Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 7, 2014

Unique Ideas for Displaying Ornaments - Alternatives to the Traditional Christmas Tree

This post is all about unique ideas for displaying ornaments and I have two cute ideas: using a rustic ladder for a casual ornament display and framing beautiful ornaments as holiday wall art.

When my friends at Canadian Tire saw the colossal, rustic ladder I dragged into the lakehouse like a Morlock, they were inquisitive about where it came from:

"Antique shop?"
"Nope". 
"Thrift store?"  
"Nope".
"Family heirloom?"
"Nope."
"Okay, we give up."
"I found it stuffed under a building on my property (duh)."

It seemed totally normal to me to find random odds and sods, here and there on the property.  My mother-in-law bought a rural place with an out-building packed full of dozens of men's suits, so a ladder is kind of a run-of-the-mill find.  But the weathered wood was especially beautiful, so I heaved it inside for some holiday decorating.  I've seen rustic ladders used for everything from magazine holders to a place to stash blankets.  I decided my rustic would make the perfect display piece for some pretty ornaments.  The ladder ended up in the videos I'll be sharing next week, and it looked so good on film.

If you can't find one under a building near you, you can easily find rustic-looking display ladders online, in varying heights and price points - like this beauty!

Holiday Decorating Idea:  Use a Weathered Ladder to Display Ornaments

Modern holiday decorating ideas
Traditional Christmas tree alternatives
Hand ornaments on a rustic ladder
Rustic glam holiday decor
Alternatives to a traditional Christmas tree

The execution of this idea took seconds: with the rustic display ladder placed firmly against the wall (you might want to consider securing with string and removable 3M wall hooks if there are kiddos and pups in the house), I just tied on various ornaments with sparkly teal ribbon.  If I did this again, I'd really pack it full of ornaments but I wanted a spare, minimalist vibe.  

Although Hubs and I referred to the ladder as "the janky ladder" (not sure why it needed such a specific name, when it was the only ladder we had propped up inside), I grew to love this thing.  I liked the contrast of the sparkling ornaments and ribbon against the weathered wood, but, if I'm being honest, I grew pretty smitten with this ladder on its own.  What is happening to me?!?  I'm starting to really fall for weathered wood.  Is there something in the water here?  Someone help me - stage an intervention because every other string of words that comes out of my mouth seems to include "weathered wood," or "driftwood look" - discussed favorably, without fail.

Display Ornaments on a Rustic Ladder

Yup, the ladder stayed propped up long after the holiday stuff was packed up.  How cute would this be for storing blankets and magazines within arm's reach?  Here's are some of my favorite rustic ladders (made with genuine reclaimed wood) from Amazon: 4 ft Tall Authentic Barnwood Ladder (has a great weathered brown patina), this 4 ft Rustic Barnwood Ladder (which has a lovely light and airy patina), this taller 6 ft Decorative Ladder with Genuine Reclaimed Wood (it makes a great statement), or, for smaller space, this cute 3 ft Reclaimed Barnwood Ladder

Holiday Decorating Idea:  How to Create "Framed" Ornaments
Framed Christmas ornaments

Eager for more places to display ornaments, I also painted some thrift store frames and, using ribbon and a staple gun, created glittering works of "art" using sparkly ornaments. 

How to paint old picture frames
Before
Picture frames painted mint

To attach the ornaments (and to affix the ribbon from which the frame hung), I just used my trusty staple gun.  I used 3M removable hooks to hang the frames on the wall temporarily, and created little bows to hide the hooks (you can buy pre-made bows if you're pressed for time).  This was a seriously easy DIY holiday project.

How to display ornaments
Modern way to display ornaments
With a Bow...
Unique ideas for ornaments
Without a Bow...
The result was really fun and festive.  My one suggestion: really large ornaments protrude from the wall a little too much (unless they're hung in really thick, deep frames), so petite ornaments - like these small glass acorns - are best.

Small space Christmas decorating ideas
Christmas themed art ideas
Christmas ornaments displayed on frame
How to frame Christmas ornaments
Christmas decorating ideas for apartments

Here's a better shot of everything, including the ladder - what a giant, right?  It got me thinking that, one day, building a really tall book case with a rolling ladder would be oodles of fun.  Until I have to dust it. 

Rustic modern Christmas ideas

How to Frame Holiday Ornaments

This post was sponsored by Canadian Tire.  I'm seriously having a ton of fun sharing these DIY projects with you and I hope you've been enjoying this steady stream of non-traditional holiday projects.  Click here to see the rest of my DIY projects created with Canadian Tire - there is not a single evergreen tree among them!   
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18 comments

  1. Looks awesome Tanya. Canadian Tire is always a go to for me for Christmas decorations!

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    1. Thanks Jane! Now I'll be studying your holiday-themed posts to see if I spot anything familiar, haha.

