The Ornament Tradition {Making Christmas Ours}


One of the traditions I'm so so grateful I started when my oldest was tiny is gifting personal ornaments each year. Every year at Christmas I give each of the kids and my husband a new ornament that somehow represents something from their year. As much as my personality and home decor taste normally cringes at any semblance of tchotchke or trinket, I see this as totally different. Maybe it's because they're reserved just for Christmas and they have a designated home on the tree (i.e. not cluttering up our house) and in theory they stay there during the Christmas season. But I think it's also because they have such a beloved and sentimental purpose. I absolutely love that their box of ornaments is a quirky and completely unique chronicle of their childhood, a little personal history of each of them that's then dappled all over the tree. They absolutely love going through their box when it's time to decorate the tree and recalling memories and deciding which one is their favorite this year. And I love that it helps me to remember phases and events that are now way back the crevices of mom memory. Remember when he used to dress like Aragorn almost every day? Remember how much you loved when we studied the Sistine Chapel? Remember when you were super into Lord of the Dance? (See? Quirky.) It makes me so happy to think about them having this box of memories when they someday leave and using them on their own tree someday, laughing at memories and knowing just a little bit more of who they are and where they were.

Some are store bought, many homemade, some are crazy weird, and some are Hallmark classics. I love them all even if I do have some favorites. I've spent anywhere from a few cents to make them to my limit of about $15. In the event of a fire, these are in the top five things to save (in case you wonder what I sometimes think about while drifting off to sleep). Sometimes it's hard to come up with what to do for a kid that year but I appreciate that it forces me to recollect and focus on each kid and think about what they've accomplished or where they're interests have collected that year. I make sure to write their name and the year somewhere on the ornament.

And yes, I would most definitely recommend starting something like this with a new family but maybe even if your kids are already older, too. I didn't officially start intentionally doing it until my oldest was about three. I fortunately realized we had two ornaments he received from his first few Christmases that worked to cover those years! I'm toying with the idea of in the future giving them on the feast of the Holy Family rather than Christmas morning like I have since they represent so much of our family history. But we'll see. I was too excited to give them this year to wait any longer :)

So here's this year's family ornaments:

This one for my husband is my favorite this year! I made it! I usually pick some new endeavor, accomplishment, or vacation memory. This year we didn't have any of those. The "only" (ha!) thing we did was have our sixth boy. So he got a quiver of six arrows with the Psalm reference about sons burned on. Thanks to the brilliance of Rosie for that idea!

There is shockingly not a huge selection of Saint Irenaeus ornaments out there so I made this for my oldest to represent his Confirmation received this year.


A mini-frisbee for my ultimate frisbee-loving second son

A microscope for my third born who is constantly doing experiments and all into science.

An Urchin the Squirrel for our seven year old. He's been reading The Mistmantle Chronicles at bedtime with my husband all year.

A digging truck for our three year old who has been all about digging trucks this year

And for every baby's first Christmas I make a whole bunch of handprint ornaments. I give one to grandparents, Godparents, and keep two for us (one for him to keep and one for us so we'll still have one when they're grown). I *highly* recommend using Model Magic to make handprint ornaments rather than plaster. It's so much easier to use and not nearly as fragile. One package makes all of them.


I've been getting so many questions about our family's Advent and Christmas traditions that I think I'm going to try to post a little more on some of the specific things we like to do. (Which, as life has been working lately, will mean that I will plan/want to do it and then end up getting absolutely zero time to write anything so don't hold your breath!) Right now I'm calling it Making Christmas Ours and I'll try to back tag old posts as well! I like having it for myself but I hope it'll be helpful to those that have been asking as well.

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