Many families out there probably have some sort of Christmas ornament tradition.  Whether the children receive an ornament as a gift each year, they get to pick it out, or make it themselves, there is a common theme of being able to add to the Christmas tree each year.  Then, as years go by, the reminiscing that comes along with decorating the tree and looking back at all the years’ ornaments and the memories that come with each of them.

We do let our kids each pick out their own ornament each year, but we also pick out a family ornament.  Just one simple ornament to be shared by the family for every year that goes by.  The part the kids don’t know about though, is that we also purchase an additional, identical ornament for each of them every year.  I have a hidden box growing with all these extra, duplicate ornaments, just waiting for the right time.

See, when we started buying Christmas ornaments for the kids when there were only one or two of them, we talked about what would happen to their ornaments when they grew up.  Would they get to take them?  Would they stay with us so that when they all came back to help decorate the tree, they could enjoy that experience of reminiscing over the ornaments together?  We liked the idea of keeping all the kids ornaments together, for them to enjoy together, but hated the idea of them not having a collection of ornaments to start their own Christmas tree with.  I remember my first Christmas tree that I had on my own… I had to go to the grocery store and pick out a bunch of ornaments that meant nothing, held no memory, had no meaning to me.  Although it was exciting to have my own tree, it was also kind of sad that I didn’t have any Christmas memories to decorate it with.

This is where the idea of the “Family Ornament” came in.  We would start collecting, each year, for each child, an identical ornament to our “Family Ornament”.  We would collect them over the years, unbeknownst  to them, and when the time was right, this package of memories would be gifted to them to adorn their Christmas tree.  Each one of our children would be able to unpack their own set of ornaments every year, bringing back the same memories, each with their own families.  They would all be able to share similar stories with their own children, and still be able to come together at Mom & Dad’s house to decorate the big family tree with all their childhood ornaments.  (Praying that they all still want to come home for Christmas every year into their adulthood.)

I imaging that the “right time” may be different for each of them.  I think that this would make a wonderful wedding gift, or possibly a “first Christmas after marriage” gift.  I also know that I some of them may have their own tree before marriage, so possibly a “first Christmas on your own” gift.  We will just have to wait and see when that “right time” comes.

I do suggest using some sort of system to keep track of the ornaments.  I have a spreadsheet set up in Onenote



2009 2010 2011 2012 2013


Family Polar Bear (+1) Golden Tree (+2) Gingerbread Man (+2) Bird (+3) Merry Christmas Santa (+4) Western Badge (+4) Penguin w/ Candy Cane (+5)


As a side note… beware when purchasing fragile ornaments as your “Family Ornament”.  I suggest either avoiding them or buying a couple extra if you choose one that is breakable.
When the one on the tree breaks, for any reason, say, your mother in law happens to bust it while she is in town visiting.  She also has no idea the ramifications that have just been caused in the fact that you now have to essentially replace not only that ornament, but the entire set for each child since apparently ornaments are not made for more than one year.

If anyone ever happens to see this ornament anywhere – please buy and send to me.  I promise, I would reimburse you double the cost!