Friday, December 24, 2021

My 2021 Christmas Decorations & A Tree-Side Chat

It's here, y'all. We made it. Christmas is tomorrow, and tomorrow night we finally get to relax. At least a little. At least in comparison to the last few weeks.

No more stressing over gifts or parties, no more crowded grocery stores and post offices. After this we get a few moments to soak in the quiet after a long hectic sprint to the finish line.


John and I didn't host a party again this year; instead we focused on going more places and doing more things with friends. We also took on a last-minute construction project for charity, which pushed us to our physical limits. Despite the exhaustion and stress, though, those late nights of work beside their free medical clinic helped me find my "Christmas spirit" more than anything else this season.

All that said we decorated late this year, but I thought I'd take a minute to show you some of the pretties!

We brought our phoenix topper out of storage, and only hung the gradient ornaments, for a simpler look.

We put Fawkes in the back room for the first time, where he just clears the ceiling. This room is where John and I hang out the most at night, so I get to look at this one the most. The twinkle lights are forever magical to me:

Our front room is the cheeriest part of the house, though:

Love those pops of red!

John added garland to the top of the wardrobe:

And my two witch hats both have poinsettia spriggies:

The table top tree has been a work in progress:

A reader named Martha Jane made me a whole set of embroidered Stay Puft ornaments - to go with my double-sided DIY ones - so I decided to take the Stay Puft theme and run with it.

Then another reader sent me that jar of Stay Puft fluff! (Thank you again, Lana!)
The "knitted" Stay Puft figure is from Amazon.

The rest of the ornaments are all from my collection. (My philosophy is anything can be an ornament if you try hard enough.) I added every figure that was small/light enough to fit on the tree, then put some of the heavier ones underneath.

A reader on FoE has her Stay Puft topper just like this, so I blatantly copied her. :p

Last addition was this P.K.E. meter ornament John and I DIY'd:

It has sound and moving lights on the screen, plus the "wings" pop out! You can get the mini replica on Amazon, then to turn it into an ornament we used UV resin to glue on a metal O-ring.

 Did you know they make battery string lights with timers now?? Best. Things. Ever.

This little table display really came together with the lights. The only other new additions are my 2 Dollar Tree DIYs: the gingerbread house and little ornament beside it.

I made the tree ornament from a DT wineglass and fake snow. I never could decide if I liked it enough to make more. Maybe one to revisit next year?

Over in the dining room, I gave this mini tree a little refresh:

In the background you can see our "Room of Requirement," aka, the guest bathroom.

A few pretties in there.

Plus this guy, of course:


John did the majority of the decorating himself this year, while I was frantically catching up on work. So if things look especially familiar, it's because John was copying old blog photos to set up.

Smart, right?

I added my Deathly Hallows wreath over this mirror. It's cluttered, but I like the rustic look:

Let's see, last new thing is my front door wreath, which I cobbled together from old sprigs and a beat-up owl topper from years past:

I took every sprig I had with silver in it - which was only 4 -  and hot-glued them to an old wreath form. In fact this is the glitter stick wreath from our Labyrinth wall, because I never throw out crafting material. :D

The sprigs don't match at all, but once I added some new ribbon and lights, it all came together:

This is another battery light strand with the built-in timer, so our wreath turns on automatically each night. Such a little thing, but it makes me BIG happy.

There's more, of course, but I think I hit most of the highlights. Please remember these ARE highlights, not my Actual Real Life. Every room I *didn't* show you is cluttered high with various projects or just Life, Accumulated. Not only do I not have it all together, I'm not even sure what "It All" is, much less where the instruction manual went.

Yesterday was a low day for me, for no serious reason. Just little sad things piling on top of each other, with too much busy and too little rest, too much self-doubt on top of too many self-expectations. (Is that a phrase? I'm not word-smithing well tonight.)

I let myself feel the feels for a bit, then I wrote myself a note. A note I share with all of you on Facebook. Because here's a secret: every time I write something encouraging online, I'm writing it for both of us.

This afternoon John and I delivered gifts to the neighbors for the first time in way over a decade. It was amazing. I don't know why I let my inner hermit talk me out of this each year. One family was dancing to loud Christmas music in the kitchen, another had their geat-grandkids and extended family all round. One was alone, and a bit sad. A few didn't know much English, but their smiles said it all.

As lovely as it was, what stung was realizing I've never met all our neighbors before. John has. John knows everyone. But I've become the recluse, hiding indoors and hissing at the doorbell. One sweet old lady at the end of the street - someone I used to play dominoes with 18 years ago - beamed at me and asked if we were new in the neighborhood. She has a touch of dementia, but still. I needed that pinch, that little stab, to remind me to love my neighbor.

What I'm saying is, sometimes the best way to find the light, is to bring it to others.

 Wishing you all the light and love this week, my friend. And to whoever needs to hear this:

It's not too late.

Love y'all, so much. I may take an extra few days off, so don't be alarmed if I go a bit quiet over here. I have some long couch naps and maybe a video game or two calling my name. (Aw yeah.) Merry Christmas, happy weekend, and sweet sleeps to you all.


  1. sometimes the best way to find the light, is to bring it to others
    Words we can all take to heart, I think. Merry Christmas Jen and John (and kitties)!

  2. Thank you for sharing. We are moving out of state, so obviously haven’t decorated. Looking at your stuff made me feel a bit better. Love to all and wishes that this coming year is gentler to everyone.

  3. You two have some of the most loving hearts I know. Thanks for sharing yourselves with us and so many more! And your decor is so beautiful. Thanks for reminding us that not every inch of your house looks that way - decorating is not a talent I possess, and even if it was my six year old pretty much takes charge of decorating anyway. I just try to remind myself that it's really about the magic for him - it doesn't need to look perfect for absolutely anyone else.

  4. Thank you. You're making my Christmas Eve, and beyond.

  5. My life is somehow incomplete now that I've seen the Monster Tree and I realize I don't have a Monster Tree. Time to get crafty, methinks! Merry Christmas to you and John.

  6. Merry Christmas! Keep shining and sharing your light and may that light come back to you.

  7. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Just keep being you, Jen. Love your honesty.

  8. Self-expectations is totally a word. Though in our family we call it "should-ing" all over yourself. When you say, "Oh, I should go work out instead of reading a book..." or "I should make dinner from scratch instead of ordering take-out." My hubby is really good about reminding me to not should myself. <3 I hope you both have a wonderful holiday season, with lots of rest, and know that there are so many people out here whose lives are better because of *you.* We love you Jen and John, so please take care, and remind each other every day how wonderful you are.

  9. LOVE the Fawkes tree this year! I loved the pic you posted the other day (as well as words I really needed to read) with just the lights, but the ornament scheme is very cool (hot? because, y'know, fire? LOL Yeah, I'm a dork.) Merry Xmas to you and Joh.

  10. that phoenix topper looks amazing with the ombre tree decorations. Simple but beautiful.

  11. Happy Holidays, Jen and John! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Merry Christmas, and thanks for sharing your light with us!

  13. Don't worry about taking your time! I definitely know how the holidays can take it out of you; my kids are living examples of that!


Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>