This Year’s Travel Ornaments

Travel Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Mr. P and I always pick up a Christmas ornament on our travels.  We had a really fun time collecting them this year.  Sometimes they are actual Christmas ornaments, sometimes they’re keychains or tchotchkes I attach a hook to.

This year we’re trending more toward actual ornaments!

Ireland: Guinness Christmas Tree.  Yes we bought this during the crazy-merchandised Guinness visit that I didn’t love.  Yes, we overpaid for it.  But how can you resist a gold tree made out of harps and little pints?  That’s right, you can’t.

Munich: Snowflake, Penguin, Christmas Scene.  This was last year technically.  But since we were traveling for Christmas, we didn’t get a chance to hang these on our own tree until this year.  And since we were visiting the Munich Christmas Markets, ummmm, several ornaments were purchased.  Several.

Italy: Venetian Carnenvale Mask.  I popped into a carnevale mask store to buy a souvenir for a friend of mine and ended up walking out with a Christmas ornament for myself.   The shop owner let me pick out a mask and then turned it into an ornament.

Austria: Keychain.  Super touristy, yep.  The poor shopkeeper seemed a bit miffed that we didn’t want one of the huge hand painted ornaments.  Since I already had a generic Christmas scene painted on an ornament (see above), I wanted something that said “Austria” a bit more.  The keychain has a bunch of the major Innsbruck sites, plus an edelweiss!  I was sold.

See past travel ornaments here: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.


Ornaments from My Travels

Travel Christmas Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Oh my, I have lots of new travel ornaments to share with you this year!

We try and pick up an ornament for our tree during our travels.  It doesn’t have to be made as an ornament — many of the best ones we have are converted keychains.  Putting these up is my favorite part of decorating the tree.

The first two are from 2013 — we were on our trip during Christmas so it’s the first time they’ve gone on the tree.  The second four are from our big trip to Europe this fall.

The Ushuaia Penguin.  We didn’t make it to any of the gift shops on Antarctica (seriously, there are gift shops at some research stations) so this little penguin from Ushuaia was the next best thing.  So stinking cute.

Travel Christmas Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Pope Francis.  Pope Francis is Argentine and I could. not. wait. to see some Pope paraphernalia in Argentina.  This is a keychain that has a picture of the Vatican on the back.

Travel Christmas Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Coach from Buckingham Palace.  Yes, we already have an ornament from London and no, I generally don’t get a new one every time I revisit a city.  But we were in Buckingham Palace (the gift shop, but inside the palace walls).  I saw it, had to have it.  The end.

Travel Christmas Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Munich Beer Stein.  Another keychain, picked up at Oktoberfest.  I don’t feel like I need to describe the awesomeness of this one.

Travel Christmas Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Istanbul Eye.  We had a hard time finding something we liked in Istanbul.  This keychain has a bit of the city plus a charm to ward off the evil eye (frequently seen on our trip).

Travel Christmas Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Brussels Lace.  Brussels is very famous for its lace.  This ornament isn’t on the level of some of the amazing work we saw, but it was cute and reminds us of the trip, which is the entire point.

Travel Christmas Ornaments by Natalie Parker

Previously: 2011 – Camel from Egypt, 2012 – Great Wall from China & Double Decker from London, 2013 – Kangaroo from Australia.

2013 Travel Christmas Ornament

Kangaroo Ornament by Natalie Parker

Here’s this year’s travel memento for our Christmas tree!

To recap, we pick up an ornament to represent each of our travels.  I was in Australia twice this year, once for work and once for school.  We actually haven’t had our big vacation trip of 2013 yet.

Sometimes with these ornaments, I love a piece of local art.  Sometimes, it just feels right to go with straight up kitsch.  How could I say no to the kangaroo?

Earlier: 2011 – Camel from Egypt, 2012 – Great Wall from China & Double Decker from London.

Documenting my Christmas Ornaments

Documenting Christmas Ornaments 1

Now that I know how to use my camera, I’m taking on an ambitious project: taking pictures of our Christmas ornaments.

Do you document new Christmas ornaments?  I think it’s fun to remember what year we got each thing for our tree.  I’d like to document the ones Mr. P and I got each year since we moved in together.  That was 8 Christmases ago.  Yikes.

My goal this year is to capture all the ornaments from the first three years, plus keep a record of the ones I didn’t capture so it’s easier to do next year.

As we unpacked our decorations a couple weeks ago, I used post-it notes and took quick pictures of all the ornaments so I can remember which goes with what year.

Documenting Christmas Ornaments 2

Focusing on the first three years, I try and get a really nice photo of each ornament hanging on the tree.  This usually involves 10-15 photos each while I fiddle with settings.

One slightly annoying thing here is light.  Even if I take the photos all at the same time, the light is so different on each part of the tree!  I’m ending up with photos that individually look awesome but the lighting and thus coloring on the tree branches really varies!  I wonder what it will look like when I put these together in a scrapbook.

When I move the photos to my computer, I delete a ton of them and keep the best 2-3 for each ornament.  When I scrapbook this in the future, I think I’m only going to keep the one I decided to use for the book.  For now, everything gets sorted into folders by year and is ready for me to work with whenever I want!

This Year’s Travel Ornaments

2012 Travel Christmas Ornaments

We put our tree up recently and one of the most fun parts is taking out the new ornaments I’ve been saving from our trips this year!

We like having an ornament on our tree for each place we’ve traveled.  Last year it was a little camel from Egypt.

From London, we have this tiny little double-decker bus.  It’s only about an inch tall!

In China, we picked up this cool red and gold design.

They’re both keychains, in case you were wondering!  Christmas ornaments can get expensive, very large, or even difficult to find in some places.  Getting a keychain really opens the possibilities!  I remove the key ring part, add a hook and it’s done!

What about you?  Any special new ornaments or travel traditions from this year?

This Little Camel Came Home with Us

Camel bone Christmas ornament from Egypt

Meet the little camel.  He’s one of our newest Christmas ornaments.

Several months ago, I talked about our trip to the Middle East and our tradition of buying a piece of street art on big trips.  We also buy a Christmas ornament on all of our travels, dating back to 2005 when we picked up a New York ornament on the top of the Empire State Building.

The hunt for an ornament is always really fun.  Sometimes we don’t buy a traditional ornament.  On a trip to Philadelphia, we bought a keychain and turned it into an ornament because all the Christmas ornaments we saw were too big and bulky.

Our little camel is actually a figurine carved out of camel bone.  Camel bone figurines are a popular tourist purchase in Egypt.  The store we went to also had angels, stars and other traditional Christmas ornaments carved out of camel bone.

We had to have the camel, it was too cute to pass up.  Do you have any Christmas ornament traditions?