One of the great things about decorating the Christmas tree is pulling out the ornaments that have become family heirlooms over the years. The ones inherited from parents or those that were gifts from friends transform the process into a memory-filled day of nostalgia. If the tree is full of generic decorations, it’s never too late to start building a collection of meaningful ornaments that will grow into a treasured trove of memories over the years.
Start by buying ornaments that celebrate the interests and personalities of family members. Each year, try adding an ornament or two that commemorates a family event, vacation or interest. Over the years, the collection grows and decorating the tree will become a walk down memory lane for everyone. Here are some examples of the types of ornaments that you can collect — or gift to others.
Major Family Milestones
There’s nothing like an ornament that marks a major family milestone to bring back memories as the years go by. It’s possible to find one for just about anything. This one is in honor of baby’s first Christmas, but there are plenty of other firsts to add to the tree: An engagement, a marriage, a new home, graduation — just about all the milestones. This is another kind of decoration that makes a great gift for family or friends. Of course, the ornament doesn’t have to literally spell out the occasion. A baby bottle or rattle ornament would also be ideal, for example.
Celebrating family hobbies is another popular way to choose themed ornaments. Have a baker in the family? Try adding ornaments to the tree that are in the shape of brightly colored baked goods like cakes, cupcakes, cookies and doughnuts. Baking tools such as rolling pins, whisks and cookie cutters are also fitting choices. People who have a sweet tooth will also appreciate ornaments in the shape of candies and treats.
Maybe it’s not so much a hobby as something that a family member likes a great deal like sweets — or wine. Themes ornaments can include wine casks, glasses, bottles, corks, grapes and other related wine-related items. This is the case for just about any interest. It might be a little more challenging to find an ornament specific to their interest, but there will be any that are related in some way, making it super easy to add to the collection.
Ornaments of outdoor elements are easy to find and are perfect for hobbyists or just enthusiasts. Flower ornaments like these are great for gardeners or simply those who enjoy flowers — or maybe even a florist.
Travel is an easy category to find special ornaments. From US states to international locations, decorations highlighting the main features of the place are fantastic gifts. One idea would be to buy an ornament for every major trip. Or, maybe try dedicating the ornaments to a single location like a state. Not only are there state-specific ornaments, like this one from Oregon, but other ornaments can highlight the main features of the place, such as natural elements, products from the state, or iconic sights in the area.
Travel-related ornaments don’t have to be tied to far-flung locations and can celebrate places closer to home as well. Maybe there’s a favorite diner, hiking trail or other place that’s a family favorite. Or, perhaps a family tradition involves a specific place like a skating rink or restaurant. It’s likely there’s a fitting ornament to celebrate that location too. Use your imagination to find ornaments that are special to family and friends.
Just about every profession imaginable has an ornament to mark it. These are especially good for recent graduates of a certain specialty, such as a doctor. In addition to decorations that specifically spell out the profession, there are plenty that depict the job in different ways. Animals wearing various hats or tools of the trade are popular. Can’t find something specific to the job? Search online to find customizable ornaments from large companies and smaller hand-crafters alike.
Holiday Books and Movies
Every family has a favorite holiday movie or show that can easily be represented with different kinds of ornaments. The simplest example is the classic Nutcracker because so many types of decorations are available in a range of styles. All the main characters come as ornaments and different related ornaments can also commemorate the story. And speaking of stories, maybe the children have a beloved holiday story, so that would be another idea for themed ornaments to add to the tree.
Cute and cuddly, funky and whimsical or exotic — animals always make good ornaments. The best thing is that they are definitely available in different styles. Especially if it is a rustic Christmas tree or one that has a homespun feeling, a glittery animal ornament won’t go with it. Instead, choose more natural looking animals like the little piggy above. Another idea is to get ornaments that look like family pets.
Similar to the travel theme, these ornaments celebrate a geographical region — the seashore. Ideal for those who live or vacation on the beach, seaside-related ornaments are easy to find and collect and are one of the simpler categories to use for creating a themed Christmas tree. Even a modest collection over the years can easily be turned into a themed tree by adding plain ornaments in the same color palette.
What is the holiday season for if not to celebrate the love of family and friends? Ornaments depicting love in different forms are ideal. These two sock monkeys are fun as are decorations that spell out the word or incorporate hearts. Lovebirds and all sorts of paired ornaments are also options for depicting warmth and love.
There are no rules for what constitutes a themed ornament or how to mark the special qualities and personalities of family and friends. With some planning and imagination, it’s easy to come up with themed ornaments that can be the basis of a family tradition or a gifting tradition to friends. This year, take a look at the Christmas tree and see what memories some of the old ornaments stir up. These are the special decorations that people will cherish for years to come.