The Christmas extravaganza continues here at The Gathered Home! You’ve already seen my holiday home tour and eclectic, gathered glam Christmas tree in the living room, so today I’m sharing all the details of my Wes Anderson-inspired Christmas tree here in the library with you all!
This year’s white Christmas tree and its assortment of DIY ornaments was truly a labor of love and stubbornness, and I hope any fellow (or future) Wes fans enjoy getting a closer look at one of my most in-depth recent projects.
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Inspired by Wes Anderson
I’m aware that perhaps not all of my visitors are familiar with Wes Anderson and that’s totally fine! Even if you just love colorfully-decorated Christmas trees or vintage-inspired decor, I think you’ll enjoy this post — but here’s a quick overview of just who Wes Anderson is and why I’d theme an entire Christmas tree around his work.
Wes Anderson is one of my very favorite filmmakers and a native Texan himself. You might recognize some of his movie titles: The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel. All of his films share a very distinct vintage and whimsical aesthetic, often a little over the top, that makes incredible use of color, framing, and nostalgia to transport you to a slightly-more-fantastic version of our world.
Throw in impeccable casting of a recurring roster of actors (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, to name a few) and stories that, on their deepest level, are all about human connection and restoring relationships, and you get a little peek into why I love it all so much!
I’ve tackled a number of projects so far inspired by Wes Anderson’s films, including this guest bedroom in our old house and the pink kitchen in our current home, so as I was sitting and brainstorming for this Christmas’s decor in the fall, the moment a Wes Anderson themed tree popped into my head, I knew I had to take on the project!
Quite honestly, I ended up with a million more ideas (incorporating nods to even more of his films) than I had the time to tackle in the following weeks, but I’m still thrilled with the way this tree turned out! Overall, it’s mostly aesthetically inspired by the vintage scout vibes from Moonrise Kingdom, but I also couldn’t resist tucking in a somewhat-obscure reference to my favorite movie, The Royal Tenenbaums, as well.
White Christmas trees always feel so retro to me, and for some reason, the more obviously fake they are, the better in my book. That’s why I love the iridescent needles scattered throughout my tree — they could never pass for snow-covered branches, but they do look perfect twinkling in the Christmas lights!
A white Christmas tree is also the absolute perfect background for colorful ornaments that tend to blend into a traditional green tree.
Colorful Glass Ornaments:
Just like I did with the eclectic, gathered glam Christmas tree in my living room, I scattered simple glass ornaments (vintage and otherwise) throughout this tree for background color. They always go on first. Then I add the most important “show stopper” ornaments last.
Just about my entire collection of glass ornaments has been thrifted over the past few years. I spend about $1.50 to $4 per box, depending on how much I love the ornaments and how badly I want certain colors. Reds, blues and greens are the easiest ornament colors to find out thrifting, so I get so excited when I find unusual colors like yellows, oranges, peaches and pinks!
Rust and age spots are welcome, but not required to play along. 😉
DIY Felt Vintage Scouting Badge Ornaments:
This is the idea that first popped into my head and got me all fired up to do a Wes Anderson-inspired Christmas tree! The “Khaki Scouts” in Moonrise Kingdom sport whimsical homemade patches featuring the various activities and skills they learn at their summer scout camp, so I decided to try my hand at creating a series of DIY felt ornaments inspired by the film.
I spent evenings and weekends this fall sketching, snipping, and stitching this set of badges based on designs, events and elements of the movie and ended up with these 20 ornaments for my tree:
You don’t need to be an expert artist or embroiderer to pull this off – I am not either one. I don’t even particularly enjoy sewing, and my embroidery skills are exceptionally basic, so believe me when I say that these are a very doable craft!
- Assorted colors of felt
- Assorted colors of embroidery floss
- Embroidery needle
- Fabric scissors and detail scissors
I started off by cutting two circles from each base color of felt, then I snipped simple, stackable shapes from other colors of felt to create each badges’ design. The next step was stacking the shapes on top of each other and outlining them with a basic back stitch. I layered the embroidered top over the leftover plain circle of felt, and then sewed the edges together with a blanket stitch!
