Your tree decorating quirks

We just finished decorating the tree, and here’s a quirk I became particularly aware of. I’m of the “put the same old stuff on the tree year afer year” school, and consequently, have a number iconic, nostalgic, historic and/or folkloric ornaments – a really beaten-up garland of blue and silver glass beads and pearls that is surely way older than me, a hand-painted egg ornament I bought for my mom and dad (both dead now) in Seattle in 1985, the funky “whirling satellite” ornaments my sister made me a few years ago, to name but a few!

So what I noticed is that, since things get packed away in no particular order, they emerge from the boxes in no particular order either. I’ll hang “lesser” ornaments in prime tree real estate, then pull out one of the important ones (you’d think I’d remember from year to year, wouldn’t you?) and end up shifting things around so the important ones can occupy those spaces. I’ll do this three or four times until all the important are in the best spaces.

What’s your quirk?

We always put the “best” ornaments in the prime spots and filled in the holes with the more boring ones. Mom still has the ornaments I made in second grade (am 20 now) and all those ones with pictures of me and my brother in the center when we were very young. And there always must be Snoopy ornaments on the tree, damnit. It’s a hodgepodge of ornaments but always looks beautiful to me.

I don’t even know if they will put up a tree this year, figuring my brother hasn’t lived at home for 5 years and because of work, I’ll only be home for about 58 hours to celebrate the holidays. Mom brought down a small one for my apartment, silver with white lights and ornaments in shades of blue/teal. Sounds tacky but is actually quite cute. I’m normally against “non tree-colored” trees.

I’m a “matcher.” Every year I have a theme color, and decorate everything accordingly. (This year it’s burgandy and gold.) Except for one item.

The year my husband and I got married, his best man gave us a Christmas ornament as a joke. It’s a white bulb which features the face of Michael Bolton. It has been prominently featured on our tree every year since. Makes me chuckle every time I see it.

We have followed the rule of “anything that goes on the tree is an ornament, and it stays” for, um, about three generations now. We have antique silver pickles, a Saint Nicolaus that predates the red suit, a fish necklace, 2 plush animals, and origami crab, a ballet slipper, and some of the first plastic ornaments commercially available, one of which now contains a foam troll I made at age 9.
We also like to hang ornaments in colonies of mice, birds, and other themes.

I don’t consider it a quirk exactly. My tree is full of nostalgia stuff too. Ornaments from my folks, ornaments that have been given to us as gifts, things we’ve collected over the years, ornaments from touristy places we’ve been. Its’ our history tree. Every tree has its’ own personality. This year it’s a pear-shaped frasier fir that’s beautiful and full.

Mine too, and I’m 28. I’m amazed that they’ve lasted so long, especially the one we call the “Christmas Vomit.” When I was in 1st grade we had a Christmas craft thing where you took the lid of a coffee can and filled it with Elmers glue. A piece of red yarn went in the top to make a loop, and the idea was to take your crayons and shave off small thin slivers to make a “stained glass” effect.

I wasn’t really up for destroying my crayons, so I just used the ones I almost never used anyway, which were periwinkle, pink, Metallic gold, forest green and brown. And I didn’t exactly “shave” them, I pretty much just whacked them into hunks and tossed them into the glue. The lasting effect is that it looks much like a puddle of vomit if someone had been eating Crayolas.

I don’t do matchy-matchy trees. I’ve never understood, especially when you have kids - our trees growing up were covered in ornaments my brother and I had made, and my mom allowed us to choose one ornament to buy every year. So our tree was always a mish-mosh of different styles.

We’re doing the same with our trees - we originally bought a bunch of cheapie ornaments when we were first married, and now we’ve been able to get rid of those and just use ornaments that we’ve bought since, and some that our parents gave us. I love the look of our tree - everything has a meaning.

I also MUST put the topper on last. ElzaHub wanted to put it on first and then decorate around it, but to me, the tree topper is the piece de resistance…it goes on after the tree has been decorated.


I have no quirks, not in this area. As the kids get older, my jobs shrink. This year, I shall be paying for the tree, hauling it home, slicing a bit off the end, and putting it in the stand.

Everything else=their job. Even the lights, this year, as my older son’s 12. If all of the ornaments end up in one clumpy little spot, I do not care. If it’s nothing but lights, fine by me. As long as I don’t have to do it, I’m cool with it. My one request is to have them hang the fragile ones a little higher up since we have a cat now, but I’m really only going to enforce that on the family heirlooms–in fact, I may just not give that box to them. Maybe we’ll remember to water it. Maybe not.

