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My Favorite Christmas Tradition

What’s my favorite Christmas tradition? Oh! Well since you asked…
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When we were first married and decorating our Christmas tree together, Andy and I realized we had absolutely no Christmas music to our name. So every year, one of us was responsible for finding and buying a surprise Christmas CD to build our collection of music. Six years and six Christmas CDs later, we are stocked but still adding to our little collection.

A few years ago, the tradition evolved, so now one of us is responsible for picking out the Christmas CD, and the other one has the job of finding and buying a keepsake Christmas ornament that represents the most important events or feelings from the previous year. We wanted to remember why we chose each ornament, so we bought this little photo album…

And filled each page with some pretty Christmas scrapbook paper.

The person who bought the ornament takes a picture of it and inserts the picture on one half of the page, then writes a little note to the other person about why they chose that ornament and what it represents.

The first year we started this tradition was the year we found out we were pregnant the first time. When I first told Andy I was pregnant, he got super excited, jumped up from the breakfast table, ran a lap around the house, ran back to me and said, “Can we call it WINSTON?!” So we called the baby Winston, which evolved to Winnie and Pooh Bear and other odd variations thereof. (I never claimed we were normal.) This is the ornament Andy picked for that year:

He wrote a sweet little note about expecting our little man and added it to the book. The next year was our first Christmas with a baby, so I bought this glass ornament engraved with his footprint, full name and birthday.

This year we found out we’re expecting a girl – I realize now it sounds like all we ever do is reproduce – so this is the one Andy picked out to represent our growing family:

Embarrassing confession: When I first saw it, I was like, “What? Why is there only three of us? Why is the baby girl so giant?” Then I realized that the “baby girl” wording was representing the baby girl in the belly. Duh. #PreggoBrain

Now that I’m writing this, I realize that the whole tradition sounds ultra-cheesetastic, but I love it. Every year, the day we decorate the tree, we exchange these gifts – one of us gives a Christmas CD and the other gives the ornament and note. Getting presents to open early is a total win.

Plus, I bet in 50 years this little keepsake album will be a precious family heirloom. I just wish we’d started it earlier in our marriage, because now who knows what the heck happened in our lives during those years?

So that’s my favorite family Christmas tradition! What’s yours?

P.S.: Check out my posts on Christmas decorating!

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  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! We had the same problem – no music and no fun ornaments. We (Aaron and I, and now Jen) exchange ornaments every year – but I LOVE your idea of writing why you chose that particular one! Fantastic. We have also started buying ornaments for our girls each year so they have a collection when they leave home….I don’t think it is too late to start with photos and why we chose the particular one! I just might do that.

  2. That is awesome! I love it. We have very sentimental ornaments as well but I love that you write down their meaning! So special.

  3. What a precious tradition! I love it!!

  4. Okay….that is so wonderful! Thanks for making my day! What a great tradition! Many blessings to you!

  5. This is SO not cheesetastic! I love love love it! 🙂 I especially love that you record it all in a photobook. I would forget all of them and what they meant over the years if that wasn’t involved 🙂

    Thanks for the sweet shout out too! Chris and I need to start some new traditions for just us! 🙂

  6. Ditto about recording the “why” in a cute little scrapbook…it will be so cool to look back at it in the coming years! 🙂

    • I sooooo love this idea. This December my husband and I will celebrate our 28th anniversary on the 26th. We buy an ornament, or 2 every year. I remember most of them but life would have been easier with some record keeping!
      Thank you for sharing!

  7. Stephanie Kuhn says:

    Kelly, this is PRECIOUS! I absolutely love your tradition – especially the ornament / photo book. Might have to steal this idea one day. Hmmm. 🙂

  8. What a beautiful Christmas tradition! You are so right, it’s going to be wonderful to look through that little photo album later on in life. My favourite Christmas tradition is putting up our tree, the house is always filled with cheesy Christmas music and good cheer. We love it (although it’s not so much fun taking it down)!

  9. So sweet 🙂
    P.S. Ultracheesetastic traditions are the best ones to have.

  10. Susan Petersen says:


    I absolutely love this tradition. My husband would never do this with me. So my tradition (well… It’s not a tradition yet, since I just started) is to make a new ornament each year. On the ornament I write wich year it is from, and also speciel things that has happened. This year is our first in our new house, and the first year as parents to a little girl 🙂

    Susan, Denmark

  11. patricia plante says:

    my husband and I have been married over 30 yrs, the kids have all grown,have their own kids and have all moved away. when we first got married we started our tradition of collecting ornaments for each of us about something we did or something meaningful in our lives. as the kids came along we added an ornament every year for every one in our immediate family . our whole christmas tree has a story as each ornament contains its own story. if one child took dance lessons then that year she got a dancer ornament,piano lessons,art, driving etc, also for both my husband and I. we recently took pics of all the ornaments and want to put them in a scrapbook with little notes of who and what or why they recieved that ornament. I would appreciate it if anyone has any ideas for scrapbook layouts as you can imagine the amount of ornaments we havel, this will be the first year we buy ornaments for our tree just for hubby and I. i am so glad you posted this as i have not seen anyone else make this a holiday tradition and everyone loves it . our tree is truly our own. i would reccommend anyone to start now as it is a great tradition and the whole familly loves it. now however i have the task of trying to scrapbook them all. any ideas would be great. merry chrismas to all.

