Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Best of Orlando's Festival of Trees 2018

It's my most wonderful post of the year, you guys: CHRISTMAS TREEEES! 

... And a few wreaths.

John and I are *both* sick now (and laughing to keep from crying, ha), but the fact that I'm still this stinkin' happy to sit down to edit photos and write I think shows I'm making proper life choices.

In case you're new here: every year I check out our local Festival of Trees, photograph my favorites, then report back with all the latest designer tree trends and my favorite ideas to steal. It's a hoot, promise.

So let's head in!

The lobby tree this year was a vision of fluffy white feathers and bright red cardinals:

Plus see all that extra greenery? Those lime greens look AMAZING with red and white, and that color combo turned out to be pretty popular this year. You'll see more in a bit.

We spotted one of my top favorites first thing:

LOOK AT THESE COLORS. They decorated a whole tree and mantel based on that fabulous wallpaper!

In the tree there's a mix of peacock feathers, pomegranates, oranges, and more lime green... greenery:

Obviously the orange and teal are my favorites, but that indigo blue really steals the show:

It practically glows. So, so pretty.

Over on the mantle there's this fantastic garland of dried autumn leaves and berries:

I would never think to use Fall leaves for Christmas like this. It's so good with all the citrus!

Moving on with a bad pun segue, 'cuz you guys, I've never felt this way before:

See the giant poinsettias and chain garland? ALL FELT!

There are paperboard buildings tucked inside, like that clock tower, that match the tree stand box. Once again that mix of greens is making me drool; if I'm healthy by Black Friday then I'll be looking for something similar at JoAnn's. (Craft stores are the ONLY places we shop on Black Friday. Because priorities.)

Our Festival has a whole room of gingerbread creations, but I am the WORST snob (for obvious reasons), so I'll only show you two:

I love this design, and that pastel pink.

And I am all about this marshmallow roof. All it needs are the Little Twin Stars up front for an extra Kawaii touch!

K, back to trees.

The rustic look is always in, and lots of great examples this year:

There's something about sparkly bronze and tin that looks amazing with dark green.

If you have cats, then you've gotta appreciate all these tree skirt alternatives, am I right? We actually tried a big metal tub like this for our 'Puff tree this year, but it was a little short, so we went with a big wooden crate instead. I like that it keeps the cats at arm's length, so they can't get right under the branches and be tempted to climb. (So far - knock on fake wood - they've shown no interest in tree climbing. Just a little tree batting and tree chewing. :D)

Great textures with the raffia and branches:

And cute owls. GOTTA HAVE CUTE OWLS.

This Victorian style ribbon overlay is so perfect I immediately pitied whoever had to install it:

I mean, that is mathematical precision, right there. Plus look how the tree itself is trimmed to fit EXACTLY inside the cone. They bent the longer branches under to "trim" them to size (I checked), which is smart: makes the ribbon install easier.

Obviously this is super labor intensive, but I do like the criss-crossing with bunches of ornaments at each point:

And that burgundy velvet! Dreamy.

Quick shout-out to the music sheet wrapping paper:

Someone on FOE showed us the badger print wrapping paper at Ikea this year, so that's our wrapping figured out.  Fingers crossed ours still has it when we get there!

We should really think of wreaths more as frames, gang:

 Pick a favorite item, decorate a wreath around it, and BAM. Prettiness.

This next tree's kinda weird... but we like weird here, right?
I think I'd've jazzed up the ornaments with some white, maybe added some ribbon? But overall the red and black is SUPER dramatic.

Jack and Sally are dressed in steampunk outfits - which again, is kinda odd, since there isn't a steampunk vibe to the tree:

On top is a round cage of lights with Zero inside:

Here's the great thing about taking chances with design: it makes people think outside the box. So even though I'm head tilting at this a bit, I'm also wondering how I could use cage lights as a topper, or how I'd make a red-and-black tree look more steampunk. (Ohhh, wouldn't THAT be lovely?)

Here comes another unusual topper:

I think it works? The fact that it's a four-pointed star is throwing me off.

I love this tree, though, because of all the drippy branches out the sides:


Someday when I do a Labyrinth tree (which I've been planning in my head for at least 10 years) I'll use white branches like this with crystals hanging on them. MMMMMMMM.

("Sorry, John: gotta put the Potter party on hold while I go make a Labyrinth tree. IT MUST BE DONE.")

Ahem. One more for prettiness:

Back to a traditional red-and-green for one of my favorite design finds:

I had to stare for a few minutes to spot the best part, since this tree is super busy. Do you see what I see?

Let's zoom in on the middle section:

Still hard to pick out among all the ornaments, but what they've done here is so clever: See Santa and his sleigh, being pulled by the reindeer? That entire section of tree has been flattened out to make a shelf, paved with sparkly ribbon!

It's the same idea as having a train in the middle of the tree (like our own Hogwarts Express), only you could put anything in there: toys, figures, etc.

Here's another tree that used a nativity scene:

This looks a bit precarious, though; I'd have flattened out more of a shelf for it. I like the ribbon around it like a curtain, though.
I'm really smitten with this idea of using a tree as a display shelf - especially a shelf that wraps all the way around. I've only seen that done before for displaying Christmas Village houses, but now I'm looking around for other things we can shove in our trees, ha.

And BONUS (yes I *am* still going on about this), that's less ornaments to buy! I get so tired of throwing money at boring glass ornaments every time we change our tree themes, but if I can use my everyday decorations like lanterns or figures or boxes or whatnot, then it's more interesting AND saves money.

 K, I'm done raving about this. Onward!

This was the most adorable tree of the festival - and the cute is in the details:


See the driftwood sticks? They're all strung together to form a rustic kind of garland - fascinating.

