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Michael’s Dream Tree CHALLENGE 2013

I know, I know……what happened to Thanksgiving?!?!  Well, I’m not skipping it, just getting a little head start on my Christmas tree this year!


And that’s because Michael’s contacted me and asked if I would participate in their Dream Tree Challenge (#JustAddMichaels campaign) and decorate a Christmas Tree, using supplies from their store.  Uhhhh……”YES, pretty please!”  No arm twisting here.  Now that Halloween’s over……..I’m itching for all of the Christmas love to begin.  And hey, thanks to this little challenge, I’ve now got a nice little kick start to my holiday decorating.  (Come on guys, join me!  It feels great!!)


So, I received my 7 foot pre-lit Willow Christmas Tree in the mail and headed to my local Michael’s Craft Store (with a gift card in hand) and browsed around a while, trying to decide on vibrant colors or muted?  Harsh textures or soft?  Stars, angels, or a big bow at the top??  Hmmmmmm.  I don’t mind shopping one bit, so I browsed and browsed and browsed.


And finally decided on this:




A bit of sparkle, touches of soft, some rough, and pretty muted in color…




And a sparkly gold star to sit on top.




To be honest, I have never filled up a tree so full of trimmings………but once I started adding, I couldn’t stop.  And ended up loving all the details on my little tree.








And those two little “rein”deer are a welcome addition to our family.  Chloe sneaks them and tries pushing them in a stroller, while Elli dances with them while singing, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.  I, however, like them to sit right by the tree.  We all know I’ll just “pretend” to notice the reindeer-napping…..because the sneaking of the reindeer only means my girls are just as excited for Christmas as I am. :)





And one little itty bitty confession…….Christmas music has now been granted access to our home.   We try to wait until after Thanksgiving (which rarely happens anyway…), but who can decorate a tree without your favorite Music tunes?!!  Not me.





And yes, she’s just as beautiful at night.  Ahhhhhhh……….I adore the warmth of those lights, causing everything to glow.






Oh, little Christmas tree.  I adore you.


And thank you Michael’s.  What a treat this was! 

(However, now my kiddos are asking me every hour how many days until Christmas.  Thanks a lot!!! ;) )


Oh, and by the way, I’ll be back later this week, sharing a little tutorial on something that I made using my supplies from Michael’s.  Yay!



And just so you know……

  • Michaels has a large selection of pre-lit high-tip count artificial trees ranging in size from 4 ft. to 7.5 ft. and all the way up to 9 ft. They even come in different shapes, from skinny to full and in-between with some smaller trees coming in different color options
  • Each tree purchased at Michaels comes with a 5 year tree warranty and a 2 year warranty on the lights
  • Stop by your local Michaels November 3 through November 9 for a special tree event
  • The Michaels Décor Guide has tons of ideas and projects to make spreading the holiday cheer throughout your house easy. Navigate through the online version, download a copy, or pick up one at your local Michaels!



Michael’s supplied the tree and supplies to create a tree of my own choice, however, all opinions stated are my own…….and I only promote products I love.  -Ashley



Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. IMO says:

    I also love the quiet, simple elegance of the clear globe ornaments. Reminds me of when kids blow bubbles with dish soap….only yours don’t pop!

  2. IMO says:

    I love the way you decorated your tree! The satin tree skirt – crumpled like that – looks like snow! Great job!

    Just wondering… how you get these businesses to give you free stuff to use and review? Sounds like a great deal to me.

  3. Stephanie says:

    You make it look easy! Having designed trees before know it’s harder than it looks. How much did Michael’s give you to spend? Experience says about $500. People should know a tree like this one may take a few years to accumulate all the decorations. Beautiful job.

  4. Lauren says:

    Gorgeous! My favorite item that stands out is the burlap garland. Did it come like that with the snowflakes on it, or did you make it?

  5. Molly says:

    Wow! That tree is breath taking! How exciting! Now you and your family get to celebrate Christmas for 2 whole months! EEK!

  6. Nancy G. says:

    Ashley your tree is Beautiful & I love the decorations you picked out, I’m just sorry you didn’t ask me to go shopping with you! :) I could use a little help with my tree, if you have the time. kidding, not….

  7. colette tervort says:

    so so pretty. I love the burlap ribbon with the snowflakes. I’m a sucker for snowflakes. I also love the trees on the mantel and the NOEL sign.

  8. Bobbie says:

    What fun and what an honor! Your tree looks great and I will be using some of your ideas on my woodlands tree this year. It is way way too much fun shopping on someone else’s dime- I had the privilege to go shopping with a blank check to decorate our 9 foot tree at the nursing home a few years ago- It was almost as good as a shopping spree! I am updating a few trees this year but have been shopping slowly (which is still fun!)

  9. Kristina Noall says:

    I’ve been slow to come around to burlap, but that ribbon got me! I love it!
    And wow, your first Christmas in your *OWN* home! How special and happy that will be!

