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My Christmas ornament collection was not an original idea; My parents collected jewelry from their travels and displayed it on our family Christmas tree. I’ve always loved this tradition and when I got engaged to my husband we took it up. We have around 30 ornaments in our collection so far and new ones are added to our Christmas box every year.
Since the beginning of this tradition, my husband and I have picked up a piece of jewelry from every city or country we have visited together. We have a bull ornament from when we went to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain; a lemon from our honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast; a sailboat from a visit to Amelia Island, Florida; an oyster shell from a New Year’s Eve spent in New Orleans; a conch shell angel from a family vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands; an armadillo from Cotton Bowl, Texas; a streetcar from a trip to San Francisco; The list goes on.
Finding a piece of jewelry when visiting a new place is always on our “must do” travel list, but my husband and I have a competition to find the perfect one. Sometimes we find things that aren’t ornaments at all, which then becomes an unexpected exercise in creativity. For example, we found a tiny replica of the marble Sculpture Bocca della Verita in a gift shop in Rome. We knew it would make a perfect Christmas tree ornament, but it was quite heavy and didn’t have a hook or hanger. We had to glue ribbon to the back and buy some sturdy decorative hooks, but it’s now one of my favorite pieces and always deserves a prominent place in front of our Christmas tree.
Other pieces of jewelry have been given to us by family members to mark important events in our lives: we have a ring box for our engagement, a “first married” Christmas ornament, and a house ornament for the purchase of our first home together. Our tree will never look like a perfectly coiffed masterpiece. It’s imperfect and even a little cheesy, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Our eclectic hodgepodge of ornaments is rooted in tradition and unwrapping has become a treasured ritual for our family. Every year after our tree is fanned, my husband and I open a bottle of champagne and our jewelry box that has been hidden in the attic for a year. As we pull each ornament from its compartment, we reflect on the travels, the memories made and the lives we’ve built together.
Our jewelry collection has grown by dozens of treasures over the years, which is a great reminder for us this holiday season how blessed we are to be able to travel the world and create these incredible memories together. But my absolute favorite part about this collection is that it just keeps getting better and more valuable over time.
We already have a few trips planned this year and a few others that are on our one day trip bucket list. I’m eyeing these holiday ornaments (or something similar) right now, but I’ll just have to see what we find when we get there. Finally, part of the fun is discovering unexpected treasures tucked away in antique stores, flea markets, local boutiques, and gift shops.
Javalina handmade wall tile
We just got back from Sedona, Arizona where we bought an adorable Javelina Christmas ornament. Ours is very similar to this one except it has a little Santa hat on it. Although this is technically a wall tile, you can easily turn it into an ornament with a festive ribbon.
Handmade Santorini Boat Christmas Tree Ornament
Greece has always been on our travel wish list and this handmade clay sailboat ornament would be the perfect reminder of a once in a lifetime trip to the Greek islands.
We are planning to attend a wedding in Guadalajara, Mexico in September and I hope we can find a handmade ornament like this there. I love these colorful donkey ornaments – and I know I’d smile every time I pull them out of our ornament box.
Hand-Drawn Yellowstone National Park Ornament
My husband and I have always talked about taking a road trip through some of the national parks. This hand drawn Yellowstone ornament would be a very special way to commemorate that trip.
Swedish Dala Horse Christmas ornament
This traditional Swedish Dala horse will add a Scandinavian flair to any Christmas tree.
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