We’re not very “fussy” tree decorators. You’ll probably never find us laboring over something like an “All Paisley Bow Tie Hollywood Regency” theme tree. We like our trees to be fun.

While our main holiday tree stands in the Palladian window of the second floor hallway so that our neighbors can see it driving by, we also often put a tree in our library/living room so that we can enjoy it while sitting by the fire.  Since most of our ornaments go on the big upstairs tree, we decorate the downstairs tree with handmade or natural ornaments. When we hang these handmade ornaments, we often think of all the children who celebrated Christmas at the Beekman in years past.  Here’s how we honor them:

For the 1950-70’s Beekman children, we string old, large colored light strings that we found in the attic. In this age of geometric LED light netting, many of us forget how fun these big ole’ bulbs look.

For Beekman kids who lived in the 1920-30’s – the era of the “Good Ship, Lollipop” – we make giant hard candy ornaments, and hang candy canes. (Directions in the slideshow.)

For the wee Victorian Beekmans, we fill up our paper “Victorian Horns of Plenty” with popcorn and candies…just like they might have found on their tree. (Directions in the slideshow.)

And for the original Beekman children, who celebrated the very first Christmas in the Beekman Mansion, we decorate with dried orange slices. (Directions in the slideshow.)

Well, maybe we do make a “theme tree” after all.

Except that it’s one that’s more fun than work.

by Josh and Brent

Reader Comments

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Bonnie Bennett

Josh, You are handsome either way. But, you do look younger without it. Just do what makes yall happy.. love you guys. Merry Christmas.
Oh by the way, everyone on my Christmas list is going to have a Very Merry Beekman Christmas this year.

Beth Robinson

Your tree is lovely and I appreciate your effort to respect all Beekman’s children. How you have time to do all this is beyond me. Have you ever thought about tying clear ribbon candy on the tree vs the homemade? You gentlemen always seem to find the beauty, no matter the effort involved, in all you do. I noticed this year that more exterior lights seem to be appearing. Wonder if people are more hungry for the spirit and beauty of the holidays? Blessings to you both as the season unfolds.


Big lights that looked so tempting, but burned your fingers if touched. And if one went out they all went out. I miss those days, sigh.


I love your tree. I will be trying these two ideas. What will next year bring? I love those ” tinsicles” that you can buy at Cobbler & Co. I look forward to seeing your ideas for next year. You have such great ideas!

Steve Welch

I love your Christmas trees. I like the old ornaments on them as well. I am a huge Christmas fan. BTW – love how you two are seeking to preserve history. Congrats on your Amazing Race win!


I too use the dried oranges, but, right after the New Year I take the tree outdoors, stand included and place it in the garden. I then add fresh fruits and cranberry/popcorn garlands, along with pine cones rolled in peanut butter and bird seed. The birds love the buffet and we love watching all the birds. Plus, we get to enjoy the tree all winter long.

Marcia Staples

Thats a very good Idea, I spend a fair amount of time filling all the feeders so this might be longer lasting solution and I can put it in front to watch them all the time!

Sandy Smith

Being Jewish, I never had a Christmas tree growing up. As soon as I had my own home, which was a small drafty house on a farm in Desoto, KS outside of Kansas City, I put up my first tree. I wanted it old fashioned and found some of the homemade orange slice ornaments at a garage sale. They were always my FAVORITES and I still have them 40 years later! I made sure a light was right behind them so they glowed. So nice to see them on your tree!

Julie Hinkens

Beautiful tree…love the ornament ideas, always looking for new ones…Merry Christmas Boys…love ya!!

Phyllis Petras

Every Christmas I read A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. It makes me remember a simpler time, when I got a pair of skates, some stationary, some green marbles pine bath oil, and a book. I never wanted anything else! This year, I am just reading the story and blessing us all.

Barbara Shannon-Brown

I love that story also, it’s one of my Christmas favorites. I played the video while baking cookies this year. Of course we did not send the Obama’s any treats, as they sent the the president fruit cake.

