decorate it with mittens, scarves, snowmen, etc. I have a friend that does this and in the past she has been able to even have a Valentine Tree.
    Love the pictures – as always!!

  • AshleyAnn - Becky – they are from Ikea…you’ll love them!

  • AshleyAnn - Tracy – hang in there friend! (ps email me those Dec. dates again!)

  • Amy D - ohmigoodness, the cuteness in those no-no pictures! i totally see why you’re gonna miss that smile. thank you for helping me learn to see beauty in what so much of the world considers imperfection. she is absolutely beautiful!

  • Jamie -

    Im sure plenty of others have pinned for you, but heres one more, because I am all about helping make dreams come true! 🙂

  • Pamela - Oh my word Little One has a beautiful smile!
    I think this year is probably going to be my last year of being able to decorate the tree just the way I want so I took full advantage.

  • twirling betty - I hear ya man. Our tree never looks like the ones I covet in design mags. But if it did, it would feel too “done”. That’s what I tell myself anyway. That littlest muffin of yours is the cutest bit of trouble around.

  • Pat - I so wanted to pin this blog post but the photo I wanted – the close-up of the paper chain on the tree – won’t come up on Pintrest!! Boo!

  • Paige - Love me some krinkle nose!

  • Kara M - Oh…little one makes my heart melt! I love how she scrunches her nose when she smiles!

  • Susannah - Please put up a picture of your tree! I’d love to see your kids’ creativity!

  • Kimberly F - The picture of Little One wrinkling up her nose at you made me laugh out loud! So cute.

  • Dacia @ Lemon Drop Life - I think letting your kids have fun and make memories of decorating the tree is DEFINITELY pin-worthy!