Decorating your home for Christmas is an exciting part of the season.

It’s official….Christmas decorating has started here at Thistlewood Farm.

Yesterday there was turkey and dressing and biscuits and mashed potatoes and green bean salad and macaroni…..

……and 37 boxes of Christmas decorations.

37 boxes?

How did they get there?


Tiny festive pillows add a Christmas touch to any room.

I can remember when all I had to decorate with was a box of shiny red ornaments and a little ribbon.

We were newly married and living in an old farmhouse that had seen better days.

All we had to our name….was wedding china and a few pieces of furniture that our family had given us.

Living on love without anything left over for Christmas decorations.

This red and white Christmas tree is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit.

So we went to a neighbor’s farm and cut down a tree.

It was kind of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree….there were big branches missing and it kind of leaned and looked like at any moment…..without the slightest bit of provocation….it would topple over.

But I didn’t care.

I loved it.

It was my first Christmas tree and I cut ribbon bows and tucked pine cones in it and hung those shiny red ornaments on every branch.

Red reindeer ornaments, tiny Merry Christmas signs and red snowflakes add character to this white holiday tree.

And then….for the finishing touch….the icing on my Charlie Brown tree….I baked dozens of gingerbread men.

They weren’t very fancy.  They looked more like ginger blobs then men….but I decorated them with great gusto and Christmas cheer and hung them everywhere.

I hung them on the tree with ribbons.

I hung them in the windows and doors and from the back of chairs and cupboards.

Until every inch of that old farmhouse was covered with grinning….bright-eyed…..bow-tie wearing….gingerbread men.

This red and white snowflake is the perfect topper for the Christmas tree.

An entire farmhouse decorated from almost nothing.

I was so proud.

So all about myself and my budget Christmas decorations.

Gingerbread men?  Who knew?

Monogrammed present toppers add a personalized holiday touch.

It wasn’t until later that my husband called me into the kitchen.

“Why did you make the gingerbread men with only one leg?” he asked in a puzzled voice.

We both turned to the smiling bedazzled gingerbread man hanging in the window.


I just shrugged.

It must have broken when I hung him up there,” I said with a smile.  “But at least he’s cute.”

We smiled at each other and our little one-legged gingerbread man in our little farmhouse festooned with homemade Christmas decorations.

Decorated with love.

This Christmas desk with holiday ribbons and a red and white wreath add festive elements to the room.

I was so busy over the next week….wrapping and drinking hot chocolate and window shopping and watching “Prancer” on television….

….that I forgot all about the gingerbread man with the missing leg.


Until I saw another one on the tree…..

…..missing part of his head.

And another one….missing part of his arm.

And then…..I heard one as it dropped to the ground…..

….completely chewed to pieces.

The armoire equipped with two red wreaths and coinciding white Christmas trees is holiday decor at its finest.


And jumped on a chair.

Wildly hopping around and hands waving and yelling for my husband to immediately get every gingerbread man out of our farmhouse….as far away as possible.

Because those half-eaten gingerbread men were no accident.

It seems we had plenty of friends.

Of the furry four-legged whiskered variety that were enjoying Christmas at the farmhouse, too.

This Christmas mantel with numbered candles adds holiday cheer to the living room.

I don’t think I really ever recovered.

As a matter of fact….I’m sure.

Because when I unpacked those 37 boxes of Christmas decorations…..full of ornaments and garland and trees and mistletoe…..I double checked one more time…..just to be sure…..

…..that there was not a gingerbread man in sight. 🙂


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  1. Image for Beverly Beverly

    Surprise! I made gingerbread men the first Christmas in our first home, too. The difference is we ate ours. I even made one for our dog. I've been busy "de-Autumning" this morning so that the Christmas decorating can commence. And, I had some Thanksgiving dressing for breakfast. Happy Holidays KW.♥ It is looking wonderful as you're decking the halls.

  2. Image for Peggy Peggy

    Oh KariAnne, I knew exactly where this was going when you mentioned old farmhouse... you see we've been in that situation. and it wasn't too long afterwards that we got a cat, a wonderful mouser of a cat, a big ole tom who had lived on his own out in the "wild" of a cat, a big lover boy of a cat who took his job seriously! You poor, poor thing! (we currently have a mouse or two in our garage who has been eluding traps... ugh!) Enjoy your decorating! Currently I'm playing around trying to avoid finishing up some decorating work I started but am not sure how to finish as well trying to decide where to hang my childhood chandelier.. :) A friend rewired it and fixed it for free... it almost makes me cry I'm so happy! We bought it in Germany when I was a girl and my mom had it hung in every single rental we ever lived in.... and now it will grace our home! Have a wonderful day!

