Personal Post: Photo Tree 2012!

Right now I’m blogging in my pajamas with a big cup of coffee beside me.  There’s a fire in the fireplace and piles of blankets on my lap.  And a very sleepy puppy curled on top of my feet.  I’m thankful for fires and blankets and warm puppies…and the fact that it’s finally cool enough to use those things without breaking out into a sweat.  I LOVE our typical warm weather in South Carolina, but I have to admit, I do like it to be kind of cold at Christmas.  The day after?  Temps in the 70s are just fine, Thank you very much.

We’ve done a real tree for the past couple of years.  I hate the needles that it leaves on the floor, but overall I really do prefer our real tree over our fake one.  I have this Christmas fantasy of bundling up in coats and scarves and going to a tree farm where we can chop down our perfect tree, all Paul Bunyan-esque.  It never happens, but it remains on my Christmas bucket list.  Maybe one day.  Actually, we have some clients who have planted a Christmas tree farm!  It will be a couple more years before the first trees are ready, but I can assure you that I will let you know when it is!

Our trees always come from the discount lot at Lamb’s.  We’ve typically had success with this.  Not gonna lie, though, most of them this year were looking a little Charlie Brownish.

He is SUCH a GOOF.  I’m all serious, trying to make the pictures look like we are in fact at some gorgeous tree farm, and he’s all jumping out from behind trees and giving fake, overly excited about tree hunting goofy faces.  He lightens my mood and makes me laugh.  Well, when I’m trying to be serious and he keeps messing my perfect scenario up, maybe I want to punch him for a split second.  But then I realize that life is more fun doing it his way.

They are the products of the goof and try to mimic everything he does that gets a laugh. =)

Obviously the best part of the tree hunting experience is the candy canes you get at the end.  This is where Collin turns serious.  He’s a complete Grinch when it comes to candy canes, or really anything sticky for that matter.  And, by the way, when do kids develop the ability to eat said sticky candy without making a complete mess?  Maybe this skill comes at age nine?  Hmmm…

This is our fourth year doing a photo tree in the den and it’s one of my very favorite Christmas traditions.  People ask all the time how I do it and the simple answer is Collin.  Honestly I have no idea how he makes this happen, but if you have any knowledge of digital scrapbooking then I know you could figure it out.  Basically, I pick a digital paper that I want to use as my background.  This year I chose red as the color scheme and it’s my favorite yet.  I asked our friend and card designer Julie for some red paper samples and I fell in love with this one THAT SHE MADE.  She MADE this!!  Serious talent!!

So, I convert all of the photos that I want to use to black and white, and Collin puts this paper border around them.  I like round ornaments, which means that I have to cut them into circles when they arrive from the lab.  Collin also makes this easier by putting a thin black circle on the paper that I can use as a cutting guide.  Can you see it in this next picture?  I suppose you could also use some sort of round cutting tool for this part, but this is what works for me.

They aren’t perfect circles, but they’re close enough.

You could also maybe do squares??  That might be easier.  The point is to get the pictures as small as possible so you can fit a TON on the tree.  We typically end up with about 300 photos from that year.  They don’t all fit on the tree, but that’s usually as far as I can narrow it down.

Then you punch holes in the tops and tie a string through.  This year I had a helper with the hole punching.  Not gonna lie, a lot of our ornament holes are off center and all sorts of wacked up, but she had fun.  It was 80 degrees outside on this day but Baby Girl donned flannel Christmas pajamas because she wanted it to feel Christmassy.  She’s her momma’s child.

Finally all 300 ornaments were ready to be hung on the tree.  I usually request Christmas pajamas be worn for this event, but Makgill Smith looked at me like I was smoking crack when I asked him to go put his on.  It was HOT that night.  Felt like summertime.  So I relented on that one this year.  Popcorn and cookies for supper while Christmas carols play.  That I didn’t relent on.

I love the lights.  You will see them a lot in posts from here to Christmas.

Clara Beth is loving making everything “prettier” as she says.  We’re pretty much adding jewelry to every surface in the house.  What could be better to a six year old little girl??

Time to decorate!  They all love seeing which photos I chose for the tree, and I will never get tired of hearing “Oh, I remember this!  That’s when we…” as some forgotten memory comes back to them.  I. LOVE. PHOTOGRAPHY.  It helps me hold onto my memories.  I know that sounds cheesy, because it’s what we do, but for real.  I love it.  SO blessed to do this as a career.

Attempt at sweet sibling photo in front of the tree.  FAIL.

A little better.  Totally staged.  I should have taken the time to remove the baby gate turned dog gate that leads to the playroom.  You know, so Emme doesn’t eat the legos or Monopoly pieces or CRAYONS.  Crayons are the worst.

It was a fun night.  One that I’ll hold in my momma heart forever.

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