  10. Miriam says:

    That’s the kind of tree I want. I love the natural textures and feel with the burlap and pine cones. Then a little bit of sparkle. Just perfect.

  11. Jessica Hill says:

    OOHH! When I got to the picture of the tree lit up, my breath caught a little! I love a peaceful room and a lit Christmas tree. Fills up my heart.

  12. Lorena says:

    Your tree is so down to earth and just the right amount of elegant. Sometimes trees are overly/under decorated or rely on lights before they draw your attention. This tree is the opposite, you can appreciate its beautiful decor all day (and more so with the twinking lights) great job! I love the use of burlap trimming, I’m wondering if it came on a roll with images on it or if you stamped the snow flakes? Hoping you let us know, nonetheless I WILL be scouting for it on my next trip. thank you for sharing!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh Lorena, thanks!! And funny you say that because I added the burlap for that exact reason, so that when the lights were off, it was still pretty to look at.

      Again, thanks so much……I’m so glad you like it! I hope it’s helpful for you! :)

  13. Eileen Saunders says:

    Oh My God!

    Your tree is absolutely breathtaking!

    I wish that someone would give ME a gift card not for craft supplies but rather for the time of having someone like you show me how to decorate…….sigh……….

    Just half an hour would do. I’ll even make coffee or tea.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us your brilliance, creativity and kindness.


    1. Ashley says:

      Haha……you’re so sweet Eileen! But truly, sometimes it even surprises me that something looks good and works out. Haha! It takes a little trial and error before I get it right sometimes. And seriously, if you lived nearby, I’d help you string your garland and deicde on colors, etc. It’s something that I find kinda fun! :)

      And really, thanks!!

  14. Nicole P says:

    Looks so pretty! I need to know…where did you get your stocking holders? It looks like they just clip over the edge of your mantle. We are in a new home and I have a mantle! Yay! Can’t wait to hang mine, but I like that yours are just simple!

    1. Ashley says:

      Hey Nicole, I found them on Amazon a year ago. And yep, they just rest right on the edge of the mantel and are very simple and easy. I bought several and have like 8 of them. I can’t remember exactly but I’m pretty sure they were cheap. Hope that helps. :)

    2. IMO says:

      For mantle stocking holders you could try shower curtain hooks….like the simple ones from Walmart with a white wooden disc for the decorative part. You could even paint, glitter or glue a holiday sprig on the disc. Lay that wooden disc part on the mantle, secure it with ‘tick tacky’ placed under the wooden disc with the hook near the mantle edge and hang the stocking on the hook part.

      Or you could get the clothing/towel hooks for walls and doors – the kind with the ‘quick release’ tape. I have the Designer ones by 3M that have the ‘command strips’. Holds 3 lbs, strongly, comes off cleanly, no surface damage. They’re normally around $8 or $9 EACH but I got them on markdown for only $3. each. Plus, you can easily remove them and use them in other places throughout the year.

  15. Natalie says:

    LOVE it! We do our tree in brown/gold/tan … kind of like this, but yours is way better. I may have to steal some of your ideas!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh, cool…..I’m not the only one on this muted kick then! :)

  16. Jaimie says:

    I love that you left the clear ornaments empty. It creates kind of an understated elegance. I never thought about using them empty until I saw them here. I think we are all so quick to fill them full of creative embelleshments, we forget how beautiful they are just by themselves, when added to a beautiful background like your tree.

    Thank you for the added inspiration!

    1. Ashley says:

      That’s kinda true. We’re quick to fill, add, over decorate, etc. Thanks Jaimie, I’m glad you like it! :)

  17. Maggie Avrit says:

    Oh Ashley, how totally incredible. I LOVE it!!

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Maggie……I had so much fun with it!

  18. Angie says:

    Once again… you are amazing! It is lovely!!

    1. Ashley says:

      Aww, thanks Angie! Glad you like it! :)

  19. Lidia says:

    I love it, it really is a dream, elegant and yet it gives the room such a cozy feeling ….perfect¡

    1. Ashley says:

      I love that……my thoughts exactly! Glad you can see my vision! :)

  20. Hallie says:

    Of all of the trees I have seen so far, yours is my fave!! I love how the burlap ribbon glows with the lights behind it!! Beautiful!!

    1. Ashley says:

      Awwww, thanks Hallie! And yeah, I love that about the burlap too. :)

  21. debbie says:

    Oh i love your tree,, just gorgeous. And how fun to shop on somebody else’s dollar. You did great.! Now if you could just fly on over and decorate one for me that would be great. lol

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha……I KNOW!!! It sure was fun to not worry about the dollar. But it was also fun to think about decorating a little differently and pull things together as I saw them on the shelves. So fun!

      And yeah, weekend flights are best for me! ;)


  22. Laura J. says:

    I love it. Just my style! Except I’d have to include all the personalized ornaments I’ve acquired over the years too! I bet you’re going to have a second tree for those, aren’t you??

