You might expect Sunset editors to have ideas about holiday decor. And you’d be right. Here’s how we’re trimming our trees.

From Nearly Bare to Decked with Crafts, Here’s How We Like Our Christmas Trees
Photo by Thomas J. Story

Angels We Have Hidden on High

Tree with the Top Half Decorated

Jennifer Konerman

I’m a big fan of making new traditions. I used to love the tabletop silver-tinsel trees or the Charlie Brown trees with two lonely ornaments. When we moved into our current place, we started getting real trees (a new and fun idea for an artificial-for-lifer like myself). But when our dog became part of the household, that tree tradition had to change a bit, as we discovered that a shocking number of our ornaments were soft or plushy or all-around very attractive to a dog. So we slowly moved the ornaments upward, out of his reach, and now I just decorate the tree that way to begin with. So if you ever visit a friend’s house and only the top third of their tree is covered with ornaments, now you know why. –Jennifer Konerman, digital editor

It’s a Jungle in Here

Way before I was Sunset’s garden editor I decided to give my tree a botanical/forest theme. Over the years I’ve collected butterflies, birds, mushrooms, flowers, leaves, and other plant-y type decorations. I just love it. The tree looks very biophilic and calming, and since I only buy a few decorations a year, each one has meaning or holds a special memory for me. –Deanna Kizis, garden editor

Straw Stars

When it comes to Christmas decorations, I am on team “handmade” all the way. We collect ornaments when we travel, and love to receive them as gifts from friends. But most of the quirky, sentimental things we hang on our tree are handmade. Nearly every year (meaning, every year when there isn’t a global pandemic) we host a holiday party at our house with three essentials: A hot chocolate bar, a latke station for Hanukkah, and a craft project. We’ve made snow men out of socks, wood-slice ornaments decorated with chalkboard paint, tiny spice jar snow globes filled with glitter, and more. Now that my kids are in a post-craft phase of teenage life, I may be able to reel them back in with a next-level project. And I’m thinking these straw stars, which are popular in Sweden and Germany, might do the trick. If you’re into shortcuts (like me) you can buy pre-prepared craft straw, which will save you a few steps. And you CAN find a box filled with dozens of pre-made straw stars for roughly $25. But what’s the fun in that?–Christine Lennon, home & design editor

A Tradition in Flux

Tiny Christmas Tree

Nicole Clausing

I grew up with a very traditional tree every year. There would be lights, and ornaments, and tinsel if we were between cats, and always a star on top. Decorating the thing after getting it propped up in its stand was an all-afternoon event, devoted to lovingly unwrapping each stored ornament, reminiscing about its origin, placing it, and then making the tough decisions about which ones would make the cut in years when there were not enough branches for the volume of ornaments. I have fond memories of those maximalist trees, but my taste has changed a bit and so have the times. I’m not as comfortable with the idea of martyring a tree as I used to be, and COVID-19 has made holiday get-togethers harder. December 2020 was such a strange, muted time that Christmas as usual didn’t feel right at all. So I went tiny and understated. I got a decorative potted juniper from Trader Joe’s, barely a foot and a half tall. I was all set to let it go bare until I impulse-bought a delicate string of miniscule LED lights at a hardware store a few days before the holiday. And just like that, my minimalist mise en scène was complete. If I do it again this year, I’ll probably go a little more festive. I’ve got my eye on a set of elf-sized baubles to complement the lights. The year after that? Who knows, but for now, small is beautiful. –Nicole Clausing, digital producer and newsletter editor

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