Come take a tree tour with me today as I share some favorite travel ornaments and the stories behind them!
For several years now we’ve gone with a gold theme for the base of our tree decor but we always add on the ornaments we’ve collected during our travels as well as some sentimental ones from childhood. I guess it ends up making our tree less than Instagram perfect, but the memories that these ornaments remind us of each year is worth more than that!
Ornaments make for a great souvenir when traveling! They are (usually) pretty easy to find, are inexpensive and both small/light to pack. All wins in my book!
Italy is where we officially started collecting ornaments together as a couple and this happened somewhat by happenstance. The year was 1999 and it was the first international trip we’d taken together after dating for 2 years. Much to my surprise, Natty Guy decided to pop the question while we were in Venice (while on a gondola ride, no less)!
Upon hearing the news, some friends we had made while traveling surprised us with an impromptu engagement party on the roof of our hotel! They generously gifted us with little trinkets they had bought as souvenirs for themselves: some Burano lace, marbled paper and the lovely glass ornament below. Just like that, a tradition was born!
One of our all-time favorite ornaments is this little Bavarian fellow from Germany! The quality of goods and availability of Christmas products in Germany is unsurpassed. If you visit, be sure to check out the Käthe Wohlfahrt company and stock up!
Our visit was in September, 2002 (apologies for the grainy photos) – just in time for Oktoberfest! Truly a bucket-list event, we enjoyed the elaborateness of the fairgrounds, exploring the different tents and singing with new friends from all over the world at the massive, festive tables!
In 2010 we visited Brazil and had high hopes for a fantastic selection of ornaments to choose from as Brazil is a predominantly Catholic country. This proved to be a false assumption. We could not find ornaments anywhere so ended up with this (not so attractive) orange bell as our makeshift memory.
Highlights of Brazil included meeting the artist Jorge Selaron (of the famous Selaron Staircase in Rio), hang-gliding and visiting the massive Iguassu Falls.
I visited Jordan in 2013 with a friend from high school (see trip details here). Being a primarily Islamic country, we thought finding a Christmas ornament may be a bit of a challenge! At one stop, I came across this little 3-4″ doll and thought it would work.
The trip to Jordan and the people we met there are among my fondest travel memories! We visited in June but that first December after the trip, several of the people we met (hotel staff, our drivers) contacted me either by email or with a phone call to wish us a Merry Christmas. I was awe-struck by their kindness and thoughtfulness and am proud to say I remain in touch with several of the lovely people we met in Jordan to this day!
Our Iceland trip in 2015 holds special memories as we had my mom with us. We visited over Thanksgiving so had the added benefit of seeing many Christmas displays in the hotels, towns, etc!
Have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever, friends! Take comfort in your old memories. Enjoy making new. Wish for a future with many more! Help make my day and consider sharing one of your favorite holiday memories below!