Friday, November 27, 2020

Orlando's Festival of Trees 2020: My Favorite Decorating Ideas To Steal!

::running in::



Ok, so that was rhetorical, since you probably read the post title. :p

 I was so happy our Festival of Trees is still happening this year, and even happier to see all their distancing & mask requirements, which meant John and I felt safe enough to go. It was definitely a bit smaller than usual, but don't worry; I still found plenty of goodies to show you.

In fact, as usual I took way too many photos to cram into one post, so let's start with some of my top trees. I'll post the rest - along with my top 10 wreaths and a few tablescapes - next time.

First up, a traditional style in non-traditional colors:

I'm getting serious Tangled vibes from all this purple, pink, and gold - it just needs a few lanterns and a hidden Pascal. :)

You may remember I'm mildly obsessed with tree toppers, and always looking for new trends. This year most of the trees stuck with floral sprigs up top, but I'm also a fan of these ball-like bows. Great proportion, and really finishes off the peak of the tree nicely.

Next, we're running away to the circus:

I'm a sucker for over-the-top themes, so don't expect many subtle trees on this list. This one has so many great ideas to steal, starting with the top hat topper and the extra large ornaments: see how they change sizes as you go up the tree? Mixing ornament sizes is a great way to give your tree that extra "oomph."

Quirky ornament ideas: bags of peanuts, giant wrapped lollipops, and little stuffed animals.

Oh! See that paper fan? I'm thinking about using some of those for one of our tree toppers this year, since you can get variety packs for less than $10 on Amazon. Big impact, low cost - plus it's something unexpected, a big plus in my book.

One last idea from this tree to steal, I really love this:

Those are actual tickets, glued together to form kind of a fan. This would be an amazing keepsake if you keep ticket stubs - or you could do something similar with playing cards, bookmarks, playbills... really any kind of small paper mementos. Just add something pretty like that button to tie them together.

Next tree. This topper is what first caught my eye, though it doesn't photograph great:

I like the hovering dove, and all the giant feathers cascading down the tree.

There was a mix of both real and glitter feathers, and I like the small pops of color with those red and dusky blue ornaments.

A few of the trees around the museum were designed to complement the art around them, which led to some especially magical photo ops. Of all the setups, this was easily my favorite:

It's like a candy store for your eyeballs! I couldn't fit all the feathery Truffula trees in frame; there was at least one more bright green one to the left. There's a pinata cake in back, and the feather ball just left of center is a giant ornament.

Reds never photograph well, but hopefully you can see all the sparkly, feathery details in the tree. (Though I have to admit the art behind it is the real star - so in love with that piece!)

Let's cool off our eyeballs with this swirling snowstorm of a tree:

I'm so glad the camera caught the blue glow inside this tree; it's like nothing I've ever seen before, and they did it with ruffled layers of clear plastic:

Whaaaaaat. I think there were blue LEDs inside near the base of the tree, which made the plastic glow. HOW COOL IS THAT.

If you watch my Stories on Instagram or Facebook you might remember I posted this just the other week as we were unwrapping our own trees:

It didn't occur to me to try lighting the plastic! So that's going on the "to experiment with" list. (And then we can add color-changing rainbow lights under the plastic. OHHHHHMIGOSH. Joooooohn!)

Getting back to the museum tree: as if the blue glow wasn't enough, then there's this pixie-dust trail winding up the outside:

I've never seen lights like these... and I have a mighty need. They look like a magical spell, like the tree is mid-transformation! Which is exactly the look John and I tried to achieve with our original Harry Potter tree, but we used glittery branches instead of lights. Now I'm imagining doing those branches again, only with these lights added. OooOOOoooh. Yep, yep, yep. Neeeed.

Another snowy number, with a cute snowman topper:

I love a good collection, so it's fun seeing all the different kinds of snowman ornaments, not just a tree full of the same 4 types. Although my favorite detail is the ribbon garland:

Those are simple strips of tulle, bunched and gathered. John thought it looked too messy, but I think it's cute and quirky - plus vertical ribbon is sooo much easier than horizontal swags.

K, now that your eyeballs have readjusted to "normal" trees, brace yourself for another one of my Top Three:


Y'all. Y'all.

I'm in love.
Not only is this visually stunning and instantly happy-making, it's easily the least expensive tree - by far - of the entire exhibit. The only decorations are these giant flowers made of poster board!

