06 December, 2006

Preppy Pines

There are so many fun things about being a newlywed and venturing out on your new life together, and that includes your first Christmas as young marrieds. Mr. Monogram and I did not live together prior to walking down the aisle, so even after 3 ½ years of dating before getting married, I must say we learned quite a lot about each other those first few months of cohabitation as newlyweds. Such as my new husband’s unrealistic and laughable expectation that I, his new *child bride* (as the EMG says) would be awaing every morning to put a fresh crisp press in his button down before sending him off on his way to work. I’m sorry? Iron your WHAT? Perhaps he missed the memo that read it was the late 1990’s and no longer the 1950’s. Oh, and more importantly, the memo that said WIFE DOES NOT IRON.

So with Christmas being only 6 weeks after our wedding, we had lots to figure out about which holiday traditions combine and make our own, which to throw away, and then of course, how to decorate the tree. Although truly, I don’t know there was too much to discuss on that front since we only had a handful of ornaments to hang on the tree. Just because you don’t necessarily buy the Charlie Brown Tree, doesn’t necessarily mean it still won’t look like one with all 5 of its sad little ornaments hanging from its limbs. In retrospect though, it’s probably a good thing that I hadn’t yet acquired my pretty and expensive balls from Neiman’s that I covet so much at the holidays. You see, being that it was our first tree and all, we went a little overboard and bought a bigger tree than we needed. I know. You’re shocked. But if that wasn’t enough, we didn’t have a Christmas tree stand, and what with Big Johns Christmas Tree Lot being sold out of stands and all, Mr. Monogram headed over to Home Depot. You’d think that they of all people would have heaping mounds of tree stands, but all I know is Mr. M returned home with a tree stand with literally a 6’ arm span and a base large enough to house a 30’ tree. I’m sure you can tell where this is headed. A 7’ tree does not really fit too well in a tree stand made for a 30’ tree. This is to say nothing of course, for the fact that we couldn’t even walk anywhere remotely close to the tree without tripping over those stupid legs to the tree stand and due to the legs being so long, the tree was essentially sitting in the middle of the room. Take a piece of broccoli and stick it in a big sauce pot, and that was pretty much what our tree looking like in this ridiculous stand. But that’s not the point. The point is, that my new husband thought he had “rigged” it and it was “perfect” so long as we didn’t really touch it or breathe on it. Okay. I can do that. Admire the tree from afar then. Excellent! But after going out one holiday night, we returned home to our tree completely horizontal and quite frankly, a little more intimate with the hard wood floors than it is supposed to be. It had totally fallen over. So all that was left to do, other than bicker about it (and so began the years of holiday bickering between the Monograms), was to tie it to the window, so that’s what we did. I have fond memories of that first tree tied to the window, but I vowed to have a tree full of beautiful ornaments and colors and ribbons and bows from that point forward.

And since this time of year always makes me a little misty eyed for that first naked virgin tree of ours, sparse of decoration or theme, I’m making it my personal mission today to help out anyone who might be in the same boat I was all those years ago, or heck, anyone just looking for a few inexpensive but decorative tree ideas. So hold on to your chapeau because the sleigh is about to take off.

Preppy Nautical/Ocean Theme I can’t speak on behalf of the craft stores where you live, but where I live (which is nowhere close to the ocean), my craft stores each carry an abundant supply of different types and shapes and sizes of sea shells. Real shells, not faux. You can find anything from starfish and sand dollars, to oyster shells and silver dollar shells. So I’m hedging my bet that you can find them at yours as well. These shells often come in large bags in a varied assortment. So if you favor the ocean, live near the ocean or just like that preppy nautical look, then there’s no reason you can’t or shouldn’t adorn your tree inexpensively w/ the ornaments from Mother nature, and instead of wrapping a garland around your tree, buy some crisp white cotton rope and follow this online guide for making sailing knots, and add them to the tree as well. I’m not saying this tree is going to be for everyone out there, but it would be a cute tree if you lived near the beach, or for someone who liked to keep an additional tree outside on the back porch, or perhaps even at your beach house (or Lisagh, for your BF’s boat, maybe?). And if you really wanted to take it one step further, create an all white, crème and khaki beachy/nautical theme by adding these decorations to a heavily flocked tree in lieu of the traditional green one.