    1. Ashley says:

      Yep, we still have our regular tree and all of our ornaments from over the years. We’ll keep this one in the formal living room and the regular one in the family room, for all of us to enjoy as a family. I know, silly, but it’ll be nice to have 2 separate trees with different themes. And who doesn’t need some christmas in every room?!?!?! Ha!

  23. Penny Noel says:

    Gorgeous – you are a very talented lady!

    1. Ashley says:

      Awwww, thanks Penny!

  24. Shannon says:

    Would love to know the items you used, plus their cost.

    1. Ashley says:

      Hey Shannon, I mentioned more about the price in a comment above and as far as each item…….that’s a great question. Maybe I’ll try and take individual pictures and let you know. Thanks for asking! :)

  25. Sarah Terkay says:

    Wow how beautiful, My daughter had to have a blue 4 ft tree in her room :) as of last week :) hahaha I never though i would have a blue tree in my house :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha……you know, the day after Christmas last year, I bought each of my kids an obnoxious colored tree (maybe 2 feet tall?) and some tacky ornaments that I thought they would love to keep in their rooms and decorate. I know they’ll love to see them when I pull them out. So I totally am with you!! :)

    2. Dana says:

      Each of my kids got their own tree several years ago. Like 10 or 12 years maybe. It started as a 2 ft tree to hold their own ornaments, ones we had bought and given by grandma’s too. Then it was 3, then 4, then 5, then finally at 6 ft tall I said enough! Sadly my 16 yo son has so many ornaments now that the 6 ft is loaded to the brim. He still has 2 years to collect them too! My whole plan was to get my kids an ornament each year, then when they moved out on their own they would have a tree full of decorations to take with them to remind them of home. And since I had to keep buying bigger trees to accomodate the ornament stash, I now have 13 trees to decorate each year. We have a big house and so each room gets its own tree or two, even bathrooms! It’s fun to have multiple themes throughout the house and have a bit of Christmas in each room. And yes I just wrap fabric from my stash around the base for the skirt. Great job on the tree! Just beautiful!

  26. Mindy says:

    sooo prettty! Love the little pinecones with twine and bows. And the simplicity of clear ornaments! The muted colors definitely make me wish for some snow :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Mindy………I kinda love the simplicity of them too. And yeah, now that Halloween is over, snow is welcome to fall! :)

  27. Kassie says:

    Your tree is lovely! 2 questions… 1. Is that star topper from Michaels? 2.I’m in love with that Noel on your mantel. Did you make or purchase it?

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Kassie! :) And yes, the star is from Michael’s….but it’s actually an ornament (yes, HUGE!), so I just wired it to the top. :) And the NOEL was something that I bought last year at Target. Hope that helps!

  28. Julie Snow says:

    How much did all of that cost you?

    1. Ashley says:

      Well, I bought more than I needed and will be taking some back, so this is a guess……but probably around $300. But like I mentioned, I was trying to use up a gift card. Pretty fun…..but I probably wouldn’t have bought it all at once, had I been spending my own dollar. Anyway, hope that gives you a good idea. :)

  29. Shelby says:

    Your tree is beautiful, but I couldn’t help noticing the empty clear ornaments. Obviously, they look great on their own, but one of my favorite ways to add some whimsy to Christmas ornaments for very cheap is to fill those with milkweed seeds! I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this before, or if it may be too late to collect some milkweed this year, but I figured I’d let you know in case you didn’t. This link shows well what I’m referring to:

    Other than milkweed, which is great because it’s free, feathers of any color to match are a great filler as well. :)

    1. Ashley says:

      You know Shelby, I wasn’t sure I wanted anything inside…..but milkweed seeds is a great idea. Feathers too. Nice and soft and airy……I think I may be adding those to each of those. Thanks for the idea! :)


  30. Emily says:

    cute tree! Question about the skirt: Did you just drape fabric around the bottom or did you actually sew a skirt of some sort. I’m trying to decide what to do for a skirt for our tree this year…

    1. Ashley says:

      Ha…..funny you ask. All I have is a red tree skirt and didn’t have time to make another….so I draped white satin fabric around the base (from my fabric stash) and asked my husband if he could tell it wasn’t actually sewn. We both decided no one would ever know (haha!) and I could make one later! So, you caught me! :)

    2. Emily says:

      So maybe I’ll just stick with draping fabric around the bottom. If anyone looks at it strangely, I’ll just say, “Ashley from Make it and Love it does it that way!” :)

    3. Ashley says:

      Haha……totally made me laugh! DO IT!!!!! :)

    4. Jen says:

      Emily, I have a red round table cloth that I drape around my tree, everyone assumes I made it. I use binder clips at the back to hold it in place. With 4 kids and a dog, it holds up and it’s something I can throw in the wash if I need to and not worry about fraying or what not. Unless you choose to finish the edges of any fabric that you buy ;).

  31. Jackie says:

    I like your tree. Very nice job!

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Jackie… turned out to be a lot of fun to put together! :)

  32. Alycia says:

    I love your tree. You did an amazing job

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Alycia!! :)

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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