I'm not the only one who wants to DIY this, right? We just need a rainbow pack of poster board and some flower templates - although I bet those wouldn't be too hard to figure out just by looking at these pics. ::head tilt:: Hmmm... 

Oh, right, can't start crafting yet: we still have more trees to look at.

I'm calling this one the "Red Wine Waterfall":

Ok, so it's a LITTLE overloaded (ha) (I can't even tell what color tree is under there!), but let's look at the ideas to steal here:

Spriggy toppers are still going strong, and you can see how the teardrop icicles and "weeping willow" sprigs give it that waterfall/vertical effect.  I also like the mix of reds and burgundies: proof that your reds don't have to match!

Last tip: place large ornaments - like these violins - in your tree to give the eye a place to rest. See how your eye immediately goes to the violin, and everything else feels like visual noise at first? That shows this tree could have used a few more large pieces.

Here's another tree that feels overloaded, but I have to include it because it reminded me of something that made me laugh:

Does this remind you of anything?

Maybe it's just me, but...

Same energy.

(Why am I laughing so hard at this, omigosh. Maybe it's a short girl thing; I'm relating too hard to a Christmas tree over here.)

In practical decor tips, remember that the more oversized the things are around your tree, the shorter your tree could look. Also, tree topper cones look like unicorn horns. Discuss.

While we're at it, let's talk about how this paint can topper could be better.  I really like the idea, but the execution is a little... eh:

I bet if you added lights inside and cascading down with the ribbon, it'd be better. Oh, and what if each strand was a different COLOR of light? Or even just a rainbow of ribbons coming out? Aha, yep, there's another one I need to try.

Have you noticed all the "buffalo check" plaid this year? That and red pickup trucks seem to be the biggest 2020 Christmas trend, so here's a pretty way to use it in your tree, too:

Another pretty art/tree combo, mmm. This simple sprig topper is perfect, and see how the tree designer mixed the textures of the ribbons: sheer, plaid, and mesh? Those ribbons are the star of the show; without them the whole tree might feel too plain and boring.

I wouldn't normally think to use black ornaments on a green tree, but WOW are they pretty here. There's a mix of both matte and shiny, which make the whites and reds really pop.

A peek at the tree skirt, because I love little surprises tucked where you don't expect them.

Next, a classic ballerina tree - mostly because I like poofy tutu tree skirts:

I also like the dancer silhouettes cut from glitter paper; that's an easy Cricut craft waiting to happen.

More tulle for garland, too. Ahhh. So soft and dreamy.

I'll leave you for now with the room I've dubbed "The Blue Suede Blues":


Even up close, I can't tell if the tree topper is full of butterflies or not:

No, hang on, I don't think they are. But those floral sprigs really look like butterflies!

Aside from that gorgeous color blue, my favorite thing here is the beauty queen sash garland: the way it's tucked is so unusual, and just gorgeous.

Again, the coordinating art and decor makes me happy.

I love taking detail shots like these, so you can see all the sparkle and textures.

Stay tuned for my second half of Festival photos, 'bots and elves: I'll share the rest of my favorite trees plus all my favorite wreaths and tablescapes then. I think you're going to be very happy and very amused by some of the ones in my second batch (one word: FLAMINGOS), so be sure to check back!


P.S. Here's an example of the paper fans I mentioned from Amazon:

You get this whole 24 piece set for less than $10 Prime, or just search "paper fan party decor" for all KINDS of fun color combinations to choose from, like these:

These would make amazing tree toppers if you layer a few together, or just tuck them inside your branches for a big pop of color! Some even come in metallic finishes, for added shine.

Shopping through any of my Amazon links or the Epbot Amazon shop gives a little back to help support me and John, so thank you to everyone who's bookmarked the shop or clicked through my blog links! We love and appreciate you more than you know.

Which reminds me: have you entered our monthly Squeegineer give-away yet for November? The month's nearly up, so be sure to get those e-mail entries in.

Or, as always, if you've donated any amount to us via Paypal this month, then you're automatically entered. I have several more prize options to add to the boards this month, so keep an eye on those to see some of the weird stuff I've unearthed in my office closet lately. (I found a 5 pound bag of tiny plastic babies, totally adding it to the board. Can't wait to see what one of you does with THAT. :p)


  1. OK, so my husband and I made a whole flower wall of paper flowers - it's not hard at all! It is however, very time consuming. Templates are not hard to find, or you can easily create your own once you see what the basic process is.