Preppy Grosgrain Ribbon Theme Honestly, this is so easy; I am kicking myself for not doing this all those years ago before acquiring nice ornaments. But just because it’s the holidays and everything is all red and green around town, that doesn’t mean your tree has to be too. We all know you prefer your grosgrain ribbon headbands to the leather ones, so why not put your preppy style on your tree as well? Now I’m not suggesting you drape it with headbands or anything, because, really that would just be ridiculous, but stop by your local craft store or hit up one of my favorite online ribbon retailers such as The Ribbon Factory , Ribbon Girls , Preppy Ribbon, M&J Ribbon or J Caroline Creative and get a colorful selection of coordinating grosgrains in solids and stripes (you might even be able to score some remnants on clearance). I even think our friends over at Three Chickadees sometimes sell their ribbon on ebay, although I could be wrong (Lisa can you confirm and provide a link in comments?). Cop a squat in front of the TV and just start making little grosgrain bows. LOTS of little grosgrain bows. Make sure you tie them nice and tight, which is difficult to do to small bows, but its important none-the-less to keep those bows tied. Now, while you can certainly tie the bows directly onto the branches, I recommend picking up a sack full of alligator or shoe clips and attaching them w/ floral wire or hot glue to the alligator or shoe clips. It will be a little more work this year, but next year it will make for decorating your tree that much easier because you don’t have to untie and re-tie a thousand little grosgrain bows. And you know I am all about making my life easier any possible way I can.

Candy Cane Christmas I admit. I’ve never been one for hanging candy canes on the Christmas tree. But I think that’s probably because my parents didn’t do it and I think we tend to continue to carry on a lot of decorating traditions from our parents, don’t you think? But this idea I do think it cute. Is it for me? No. But it would be really cute in a casual room or perhaps a playroom or child’s bedroom on a small tabletop tree. And peppermints and hard candy sure are affordable enough, right? So go grab yourself a big bag or two, a hot glue gun, and get to work creating all sorts of shapes and fun and funky looking red and white ornaments. If it were me, I would buy some pretty colored embroidery thread; again, this is inexpensive and can be found at any craft or sewing store, and use the embroidery thread to hang the ornaments you created to your tree. For the piece de resistance, try to pick up some red and white striped grosgrain or seersucker looking ribbon, and tuck it in and wrap it around your tree to complete your preppy peppermint Christmas tree!

The Office Tree Since I am not part of the working force or corporate world, I really don’t know if it’s “PC” for companies to put up Christmas trees anymore. But if you decide to put one up in your office, your cube, or even your home office, this is a really cute and quirky idea. Dashing into your office supply store, you can pick up some colorful paperclips and white metal rim tags in different sizes very inexpensively. You can even pick up plain manilla shipping tags that are easy to decorate, stamp, color, or paint and affix to your little office-themed tree. Couldn’t we all use a little festivity and holiday cheer at the office?

PomPom Pine I love this. It is so simple and elementary, but colorful and pretty at the same time. I know we’ve got some knitters out there too that this will appeal to as well. Again, another inexpensive option to add some color and cheer to your tree, hit up your local craft store and pick up a variety of colors and sizes of pom pom balls and knitting yarn. Use the yarn as garland around your tree, and even make some little yarn tassels but cutting about a dozen or so strands of yarn the same length (i.e. 6” long). Line them up together, then fold them all in half, thus halving the length to 3” but doubling the yarn to be 24 ends. With another piece of yarn, wrap it around and secure the top of the bundle you just folded to create your yarn tassel. Hang it from the tree with all of your additional embellishments and voila! Now, if you’re looking for the perfect tree topper for this yarn-themed tree and you fancy yourself a knitter, then grab yourself some knitting needles, and by criss-crossing the different lengths and sizes of needles and holding them together with floral wire and yarn, you can create the perfect knitting needle star to adorn the top of your tree.

Paper Snowflake Tree There is something about the simplicity of a paper snowflake that just makes monogram momma smile. Two years ago I sat in our bonus room with a stack of white paper and my scissors and literally cut snowflakes until I could cut no more and my hand was a throbbing red and blue of snowflake pain. The mini’s love these snowflakes (that I hung over their "Island of Sodor" train table) and think I’m some sort of magician that I can make them and really, there is nothing to it and no reason why they wouldn’t look super cute and simple on a holiday tree. Like I said, desperate times call for desperate measures and if you can’t scrounge anything else up around your house, I feel pretty confident you can locate some scissors and paper. You can enlarge the paper folding image I’ve included here to show you how to fold your paper to create the snowflakes. Once your paper is folded as shown in the description, all you have to do is cut little shapes and circles and be as creative as you want. Open it up and you will have created your snowflake, and just like in nature, no two are ever alike! But if you are a serious Type A personality and find you need an exact snowflake pattern to replicate, then click here for a great resource on where and how to cut to create a specific type of snowflake (you’re on your own for that one though).Now, you don’t just have to hang these snowflakes from your tree, although they really would be cute if you had your child(ren) help and make them for their own tree for their own bedrooms, but the can also be hung over their beds or from the curtain rod with pretty ribbon so they just wake up feeling merry and bright for the few weeks we have to enjoy this Christmas season. But if you like this idea but don’t want to pick up little white scraps of paper well into 2007, then don’t worry, you can still get into the snowflake making spirit by heading over to Make-A-Flake and cutting yourself a virtual snowflake. Is there anything we can’t do on the internet these days?