  3. Image for Michele Michele

    I screamed too. Oh my goodness! Sweet post of Christmas past! Love your white and red - totally different from my decorating so really fun to see! Heading over to check out her monograms now, thanks - I was seriously coveting yours earlier then got to the end and whoo hoo now I know where it came from. Happy leftover eating! xxoo

  4. Image for Pinky Pinky

    Hi and happy Friday!!! I am waiting for guests today so can't even take the fall stuff down yet:(:( I am SO antsy to get started. I LOOOOOVE your erd and white tree in the bedroom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now I want a tree in our room too. I won't tell my hubby you are my inspiration:) I remember our firat tree too, and the fact that there were precious FEW presents under that tree for our new son. But I remember those days as being WONDERFUL. I hope you never see another "critter"again:):) XO, Pinky

  5. Image for Scribbler Scribbler

    This is hysterical! Fortunately all those years ago, my mother told me that down here in the South it was not a good idea to put anything edible on a tree unless it is tightly wrapped! Roaches and other varmints will have a field day, for sure! I do use candy canes sometimes, but they stay in the wrapper. I am pretty sure I have some that may be petrified by now, so old the probably are. My cousins out on the dairy farm always strung cranberries and popcorn to put on theirs -- but their tree was put up Christmas Eve and removed the day after Christmas. If they ever had unwelcome visitors, I guess they never mentioned it. But my mother still would not let us do it -- so who knows? I used to have an arts and crafts shop and I had a lady who made fake ones out of some kind of inedible dough. They looked like the real thing. For those crafty enough, I guess that is the way to go. Hope you all had a great TGV!

  6. Image for shirley@housepitalitydesigns shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    Now, if you hadn't said it was definitely the four legged, whiskered, lightning speed creatures, I would have said that maybe my brother was in your house...for you see, my brother (bless his heart) was always doing that sort of thing to us girls...we girls who carefully baked and proudly displayed our creations, only to find a bite taken out of them... Love your "decking the halls" beautiful Kari!!... Love those monograms!! monogram from Southern Proper will go from the wall to a wreath soon!!....Have a happy!!!

  7. Image for Jean Jean

    Love all of the red and white! When my husband and I were first married and living in Oregon, we shortly found out we had visitors, as well. We had mice AND rats! The mice were quiet...the rats....not so much. I could hear then nibbling the walls as we tried to sleep! We realized they were being attracted by our very close-proximity neighbors who were vegetarians and were piling their veggie remains in a compost heap. Ugh! A few weeks and some d-con later, awful smells. I hate rodents!!

  8. Image for Jackie A Jackie A

    Beautiful Kari! I was really hoping for some pics of those gingerbread men, tho ; ) We just got over a mini-mouse invasion and we are smack dab in the middle of the city. Guess they're impartial as long as there's food involved!

  9. Image for Nana Diana Nana Diana

    Oh- i loved this story. I had Gingerbread men all over our house, too. the first year I noticed a few were missing their arms and legs but only about 3 foot up on the tree. Then, I watched in awe as the 2 year old went over to the tree and quietly bit off yet another leg. Did you ever change a "gingerbread"{ diaper? It is NOT pretty! Blessings to you- Everything is looking beautiful at your house. xo Diana

  10. Image for Deanne Deanne

    You wouldn't hang real food on Christmas trees here in Australia they would be swarming with flies and cockroaches and maybe mice too (except we have cats) in no time! Here's to a fake decorations at Christmas. Cheers!

  11. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Great story! It goes so well with cold stuffing, more football, and Christmas bins! I don't know where to start. I don't quite have 37...but, it's still overwhelming. More pretty pictures, please Karianne! ;)

  12. Image for momstheword momstheword

    Loved all your pictures! Love the red and white. I pinned your bedroom - so pretty. The mice - not so much. I KNOW that I would freak out if I saw one. Ugh! We had a beagle who ate some of the Christmas decorations off the tree, lol! One of the ornaments was made out of an ice cream cone. She ate half of the cone, lol! We still hang it in memory of her. I have a question. In one of your shots there's a red word that is lying across some red and white boxes, (with a little red and white ball to the right of it). I have to admit that I just can't figure out what the word says. I thought it was "Believe" but it looks like it starts with an "R" but it doesn't look like "rejoice." I know this isn't life-altering but it's driving me crazy that I can't figure it out, lol! So, please satisfy my curiosity and tell me, what's the word?

