Friday, December 3, 2021

Orlando's Festival of Trees 2021: My Favorite Designs & Free Wallpapers!

Merry Friday and happy December, my tinsel-coated Christmas bots! I'm a little late with my tree roundup this year, so thank you to everyone who commented or messaged asking for it - makes me feel like my 4 hours of photo editing are worthwhile, haha. (Oh, who am I kidding, I love photo editing - you know I'd do it anyway.)

This year's Festival was a mixed bag for me, since I had a hard time at the event for personal panic reasons. Turns out I was reacting badly to a new generic version of my thyroid meds, so it's all fixed now, but on this day I was anxious, jittery and weak. That combined with more crowds than I expected, plus the changes you're about to see to the exhibit itself, had me grumpy and on edge.

But! Today I get a do-over with all of you. I'm going to try to look at this year's lineup with fresh eyes, so if I say anything grumpy, just smack my hand. You know, virtually. ;)

::opens doors::

Shall we?

The foyer tree this year was smaller than usual, but stunning. It's dripping with crystal swags, glittery leaves, and a pale peach ribbon:

I've noticed that peach is popular this year, so if you like the softer look, I've got more pretties for you coming up.

The foyer tree was sitting on a giant mirror, so looking down was just as sparkly:


From here you walk down this short hall to enter the exhibit areas.

The walls were lined with bare lighted branches, and unfortunately, those lights were set to a high-strobe flashing I dubbed "migraine mode." Most of the Festival guests are senior citizens, y'all. Who made this call.

Hang on, I have to show you I'm not exaggerating. Scroll fast if you're light sensitive:


At the end of the hall is the main hub, with all the exhibits branching off like spokes on a wheel. This hub is usually the big "wow" moment, with some of the largest and most swoon-worthy trees arranged around the walls in a big circle.

Those were all gone this year. ::sob:: In place of the trees were various advertising displays for the Festival sponsors.

Womp WOMP.

I literally walked in and said, "Oh no! Where are all the trees?"

Hang on, there was ONE tree in there, and a quite pretty one:

I told you more pale peach was coming! The tree is actually mostly soft teal, with a few champagne peach accents:

I love it when the museum pairs matching art with their trees:

Right, time to go exploring! The entire layout was different this year, so we got turned around a few times, but never had to go too far to find more trees.

This vintage-style tinsel tree is one of my Top Favorites this year, but WOW is it hard to photograph:

All that shiny aluminum and glass mocks my camera, y'all. It MOCKS MY PAIN.

I tried to up my wallpaper game this year, so I'll be giving you lots of options. Feel free to download any of these to use on your phone or computer - just click them first to embiggen.

From light to dark with this Harry Potter tree:

The giant puffy bow is a little odd, but wow does this tree pack a magical punch. Love the lighted garland strands - which are white, not purple like they seem here - and the floating candles.

There was all sorts of Potter merch on and under the tree, plus they'd made little winged keys:

See the wand box tucked in there? (All these trees are for sale, so many come with non-decor items.)

Some sparkly neutrals:

Instead of color this tree focuses on texture. Check out the fuzzy poinsettias, they're my favorite:

Then the wreath behind it is a winter wonderland in a mixture of silver and gold, which is unusual:

I love blue and lime green together, they're so cheerful:

This next room was another questionable choice by the museum: they set up a cheerful bubblegum pink children's tree, which was awesome:

... but then all around the tree are varying degrees of disturbing art photos. I chose to angle this way so you get the kid drowning in milk and spooky hand, as opposed to the photo of a dead goat strung up on the wall to the left.


Me to the museum staff right now.

Sorry, I know, I'm being grumpy again. Here, let's look at the details on this amazing tree to make us feel better:

They decorated with classic children's books! Plus lots of bright colors and sweet little toys.

Speaking of bright colors, I always love a good rainbow tree:

I know Buffalo Check is still wildly popular with you crafters, so here's a pretty example:

I want to try tufting the ribbon like that on our trees this year, it really helps fill out a sparse tree. Plus see the big star sticking out the side? Oversized elements like that really elevate the design.

A rustic little owl theme:

Note to self: gather sticks outside for the trees this year.

This room had all the trees backed against windows, so we're going to skip the rest of my photos I couldn't save from the backlighting ::insert photographer grumbles here:: and move on to the prettiest tree of the Festival this year.

Seriously, I was in a fairly grinchy mood when we turned this corner, but this tree made my heart grow three sizes:

Gaspity gasp

 It's so beautiful.

Maybe it's the combo of all my favorite colors, or the way the inner lights glowed in this (very) dim room, or the gorgeous painting behind it, but for whatever reasons I was mesmerized by this tree.

Which brings me to this gallery: for the first time ever the Orlando Museum of Art has an European painting exhibit with works from the 1600s to1800s, so they chose to put the majority of their trees back here.

I have to admit, as much as I groused about the low lighting, the dark green walls and historical paintings made for an incredible backdrop:

Especially since, once again, the museum made an effort to match the trees to the paintings, or vice versa. Just look how those blues from the painting jump out on the tree ribbon. Wowza.

