A military themed tree is more than simply hanging military figurines or going with red, white, and blue decorations. Instead it is an opportunity to exhibit the traditions and complexities of military service.
Identify the Service or Services to Feature
The first planning decision is to decide what branch of service is to be honored. The tree may be intended to honor a specific individual who was in a specific branch, such as an airman in the Air Force. Or the tree could honor all of the veterans and service members in the family. While a family may be associated with a specific branch, it is not unusual for family members to belong to multiple branches.
The branch or branches chosen help determine the color scheme for the themed tree. Colors have distinct meanings to different military groups.
U.S. Air Force
Ultramarine Blue represents the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Air Force Yellow represents the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel.
Blue and Silver are also used by the U.S. Air Force with blue representing the sky and silver representing the metal of the aircraft.
U.S. Marine Corps
The Marine Corps does not assign official meaning to the colors of scarlet and gold. The red piping on Marine Corps uniform jackets come from the Revolutionary War Redcoat (British Soldier) uniforms of which American Marines turned inside out and used as their own. The red strip on uniform pants represents the bloodshed from the Battle of Chapultepec.
Blue represents the Ocean and Seas. Gold is the color of integrity and valor.
Black represents the black gun powder used in muskets and canons during the Revolutionary War. Gold represents the gold buttons worn on the uniform of the Continental Army. Each division or corps of the U.S. Army has unique colors as well. For a complete list of the U.S. Army division and corps colors see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army_branch_insignia#Branch_of_service_insignia
Using thematic colors allows you to use generic decorations or create your own using the dominant colors.
Once a base layer of lights and ornaments is chosen it is time to choose specialty ornaments, if desired. The Marine Corps Association and Foundation shop offers an excellent example of the types of specialty ornaments that can be found. Miniature nutcrackers in service uniform and colors, vehicle ornaments, ornament balls with emblems, service member figurines, dog tags, and even service themed tree skirts.
Specialty Military Ornaments Available at Amazon
Be Inspired By the 2011 White House Tree
In 2011 the White House Blue Room Christmas tree was decorated to honor military families. Photo frames with medals, service ribbons, and holiday cards made by the children of military families adorned the tree.