Our Christmas Tree Tradition & Some Stained Glass Paper Chains

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Christmas Tree TraditionsEvery year, we head to our favorite Christmas tree farm on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We stop at a bakery on the way for coffee, something to eat, and hot chocolate for the kids.

We couldn't stop this tradition if we tried (the hot chocolate stop is as important as the tree).

The farm itself is about an hour's drive north of Asheville, nestled in the mountains, and owned by a sturdy talker in a red flannel shirt and jeans. No gloves… Even the year we brought our tree back during a snowstorm. Each year he comments on how much the kids have grown.

This was our weekend, true to tradition, with a few tweaks, the company of friends, and some new decorations for our tree.

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Saturday once again found us wandering among the trees racing after the kids from tree to tree to determine their worthiness to grace our living room and our Christmas. Maia wanted the tallest possible one that would fit into our modest home. Harry and I wanted a good shape. (Daphne enjoyed the adventure and was attracted to the baby trees her size.)

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We ended up choosing a tree that just scraped the ceiling. Maia tied the orange ribbon on it, marking it as ours.


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Then the girls watched as the men with the chainsaw cut it down for us, carried it to their special baler, and tied it to the top of the car.

Our friends, who joined us for the excursion, did the same.

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Once home, we wrangled our new tree into place, talked it into standing straight, wound white lights around and around, and draped it with the colorful paper chains we've been making.

This one is from an animal chain kit, printed with Melissa Sweet designs, that I bought from Stubby Pencil Studio. 

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I'm not usually one for a kit, feeling like I have more than enough in the way of art supplies and creativity to tackle most ideas and projects, but we all fell in love with this one. It is gorgeous! And definitely worth the ten bucks.

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Here Maia and her friend Stella are proudly showing off the completed chain, stretching it from the dining room through the living room.

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We also added a stained glass "paper" chain—an idea from my winter crafts eBook.

Stained Glass Paper Chain -- Easy to Make and Beautiful on the Christmas Tree!

It's made with contact paper and colored tissue paper, like many children's suncatcher projects, and then cut into strips that are taped together into a chain. Really easy. It's also my favorite. We have another hanging in the window.

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And, finally, another suncatcher-type paper chain from my eBook, made with the same translucent colored index dividers that we've used for stained glass and suncatcher projects.

I love how the Christmas lights shine through both of the stained glass versions!

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By the end of the weekend, the girls started decorating the tree, mostly with salt dough ornaments. Some from years past and some from recent crafting while putting together the Christmas chapter of the eBook. And I'm sure we'll add to the collection over the next few weeks…

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  1. says

    Lovely tree & crafts! We also did our annual “extended family” Christmas tree selection and then we always go out to Applebees afterward. It just started that one year (5 years ago), and we can’t break it, of course. Now there are 4 kids to chase around, and plenty of appetizers to share! :)
    Sarah M

  2. says

    We are going to use contact paper for our xmas crafts this year..thanks for the inspiration:)I will post about it on honeybuttergranola.com. Is it ok if I share your link? Thanks! Julie

  3. Dena says

    I love your tree, I have the husband who refuses to get a live tree, BOO HOO. And I won’t allow a plastic fake tree, so tinsel it is. Not to mention I am not sure where we are going to squeeze it in in our small house! Can’t wait to make chains and snowflakes this year…………I bought the x-large coffee filters from DSS and GEEZ, I had no idea that x-large meant absolutely huge!
    Buying your e-book this week, yey!

  4. says

    Yes, those x-large coffee filters are HUGE! How about save them for a different art project and buy some cheapie regular size coffee filters at the grocery store for snowflakes?
    P.S. In the past (when I was a kid), we had a big pinecone as a little tabletop tree one year and a cardboard cut-out tree attached to the wall as a tree another year.

  5. Jeanne Larson says

    hi,Jean, I absolutely LOVE your work–Would love to see more of your home-it is so inviting. Can’t wait to get to your winter book. Had a great time with your fall ideas.Your traditions sound a lot like mine,too. Jeanne

  6. says

    Just bought your e-book about winter, and I am thrilled! The kids and I really enjoyed looking through all the activities for the holiday season on the iPad, and we are totally inspired! Beautiful work!

  7. says

    I’m so excited to do the stained glass chains with my son. He made 5 ornaments this morning (he’s 2!) and is loving making all the decorations for the tree.
    I’m also excited about your new book coming out (The Artful Parent). I just read the review copy and plan to do a post on it in the spring along with a transformation of my basement space into an art studio based on your great ideas.
    Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  8. says

    What a fun family tradition! We are working on your stained glass chains with the kids to put around the house, after making our Advent Calendars. When I was little we cut down our own tree every year it was something me and my siblings really enjoyed and made many wonderful memories. Unfortunately we couldn’t continue that tradition after we have a kiddo allergic to trees but have made our own traditions using a fake tree which is mostly filled with homemade ornaments :) Hope you have a great weekend, I look forward to seeing your families decorations through the Christmas season!

  9. Nancy says

    We usually cut down our tree about two weeks before Christmas and we love going to a local tree farm that has horse drawn sleighs on the weekends. They take you around the fields of different types of trees and drop you off to pick out a tree, and then you flag them down again for the ride back when you are ready. They also serve free hot chocolate around a bonfire. The memories are worth the slightly higher prices.
    To Dena, if your DH is against real trees because he is against cutting down trees that are just used for a couple of weeks, tell him that trees are often grown in fields that are unsuitable to grow other crops, and they can be mulched and reused for months to come. If he is concerned about the fire hazard, get the tree closer to the holidays and make sure you have a tree stand that can hold a lot of water and keep it filled up.
    A couple of years ago I made lots of snow flakes using a thin parchment type of paper and then had them laminated to make them more durable.

  10. mfm says

    I love those paper chains, both yours and the animal ones. We just got our tree. I never had a real one until I got my own place and I love it! Now that my little one can help trim the tree (and remove it all, and re-trim it, again and again), it’s even better.

  11. says

    Hi! I’ve been following your blog for a while, not a big commenter though!
    I absolutely adore that picture of your little girl on the chair decorating the tree! Gorgeous, looks like a beautiful memory.