Christmas in the family room & a paper manger

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Family Room, Holiday, My House42 Comments

I shared how our family room is looking these days a few posts ago and I thought I would share some of the details of my Christmas decorations.  As I’ve said repeatedly, I really keep things pretty simple when it comes to Christmas decorating.  It does still take a lot of time, but I have grown to love the look of fresh green garlands, wreaths and swags, and just adding a few key decorations to each room.

In the family room, I added some fresh greens to the top of the antique pie safe by the side door…


Again, I don’t do anything fancy, but simply tuck greenery where it fits and looks good, creating a sort of swag effect around the antique splint basket.


There is an antique tote on the sofa table behind the sectional that is usually filled with a few faux sage plants from Ikea.  I just tucked in some juniper and pinecones to make it look more Christmasy.  It’s hard to get a really great picture of it, but I love how it looks.


On the other side of the room is our big Christmas tree.  It is such a gorgeous one this year, although I must admit that I jumped the gun and got it a little too soon!  It’s already really dry and the branches are sagging a bit.  I have been watering it and I keep talking to it, encouraging it to hang on for twelve more days!  It’s not dropping a ton of needles or turning brown, so hopefully it will make it, but I need to learn this lesson for next year!

It reminded me of what my Oma used to do.  She didn’t want to wait to pick out a tree, because she wanted to get the “best”.  She would buy it early and then keep it in a bucket of water outside until she could bring it in to decorate.  Smart lady.

As it is, this tree will have to come down the day after Christmas, which is a little sad.  Few things beat the glow of Christmas tree lights at night.


The tree isn’t fully decorated in the picture above, but this is where I hung the little metal houses from Michaels.  We also hung ornaments we’ve been using for years…glass birds with feather tails, glass glittered ornaments I made, snowflakes, and my very favorite silver Wallace sleigh bells.   I’m not into “collectibles”, but I get one every year for Christmas and I have one for each of our birth years and a few from my Oma’s collection.


On the top of the corner hutch, I tucked more fresh greens and pinecones.  I opened the hutch doors and hung stockings I made from an old cutter quilt from small nails.  In the absence of a mantle (and an abundance of wall space), it’s always a challenge figuring out where to hang our family stockings.  This year, they just might be brought out on Christmas eve.

Inside the hutch, I put the paper nativity my youngest son, Calvin, and I made together.  It was the sweetest thing.  He apparently made one with a friend at school and there was a dispute about who would get to keep it, so they decided to give it to their teacher.  He wanted to make one with me to keep at our house, though.

If that doesn’t melt a mom’s heart…

So, he gave me directions of what he wanted me to draw and we figured out how to engineer a semi-stable structure out of paper and glue-stick.  He wanted to put it in front of the Christmas tree, but I was afraid it would get smashed, so I put it in the hutch.


I mean, this shepherd…


…and the baby Jesus in a manger?  I didn’t have any hay, which is what Calvin requested, but he resigned that moss would be okay.


It was one of those moments as a boy mom – between the wrestling, rough-housing, potty humor, and Lego battles – that I got to glimpse the sweet little men my boys are becoming.

I’ll just soak that in until the next time I get mooned or a ball goes hurling across my living room…

Christmas in the family room & a paper manger

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42 Comments on “Christmas in the family room & a paper manger”

  1. THAT SHEPHERD! He’s so happy! And moss works, baby Jesus looks equally happy and quite comfortable. Your son did a really great job on the nativity, there’s a lot of thought put into it and quite a lot of detail. Quite impressive!

  2. Your holiday decorations and your original artwork are all beautiful, but your son’s Nativity really takes the cake for ALL the right reasons. Great job, Calvin!

  3. These memories you will treasure for a lifetime! The good and bad….I love that nativity! Sweet! House looks beautiful!

  4. Oh my…how I long for the days that my now 15 year old twin girls wanted to craft with me…you’re a lucky woman. What a sweet keepsake to take out every year.

  5. Aww I love that they both wanted to keep it, but then decided to give it to the teacher! What darling problem solvers! so sweet.

  6. I think everything looks great. I miss that beautiful MERRY CHRISTMAS garland that you made last year out of cardboard letters covered in a creamy velvet. I copied you and did one that said JOY and NOEL. I loved yours.

