Christmas Gift Idea: Ornament Exchange (to Help Trim Your Tree in Meaning)

Due to my severe lack of decor skills and extreme traditionalism, I don’t do artsy Christmas trees. I do old-school, family ornaments and heirloom bulbs. I don’t use deco mesh on my tree (partly because I can’t seem to use it out without crying at some point), and there’s no creative theme – just traditional Christmas.

the tree
You might think that’s boring, but I don’t care. I love looking at my tree because I love the ornaments I see when I walk by the tree. Almost every single ornament has a memory attached to it – my tree is trimmed with meaning.

Three or four years ago, my besties and I decided to start giving each other ornaments for Christmas each year. I don’t remember why we stopped but we did make it two years, and in those two years I received some of my most favorite ornaments. I want to show you two of them:

Kristin (Mrs. Fincher) gave me this Texas Lone Star ornament when I first moved to Arkansas in the fall of 2009. She didn’t want me to forget my Texas roots (not that I ever would). I always place this one high and prominently on our tree. (The little teddy bear ornament in the top right of this photo is Michael’s “baby’s first christmas” ornament from 1984. So precious.)

texas star

Susanna (Mrs. Christensen) gave me this NEW HOME 2011 ornament last year when Michael and I closed on our new house. We closed on our house in December, so a Christmas-themed new home ornament was just so perfect for us and it meant so much to me. It still does, and it’s front and center on my tree. (On the bottom right, you can see the top of Michael and I’s “Our First Christmas 2008” crystal wedding ornament; it was given to us by his Grandma Irvin. It sparkles so beautifully in the tree.)

new home

Kristin and Sue have given me other great ornaments too – including one Sue gave me with a picture of the three of us together at Sue’s first-ever fashion show. It’s not only a picture of my best friends, but it’s a photo from a very special day.

That is why I think an ORNAMENT GIFT EXCHANGE is a great gift idea for friends to do at Christmas time–or families could do it as stocking stuffers. Gifts with meaning are always the best anyway.

My husband and I also have an ornament tradition – we always buy an ornament from places we’ve traveled together. Starting on our honeymoon, we bought this Hawaiian-shirted Santa chilling in a hammock. It is the first ornament we ever purchased together. We went to The Big Island and stayed in the amazing Waikoloa region. It was a trip of a lifetime and we are so glad we thought to get this adorable ornament to remember that trip every year at Christmas time.


This past February, we went to Whistler, British Columbia for a week of skiing. It turned out to be one of the most amazing vacations we’ve ever taken. We got an ornament. This time, instead of putting it on the tree. I put it on the bookshelf with two framed pictures from that trip – to try and Christmas-up that shelf. It will eventually make it onto our Christmas tree.


I also love this puppy ornament of my doggie (among so many other special ornaments we have hung this year):


PS: Susanna posted about making your own Christmas towel last week, so I wanted to show off the one she made me last year. See how cute they are?! Mine is proudly displayed (not used) in the kitchen.


19 thoughts on “Christmas Gift Idea: Ornament Exchange (to Help Trim Your Tree in Meaning)

  1. Stick with your traditional decorating for your Christmas tree. Fred & I have been married 32 years and our tree represents our life… our first Christmas ornament (ask Steph & Daniel about the catastrophe with the ornament!), vacations, first ornaments for the kids, ornaments with pictures, even an ornament for Austin’s “first deer”. The year each of my kids were born I started each of them a Hallmark collection; Steph’s is “Mary’s Angels” and Austin’s collection is “NFLStars.”‘ … I still purchase their collectible ornament for their collection each year. My intention was to give them their ornaments when they became adults; but not sure I will ever be able to do that. You can always have a fancy tree in one room of the house… but I suggest always having the traditional tree with all of your memories. There’s nothing like sitting on the sofa, in front of the fireplace with a cup of coffee and gazing at the tree… and the memories.

  2. I was a floral designer for to many years to mention–did many Christmas trees during that time–store displays, trees of clients, and many fund raisers at historic homes etc….our “real” tree at home has always been filled with children’s craft ornaments, keepsake ornaments and vintage shiny brites (all found at thrift stores or sales)….It’s what means Christmas for us!
    Thank you for visiting my blog, and glad to visit yours. Happy Holidays. Stacey

  3. Your tree is great! And I think this is a sign… my husband and I had a big talk yesterday about what we wanted our Christmas tree to be as a married couple going forward — and decided that a tree full of memories and keepsakes was much more meaningful for us. And now yours is the SECOND post today talking about having that kind of tree! It’s a sign I tell ya 😉

    • It’s def. a sign. You’ll love opening your ornament boxes each year and re-discovering the meaningful ornaments you have. Get your parents to donate some of your baby ornaments to your collection this year, and then build around that!

  4. I love this post! We do the same thing- an ornament for places we’ve traveled together- it really brings back the memories! AND I haven’t stopped giving ya’ll Christmas ornaments, I’ve consistently given you both one at Christmas and already have ya’lls for this year too (just have to wrap them) 🙂

    • Whistler was the best. And Vancouver was fun too. We stayed a night there on the way home and had fun shopping in downtown and trying that Black & Blue restaurant. It was AMAZING. Wish we lived closer like y’all to be able to ski all the time.

  5. I love the idea of gifting people with ornaments. That means that when you look at your tree each little bit reminds you of a friend or special time in your life. I have to get my friends to do this with me!

  6. Hello,
    Thanx for stopping by my blog and liking my post “Sponge Toffee Chocolate Caps”. I love your Christmas tree! I buy one ornament a year and my girls are involved in which one we should purchase, lol. We also handcraft our own ornaments and enjoy the time spent together painting or sewing them. Giving and receiving an ornament as a gift is a wonderful idea, it’s a treasured item you will take out year after year, you should keep up your tradition! 😀

  7. I totally agree — a tree filled with memories is better than a perfectly coiffed one any day! And funny, I just moved from Arkansas to Texas. I need to find an Arkansas ornament, stat!

  8. Pingback: DIY Themed Mini Christmas Trees (This One’s for My Husband!) | mrs. & the misc.

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