2017 Bickel Christmas Style


I'll Have a Blue, Blue Christmas...

Hi, friends! I've never blogged about anything about decorating or my home before, but I thought I'd share what our house looks like for Christmas this year! Since I had eye surgery on December 4, I've been unable to drive...but I have been able to do a little more inside decorating than I usually do and have been enjoying the extra twinkle lights!

We actually have 5 different Christmas themes that we rotate every year. This year is titled, "Blue Christmas." The first time we had this tree theme was the first year we were married! We did it once when Jonny was 3 too. Now, we are thankful every day to have both boys celebrating and making ornaments for this Christmas.     

The other 4 themes?

Modern Christmas, Natural Christmas, Paper Christmas, & Chocolate Christmas. Perhaps you can look forward to future blog posts to see the other years!

Away In A Manger:

This manger scene figures were  painted by my Great Aunt Clementine in 1958. It was the one I saw each year growing up in our home. My mother got a different one and gave this one to me. I love that it was all hand-painted! 

Hand-Painted Treasure:

Here you can see that Clemmie even inlaid rhinestones to look like treasure in the hands of the Magi. Of course over the years, some of those have been lost, but it is still a treasure!

First Nativity:

When Jonathan was only 2 years old, we worked on this nativity together.  First he painted the sky. While he was painting, he decided to make an angel in the sky. He specifically painted a head, arms, legs, body, and "toesies." I remember being shocked at his thoughfulness and detail at that young age. He doesn't regularly enjoy making things like this but does it for me here and there. I traced the outline of that angel so I'd always remember this moment. You can see my labeling in the photograph. This is framed and goes up each year. The rest is made with scraps of painted cardboard and stickers and some straw.

Grandma's Candle:

My grandmother passed away last January. We inherited this ornament, which we had actually given to her as a gift just a few years ago. We chose it because Grandma clearly remembered the candles on the tree when she was young, with a bucket of water at the ready in case the tree caught fire. This clips on just like those candles of old used to and I know she loved the story reference. We don't typically have ornaments that get used from year to year because our themes change. This one might be an exception. (The magic pickle ornament is the other exception!)


Since this tree set was only used once before, when Jonny was three years old, getting out everything makes it even more precious to see the star he made for the top of the tree out of collaged blue papers and the salt dough ornament he made with his hand stamped right on. I don't mind seeing these only every five years. It makes me treasure them more. This year, he made a really neat wooden abstracted snowman in art class. I love it! He was thrilled that it also matched the tree this year! (Jonny doesn't love our themed Christmases. He always says, "When can we have Regular Christmas!??)

Living Room:

I love our coffee table because I can sort of create a centerpiece under the glass by decorating it through the pull-out drawer. This allows it to look pretty (when the fingerprints and crumbs are actually cleared off from the children!) and still gives us room to play board games, which is one of our favorite family activities. 


From the living room, you can see straight through to our kitchen. We cook a lot.... a lot, a lot...  so I don't like much on the counter if I can avoid it, but I do like to add the garland above the cabinets for a nice glow-flow in the evenings throughout the room. This is the time of year that I take down all of my fun hand-made pottery and special items I typically keep above and do a really good scrub of the kitchen! I know I always do it then and its my motivation to actually start decorating...which is usually why I'm a bit on the later side for decorating. This is my cleaning season!

Thyme and Fruit:

My thyme plant suddenly came back to life from the summer! I took advantage of this and keep it on the counter. I hope I can keep it going all winter!

The same day I did the photographs for this blog story, I received a Harry and David basket from a sweet girl I've been coaching to get into art school. Those apples and pears were too shiny and beautiful not to be included somewhere in here! Yum!

Noah's Ark Advent Calendar:

This ark is an Advent Calendar. It was a gift from Brady's parents to Jonny when he was only about a year old. I love it because the reward is matching the animals rather than toys or candy. Its also special and something the boys look forward to each year. They now take turns, deciding on December first who will open the odd numbered doors and who will open the even numbered doors. Its fun!