Of course the best part is all the tiny pine cone hedgehogs on the burlap ribbon:

SO CUTE. And smart to put them on the ribbon, so they don't get lost in the greenery.

Quick pit stop in the museum bathroom, because I need all of you with giant vanity mirrors to do this:

Dangling icicle lights and ornaments! Yes! It's so sparkly in person - makes me wish I had a big mirror to do this with. 

I think you guys will appreciate the shirt I'm wearing, too:

It's by Risa Rodil. She's amazing. Go throw money at her.

Here comes another mini room setup dripping with details:

Remember what I said about putting lanterns in a tree?


Lots of bare branches and birds:

And again with that lime green and bronze color combo, which is so cheerful and cozy.

Hidden underneath was this prettiness:

It's the same idea as my rose gift box, only with lots more petals.

A closer look at the fabulous mantle garland:

I especially like how the birds are situated, so they're sitting UP on the sides, like they just perched there.
(How long did it take YOU to find the bird? It's like "Where's Waldo" in this thing...)

OK, tree fans, I'm roughly half way through my favorite finds, so let's end here with a wreath selfie:

Helloooo! Aw, look at me and John, all fresh-faced and not hacking up lungs and stuff. Those were the days. Really hoping we're at least not contagious by Thanksgiving, so we can see our loved ones.

Right, stay tuned for part 2, which includes John's favorite tree of the festival, a sweet butterfly design, clever fabric-scrap garland, and lots more!

Plus eventually I'll show you the craziness we've constructed in our dining room for the Potter party. Oh yeah. This is a big one - bigger even than the ceiling-high stone fireplace - and I think you're gonna liiiiike it! [eyebrow waggle]


  1. PREEEEEEETTY! (I'm referring to the TWO mirror-selfies in this post, but the trees are nice, too, heh!) So glad you go to this every year. I love seeing your photos!

    Under the Jack and Sally tree, you said, "head-tiling," but I think you meant "head-tilting" unless you've invented a new kind of DIY. Not that I'd doubt that.

    Feel better soon, guys!


  2. Just a quick dash though the photos, but I'll be back again later to savor the goodiness!

  3. THANK YOU FOR THIS!! I love this so much and am so envious in the best way. I wish there was something similar here in NM for us crafty decorating fiends, seeing your pics soothes that ache. xoxo

  4. I'm pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to tree decorating, which means everything has to be old and bring up memories and just a hodgepodge of years. The most I do is all red ornaments with white lights, or all blue lights instead of all colors. I love the blue lights! BUT I love the first big mirror you're taking a picture of because I thought it was an opening between a kitchen and a den, just like we have in our new house and it's given me all kinds of ideas for decortating that area!
    We also have a large plant shelf above our living room and I'm looking for ways to decorate that.

  5. The paperboard buildings made me think about making Harry Potter world-style buildings (ala Hogsmead, Diagon Alley, etc.) for a Harry Potter tree! Off to google to see what's out there!


  6. Sigh. I remember decorated trees. Youngest cat is a year and a half now so I'm hoping for maybe a dozen unbreakable ornaments. Last Christmas season he spent throwing himself at the tree and using the strings of lights to slow his descent. Still a few years away from the return of the crystal ornaments.

  7. I love these, although I can't imagine doing all that for my house tree. I have a theme, but not nearly so much 'stuff'. These are gorgeous though!
    My mom has a 3 ft by 5 foot mantel mirror and she decorates it in a different theme every year. I will have to show her the bathroom one because I don't know that she's done one like that

  8. Craft stores are ARE the best places to go after Thanksgiving! Happy shopping and crafting!

  9. I love your comments about the shelf in the tree, and putting different things in there. I'm currently eyeing the curio cabinet I inherited from my mom. It used to hold things like Waterford crystal, and porcelain bluebirds. Now it's stuffed full of Funko Pops and Loot Crate ephemera. I'm thinking Firefly Pops or Little Damn Heros figurines, with my Yatzee Serenity reworked with lights to be a topper. Maybe some Chinese lantern ornaments to go with? Hmmmm

  10. Hope you are feeling better soon! I'm sick too... trying to make pies with a foggy head is not good.
    But pies are done and now I am curling up with tea, sneezing on my computer and ready to look at trees!!!!

  11. I LOOOVE the "shiny" T-shirt; went to her website but couldn't find it. Sent her an email, but can you help? I'm Lynn, email ltitle2003 at yahoo dot com -- I sent you irises a couple years ago...

  12. Ok, that peacock wallpaper! I need that. Then I need to figure out where to put that.

  13. Definitely hope you find that Ikea paper! I went nuts and bought all of the Ikea wrapping paper this year. It is crazy/awesome! Christmas badgers! Piranha plants! Mushrooms with teeth! I love it all.

  14. Thank you so much for the inspiration! I was feeling like my small stock of thriftshopped Christmas decorations was pretty sad this year, but then I chopped up all my old wreaths, grabbed the succulents from the summer box, and chopped up the most hideous magnolia-like green thing that's been wandering from vase to vase, and stuck it all on my tree. Some old candle holder "wreaths" with berries got unwound and tied up with some spare stripy ribbon for a topper, and it looks so full and beautiful and fun! I didn't spend a penny, and the fake magnolia plant will never haunt my vases again!

  15. I never do themed trees because I can't stand leaving off any of my cool ornaments, but I love seeing other people's. :)

  16. Jen, please accept my annual thank-you for this post! I look forward to it every year and it makes me feel a bit as if I were there. So much prettiness!! My eyes would be goggling around in spirals if I had all that to look at!


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