I absolutely love Christmas ornaments. They remind me of people I love, places I’ve been and things I’ve done. It all started when I was little and my Nana bought me an ornament every year as my Christmas present. I love that when I decorate my Christmas tree every year, I am reminded of her.
Years ago, before my husband and I had kids, we took a trip to Europe in December carrying one bag a piece. Our two week trip took us to London, Paris, Rome and Milan. We wanted to buy a souvenir in each city, but we didn’t have room to carry much. I love Christmas ornaments, so we decided to collect them as we traveled across Europe. They turned out to be the perfect souvenir. T-shirts fade, trendy cloths seem like a bad idea once you get home, post cards eventually get put in a box, but ornaments are classic and used every year.
That trip started a growing collection of Christmas ornament souvenirs. Below are all the souvenir ornaments we have to date. I hope you enjoy them and the stories that go along with them.
When I unpack these Christmas ornaments I am reminded of London bustling with pedestrian traffic shortly after Christmas. We stopped into a small shop to buy these on our way to have “high tea” at a department store.
There was a small Christmas market near the hotel we stayed at in Paris. This is my husband’s favorite ornament that we bought on our trip. He appreciates the handmade quality of the ornament. I was completely unimpressed with it because nothing about it screams PARIS! We laugh about this every year when we hang it up. He still loves it.
A couple weeks before we left for Europe, my Nana passed away. Her parents were devote Catholics who immigrated to America from Sicily. She longed to travel to Rome but was too afraid to fly to make the trip. It was very meaningful for me to spend the Christmas of 2007 in Rome and to visit Vatican City. We picked up this Christmas ornament at the Vatican gift shop.
I went into every open shop I could find in the vicinity of our hotel to buy an ornament. I could not find one that I liked. To be fair, many stores and restaurants were closed the days following Christmas. This is a magnet. When we got home we removed the magnet from the back, drilled a hole, found silver twine and created an ornament.
Many summers of my youth were spent fishing with my family at my Aunt’s house in Wisconsin. When my son was 3 months old, we took our first long road trip (8 hours) with him to Cable. There were blow out diapers, pumping in the backseat and tears of frustration… but we made it. We felt victorious for making such a long trek with an infant. We bought these Christmas ornaments at a little shop in the downtown area of Cable.
I am not one for a lot of attention. Because of this, my husband decided to take me to Jamaica instead of planning a big surprise party for my 30th birthday. This was the first trip that we took alone after having my son. Some how I only cried once. Jamaica was pretty fabulous, distracting me from missing my little boy the whole time. I picked up this ornament at our resort.
My Mom had the opportunity, through her church, to go to Italy on a pilgrimage to many hill towns and the Vatican. She asked if I would like to join her on her “bucket list” trip. It took me a nanosecond to say YES! Our first overnight stay of the trip was in Assisi. My Nana (Frances) prayed a lot to St. Francis and fed the animals in her yard, just like the saint. I was ecstatic to find this Christmas ornament. However, I am not sure if there is anything you can’t buy in Assisi with St. Francis on it.
If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, then you have read about our epic road trip this summer that included a stay in Vernal, Utah. Vernal is also known as Dinosaurland, for good reason. You can read all about our adventure here. I picked this up at the Utah Field House of Natural History.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Another part of our epic road trip this summer took us to the west side of Rocky Mountain. You can read about the kid friendly hikes we took here. I found this ornament at the Kishwaukee Visitor’s Center. The mountain pine beetle has destroyed millions of acres of pine trees in the park. Infested trees were cut down and some were made into ornaments. A park ranger showed us the blue stain fungus on the back of the wood from the beetles.
I hope you enjoyed reading about all my souvenir Christmas ornaments. I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas ornaments in the comments.
Kim is the founder of Kids and Carry-Ons. She works as a director at a nonprofit organization. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children. Kim and her husband have always loved to travel and share their advice with anyone who will listen. Having kids didn’t stop their love of travel, it just meant they had to adapt. Follow along on their adventures.