Monday, December 30, 2013

Ornament Swags: A Tutorial

The last few years,
we seem to get asked a lot of questions about our Christmas tree
and how we are able to create such a "full" look.
This tutorial is to show the step-by-step process we use to create ornament swags.
We start with a garland we use as a starter chain.
You can use any multitude of store bought garlands, but the longer and thicker, the better.
Our garland is about four feet long.
You will also need about 30 ornaments and small clear zip ties {ours are from Lowe's}
Start by zipping the very top of your garland right under the hook.
This is to make it strong enough to carry the weight of thirty ornaments.
Then, add another zip tie onto the first one to use as a "hanger" so you can work free handed
and allow the garland to hang. Hanging it while you work helps you to see the form. 

We like ornaments of different sizes and textures: glossy and matte work well paired together.
After Christmas sales usually have the smaller ornaments marked down upwards of 70% or more.
And most people pass over these small ones- but buy them up!
After they're swagged together, they make one big beautiful ornament!

Start at the top and zip a small sized ornament at the very top under your initial zip tie.
Thread the zip tie through the actual hook on the ornament.

Begin by adding additional ornaments on the opposite side of the garland.

You will see the zip ties going down the garland in a row.

Use wire cutters to snip the extra zip ties off after you have pulled them tight.

We like to spread our ornament selection out where we can see all we have to work with.

Alternate sizes and colors and work down both sides of the garland,
keeping the ornaments pulled tight and close!

Letting the garland free hang as you work really helps you to see the form
and helps you decide what color or pattern to use next.

When you pull the zip ties tight and keep the ornaments snug, they will pop out on the sides.

We clip the excess ties right at the clasp.

Keep at it until it begins to look nice and full.

Enlist helpers if you have them!
: )

We like to have our swag be over half way full before we call it quits.
your goal is to use mainly swags when you put your tree up
{if you're going for this "full" look}
and not have to spend three hours putting on single ornaments.
: )

And with only a few ornaments remaining, David calls it good!

This is the final product!
When you're done, simply snip the zip tie you used as the hanger,
but make sure not to snip the first one you used to add strength to your strand.
They are so easy and so beautiful.
Imagine nesting a full one on a mantle in a fresh bed of holly.
Or outside over top of a doorway.
The possibilities are endless.
: )

We first add deco mesh to our tree and then add our swags.
We have six of them.

To give you a bit of perspective, our tree is nine foot tall
and a single swag fills a good portion of it.
Now, imagine having five or six of them.
Tree decorating is quick and fast and clean up is easy!
Simply remove six swags and that's it!

Because our tree is large and our ceilings in this room are 20 feet tall,
these long full swags make a great impact in filling the space.
And again, you create them with the cheaper, smaller ornaments
 most people brush over at the after Christmas sales.
: )

We store all six of them in large clear tubs with tissue paper between each one.

And there you have it!
Some deco mesh, six swags, and a few large orbs..
and you're done!

Let me know if you give it a try next year!

Happy "after Christmas day ornament" sale shopping!
: )
{I'll add this post under the "Tutorials" tab at the top}
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas in Keystone

We hope you had a lovely Christmas with your loved ones.
We've been married 12 years and have never missed a Christmas in Arkansas,
but decided to stay home in Colorado this year with our little ones.
While we missed seeing everyone, we treated our kiddos to Christmas in Keystone.
Harbor went with us on a skiing trip when he was about two years old, but has no memory of it,
so it was really exciting to buy lift tickets and ride to the summit as a family.
The roads on the way into Breckenridge were really slick and icy.
It was seriously a winter wonderland.

Breckenridge is such a fun little mountain town!

But, Keystone is the place we love, second only to Wolf Creek.
: )

It was snowing really hard by the time we unloaded the Jeep.
We estimate that it must have snowed about eight inches once we were on the mountain.

A stranger didn't take this.
I did. And ran to my spot.
I totally carried the tripod and my big camera up the lifts.
Cause I'm a crazy mama.
: )

In line to buy our lift tickets, it was totally a white out situation.
Henry was on David's back and was such a trooper.
Not a peep!
And it was snowing like gang-busters, y'all!
SO fun!

We lucked out and got the whole gondola to ourselves.
I think people saw a baby covered in snow on a man's back and skipped our car.
: )
Which means I took about 300 pictures on the lift up.
We had a great time defrosting and watching people in Santa hats ski down the mountain.

At the summit, we treated the boys to lunch in the Summit House Restaurant
amid ski instructors and teen snowboarders.
We then trekked off into the trees for more tripod pictures.

The highlight for Harbor was the Keystone Ice Fort and Castle.
It has towers, slides, and an ice maze.
The best part is the ice throne for the king and queen!

Isn't it beautiful!
And such views from the top.

This was the maze that kids could take out of the ice castle.
David and Harbor took off, but I stayed behind with Henry.

The ice throne was a big hit!
It made me think of the movie, "Frozen!"
: )

Harbor and David climbed to the top and I took pictures from across the courtyard.

Heading down on the lift, Harbor snapped this picture of us.

We were all cold and tired at that point,
but it was Christmas Eve and couldn't help but feel so happy and festive.

Harbor enjoyed seeing the skiers far below us.
I started skiing at age three, so I know Harbor is probably ready for lessons.
He loves the cold as much as we do, which is a good sign.

We spent a few hours in the village.

Such a magical place for Christmas!

There were lots of trees and ice sculptures.

And bonfires!
: )

We even left the slopes in search of our cabin in Silverthorne and were able to find it pretty quickly!
Great memories spent there, many years ago with my parents, David, Harbor, and extended family.
{I blogged about our cabin back in 2010 when we stayed there last .. I'd link it, but I'm too busy catching up the laundry!}

Christmas at home was wonderful.
So thankful for a tiny baby, born in a manger, just for us.

Because of Jesus, all of our tomorrows are happy!
He was born and He still lives!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Merry Christmas, friends and family!
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