This tree was even decorated with mini oil paintings, and the vintage bubble lights gave a candle-like glow.

This tree is a tribute to healthcare workers, and they placed it in front of a painting of Jesus healing a child, I believe:

There were nutcrackers of doctors and nurses, and matching "hero" ornaments with the red cross.

Some sweet snowy goodness:

One of my favorite wallpaper photos is from this tree:

Mmm. Glowy.

Quick appreciation break for this baby's epic "Really, Doris?" face:

That's a lotta sass for the only one not wearing pants, kid. Just sayin'.

K, back to trees.

This tree was covered in all white butterflies:

And this one gave me Beetlejuice vibes, ha:

There were large bottle brush trees in the the lower branches, I've never seen that done before:

Another perfect pairing of painting and tree:

I like the lacy ribbon, fluffy snow, and blueberries together. Again, so many great textures!

This tree had the most delightful puffy bows and garland, I kind of wanted to poke them like the Pillsbury Dough Boy's belly:

Don't worry, I didn't poke the tree. Much.

Another good match: the painting shows people at a meal, and the tree features pink champagne bottles and glasses:

I like how they connected the bottles and glasses with that sparkly garland wire - it even has "bubbles" on it!

Pretty detail shot from a tree that didn't turn out:

I'm skipping quite a few trees, but don't worry, they'll all be in my Flickr gallery if you're curious.

This mini tree reminded me of Kevin from Up; it has a long skinny neck, and looks like an exotic bird:



Some classic red, white, and green:

I will say some of the ancient paintings were less Christmas-y than others, so I steered clear of angles that included ones of writhing nekkid people trying to kill each other.

True Story: Last Wednesday John and I were having a stressful day helping a friend move, and we rushed over to grab some dinner at a drive-through, which was taking forever. As we sat there stewing, a car alarm went off right beside us, just a loud HONK, HONK, HONK. On and on. For what seemed an eternity.

Suddenly I belted out - in time to the honking -

"It's the most
of the yeeeeear!"

Which is how we ended up laughing like loons in a McDonald's drive-through.



Another butterfly tree, this time in a lovely monarch orange:

It looks like a flock of butterflies flying around the tree! It does lose the tree shape a little, but dang it looks cool.

Time for a couple of my favorite wreaths:

This one reminded me of my Hobbit Door wreaths, so of course I had to include it.

I really like asymmetrical designs like this:

Having the wreath bare in a large section gives your eyes a visual resting spot, and really helps the swag stand out. Plus, as a crafter, I know those are easier and cheaper than filling the whole wreath. Smart.

Whoops, not a wreath, but another sweet pastel mini-tree:

This time peach and sea foam green. Wow, that brings me back to every model home in the late 80s. Anyone else?

Every Festival I'm reminded how awesome it looks to stick a giant figurine or plushie in the center of a wreath:

Like this!

Or add a piece of wall decor to the lower part of the wreath, and it acts like a frame:

So pretty.

I'm not including as many wreath photos since I'm cramming everything into a single post this year, but all 120+ of my Festival photos are over in my Flickr gallery now, if you'd like to see the rest.

For now I'll leave you where we started, back at the museum entry:

This smaller tree matches the big center one, but was easier to get in close for a few final wallpaper shots:

Awww yeeeeah.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit and complimentary eye candy! I also hope you're not too overwhelmed by the coming season just yet. I find myself alternating between wanting to do all the things and wanting to hide in a hole because I'm already behind on everything, oof.

This is the latest John and I've ever started decorating for the year, and I'm still not sure how much I want to do, but I keep reminding myself that's OK. I'd like to slow down and focus on doing things with and for the people I love this year, so if that means the house isn't perfect or all the Christmas crafts don't get done, or even if we don't get gifts for everyone we want to... ::deep breaths, Jen, deep breaths:: it's OK. It's OK.

That goes for you, too, by the way.

Also quick shout-out to everyone celebrating Hanukkah this week, because for the first time ever, we are, too! I'm exploring my long-neglected Jewish roots, and it's been wonderful singing the blessings each night with John over our little Amazon menorah. Those few minutes each night help remind me it's little moments like this I want to focus on.

Anyhoo, that's all, love y'all.

But wait, that's NOT all, because I have Squeegineer winners to announce! Plus this month I have an extra special prize option for y'all, from my personal collection:

Doktor A is one of my favorite artists, and I adore this piece, but I haven't displayed it in years. This beauty NEEDS to be displayed - year-round! - so I hope one of you will love it as much as I do. It's a large vinyl figure (just the robot driver is the size of my fist) a limited edition of 100, like new in box, and from what I can tell worth a little over $200. As always, I'd rather give my treasures to one of you than sell, though.

All that said, congrats, Nikki T., Elizabeth M., & Stefani K., you're my November winners! Please check your inboxes for a note from John, so you can choose your prizes.

And for the rest of you, remember you can get your entries in now for December!


  1. It's officially the Christmas Season! Jen has posted the Tree Festival Trees!!!
    Thank you Jen!!! This is my most favorite post every year, and that is saying a lot since I love all your posts.
    I haven't looked at most of the trees yet, but the strobe lights??? Whhhhyyyy?
    Ok, off to dive into Christmas tree heaven.

