The 12 Trees of Xmas
(and then some)

Every year, we decorate our holiday tree using a different theme.

Here's a photo album of our trees through the years...

1989: Icehouse Piece Ornaments

For our first tree together, we drilled holes in a bunch of reject pieces from the first run of the Icehouse factory (which had just produced 100 sets featuring solid, hand-poured resin plastic pyramids). Then we fired-up the factory and used the molds to make a small run of two-tone icehouse pieces, red and green, specifically to be ornaments, most of which we then gave away.

1990: Candy Canes

For our second tree together, we did something quick and easy - we just bought a few boxes of candy canes and hung them everywhere, along with red and white lights.

It's hard to believe the little kitten you see above is actually our giant fat cat Marley.

1991: Bendy Santas

For our third tree, we ordered a gross of posable plastic ("bendy") Santa Clauses and scattered 'em up in the branches of the tree. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate a picture of the '91 tree... I'm not even 100% sure I took one. I thought about trying to recreate the tree for a photo opportunity, but I also couldn't find the old box filled with bendy Santas, though I beleive it's still in the attic somewhere. Even finding the single example shown here proved very difficult... even though we all remembered seeing him on a shelf somewhere around the house, it took us several days of casual (and at times, aggressive) searching to find him. We almost gave up, accepting the fact that our house just eats stuff sometimes, but at the last minute, he finally turned up.

1992: Money Money Money

Who says money doesn't grow on trees? The currency for our money tree came from (what else?) board games of various types. They don't really show up in this picture, but we also made ornaments out of chocolate coins.

(Look! It's one of the very first photos I took of Gina! (Her atomic bomb photo was an homage to Weird Al Yankovic's "Christmas at Ground Zero".))

1993: Magic Cards

1993 was the year when Magic: The Gathering revolutionized the card game industry, so it seemed only fitting to decorate our tree with already out-of-print and increasingly valuable black bordered Alpha and Beta Magic cards. Mostly they were commons, but you could find an uncommon and maybe even a rare or two in the mix somewhere...

1994: Rash's Temari Balls

Andy's brother Rash taught himself the Japanese art of making Temari balls, and one year he was kind enough to loan us his collection for display on our tree. Thanks Rash! The tree was beautiful!

1995: M&M Guys

Andy's collection of M&M guys is a dim shadow of his brother Jeff's collection, but we still had enough of them by '95 to handsomely decorate a tree.

1996: Space Cones

In 1996, with no better ideas for what to do as a theme, we decoated our tree with 50 or so of these strange orange plastic things called Space Cones. We know they're called that because it says "Space Cone Corp. Seattle USA" in tiny molded plastic letters on each one. Beyond that, we have no clue of what they are or what they're used for. We've wondered every since we first moved into the house, when an old boyfriend of Kristin's mailed us a box of them. We still don't know, but they made pretty good tree ornaments.

1997: Bring-an-Ornament Night

The next year, even more hard up for ideas, we asked all our friends to bring something to hang on our tree. Response was not as big as we hoped, so here's another nice picture of Gina.

1998: Proton

The next year, we had an inspiration: Hang our gifts to everyone on the tree! Two birds with one stone!

1999: Plastic Sample Creations

When KLON was first working on the job of making Icehouse pieces for us, they ran off some test strips in the various colors we'd requested, to make sure we'd be happy with the colors. We were... but then we had all these plastic sticks and nothing to do with them. So we got creative and turned them into artworks! Read more about it in the WWN for 12/23/99.

2000: Cosmic Coasters

Again in Y2K we used the trick of hanging our gift to everyone on the tree.

2001: Insects

The next year, rather than be lame and hang copies of Are You a Werewolf? on our tree, Alison wrangled up a collection of bug and insects of various kinds to swarm about on our tree.

2002: Chinese New Year

For the 2002 tree, we decided to get a whole bunch of these little red boxes, like miniature take-out containers, with chinese characters that (we're told) say Happy New Year. We also got a few paper dragons...

2003: Just Lights

OK, so in 2003 we were so busy we never got around to putting on any real ornaments at all. But having switched from the tiny lights we've always used to bigger bulbed xmas lights, the theme of "just lights" seemed marginally appealing.

2004: Let There Be Lights!

This year's tree featured 2 different kinds of lights plus over 100 small ornaments styled like christmas tree light bulbs.

Check out the WWN for 12/23/4 to see a close up of the ornaments on this tree.

2005: Colorful Orbs

This year we found some really cool ornaments at IKEA and made them the theme of the tree. They're a lot like traditional ball ornaments, but instead of being shiny mirrored, glass, they're velvetine orbs in vivid colors. The smaller ones were actually a wreath that Alison took apart. (She made the globular cluster on the top, too.)

2005 Bonus Tree: Lucky Lights

In 1990, we planted a sapling pine tree we'd gotten free by mailing in a bunch of proofs-of-purchase for Lucky Charms cereal. The little tree grew and grew, and by 1999 when Alison arrived, Lucky was getting too big for the spot we'd originally planted him. So, Alison moved him across to a better location in the front yard. Now Lucky is taller than me! This year we finally got around to putting lights on Lucky. Nice, eh?

2006: Write-Protect Rings

Remember the early days of computers? Even if you don't remember them, you've undoubtedly seen films from back then. Remember those big reels of magnetic tape, roughly as big across as an old LP record? (Remember those?) When Andy got his first summer job at NASA, in 1984, they were still using those huge reels of tape, and he spent that summer walking back and forth into a warehouse-sized archives, fetching specific tapes from a vast rack of shelves, and mounting them on the requested tape drive, over and over and over again. With each request was also a code: "RO" vs. "RI," which meant Ring Out or Ring In. If the ring was out, you couldn't erase or overwrite the tape. Or maybe that was if the ring was in... hey, it's been a long time. Anyway, the rings in question were colorful plastic things about the size of a CD, shown here:

Alas, we don't possess even one of those huge tape reels, into the center of which one of this rings would be inserted, but we do have a big box filled with old Write-Protect Rings which someone salvaged from the trash at Goddard Space Flight Center once long ago, and which have been gathering dust in the basement of our house ever since. Alison recently found them and decided immediately that these should be this year's ornaments. Don't they look lovely?

2007: Button Broccolis

This year our theme was Tirade, or more specifically, Button Broccoli. We've recently been going through our warehouse and clearing out a bunch of old stuff that hasn't been selling, and since these weren't selling through even after we'd put them on deep discount, we decided to put over 100 of them to good use by turning the buttons into ornaments. Yay Tirade!

2008: Paper Chains 'n' Things

This year we did our tree up with a bunch of paper chains and other cool folded paper things which Kristin and Alison and some of our other friends made out of a bunch of cool special paper sheets Alison had.