Kimberly Hayes

What a beautiful way to pay tribute to the past! Will definitely try the candy ornaments next year plus the orange slices … bet your tree smells so good! This year we decided not to get a tree but instead created our own version on the wall with lighted garland and small unique ornaments! It has made us smile every time we look at it! Happy Holidays to you and your families and your extended Sharon Springs family!

Rita Skaggs

I love the idea of honoring all of the Beekman children. The tree is lovely. Simplicity is the best thing there can be. I found a little 9 inch tree and put a strand of clear lights on it with an Avon bottle which is shaped like a pot belly stove beside it. I also took another strand of multi-colored lights and wrapped them around my Mother In-Law Tongue plant which stands around 3 feet high…regretfully…one of my cats (Boz) chewed through the lights so I took them off. To me my little tree is the most beautiful tree in the world because I decorated it all by myself.


Enjoyed this so much! Really makes me miss the old-fashioned Christmas trees i knew as a child. I especially love a tree that shimmers like ice, covered with tinsel icicles, but i have had pets for the last 30 years, so i couldnt use them, as pets love to swallow them, and can be killed by them slicing through their intestines. Was not worth the risk. But i sure miss the icy look, and i love the big bulbs and old ornaments, and the aroma of fruit slices on the tree.
Sure puts me in a nostalgic Christmas mood.

Susan and Ben Pontious

I love how creative and simply beautiful your ideas are. Thank you for sharing.


this is why we all love you two! merry Christmas boys, pussy cats,and goats, chickens, Farmer John, and most important Polka Queen xoxo always be true to yourselves.

Suzanne Koba

Wow, just read this and know what I’ll have two of our grandkids today. I have a big bag of jolly ranchers that have gotten a bit sticky so now will become ornaments. Thank you for a good idea.

Bev Nan Murphy

When we had two year olds, we used only edible ornaments. Gingermen,popcorn/cranberry garlands,candy canes,dried oranges; the tree stood against the living room stairs. Second day, tree was stripped from bottom up to height of 2 feet.
Third day, nothing remained on its backside (next to stairs) for the little guys had, once there were no more ornaments they could reach on front, attacked it from the back as they clambered up the stairs. ~ Kiddos were not too interested in sweet stuff for remainder of the holidays. It was, in memory, our most favorite tree. : ) Thanks loves for keeping the spirit so alive and wonder filled. Love you both dearly. Bev Nan Murphy

Vitta Fernandez

Love the trees! I’m with you guys, I really don’t like a very fussy tree. First we put the lights on and then the next day we put the ornaments. These ornaments have come from family and thrift stores. There are some salt dough ornaments that my daughter painted when she was a little girl (she is now 30) and this year there will be new salt dough ornaments painted by my grandchildren, 4 & 6. There are some ornaments made from real eggs that a friend of my mom used to make. There are cardinals that sit waiting patiently for Santa on branches. There are antique rocking horses, painted glass ornaments, porcelain ornaments. There are even ornaments that I remember going to 14th street in Manhattan a VERY long time ago and getting with my mom. The Christmas tree for us is more a tree where the memories of years gone by get dusted and put out for everyone to see during the holiday season. It’s a time of joy as well as nostalgia as we remember Christmases past. Each one is a memory that might bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye. As we sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor our hearts are filled with the warmth of family, albeit a small one, but a family nonetheless. Even though there are not a lot of presents under the tree or a lavish dinner our hearts are glad. And, in our own silent way we say thank you for all that we have. Merry Christmas, Josh and Brent, and family….

Marie Chilcote

I love your description of your tree and your sentiments. We don’t do a tree anymore. But we live on the same road as a Christmas tree farm and our road that is never busy except the month before Christmas is really busy now with fresh cut trees in trucks or tied to the top of the car. Merry Christmas to you .