  13. Image for Doreen Doreen

    Well, that was too funny! Our home is in the country and one year I found that something had been in my sealed Christmas containers that were in the attic. I now have a couple cats that go outside and they do the trick! And, love the red and white theme - very striking and so you! Those reindeer look familiar too! Blessings, Doreen

  14. Image for Pat Pat

    I love, love all the red! My favorite color ~ Your home is so beautiful and this room looks stunning! I can't imagine having a bedroom that large so please enjoy it for me too. :) I would have been on top of the table myself ~ eek! Those things scare me to death. Sounds like such a wonderful beginning though with your little tree, red ornaments and ribbons. Can't wait to see more!

  15. Image for Susan @ Afford Your Passions Susan @ Afford Your Passions

    I was thinking you must have had a dog that had decided to eat the gingerbread men :) For years, we did without a Christmas tree, because we couldn't afford fancy ornaments, and I didn't want to buy cheap ornaments just to decorate a tree. So, for about 10 years, I collected ornaments (Lladro balls and bells, Waterford Crystal ornaments, Wedgwood chin ornaments), until I felt happy that I had enough to do justice to a tree. It was worth the wait - I love my collected ornaments, and am sad that I can't keep them on display year-round. :( Enjoy your weekend, Karianne. Love your pictures!

  16. Image for bj bj

    OMGosh....this so reminds me of the first Christmas my daughter was married. Just 20 and thrilled to be decorating her first Christmas tree. They lived in the country and she had a precious mobile home. Her tree was so cute...she and Jent strung colored cereal on pretty ribbons and hung on their tree...Over the next few days, all that was left was that pretty ribbon...those field mice LOVED that colored, sugary cereal and ate every crumb. Needless to say, she won't put ANYthing on her tree that might attract those little furry monsters. :)

  17. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    Don't you love how those family stories make up who we are, now? My mom, for their first Christmas, bought FAKE gingerbread men ornaments. They looked so real, she put them on a plate. Poor Dad. He thought he was coming home to freshly-baked cookies. Much to his chagrin , and Mom's delight, he took a bite of the styrofoam delicacy, and we have a holiday story that we still laugh about! Beautiful red and white, and I LOVE the monograms! Hope you had as great a Thanksgiving as I! :)

  18. Image for Teresa Teresa

    What a thoughtful Christmas gift you gave to those little furry friends that Christmas year. I'm sure they thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite!

  19. Image for Stephanie @ The Hardscrabble Home Stephanie @ The Hardscrabble Home

    That's funny!! I baked and hung gingerbread men on my tree one year, too! It must have been around 1993 when I did that. Decorating the Christmas tree each year can bring back some pretty funny memories. One year, when I was about 8 and my brother was 5, we were string popcorn while sitting on the floor. We worked and we worked. Michael couldn't figure out why his string of popcorn didn't seem to get any longer. Turns out our little cockapoo Mimi was behind him eating them as fast as he could string them! lol Another year, us four kids made Christmas ornaments out of salt dough. One looked exactly like a chocolate chip cookie. So much so, that our other dog (who was quite large) made a mad dash to eat it off the tree and knocked the tree over in the process. Lastly, about 12 years ago the kids & I had just finished decorating our tree. We stood back to admire it. I started looking at it from the top of it's ten foot tall branches and scanned downward. Halfway thru something caught my eye. An ornament that I didn't remember hanging? Well, in a way. Looking closer it turned out to be our cat Basil. She was happily perched inside of the tree, peering out at us. All you could see was her little face framed by artificial tree branches. Silly cat. Happy Decorating Karianne!

  20. Image for Anne Anne

    Precisely why I have two big cats. Not a mouse to be found within 100 feet of the house :) and no gingerbread men either. My dog LOVES cookies... Happy decorating Kari! I'm celebrating with a holiday classic movie - Dirty Dancing. OK so it's not a 'holiday' classic, but I love it anyway.

  21. Image for Laura Laura

    Eeeeew!!! I am the most rodent phobic person in the world. My first Christmas as a married woman in a farmhouse. I was pulling the two Christmas boxes out of the kitchen cupboard and a mouse jumped out on my arm. I screamed and jumped on top the kitchen table and yelled at the dog to go get it. He jumped up there with me. He never was much of a mouser. Love all your red :) Hugs, Laura

  22. Image for Shannon Fox Shannon Fox

    Eek! I think I would ban them too. Of course.. now that would almost cruel if I did. My cats would love it though ;) Everything is looking so lovely. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.


