December 5, 2016


Jessica Strelecky



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Our Christmas Tree

While I was on the kick of documenting some very ordinary extraordinary moments in my personal life, I decided to capture the annual trimming of our Christmas tree.

As my trusty Nikon clicked away I couldn’t help but think of the history of our tree ceremony.

A Little Backstory

Our Family room is two stories. For as long as I can remember the family housed a spectacular, pre lit, 12 foot tree with two feet of space at the base.

That bad boy reached a whopping 14 feet into the air. It took two afternoons to assemble and another full afternoon to decorate. Last year the top third of the trees lights had blown out.


So for sanity reasons I opted to erect our older, less used, 8 foot tree.

Not using the giant tree makes me a little sad.

There was something about it’s grandeur, reaching so high and lighting up the family room with it’s thousands of twinkling white lights.

Best of all, it held SO many of our carefully collected ornaments.

You see, our Christmas Tree is more than just a pyramid of fake, plastic greenery & lights.

It is a scrapbook of our family to this point.

What Is on Our Christmas Tree?

Being that Christmas is my favorite holiday, it is only natural that we add special decor to our tree each year that reflects what is going on in our lives.

There are some very special moments reflected on our tree.

As you already know, traditions are extremely important to my family.

Each year when we gather the kids and reminisce as we open the lovingly packaged decorations and add them to the tree.

Everyone has their favorite ornaments and we take turns talking about the moments in our family history that relates to each piece.

Our Process

Of course glass balls go on first. We use both frosted & mirrored.

This process annoys the kids but having them nestled in the branches of the tree first makes a huge difference!

The next ornaments to adorn the tree are our special gold ornaments.

These belonged to my husband Mike’s parents. They were were loaned to us for our first Christmas.

The story goes that they were won in a raffle and they were always my husband favorite thing on his tree growing up. Once we got them on our tree, they were never going back!



In the 18 years that Mike and I have been married, we have added more “golden” ornaments to our collection.

His favorite is a trio of patriotic ornaments from Baldwin, also gifted to him by his parents.

The flag is always placed near the top of the tree.


MY favorite ornament to place on the tree is made for Disney by Baldwin.

It is the most delicate and intricate three dimensional  coach from cinderella.

While I was busy capturing the event, our youngest did the honors in place of Mamma!

She was so excited & proud to be allowed to put this one on our Christmas tree this year.


Kids Favorites

Once the ceremony of the golden ornaments is finished, it is time to adorn our Christmas tree with each of the kids first Christmas ornaments!

We talk about why we chose their ornament.

Each child loves to hear the story of their special tree decoration!

This one LOVED her silver rattle as an infant.

It was only natural to purchase Hallmark’s yearly Christmas keepsake that was a silver baby rattle for the year she was born



Our next daughter could have spent all day in a johnny-jumper (you know… the type that clamped to a doorway!?)

It just so happened that Hallmark won again! trim-the-tree-2016-14


We found our oldest son’s special ornament on his first trip to Disney World which was the week of Christmas.

It’s a classic Pooh Bear on a rocking horse, made by Lenox.



His little brother has yet another baby rattle from Hallmark. It is white porcelain.



Baby girl has always been drawn to bunnies. Her nursery decor was a neutral bunny theme & her loveys are all bunnies.

So when Hallmark had a sweet little stuffed bunny as the first Christmas ornament

for the year she was born,we felt like it was meant to be hers!


Other Pieces

After we had these very sentimental items added to the tree, we move onto other personal pieces.

First there are the collection of Starbucks Cups.

If you have read any of my Facebook or Instagram posts, you know that I love love love Starbucks!trim-the-tree-2016-35


Then there are the adornments that mark other events such as

our first Christmas as a married couple and the year we bought our home!



Decorations from our vacations have a special place on our tree too.

We especially love Disney World and always talk about those trips

when the corresponding ornaments go up on the tree.



Some of our favorites are ornaments that have been gifted to us by family members.

Each time we place these on the tree we fondly think about our family that is far away.

Somehow having their gift on our tree makes it feel like there are with us in this season of celebration.


We have a special Ornament to commemorate the year

we rescued our pair of mini schnauzers, Max and Ruby.

And Last, but not least, are all of the ornaments that our children have made through the years.

I always think back to when each child would beam with pride as we open the gift they made!

 They didn’t seem like much at the time but turned into something we treasure now.


At first this tree is a bare and simple evergreen with no story to tell.

After we finish putting all of our memories on it’s branches, this plain old tree is transformed into the storybook of our life.

It is no longer a basic symbol of the holiday… it is Our Christmas Tree.

our christmas tree jessicabarrett photography williamsburg va

Leave me a comment below & tell me about YOUR tree!


  1. Jamie Regino says:

    Aw I am obsessed with Christmas! Its so awesome that you guys have such fun traditions! I love your tree! Beautiful! I think being a successful family photographer starts with understanding the importance of family. And Williamsburg, Va sure has found a winner with you being their premier family photographer!

    • Jessica barrett photography says:

      I am obsessed with Christmas too… I am like the real life version of Buddy the Elf (from the movie Elf)! Such a lovely compliment, thank you so very much!

  2. Mindy says:

    I absolutely love the personal touch of this whole story, and can relate on so many levels! Such a beautiful way to document your history! Tree trimming would be such a great lifestyle family photography session for anyone in Williamsburg!

  3. Melissa says:

    What a beautiful tradition to have with your family. They’re so lucky that you are a photographer and can capture these moments. I’d love to schedule a session with you this spring. We also live in a Williamsburg!

    • Jessica barrett photography says:

      thank yoU! I don’t think the KIDS realize how lucky they are that I am a photographer… I know they will appreciate it when they are older. Can’t wait to chat!

  4. Robin Collins says:

    As a fellow photographer, this is the IDEAL family Christmas session! You’ve really captured memories here, as I know my 3 kids LOVE to decorate our tree. It’s much smaller though, haha.
    Next time I’m in Williamsburg, Va I’d love to have you capture a unique session for our family like this! I’ll be in touch!

    • Jessica barrett photography says:

      what an amazing compliment! thank yoU!! I kind of cringed that my kids were in their finest lounge wear…. but it’s pretty organic for our family (HA!). They hate seeing my camera come out but I know that they will cherish these kinds of images when they are grown. Looking forward to chatting with you!

  5. Amanda says:

    I love all of the details you’ve captured. I am looking into traveling to Williamsburg soon and would like to contact you for a family photography session.

    • Jessica barrett photography says:

      I would love that! I can recommend some must-do things for while you are here as well!

  6. Rebecca says:

    This is one of the most thoughtful blogs I have read in awhile. I am looking for a family photographer in Williamsburg, Va and you’d be PERFECT!

  7. Amber Balous says:

    Your tree is absolutely beautiful! You are such a great photographer. I would love to have an in-home family session similar to this one. Sending you an email now!

  8. Christie says:

    What a beautiful tree and photos that capture such a special time for your family! you are quite a talented family photographer Williamsburg, Va!

  9. Valerie says:

    I just adore decorating the tree for Christmas! I was wondering if in the future I could hire you as a family photographer to do a sort of lifestyle session like you have captured here only perhaps with our bedtime routine for our kiddos? I think that would be so adorable. We are in Williamsburg, Va which I think is where you are from so that would be perfect!

  10. Teala says:

    These are my favorite kind of photos! The ones that tell the story of a family! It’s funny because even though you are in Williamsburg, families from all over can relate to your story and the way it was photographed!

  11. Melissa says:

    what a neat story and awesome tradition!

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