    • Trust me!….The memories you share will be so much more important than whatever “layout” you use. My parents are gone now and my three siblings and I had the daunting task of sort get through all of those boxes and boxes of 60+ years of Christmas heirlooms.
      Our memories were intermingled and not as clear on some of the ornaments as we had expected them to be.
      My, my…

      Make the memory book. Forget the format!

    • Trust me!….The memories you share will be so much more important than whatever “layout” you use. My parents are gone now and my three siblings and I had the daunting task of sort get through all of those boxes and boxes of 60+ years of Christmas heirlooms.
      Our memories were intermingled and not as clear on some of the ornaments as we had expected them to be.
      My, my…

      Make the memory book. Forget the format!
      Such a precious and fantastic idea!

  12. Love this photo journal idea for the ornaments. Beautiful memories!!

  13. We’ve collected ornaments for special occasions and trips my whole life, and I’ve been thinking about doing this so we can remember why everything is special. Cute idea!

  14. I love this.

    That is all I have to say.

    Just love it.

  15. This is such a great thing you’ve done. It becomes more important and special as each Christmas comes and goes. I only wish I had started something like this. I love that your husband did it with you because I was married twice and I would not have gotten any support for something like this when I was married. I raised 3 sons though and they all three have the potential and I definitely think given a look at your wonderful book, would participate in making wonderful memories of their own and start their own “cheesy traditions” with their little ones. To date I am Grandma Mimi to 7 grandsons ranging from 12yrs. old to our newest which was born Dec. 17th! Thank you for sharing!

  16. I collect ornaments each year in a theme. When the kids get married, they receive all their ornaments. At least for the first year together they have a fully decorated tree and then they can start their own traditions or add to this one

  17. I love this idea! We give Christmas ornaments to the kids every year but we haven’t done any for each other. I love the idea of writing down what they mean too.

  18. Susan Wood says:

    Oh how I wished I had thought of the ornament album before our lives turned upside down. We lost everything in the May 20th F5 tornado in Moore, Ok in 2013. The only thing that I am heartbroken about losing anymore are all of our precious Christmas ornaments. What a great idea. A new start a new tradition. I love it!

  19. I love this for so many reasons….
    One, it is a hard proof copy if anything were to happen to one’s ornaments. We had all of our holiday stuff stolen, so it would have given us those memories. It will give us a fresh start though!
    Secondly, my son suffered a head injury and lost a year’s worth of memory. Pictures are great for him.
    It is just an amazing keepsake to pass down through the years as well! Thanks for sharing!

  20. I have done this since I got married 19 years ago. If we take a trip, we buy an ornament. Each year I buy an ornament to commemorate something special that has happened in my daughter’s lives. I make sure it has the year on it and I record it’s signifigance in a journal. I also bought them their own ornament storage container so they can have these ornaments when they have their first home. It’s been so much fun taking a trip down memory lane each Christmas.

  21. I love this! We always add an ornament for our kids and when they have a tree of their own they will get those for their house. I don’t think it’s too late for me to go back and start this memory book. Thanks for a fabulous idea!

  22. Love this idea!!

  23. What a fabulous tradition! Passing this great tradition on!!

  24. I liked this idea so much I wrote a post about it on my blog, Genealogy à la carte, and featured your blog with a link to it.

  25. I love this!
    Our Christmas tradition is to buy the kids a special Hallmark decoration each year – I stole the idea from my sister who would do the same for her girls, with the idea that when they move out, they can take their lifetime of ornaments with them to start their own tree (if they so wish).
    Every year I either chose or they help (when old enough), and on the day we put up the tree, there is a photo taken of them putting on the tree themselves (slightly awkward for the 8week old I had, but that started the tradition!).
    If there was more meaning that that the album would be a fantastic idea – but their ornaments have been like Baby’s first Christmas, or Woody from Toy Story, so they’re pretty self explanatory!
    I also get them to put on some sort of Christmas outfit and take photos near the tree or some festive setting and make an ornament out of the photo – this year was my sons 6th Christmas, so was planning to string them up as a Christmassy time line – nothing like seeing just how they’ve grown – but will have to get onto that for next year.

  26. Awesome idea! Sounds a lot easier than what I keep threatening to endeavor, namely documenting our family’s thousands of keepsake/special ornaments (it was typically one per family member each year, plus souvenirs from family vacations plus lots of gifts from extended family etc. since our tree has developed a bit of a reputation). Since a lot of them technically belong to my brother and I, we wanted to at least try to somehow preserve the whole collection before it goes to our respective families…..
    So yes – do this! Before you (or your daughter) regret not doing it later! ;-))

  27. How I wish I’d read this 30 yrs ago! What a great tradition. I love things like this.

  28. Does anyone know where I could find the album to begin this lovely tradition for my family ?

  29. What kind of album did you use? Such a cute idea!


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