    I love the red and white decor in your bedroom, it is so fresh and crisp. Very, very pretty. You can sure tell a great story, thanks for sharing! xo Kathysue

  24. Image for Jo-Anna Jo-Anna

    Such a nice story...some of my most favourite memories are from my newlywed days too! And your home now - my goodness it's gorgeous! Your bedroom looks amazing and it's inspiring me to bring some Christmas into mine too! Have a great weekend! Jo-Anna

  25. Image for gee gee

    ohmygoodness!!! I would have screamed as well. I cannot abide mice.... eeeeehhhhhkkkkkkk!!! I squealed with you as I read. Just finished most of the house, with the exception of the Master, and then I see your beautiful red and white decorated Master bedroom. I want to go do mine now.. but I am knackered... tired.. done it!!! I don;t have 37 boxes. I have 8 crates that according to the Mr. are large enough to hide bodies on. Hmmm.. they are NOT that big. Are they?? Maybe :-) Beautiful red and white Karianne. ((HUGS)) Gee

  26. Image for Gloria Gloria

    Karianne: I'm still laughing & grinning! I love to read any of your posts, comments, stories, etc. You have a BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL style of writing -- & I simply LOVE it! I love your master bedroom : peaceful & comforting. Yet, full of energy, light & life. I have never in my life made gingerbread men. Now, I doubt that I ever will. I love mice -- not the live ones, though they can be cute, too -- but not in my home or anywhere I might see them. You put your whole life into your writings; I feel as if I'm riding in your pocket, seeing everything through your eyes as well as my own. You can make your words into works of art! I have only TEN boxes of decorations, not 37! But, each does hold memories and stories of not such great times or days, butmore often than not just pulling ONE thing from the box will put a big smile on every face in that room. Sweetest of thoughts, shared carefully with each other even as we create new, happy memories as we empty the boxes. Learning to Love you through your gift of words. Thank You.

  27. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    LOL!! Great story. Poor gingerbread men. Poor you. Didn't know you'd be causing the creatures to stir, did you? Oh my gosh, that is too funny. Love your red and white tree and pretty decorations. And 37 boxes. I am in awe. I have maybe 12 or 15. :) Thanks for sharing! :)

  28. Image for Stephanie @ The Cozy Old Farmhouse Stephanie @ The Cozy Old Farmhouse

    Hahaha! I love your story, so funny! Here's the story of our first Christmas. We were also very poor, so much so in fact that we didn't think we would even be able to buy a tree. But, we found one, a 7 footer at Walmart marked down to $18! It was all wrapped up in netting and we couldn't actually SEE the tree, but hey, it was $18, who cares, right? We brought it home and set it up and as soon as we jammed it down into the tree stand the whole middle of it fell out!! It was completely dead and dry in the middle and all the brown needles came pouring out all over the floor! But at least the outer part was still green. I did a primitive country type theme with ornaments given to me by my sister, and I added dried apple slices all over it. Well, after a week or so I realized they looked kinda funny. Upon closer inspection I discovered they were COVERED in ants and were half eaten! So in the trash they went. Then...a few days later, the slightly crooked trunk got the better of it and it toppled over. We had to anchor it to the wall with twine just to hold it upright after that. : ) Good memories.

  29. Image for Zolane Zolane

    I think I'll switch to making cinnamon "gingerbread boys" and keep my fingers crossed that little creatures don't like the taste of cinnamon :) Nothing better than your stories and pictures, KariAnne!!! And I absolutely love the red and white in your beautiful bedroom. Have fun decorating and can hardly wait to see the results :)

  30. Image for Susan Susan

    I love your post. It took me back a VERY long time to the same kind of Christmas. My husband took the two young missionaries out to a farm where he had permission to cut a cedar tree - and they were all arrested! But we did straighten it out and get the tree - two stories tall that we tied to the railing on our "mezzanine" in the converted carriage house where we lived. I decorated with tiny (and cheap!) 100-string lights, paper cut-outs, paper chains, and a box of paint-it-yourself wooden ornaments I bought for $4. I still have a few of those! We added popcorn and cranberry strings that the missionaries helped us make, and we went to Grandma's for dinner. It was so magical - and no mice! Though we did get a visit from them later - in a bottle of salad dressing - no clue how they got the top of that off, but it was an unhappy ending for them. Thanks for reminding me!