It’s not quite as liberating as not putting a tree up at all (like last year, when we went on a cruise instead) but it is one of my favorite things about the kids growing up.

For me, it’s because I consider the tree to be more of a “decoration” than a family nostalgia item. We do have my husband’s childhood ornaments-- every year I wrap the bannister with greenery and we hang those ornaments from it.

Not really a quirk, but one of my favorite tree decorations is an insanely long gum-wrapper chain my wife made when young. How long is it? We coil it up like a piece of rope, and have never had a tree large enough to use as much of half of it - and we’ve had some mighty big ones.

I’d tend more towards the “Throw everything on till you can’t see any green” school of decorating. My wife prefers a “Pretty” tree. She clearly feels more strongly about this than I, so as long as she enjoys setting it up, she can do it however she wants. I think she deep-sixed most of the handmade stuff a while back. The majority of our ornaments are singletons, tho we have a couple of groups of 6 or so similar ones. I think we have way more stuff than can fit on any one tree, so my wife sorta hangs a small group of our fave ornaments every year, and rotates among the other stuff.

We hang 2 “pickle” ornaments for the kids to find.

We had a few strands of silver and gold beads that had been breaking. So instead of constantly mending them we cut them into 12-18" strands, and hang them over branches instead of tinsel.

As we are both lawyers, we amassed a number of graduation tassels between us. We used to hang them on the tree thinking it was just kinda funny and different, but stopped a while back.

Every other year or so we break out my old Lionel train and set it up around the tree.

I’m 26 and celebrate christmas at my parents’ home, so I don’t decorate my own tree. However I hate electric christmas tree lights. I can accept all kinds of decorations but there is no alternative to real candles.

I’m longing for the two tree years - right now its too much bother and I only started putting out the good ornaments last year when our youngest was six - one tree in the living room with all the good ornaments that will look quite elegant. The other tree in the family room with the nostaglia stuff.

Usually our tree is covered with ornaments my husband received while growing up, in addition to a few things we’ve picked up since we got married. This year, however, the Cats from Hell who like to destroy our tree have forced us to go a different route. So this year our tree is all in silver and white—snowflakes, bells, and silver and white ribbon I bought at the dollar store. That way when it gets ruined I won’t cry.
In the past, our tree has had a very special place for what we call the “special needs bear.” It’s this teddy bear ornament my husband got as a kid that looks like it has, well, special needs. It’s our favorite, and we’re probably going to hell for it, but whatever.

I hang a bud can on our tree every year, just because I think it’s funny.

Husband does this. With Old Style, though.

My Bud can was a can they made right before the (fake) millenium. It was like their “millenium edition”. We got married in '99 so it’s a little significant, but not much.

She hates it.

Our tree is topped with a Star of David because I went to a Jewish preschool and made it for Hanukah. It’s made of togue depressors with gold glitter on one side and multicolored glitter on the other.

I haven’t done a tree in decades, and even in my youth I didn’t revere traditions at all.

One year I “built” a tree by lashing together branches from a gum eucalyptus in my yard.
Look just like a pine in the photo, but close up had big round leaves. And after a week indoors the den smelled like Vick’s Vaporub.

Another year I got a couple of dozen plain purple octahedron ornaments and hung them all on one branch, with tinsel. The rest of the branches were bare. I thought my in-laws would pop a blood vessel when they saw it. The fluster and bluster lasted all the time they were visiting, but I was happy to let it stand, a monument to whimsy over ritual.

You kids in your 20’s with your ornaments made in second grade. Feh! I just e-mailed my mom to ask her to bring the flattened paper milk bottle cap I slopped with red and green paint and put glitter on in kindergarten 38 years ago. Yeah, you read that right - milk used to come in bottles, said bottles had paper caps and I was in kindergarten 38 years ago.

Otherwise, it’s a mish mosh - stuff I had, stuff my husband had, stuff we have together, stuff my kid has made, Rudolph stuff, Pooh stuff on a pre-lit artificial tree. Nothing good goes on the bottom because we have two dogs and three cats.

The kids do most of the tree, but I hang the “important” stuff. It all goes near the top of the tree. There’s also an ironclad rule about the tiny manger scene; it must be hung in the proper proximity to a yellow light, so that the light serves as the star.

As always, I am struck by the oddness of some of our “important” stuff, but it sounds like y’all stuff is weird too! I’d like to hear about it! Our most bizarre ornaments are probably the two rabbits…they are little styrofoam figures with googley eyes wearing shiny jackets. One is gold and one is silver. When my mom was young and poor, she rescued them out of a dumpster behind a dollar store. I tell ya, nothing feels more like Christmas to me than those two sartorially splendid bunnies.