  2. Now I have to get butterflies to go with the birds on my tree! Love these posts a lot. Rather than migraines I have vestibular issues that are triggered by stuff like those lights. Public vomiting is a very effective tool for change ;)

  3. Thanks for posting these! Since I moved from central Florida to California I really miss the Festival of Trees. Plus this year we're spending Christmas in Florida so I don't have a tree of my own to take a wallpaper picture of. So thanks for the sparkly joy!

  4. Happy Hanukkah! I hope you get to enjoy some latkes!

  5. Wheeeeeeeee! I LOVE and ADORE the Christmas Tree post! THANK YOU!!! It's the perfect start for today as I continue to work on Christmasy things. I have the trees up, but I am way behind on the outside due to surprise baking tasks, which will be awesome once I get them accomplished, so again, THANKS! for the pretty motivation!

    I do not have strobe light issues, but just what the hang? It doesn't look festive it comes off more like a stark panicked warning of doom...kind of like those trees from Melania's White House. I think *twinkling* lights would have helped, but the twigs do not welcome, nor announce the abundance of pretty you're about to see.

    Without reading your commentary yet, when I saw the photos behind the kids' Pink Tree I was like "Well this curator likes horror films involving children." Mercy.

    I have a pin board dedicated strictly to pretty Christmas trees...Thanks for giving me a few/lot more to add in the mix!

    Big safe hugs and lots of support as you find your pace during all the hubbub -thanks for the reminder that the whole idea of the celebration is supposed to be about joy, peace, and giving as God gave to us all. Happy Chanukah! May we all find extra light and a rededication to the Holy Things in our lives! Merry Christmas! Hooray for the miracle of Redemption and Grace! And just Happy Happy to any any all -this is a great time to Celebrate just being here with each other no matter our beliefs. Love to all!


  6. Thank you for taking the time to post - these are such a visual treat!

    I agree with your thoughts on the strobe-crazy-bright-led-branches hallway of horror - what a missed opportunity for a soothing, magical, forest effect.

    While I agree that taking photos in low light is not ideal, I love seeing Christmas trees in a darkly lit room. Maybe it's from living in Canada, where the days are especially short at this time of year - the soft glow of a Christmas tree in a corner is so soothing.

  7. Oh Jen, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I've been so looking forward to this post. I love your comments as well! I must try to remember to go to your Flikr account. I wish I could comment on each tree and wreath, but I'm at work where they expect me to be doing mad things - like WORKING! The audacity of them! Thanks again. This post is one of the highlights of my December.

  8. I was reading and scrolling and got to the 'use a wreath to frame wall decor' bit, but hadn't scrolled the photo all the way onto my screen yet. I was thinking, "Well, yeah, I guess that info placard *is* more attractive in a wreath, but..." ^-^ Thanks for the pretties!

  9. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! :) :) :) Agreed on the spazzy-setting on the hall lights. The trees with the European paintings are AMAZING! I have some of the ribbon on the Beetlejuice tree, so I appreciate the preview. It's wrong for my tree, but I could do it on one of the 4' trees I have & be entertained/amused/have another tree. :) Thanks again, Jen!

  10. Oh, boy, can I relate to your feelings! I am half excited to get the decorations up and start baking, etc...and half totally stressed at all the things to do. I also feel super behind. Thanks for the reminder to focus on what's important - it really will all be OK.

    The pictures are stunning, as usual! I do love the trees that coordinate with the paintings in the background, it really gives them an extra oomph!

  11. Thank you for posting, and for your continual words of encouragement. Just wanted to say two things -- first, that tree you were mesmerized by is so incredibly luxuriously gorgeous! I don't know how they managed to make so many different colors look so lush and rich instead of mind-scrambling. Second, the white tree -- the one that still managed to look snowy despite the golden glow of its lights -- it reminds me of the picture book Wenceslas, by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Christian Birmingham. I always thought it was so lovely, I wanted to share. Thank you again for the lovely photos.

  12. Those were fun! I have a tinsel tree too, but my ornaments aren't as cohesive, So thank you for the wallpaper.
    And the butterfly tree too, just because

  13. Oh wow! Some of those trees are so bright they hurt my eyes. :) I'm with you on the favorite tree, but I do love that blue & white one, and the butterflies one is such a cool idea even if it doesn't say Christmas to me. That could look cool on a topiary during spring or something, though....

  14. I have also not decorated until quite late this season! I think it's just that kinda year. Pandemic Christmas #2, just being tired... It's okay.

    Sometimes if an event has made weird or stupid changes, or isn't as good as previous years, it's because someone new is in charge for whatever reason. Is there any way you can give feedback about it? (Especially the flashy lights, ugh!) The museum's Facebook page, or an email on the website? It's worth a try. And hopefully it will be better next year! I so enjoy your photos, thank you for posting them!

  15. That first sparkly neutral after the Potter tree is the most perfect Florida tree. It made me think of my grandparents' condo in New Smyrna.
    Also had to download that butterfly tree to share with my mom. Her mom loved butterflies, and now she thinks of her mom every time she sees them.


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