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  2. I really like what you're doing, Tanya. It's obvious that you're staying true to yourself and not cluttering up your life (or ours) with make-work projects. I love the clean lines and the fact that you use what you find around your house (and your mom's!). This is real life on a budget as most of us have to live it.

    The other thing I want to say... just a quick update from those of us who do "celebrate" Christmas. As a person who really is a "believer," I'm lobbying our family not to give personal gifts this year, but to reserve that activity for birthdays as they come along throughout the year. There's a reason that Thanksgiving is many people's favorite holiday. You get together, you bask in family memories and good food, you take a walk if weather permits... simple, good, happy times. Most of us have too much stuff, and anyway that's not what Christmas was meant to be about for those of us who take it seriously. No matter what your beliefs, a time of wonder and appreciation can only be good for the world at large. All the best to you and yours!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment! It really means a lot to me. When I agreed to this partnership, I knew I wanted to showcase some budget-friendly ideas - and ways to use what's around. I never wanted to showcase a room or project that necessitated everyone running out and dropping hundreds. I'm so happy that you said these projects still seem like "me" - that's what I was going for.

      It's so refreshing to hear that your Christmas will be pared back and about the good times instead of stuff. It's the gift-giving part that terrifies me - so expensive and sometimes so disappointing (I'm hard to buy for, lol). I think you're so right about thanksgiving - it's so simple and just about hanging out together. It's one of my favorites too!

      I'm sure we'll chat before then :), but all the best to you and yours also!!

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  3. Love the framed ornaments! For ages, I've been a very untraditional Christmas decorator, but this year the grandsons requested a traditional tree with multi-colored lights ("rainbow," according to them), and who am I to refuse their holiday request? That's what I loved when I was a kid too.

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    1. Nope, can't turn down requests from those cuties!! When I was a kid I liked our rainbow tree - it was a hodge podge of stuff, including things I made. My grandma, on the other hand, had this super refined peach and cream tree scheme (it was the 80s, after all) and I hated it. But now that's what I would like now - but substitute peach for mint, lol.

      I'm sure they'll be so delighted to see some rainbow lights!!

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  4. So simply pretty!

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  5. I love that view along the wall where you can see the frames, ladder and the trees (are they birch) with just a few twinkling lights in the background. Is it safe to assume a post about the trees is coming? I would like to have a tree or two like this. I love the alternative tree look for the holidays- although I still have to have the traditional evergreen downstairs for my kids' sake.
    I completely get the weathered wood attraction. It's a trick to make it work with mcm, although I've seen it done with ease for a natural eclectic Scandinavian look. I love rustic, modern Scandinavian style including weathered wood and the white walls but I love the refinement of beautiful mid century furniture. I can only afford a few mcm pieces so it's a good thing I like the eclectic look ;)
    Nice job on the decorating- you've made it fit with your style, rather than looking like Santa village exploded and the shrapnel landed in your livingroom (but isn't that the look that kids really love?)

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    1. The trees are flocked from Canadian Tire. They come with the lights and disassemble for storage. I can definitely share some more photos and info.

      There's a local decor shop and the woman who runs it mixes mid century mod and rustic so well, but it looks very trendy, a bit too trendy for me. But I go in there and fondle her beautiful wares, dreaming of redecorating, haha.

      Yes, Santa's village is what appeals to kids. Although a Frozen theme would probably go over well too, lol!

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  6. I love everything about this post Tanya! The colours, the framed ornaments, your ladder...all of it is so festive and not typical for Christmas which is really lovely!

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    1. Thank you, Jo-Anna! I was going for a non-typical Christmas look. I just wanted to added some sparkle :) Oh, and some weathered wood. Any excuse, lol.

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  7. Love the ladder and the frames with ornaments.

    I put the small balls in glass jars around my home; I hang balls in my front window (like you have in your kitchen); and I add them to the fireplace mantle (sitting on top the mantle with greenery).

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    1. Thank you! I wanted to add balls to my mantle but could not get them to stay in place properly. But I love the look!

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  8. Hi Tanya, I found your blog through Apartment Therapy. What a clever way to display ornaments! The beautiful chair in the first photo caught my eye, the Danish-looking one with the swoopy wood arms and green upholstery. Do you know the maker?

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    1. Hi Phoebe, I'm so glad you found your way here! Thanks for the kind compliment. And you have psychic abilities! I only JUST found out the make of that chair and am planning a post about it for early next week. It turns out it's not Danish, but Swedish! And kind of rare. I can't recall the name of the designer (I pinned it, though, to a Pinterest board) but the style in "Mingo" - if you google that, they pop up. But I've had it recovered, so it's not how they originally looked.

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  9. Love the teal chair. Where is it from?
    Thanks!

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    1. Thanks!! I found it in a trash heap, refinished the arms and legs and had it reupholstered in velvet. Under my "diy projects" there's a link.

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