Ever since I first started college, it’s become a family tradition to buy and decorate our Christmas tree the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving. This year was no exception. It took a few different stops at a couple Christmas tree places due to what seems to be a Christmas tree shortage this year and a busy holiday weekend, but we did find a great tree and brought it home on Saturday. On Sunday, my mom and I spent all day prepping the house for Christmas! She really loves to bring out the festive decorations and I am her main helper elf. My dad’s idea of helping is bringing all the boxes out of storage and then taking a nap 🙂
My favorite part of Christmas decorating is pulling out all of our ornaments. When my parents first started traveling, my dad suggested that we collect Christmas ornaments from each destination. My mom really loves finding unique and handmade ones in particular, and because my parents prioritized traveling, we have tons of ornaments! I have recently become in charge of unwrapping all of them and the primary tree-decorator in the house, and it’s always so nice for the trip down memory lane with all of the older ornaments and whatever additions my mom has this year. I thought it would be fun to have a post about some of my favorite ornaments; pulling them out each year is like seeing old friends again. I actually didn’t get a photo of our decorated tree since we had to meet some family for dinner, oops.
It’s pretty fitting that one of my favorite ornaments is one from Germany – it’s where the tradition of Christmas trees began! My parents have had this ornament since before I was even born, from their first trip to Europe in the late 80s. They brought back several wooden ornaments home that we still have and use today, but this one is my favorite from the group. They also bought a real wooden cuckoo clock that hung in our living room, and as a kid I would get so excited each morning to pull the strings to wind it each day.
Cross Stitch Heart
The writing is faded a lot, but if you look closely you can see “2003” and “Danni” written on the bottom of the frame. I actually made this one! My mom taught me how to cross stitch as a kid and this was my first ever completed piece. (It’s also my only completed piece – I haven’t cross stitched in a very long time, but I really should start again.) I’m pretty proud of myself for how it turned out. While it’s small, a counted cross stitch can be pretty time-consuming and I definitely remember having to pull out some mistakes due to incorrect counts.
My parents brought back this little wooden fishing boat from Mykonos, Greece in 2007. It’s a little hard to tell in this picture, but it’s very small – maybe 2.5 inches long? – and fits in the palm of your hand. I love the bright colors and seeing it sailing on the tree every year.
My younger cousin Robert is really artistic, just like his dad – I am not sure where these genes came from, because I feel like the rest of the family is decidedly not artistically bent! He’s always creating something new, and he really got into wireworking a few years back. It might be a little hard to see due to it being a wire piece and the pine needles, but it’s a red wire reindeer he made for my mom. It’s actually quite large for an ornament – I think a little taller than my hand – so I’ve started placing it really early on in the decorating process to make sure it has a good spot. (For any Game of Thrones fans, the ornament in the top right is actually an empty bottle of King’s Gold Mead which we bought at The Cuan Hotel in Strangford, Northern Ireland this past summer! The Cuan was the cast and crew’s hotel/restaurant of choice when filming seasons 1 and 2 of GOT’s Winterfell scenes.)
Gondola & Gondolier
My parents visited Venice in 2007 and brought home this gondola ornament, and I love it! Venice is known for (amongst other things) both their canals and lovely glasswork, so this little glass gondolier navigating his gondola is the perfect souvenir.
German Christmas Pyramid
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be this ornament! A Christmas pyramid is a traditional German Christmas carousel-like decoration made of wood. It has an outer structure that is (typically) pyramid-shaped (hence the name) and an inner carousel attached to a rotor fan on top. Candles are lit in candleholders attached to the outer structure, and the warm air propels the rotor fan and carousel.
I went to the German Christmas markets with my parents in 2016 and we found this tiny one in Dresden. It really spins! The ornament is actually very close in size to the image portrayed in the picture (so maybe 2.5″ in diameter? I am terrible at size/distance estimations). Germany has some really lovely wooden crafts, especially Christmas ones, and this is no exception. The photo doesn’t do it justice as the miniature tree has teeny-tiny shaved pieces for the branches.