    Each flower is usually made up of 3 or so different sized petals (depending on how tight or loose you want the flower to be). Cut a slit on one end, overlap the two sides of the slit, so the petal "cups", then hot glue. I do recommend having a good number of cheap clothes pins on hand to hold the overlapped/glued petals together while they dry (to save your fingers). We just made an assembly line, plus it's an easy craft to work on in front of the TV.

  2. Fabulous, Harry, I love the feathers!

    In all seriousness, I'd really love to have a fluffy, feathery tree. But so would the cats.

  3. I'll bet you could combine the paper fans with the poster board flowers...

  4. Trees schmees-- the zaftig Goth woman in the photo portrait *behind* the Ballerina Tree is killing me and then giving me LIFE! Whoever you are, know that you are WORKING every damn inch of it, Mama!

    Your Pal,

    Storm the Klingon

  5. Tbh, all American Christmas trees look really overloaded to my Finnish self. There are always so many decorations that you can barely see the tree. Our decorations tend to be a lot more understated. That being said, I really love the colours on a lot of these even if I wouldn't probably put them up in my house for Christmas.

    1. I am an American, and these trees look pretty overloaded to me too! I think most people have significantly less on their trees, and these are a better example of what I would call designer trees. I do like looking at them, but I definitely don't recreate them at home :)

  6. I'm so excited this wasn't cancelled and you and John got to experience some Christmas magic! I look forward to these round ups every year and have used them as inspiration for my own tree decorating. I am loving the tulle garlands and tree skirts I think I may have to investigate adding some to my winter themed tree! Thank you for sharing!!!!

  7. Jen,

    You need to visit another blog titled "Inspired By Charm." Michael decorates the best trees for Christmas.


    P.S. It was great to see you in Pittsburgh!

  8. I love that obnoxiously bright red tree with all the colors! & the paper tree for the same reason 😏 I have a silver tree that I put a LOT of colored LEDs on, but the lights are so bright that I end up with no ornaments, because you can't see them

  9. I always love your photography, Jen. And since I live on the other side of the country, I really appreciate you posting pics from this event each year. Maureen S.

  10. My son, glancing over as he walked by, thought the red and gold tree had just had spaghetti and meatballs dumped all over it. Before he said that, I thought it was elegant and lovely. Now, I can't see anything else.

  11. Squeee! So much to love! I was worried this would be canceled this year. Thanks for sharing! Love the topper on the last one. The wine colored one is my fave - I hate the color red but love musical instrument decorations and this tree looked great. My happy thought for the day is the little squirrel at the bottom of the buffalo plaid tree! The circus one was great, and I'm with you on loving trees that complement the nearby art!

  12. I'm going to have to scour all the crafting stores now for an iridescent 'plastic' paper so I can make some of those fans but that will shine in the lights like the plastic ribbon in that tree. So pretty!

  13. This makes me so happy! This post has become a holiday tradition and I thought it wasn't going to happen this year. Thank you again for sharing!

  14. I come here to learn. Today I learned I need a unicorn tree. Tree horn topper, color changing lights under clear plastic 'garland', 'magic spell' lights, unicorn 'ornaments', lots of glitter...

    -Just Andrea

  15. I have an unusual family.One brother worked on the red unit of Ringling Brothers traveling the country as their chef. Another worked for Bob Joffery of Joffery Ballet. Unfortunately, both brothers have passed on. I would have loved for them to have seen those trees. Oh I have more sibling, 9 in all.

  16. I don't like any of these trees but that's not the point. I did a little yayy! when I saw the headline because Jen's trip to the Festival of Trees is now part of MY Christmas tradition. I love her enthusiasm and although I wouldn't have any of these in my house, I can appreciate that someone loves them. Christmas would not be Christmas without this post, so I love it with all my heart.

  17. What do the cat in the hat and Michael Jackson and Bob Marley have in common? I am SO confused by that scene!

  18. When will you be posting the second half of Festival of Trees

  19. That first tree says "Advent Wreath" to me, or "Advent Tree" with the purple and pink color scheme :-)


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