  7. That is the sweetest story and I love that the shepherd looks a little bit like a Ninja turtle 🙂 THAT is what Christmas is all about to me – the memories, not the presents!

  8. LOVE those boy-mom moments that melt your heart! We had 3 boys before our last which was a girl. There was definitely a lot of potty humor (and still is…) and ball hurling (and still is…) that they just taught their sister. They rough and tumble but soft on the inside! What a sweet manger!!!

  9. Yes!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for posting your “real” family moments. My house is covered in handmade decorations from my children. It wouldn’t win a magazine prize, but I love their creativity and how they leap to make our home festive. Sometimes I wonder where bloggers hide the “real” tree in their homes–the one with all the handcrafted ornaments so precious to a mom’s eyes. Themed trees are pretty, but involving the kids is what makes any holiday meaningful.

  10. Awwwwww… the manger scene…. Everything looks beautiful. I love the basket on top of the hutch, and the ball garland on the tree. The fresh greens are are so pretty with your blues and whites. … and your faux greens on the sofa table look like the real deal!

  11. Did you make a “fresh” cut on the trunk of your tree before you brought it inside? Did you make sure it was a “drinker” before decorating it?
    We learned this the hard way. No matter what they say at the tree lot, have them take off the stand, cut at least one inch off the bottom of the trunk and then put on another base. Make sure you get this home quickly and fill the basin with water within one hour of the fresh cut.
    If you don’t, the cut will “heal over” and not drink.
    If you put it into a stand of your own, get a saw and make a fresh cut before you do so and fill the stand with water fast.
    Then make sure the tree is drinking a good amount of water overnight before you start to decorate it. Check the water basin every morning and keep it filled up.
    This way you will have a tree that will last through New Years.
    Also, consider not bringing the tree inside until the second week of December. It will enjoy being outside in the cool shade. Just remember to keep filling the basin of water every day and make a fresh cut before bringing it inside.
    This is a safety issue as well as a decorating issue.

    1. We did make a fresh cut, but it doesn’t seem to be drinking a lot. I think we really just brought it inside a little too soon!

  12. Your house looks lovely with all your creative decorating. But I have to say the loveliest “accessory” of all is your beautiful dog who obviously has decided that this is his forever home!

  13. From FIL:

    Calvin, my Master Minecrafter Grandson (all of my grandsons are Master Minecrafters). Great job on the scene. An architect in the making!.

    Now, since you left to return home, every time I open up Minecraft I get blown up, just one big BOOM with TNT. Next time – MY WORLD.


  14. Love the smile on baby Jesus’ face. He is totally happy with his stable!. Love you simple but elegant decorations!

  15. These are the best years of your life. Soak them in and you will treasure them many, many Christmas’s from now. Wishing you God’s blessings this Christmas and for the New Year to come.

  16. The nativity looks great. If you cut up natural coloured raffia it can look like hay. Also doesn’t set allergenic people off sneezing. So that’s what we use at school.

  17. LOVE IT ALL!!!!! wouldn’t change a thing! the manger is especially nice, so be sure to tell him that all the ladies you know thought so!

  18. i must say, the manger is my favorite, as everyone else, i have 5 children, all grown now but i still have the one we made when they were young, i put it in a glass box.that my grandmother showed me how to make when i was little. sent it to my daughter who has moved away so she could think of home when she and her children see it.

  19. The manger scene is awesome! The greens are so pretty and the tree is lovely! I wish I had room for one that big, but I would have to get more ornaments than I use on my little tree. But it would be fun to shop for them, right? Yes. Perhaps if I got rid of my old up-right piano and the china cabinet and maybe even the couch, I could have a big, big tree! Probably not.

    Happy Christmas!

  20. I love your Christmas style, most especially the paper nativity. You will enjoy it for years to come. My son is now 18, but I still love the salt dough ornament he made when he was two. You’ll be tearing up down the road, as I now do.

  21. The nativity is absolutely THE SWEETEST EVER and the thing that memories are made of! How very, very, special and thank you for sharing! Clearly you and your hubby are raising the boys right. Merry Christmas and may God bless.

  22. Love that Calvin…he has a kind soul that he won’t outgrow. That nativity scene is SO special! Merry Christmas to you and your family, Marian!

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