Adorned in Argyle What preppy wouldn’t love an argyle tree? Well don’t worry, it is not as difficult as you might think. Solid colored ornaments are so easy and inexpensive to find these days in all colors and sizes that you should have no trouble locating them (for instance last weekend I was at Michaels and saw boxes of 9 ornaments on sale for only $3.99!). Pick up a few paint pens in various colors and sit down to prep out your ornaments.

Now, just remember that any of the above ideas can also be mixed and matched to give you whatever look you want for your tree. For instance, why not combine the argyle ornaments with some preppy pretty grosgrain bows? I’ll try to pop on a little later with some additional paper snowflake resources and argyle pattern examples for you but I'm afraid I'm in a bit of a rish this morning. You see, as I type this the mini monograms are starting to un-decorate our tree and play with the ornaments and let me just tell you I have no intention of re-decorating that thing again. And now I hear a CRASH so that’s my cue to sign off. Have a great day and have fun decorating those trees. Here's hoping yours doesn't find itself doing the horizontal tango with your floor like my first tree did too!


Anonymous said...

MM, I've been chuckling for five whole minutes at the story of your first Christmas tree!

Lisagh said...

MM, I like the idea of a nautical tree. As you know, right now I have to come up with something a little more robust than the glass balls thing I have going on. Thanks for thinking of me! xoL

emma's pulse said...

I don't iron either! (handshake) Your first tree story is a riot...my daddy used to always tie our Christmas tree to the window with fishing line. That brought it back to me.

Your tree ideas are so creative..honestly..you should be making us pay you to read your ideas.

Monogram Momma said...

Lisagh, I was very troubled by the Merry masacre over at the Grosgrain Garage. It's too bad you can't drape a rope of garlic to keep the little guilty party away from the tree. Or some sort of invisible force field. Hmmm. This is definitely something to think about....

Emma you are too sweet and so are you Spymum! ANd I wish we'd thought of fishing line. We used this bright white rope that was SO OBVIUOS the minute you saw it, it was horrible!

thepreppyprincess said...

I love the Adventures in Christmas tree stories. It would make a fun book with pictures!

suburban prep said...

DH didn't want to get a tree for our first Christmas. Since our wedding date is the same as yours, I can relate to a lot of your story. We got back from our honeymoon and DH went straight back to work. I stayed home a few Extra days because like you We hadn't lived together either. I also wanted to get a handle on our thankyou notes. I did most of them but DH did write those I asked him to because I didn't know the people.
We did get our tree but only after I stated that since we didn't have the cat that he had had for 10 yrs that it would be ok. I knw also that I wanted a cast iron tree stand--only place to find it at Restoration Hardware smack dab in the middle of the largest mall around us. I didn't carry it but he claims he almost got a hernia from the way he had to carry it to the car.
Now 8 yrs later, we have gotten a tree but once (I was in the hospital until 2 days before Christmas and had no energy for the work involved).
Thanks for all your tips.

Melissa said...

That story at the beginning of this post was hysterical -- we also have that "wife does not iron" memo in my household.

Mrs. P said...

Since this is our first Christmas as marrieds it is all about compromise! My dreams of a perfectly decorated tree is no in the cards this year. My husband really wanted colored lights and I said fine, as long as I could have some pink and green ornaments. Well since we are starting out with only 2 special ornaments, the rest is all colored balls. It ended up quite cute and now we have a polka dot theme! I am making our tree skirt and stockings in cute pink, green and red fabric! He did promise me next year that we could get 2 trees, one can be my project and the main tree can be all our mixed special ornaments!

KK said...

I'm a day late, but had to post that our first Christmas as newlyweds was pretty comical too. I told my husband that in my house growing up we had two trees - one with colored lights/ childhood ornaments and one with white lights/fancy ornaments. Since we lived in an apartment our first year, I said we would just go ahead and have the fancy tree. He was SO mad. He didn't understand blah blah blah. Now we have two trees and we are both happy. And for the record - I do all the decorating. He helps me get the tree in the stand and that is it!

Monogram Momma said...

First of all, This post is dedicated to Mrs. P since I told her I would do a newlywed tree post for her. Here 'ya go.

Second, THANK YOU to everyone else out there who says they have a no iron clause in their marital contract!

And third, there really is nothing like that first tree as newlyweds, is there girls?!

Mrs. P said...

Oh Thanks! It really is weird to have all these firsts after dating for 8 years before we got married! ;)

RED said...

MM - you are amazing. I get such a kick out of all of your suggestions/guidance and stories! This post was so much fun to read - what fantastic ideas!! Cheers to you MM!

Anonymous said...

very cute ideas...i wish i saw this before christmas, but i myself always do the very traditional tree with lots of christopher radko ornaments and strings of cranberries. as for the ironing dont you send all of youre hubbies shirts to the dry cleaner? if not i strongly suggest you start it makes a worls of difference, i dont think i have ever ironed one of his shirts i just drop off and pick up at the cleaners, and then they sit in the closet hung in plastic to keep them crisp! Happy Holidays, Tatiana