If you're interested in these, I'm not sure if they still make them to purchase through stores, but I do see them pop up on Ebay here and there. Here is a LINK if you'd like to find one!

Front Door & Outside:

We kept it really simple this year, no lights outside. I just put candles in the front windows and a few wreaths. I typically make my own wreath but worried about the pine oils on my hand and accidentally touching my surgery-eye so I decided against it this year. Brady surprised me with this wreath from the amazing Daniel Vaughn Designs in State College - my very favorite place for flowers!

Although I did a little more inside than usual because I had time on my hands post-surgery, I didn't actually feel like doing a ton of decorating and neither did Brady. The truth is, we joyfully celebrate the birth of Jesus but with sadness in our hearts. Daily we think of our dear friends who lost their little girl to cancer this year and the empty feeling that is in their home daily and in a new way for Christmas, for their daughter just loved Christmas. Rather than Christmas Cards mailed out this year, we will be doing a simple email letter and included photo so that we can donate money instead to DIPG research, specifically to Michael Moser's Defeat DIPG. Maddie will always be on our hearts.

The Stockings Were Hung on the Staircase with Love:

When we first celebrated this Blue Christmas theme together 10 years ago, we had no children. I could come home from work and sew. I made 9 stockings! I made 7 for us, just in case we had 4 kids and a dog. With each new addition as we pull out this Christmas theme, I've been able to grab one more stocking from the box. This year, there are 5 because we adopted a cat last winter. (No babies in case you were wondering!) I do wish I had made them unique, but hey, they're here and it works.  The other two stockings I made in 2007 went to two different children. We had adopted a local child that year and purchased the presents for that girl and then bought fun little things for a stocking (which I had plenty of!) and included that in her gift. Sometimes I wonder if she is well and if she still has her stocking. The other one went to a student of mine. She was having such a rough year. Her family wasn't together and there were many stress points. We put together a gift for her and gave her a stocking too. I know she is now married and has two lovely children of her own and I wonder if she still uses that stocking!


The boys made these cone trees this year. Christopher got to make the larger red one (since Jonny had so many other ornaments on the tree and he didn't) and Jonny made the smaller one and themed it blue to go with our Christmas! 

I felt bad that Jonny made that Nativity scene and Christopher didn't. So, last year, Christopher and I made one together with similar stickers and a similar concept. They are both proud to have these hanging in the house. :)

I was most excited about this garland. The lights went out on it this year. (This garland is 20 years old, no joke.) and it took us awhile to get our act together and re-string it with lights. But after it was re-strung, I used extra ribbon and ornaments to make it look complete. While I decorated it, I listened to Rob Bell's episode on the Mysticism of Christmas, which is with a guest speaker and called: Alexander Shaia on the Mythic Power of Christmas. Here is the LINK if you're interested! It was amazing!

Dining Room:

Back when I worked at Pier 1 in the winter of 2007, this tree was broken and super on-sale. I bought it for nearly nothing and used beads that I had to fix it all up. It only works for two of my Christmas themes (Blue Christmas and Modern Christmas) and I love the chance to use it! 

Below you'll also see some of my favorite mini decorations: mini silver bowls with mini lights, mini peppermints, mini lollipops, and mini gum drops. These are my favorites! 

I must tell you honestly that as I set up each room, I was telling Christopher to please stop rolling his Ninja Turtle Van through the scene! I had to keep moving toys as I went from room to room. I probably should have done the photographs while he was at school, but it was wildly fun to do it with him home too!


Merry Christmas from the Bickel Family! 

We know how much we have to be thankful for. We hope you have a good 2018 and a very joyful holiday season. Bake cookies as a family and play a board game or two. Its such a lovely way to spend time together!

If you'd like to see a sample of my other posts, check out my previous post titled Carly & Mike (and Engagement Portrait Story). Telling personal stories is an important component of my photographic work!

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