Like most people, I’m sure, I tend to get very sentimental around the holidays. I’m not generally a terribly sentimental person, but there’s something about this time of year that makes me want to bask in it. I get emotional pulling out all of our special family ornaments each year, and I love to sit and pour over our Christmas memory book all throughout the season.
What can I say? I’m a Christmas sap.
I was thinking about all of the decorations and ornaments around our house that mean a lot to us, and I thought it might be fun to put together a little blog post sharing them. Partially because I love to talk about them and you’re here to listen, but also because maybe it’ll inspire you to add a little sentimentality to your Christmas decor, too!
So, let’s get into it. Here are seven ornaments or decor pieces we add to our home each year that we absolutely cherish.
7 sentimental ways we decorate our home
squeeze my cheeks santa
These little guys are 100% my favorite, most treasured ornaments we own. Let me give you a little personal backstory on the “squeeze my cheeks” Santas. When I was a kid, my grandparents had a whole collection of these on their Christmas tree. And they were always (always!) stuffed with Hershey Kisses. So, multiple times a day when we were visiting for Christmas, my cousins and I would casually sneak into the living room for some candy.
It was such a small thing, but it’s one of my favorite Christmas memories. Hershey Kisses have always screamed Christmas to me because of that!
When my grandparents passed away, the Santas got distributed amongst the family, but I didn’t end up with any. I asked around for a few years, but never managed to track down someone willing to share a few with me. So, I took matters into my own hands! I tracked down a tutorial for how to make them (despite my decades of thinking we were the only family with these, turns out they’re kind of a thing!), and over the course of two Christmases I made one little Santa for each member of our family. You can also buy them on Etsy, but it meant a lot to me to craft them by hand! And now? Every night in December before I go to bed, I make sure every Santa has a kiss inside.
yearly photo ornaments
I think it’s kind of funny that this has become such a special tradition for me, because I used to hate photo ornaments. In fact, I didn’t really love sentimental ornaments of any kind for a long time! But then, I learned that sentimental family ornaments don’t have to be hokey or cheesy. They can be beautiful, too!
Our first year living in this house, I purchased a photo ornament with the year on it and popped a family picture in there. It made me smile, and instantly a new tradition was born. Now, every year I make sure to track down an ornament that can fit a family photo and I add one to our tree. They’re one of my favorite ornaments to pull out each year, and I love watching the collection grow!
the advent calendar tree
We’ve talked about the advent calendar tree a lot in the past, so I won’t go into too much detail here…but man, do we ever love it! It’s fun to have a tangible Christmas countdown that adds so much fun to our day and looks super cute.
If you want more info on the advent calendar tree, I’ve written several posts about it. Just click here to see last year’s tree, and from there you can browse around if you want more information!
our nutcracker collection
We didn’t ever really set out to have a nutcracker collection in our house, but it kind of just…happened.
One year, Jackson found the Christmas cracker at World Market and got a little gift card to spend. He picked out a nutcracker and was so proud of it. The next year, he asked if he could get another one…and we let Grant pick one too. And now? Well, it’s kind of a thing.
We’re prone to traditions. Do something twice and suddenly we have to do it forever.
Early in the season every year, we take the kids out and let them pick out a new nutcracker. It’s so fun to see their little personalities shine through in their choices, and I always look forward to seeing what they’ll pick. We write their name on the bottom of it and make sure there’s a year somewhere on it. And someday when they’re all grown up and leave us (sob!), they’ll have the option of taking their little collection with them!
the kids’ trees
When I was a kid, I always had a mini Christmas tree in my room. I remember taking such pride in decorating it each year, and I took the whole thing very seriously. Even though I was allowed to help decorate around the house, it made me feel so special to have my own tree that I could do whatever I want with!
So, it was never really a question for me if the kids would have one or not. Of course they would! We bought two little tabletop-style trees for the kids and they get full control over it. They choose where it goes, they choose how it’s decorated, and each year they get to pick out a new ornament to add to it! It’s so fun watching their excitement at putting up their little trees, and they leave them lit basically 24/7 all season long.
This is a brand new one that we just started last year, but I’m hoping it sticks! We started a tradition of going on a family vacation the week after Christmas (last year we went to Branson, MO. The jury’s still out on what this year will look like, but we have ideas!). While we were there, we spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of memento we could bring home to commemorate the trip.
We finally decided that it only felt appropriate to bring home a Christmas ornament! We searched long and hard to find something that we felt would look great on our tree (I’m picky), but we found one that made us all happy! I wrote the year and the location on the back, and it was so exciting to put it on our tree for the first time this year.
the leg lamp
And finally, you know I couldn’t write this post without talking about the leg lamp.
Ohhhhh this stupid little lamp.
Here’s the story behind the leg lamp: I love A Christmas Story. LOVE IT. When I was a kid, the television channel TNT would play A Christmas Story marathon aaaaaaall day on Christmas. I’m sure they still do – I wouldn’t know, we got rid of cable a long time ago. But, it was a staple of my childhood. I rarely watched the movie from start to finish (though I have….many times), but as I walked through my grandparents’ house on Christmas Day I just remember that movie kind of always running in the background. It wasn’t ever officially decided that we’d watch it, but we always did.
And, well, I’m a tradition person. So it has become tradition for us to watch that movie every Christmas Day. And Corey…well, he has really latched onto the tradition. He loves it. And I genuinely couldn’t even begin to tell you where this damn lamp came from, but it kind of just appeared in my house one year. And, just like Ralphie’s dad, he’s so proud of it. He absolutely insisted it had to go in the kitchen – who cares about the aesthetics.
For the first few years, I rolled my eyes (hard) and complained. But now? I kind of secretly love it. It’s a major touch of whimsy and I can’t imagine decorating for Christmas without it anymore.
And honestly, I’m just grateful it’s not 4 feet tall.
And that’s it! A few of our super special, most cherished family ornaments and decorations. Hopefully this post gives you a few ideas for your own home – I love nothing more than to hear that you’ve adopted a tradition I’ve shared!