Do you have a favorite area you love to decorate for Christmas?
Is it the mantle where you hang your stockings? A special table just for your nativity? Maybe it’s the outside of your home with lights all aglow?
Perhaps, like me, it’s your Christmas tree.
Nothing delights me more (and causes those sentimental pangs in my heart) than unwrapping each ornament one at a time—holding it in my hands and remembering.
I know the story of each and every one. I’ve even written notes about them so my kids know the stories for their families one day too. It is, without a doubt, the part of holiday decorating I treasure.
But this blog isn’t about that. WHAT?? All that build-up!
A Simple Shelf To Decorate For Christmas
For all the reasons I love decorating our Christmas tree, I have found another special spot that brings me so much joy.
And that’s the little story and tour of decorating for Christmas I want to share with you.
This holiday shelf (complete with an elf!) is a collection of some of my most prized holiday decorations.
It’s a shelf filled not just with figures and shapes, but memories, symbols of friendship, travel, and love.
It sits in our family room, where I see it every day. And when I look at it, I feel like I know what the Grinch must have felt when his heart grew three sizes that day.
It Starts With JOY
I have had this little elf of joy since 1979. It ranks in the top five of favorite Christmas decorations I own.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m very sentimental and the reason this piece of joy warms my heart so much is that it was a gift from my childhood best friend, Emily, who gave this to me when we were kids.
That childhood best friend continues to be my very best friend today.
We have known each other since we were 8 years old, and without giving too much away, let’s just say we’ve been buddies for decades. There’s such comfort in having a friend since childhood, isn’t there?
I met my husband, Doug, in 2000, right before Christmas.
It’s always hard to know what to get someone as a gift when you’re just getting to know each other. But Doug seemed to figure me out pretty quickly because I told him how much I loved to decorate for Christmas.
This sweet, sparkly snowman is the first gift he ever gave to me and I still have the same excitement of unpacking him 20 years later as I did the first time I unwrapped him.
For several years this little snowman was all by his lonesome. Then one year, Doug surprised me with a new piece, and then another.
I never expect to get a new piece, but I’m always so delighted when I do. You can see in the pictures below how my little Swarovski crystal holiday family has grown.
Last year, Mrs. Claus arrived! She is just so sweet.
I love having this collection because the pieces don’t take up a lot of space and I’ll always be able to find a place for them.
I know they’re meaningful to the kids too, as they usually help Doug pick out which piece to give to me.
Santas From Around The World
My mom started my Santa collection.
She started with a variety of Christmas ornaments and Santa grew into a favorite “theme” for me when I started living on my own and wanted to decorate for Christmas.
I found this artisan-crafted and hand-painted Santa when I was traveling in Germany with QVC in 1996.
When I wandered into a little shop in Wiesbaden, I fell in love when I saw him in the shoppe’s case.
I was afraid it might be too expensive… but I was happy to learn it was within budget and I loved the idea of something so special as my souvenir for the trip!
There used to be a wonderful shop called Waterloo Gardens near my home in Pennsylvania.
Not only did they carry marvelous plants and flowers, but their gift shop and Christmas collections were absolutely amazing as well.
It was there that I first fell in love with these hand-carved and hand-painted Santas that are made in Russia.
I’ve always been fascinated with intricate artwork and craftsmanship. I love and admire those details in fashion, jewelry, and home.
So I think it’s pretty obvious why I would fall in love with these works of art.
The one above was another surprise gift from Doug (he really does GET me!). The other, below, was given to me by a neighbor who knew how much I loved these Santas.
It was so thoughtful of her to think of me. Although she has now moved away, I remember her fondly every Christmas when I bring him out.
This year, Doug gave me this beautiful Santa and I was thrilled to add it to the collection.
He’s crafted with such precision and he’s also my favorite color… blue!
Oh Christmas Trees!
I’ve collected quite a little forest of Christmas trees that I like to mix in with these special Santa and crystal figurines.
This tall Waterford crystal tree was a gift from my friend, David Venable, who I worked with at QVC for over 25 years.
In our early days together as new hosts, we spent many of our holidays together and since we both love Christmas decorating so much, we often surprised each other with pretty decor pieces.
I have had this ceramic Christmas tree since 1991. The artist, Donna Swanson, was the subject of a feature story I covered when I was working in the news business.
The story was about her woodworking talents and the full-size carousel horses she carved, but I learned she created all kinds of things, including these ceramic trees.
Somewhere along the way, I lost the lightbulb insert, but I love the look of it on its own, so that’s how I’ve displayed it for the past few years.
This tree is a 2020 addition to my collection… in fact, we bought multiples of these this year. My son, Trevor, is a baseball player and there is a local company called Prowler that custom makes wood bats.
The owner also hosts a small holiday open house with items, like these, that he creates from the leftover wood from the bats.
As a baseball mom, I couldn’t resist having a forest of baseball bat trees! What a great way to celebrate a sport we love as a family while giving me something unique to use as I decorate for Christmas.
Treasures and Traditions
The floating shelf with all of these treasures is such a special place to decorate for Christmas. It is in the heart of our home… the family room.
I must glance at it a dozen times a day. I love seeing it because I think the items are so cute and happy and they make me smile.
But the real reason I smile is because of the stories behind each and every piece. They tell my story and are symbolic of the friends and family that I hold so dear. I suppose, in the spirit of the season, I should call this collection, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
It is, indeed.
From my holiday home to yours,
Be sure to check out my channel on YouTube for more decorating ideas for your home! Here’s a look at how I’m using neutrals to create a festive, coastal farmhouse vibe.