When one tree isn’t enough

Every ‘tree’ tells a story for two long-time editors at Indiana Connection

Posted on Nov 28 2021 in DIY

I read somewhere that once you have three of the same kind of item, you have a collection. That philosophy — plus my love of after-Christmas bargain-hunting (including deeply discounted artificial trees) — lead me to collect Christmas trees. Each year, my husband and I put up AT LEAST seven trees (sometimes more if I’m feeling particularly festive).

The trees are of various sizes, ranging from 6 feet tall to a diminutive 12 inches. One is a pink flocked tree, another a retro-looking metallic one. And not only are they diverse in their appearance — each is decorated following its own theme.

The theme trees were born when I started accumulating more and more ornaments that fell in their own unique categories: auto racing, cats, shoes, travel, angels, Santas, even desserts. Before I knew it, there were enough ornaments in these categories to fill their own trees. 

Through the years, new theme trees have emerged, and others are retired. They’ve reflected particular interests at particular times and showcase memories that are unearthed only when these keepsake ornaments are unpacked from their boxes once a year. When I lovingly hook an ornament on a tree branch, I’m creating a representation of who I am, what I like, and what I want to see in my home during the holidays.

EMILY SCHILLING is editor of Indiana Connection

Like Emily, my wife and I have multiple collections of things that get incorporated into Christmas decor. While we don’t set up “theme trees” per se, our main Christmas tree gets partitioned into little “neighborhoods” with groupings of family ornaments and things our kids made when they were little, ornaments from vacations, ornaments from my hometown, etc.

My wife has a collection of Santa Claus ornaments and figurines she displays near our tree. I collect all sorts of beavers — ornaments, figurines, stuffed toys, cartoons. Because I couldn’t escape the pronunciation of my last name (and the grief it sometimes brought), I embraced it.

The beavers are especially welcomed among the holiday decorations. They inhabit a large chunk of the ceramic Christmas village display on a shelf above the fireplace in our family room.

The first beaver to adorn my Christmas tree wasn’t an ornament at all, though. It was small stuffed toy named “Butterscotch Beaver,” a mid-1980s Dairy Queen collectible. Having few ornaments for my first full-sized tree once I moved out on my own after college, I looked around my apartment for stuff to add: a Mets baseball cap; a bendable Domino’s Noid toy that had come with a pizza delivery; the beaver toy. I nestled Butterscotch deep among the tree’s branches. He was a natural fit! And thus was the start of a holiday tradition I’ve carried on now for 35 years. 

RICHARD BIEVER is senior editor of Indiana Connection

Tree trim tips

  • Since theme trees reflect what you love, consider them works in progress. Additional ornaments are most probably going to be added to your trees so be prepared to switch tree sizes to fit your collection.
  • Consider coordinating your tree topper with the theme of your tree. An easy way to do that is by fashioning a “showy” bow with a ribbon decorated with a pattern that reflects your theme. (Example: a black and white checked ribbon for a race car theme tree.)
  • Not enough themed ornaments to properly fill out your tree? Add some clear plastic ornaments to the branches.
  • Make your tree extra-WOW-worthy by matching the vibe of the presents under the tree to the tree’s theme. Choose wrapping paper and ribbon that coordinate with the ornaments’ colors or theme. For instance, if your tree highlights old-fashioned Santas, find retro-looking wrapping paper featuring St. Nick.