  31. Image for Yvonne @ StoneGable Yvonne @ StoneGable

    I made gingerbread men one year and all the one on the lower third of the tree suffered the same fate as yours... only it was a visiting dog that was the culprit!!! Beautiful decorations, KariAnne! Love the white and red... it looks so crisp!! I just ordered 2 of those beautiful monograms! Can't wait to put them on my door wreath! I loved this fun story!

  32. Image for Jessica Cramer Jessica Cramer

    I can absolutely relate to your gingerbread story! We ended up getting a couple of cats to get rid of the mice, but mice and old houses go hand in hand. I don't think you will ever be rid of them. Love the red and white theme! Congrats on your Country Living Blue Ribbon blogger award by the way!

  33. Image for Becca Becca

    I would've screamed, too! I'm sure that it (they) were just as appreciative of your gingerbread men as you were. Love your holiday bedroom ... the pops of red are gorgeous (this is when I *wish* I had a fireplace in our bedroom, too ... sigh). Look forward to seeing more!

  34. Image for Deborah Carlson Deborah Carlson

    Beautiful post! I have to tell you..we have a lot in common here! I love "red" at Christmas as much as I love white all year round. I am working on a post about that very thing right now! ;) And I also make gingerbread at Christmas to put on the tree...I used to make the little men, but now I make hearts and hang them with jute. And Prancer...well, I adore that movie. Its one of my Christmas have-to-watch movies! So sweet! I loved hearing about your farmhouse and your decorating and Christmas beautiful! Deborah xo

  35. Image for Laura @ Our Prairie Home Laura @ Our Prairie Home

    Hilarious! What a great memory! And your decorations in red and white? It must be like living in a candy cane come to life. Absolutely beautiful!!

  36. Image for Miriam@BeBookBound Miriam@BeBookBound

    Decking the halls can hold such lovely surprises! Last year we opened the big Christmas tree box to find a whole family of mice! What a treat! :( I cried all afternoon while I bleached every branch of that tree because all I wanted to do was throw it out and pretend the whole debacle never happened, but I didn't have a new Christmas tree fund in my holiday budget :( I am getting our tree out today. Fingers crossed!

  37. Image for tara tara

    Your stories never cease to amuse me. You're hilarious. Loving every single detail of your room.....especially love the star hanging from the awesome! One of our trees is topless right now....thinking I might just try that for ours. :)

  38. Image for kristi P kristi P

    I love your post! Your home is darling and so comfortable. I love the candles on your fireplace are a great idea. The gingerbread story is similar to one I have with a lot of my daughter's "treasures" that I have saved oner the years. We have a tree for the girls in our family room with all of their annual ornaments that we give them along with Grandma"s. They decorate with a lll of their sweet and precious treasures and some extra glee ends up in the mix. It is so pretty :). Blessigs!

  39. Image for Jenna Jenna

    I will never look at gingerbread men the same again! Yikes what a cute {and creepy!} story! Your bedroom is elegant, and you've certainly made up for the early years of no decorations! Beautiful and thanks for a great story :) Jenna

  40. Image for Carolynn "Chenille Cottage" Carolynn "Chenille Cottage"

    Hi Karianne! What a great story! I think "not a creature was stirring...not even a mouse" might be a little off, don't you?!! So cute and such a great laugh I have enjoyed from your terrible tale! Merry christmas, sweet friend, Carolynn xxx

  41. Image for Gen Gen

    Ahh memories, lol, you'll never forget that christmas I bet :). I'm a gingerbread lover, and I do the sugar and spice themed trees using gingerbread men you buy from little debbie's and dip in poly and I also have these cute little stuffed mice ornaments as well that I hang on the tree with them LOL I'll think of you now everytime I put that tree up :)

  42. Image for Kim L. Kim L.

    Laughing sooo hard at this and Gen's comment too! We recently had an "incident" with a mouse in our house. Our cat found it and she played with it non-stop for three days before the Orkin man came to our rescue. He assured us that our home was just hooching with mice after I told him that there was just this one. He set traps everywhere to get them to all come out of the walls, the ceilings, the closets, etc. After all that, I was right, just one and he was promptly trapped that night and set free. Good thing I didn't have any gingerbread men!

  43. Image for annel annel

    Hello Karianne, What a hoot! You have to be careful with any edible decorations, even cookies, those little critters well find their way in no matter how TIGHT your home is, I spray all my homemade`s with shellac that way they won`t get their little teeth in the decoration`s! HA! Have a fun and creative holiday prep time! <3 Annel

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