Nothing has to be perfect: slightly wonky, sketchy lines just make everything a little more whimsical.
To hang each ornament on the tree, I just looped an ornament hook through the stitched edge.
Here’s a closeup look at a few of my favorite designs…
And this first aid badge was one of the easiest to stitch! Just a white cross on a red background with white stitching:
This was one of the more detailed creations: Suzy Bishop’s beloved binoculars, cut out of black felt, with gold details and a pink embroidered strap. I’m not quite sure what that stitch is – it’s a loopy one that I kind of winged.
And this was another super easy one! Basic leaf shapes cut out of green felt, top stitched with lighter green embroidery floss:
This was certainly not one of my quickest undertakings, but I’m so happy with the way they turned out, I don’t begrudge the hours spent stitching away in front of the tv! Bonus: when I’m not displaying these vintage scout badge ornaments on the Christmas tree, I have big plans to turn them into a piece of art…
DIY “Dalmatian Mice” Ornaments:
These little spotted mouse ornaments were inspired by The Royal Tenenbaums. In the film, young entrepreneur Chas Tenenbaum begins his business empire with a childhood business of breeding distinctive “dalmatian mice.” The mice aren’t stars of the show by any means, but they do make a few appearances throughout the film, so I decided they needed to pop up in my tree’s branches as well…
I followed this Christmas mouse tutorial and pattern, using spotted dalmatian fabric for the mouse’s body and soft pink felt for the ears and tail. I whipped up the bodies first on my sewing machine, then stuffed them all, and finished up with ears and beaded eyes. Batch processing really helped whip up a family of 10 of these pretty quickly!
Again, this was a project that took up a few evenings, but wasn’t particularly difficult and didn’t require any more skill than my beginner-level sewing experience.
(As a side note, this is definitely something I should have seen coming, but the cats are unable to distinguish between these and their own sanctioned mouse toys, so I’ve been finding them picked out of the branches and scattered around the house each day.
If you left off the beaded eyes, you could just add a little catnip when you’re stuffing the mouse’s body and end up with a pretty adorable little toy for any rambunctious felines in your life.)
The Tree Skirt:
What could be more perfect to swaddle around the base of a Wes Anderson-inspired Christmas tree than a vintage camp blanket? I found this one at a thrift store earlier this year for just a few dollars! This one is fleece, but it calls to mind a more expensive classic wool version… don’t you think?
And no tree is complete without a little something fun on top! The raccoon cap is a signature element of Moonrise Kingdom Sam Shakusky’s uniform and my family was kind enough to dig up my brother’s childhood raccoon cap for me as the perfect topper for this year’s tree. (Find your own here!)
True confessions: Occasionally, I’ll catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and panic thinking our cat Dude has made his way up the top of the tree.
It’s a quirky choice for a tree topper for sure (and I know some people will think I’m completely nuts for it), but it just felt right to me!
DIY Felt Pennant Banner Christmas Garland:
The finishing touch for this year’s Christmas tree is this little pennant banner I whipped up at the last minute with leftover felt from the scout badge ornaments.
It was incredibly easy to make – I just cut out a bunch of felt triangles and strung them together on a long piece of thread and looped the ends around the white wired garland I swagged around the window here in the library.
Together, the white garland and colorful felt banner add just the right amount of over-the-top vintage whimsy.
And there you have it! All the details of this year’s “A Very Merry WesMas” tree!
I don’t know what I’m going to do when the time comes to take it down, because it adds so much gorgeous color here in the library and I just want it to stay this way forever. This window between the corner bookcases was just made for a Christmas tree, don’t you agree?
Our youngest cat, Dude, certainly does!
Thank you so much for stopping by today, friends! I’d love to hear what you think!
And if you’re a fellow Wes Anderson fan, what’s your favorite film? It’s highly possible I’ll continue to plot DIY Wes-inspired ornaments to add to this tree next year! I didn’t get around to materializing my Darjeeling Limited or Life Aquatic brainstorming sessions…