Decorating for Christmas- the beaded topiary trees

You know why I love Christmas decorations so much? It because they are festive, brighten up a rather gloomy month of weather and allow you to hide all the dust that could be lingering around :)

I didn't always like Christmas- in fact, I rather disliked it as a child. I had a very large family (I have 9 siblings) so there wasn't room for Christmas decorations and everyone to sit in the living room, so the tree/decorations were very short lived. Also, as you can imagine, that number of children and the expectation for gift-giving was stressful for my parents as well as the requirements on the schedule at this time of year - school concerts, special church events, bake-sales. (Really, I kind of wish they did this stuff when the weather is more cooperative with traveling back and forth) and then - do you know how long it takes to get a kid in a coat! No wonder the holidays were just a time to get past! Regardless- I have some very fond memories from my youth of that time which I have carried forward as well as some others I picked up in my adult life. I loved going into town to look at all the Christmas decorations so being able to put them up in my house is particularly fun.

I've already talked about our new Christmas tree which resides in the basement now (the old one has even been claimed by a sibling to grace their house, so that's extra exciting- yay for being green!) leaving the upstairs a bit less decorated than normal. So I decided that I would do some craft projects to spice up my upstairs decorations as well as have something to post. This not being able to post gift projects is hampering my documentation in order of completion- let me tell you!

So I thought of something I have always liked...cone shaped topiary trees. I have seen them around, but they aren't cheap and rarely go with my Christmas decor...definitely a downside of the white, blue and silver, motif we have going here. So I decided I would try my hand at making my own...In addition, I thought this would be a great excuse to use some very nice silver I was given by my mother and grandma-in-law. (I'll explain, don't worry).

First the silver- I was given some silver platters and bowls by my mom and my grandma-in-law because I like to have parties (I've mentioned my potlucks before I'm sure) and they never used them. There are several lovely decorative trays and two bowls (all of which are the typical silver that require polishing). I am fine with using the trays for food as I can lay a sheet of parchment paper on the tray between the food and the tray with no one noticing, but the bowls- let's just say I'm not comfortable having food that close to silver polish- ever. These lovely bowls therefore have remained in my china cabinet, never being used, but look nice- which is fine. But here I can make something to use them! Joy!

First, I went out and bought all the supplies I wanted- two cones (varying heights), and tons of beads in silver, white and blue that are different colors and textures. I tried to buy everything on sale, but initially the grand total for the stuff was $49.45...far too much. So I hunted through three additional craft stores to find less expensive items to make this work (the first store only had the floral cones and I just needed plain Styrofoam (see) for this so that was a large expense). After buying all the beads, some white and silver glittery netting, and the two large foam cones, the total was $40. This is divided by two since there are two cones, so $20 each, plus time/driving, so these are not cheap items (especially since every single item I bought was on sale for 50% off). But they do look fantastic and match my decor, so I *guess* it is worth it (you can bet if I were to decide I was tired of these next year my husband would be less than pleased, but as he likes them too, it is worth it to him too).

First I took the cones above (these were 18" and 24" tall cones to accommodate the size of the silver bowls) and covered them with a glitter netting (white on one, silver on the other) which gave it a bit of depth, but still let the white from the cone show through (it goes with my color scheme so it didn't bother me, but you could paint them first with craft paint if you want). Then I used the beads with straight pins and the stems of beaded branches (on wires) and lots of hot gluing to secure the netting to the cones as well as decorate them. Please note- it is absolutely mandatory to use a cool temp hot glue gun for this project- a hot temp would melt the styrofoam as well as burn your fingers many, many times. I went with pearlized beads over the whole thing, but the taller tree has more silver, and the smaller has more white. The beads were randomly placed and I know there are over 1200 on these- so it took a long time. Also, it's rather hard to photograph these...you see they reflect light where if I used a flash you couldn't see the beads- but here they are with just the light from the window and the lights in the garland on them (I'll do a post about the garland later). I think this is a great use for heirloom silver bowls and makes a fun decoration overall!

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