Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Tree Full of Friends - Ornament Exchange Party!

Attic Gal Rachelle says:

Every year, during the first weekend I December I gather my favorite ladies for one of my very favorite Christmas traditions - a handmade ornament exchange party. 12 dear friends each bring 12 of the same ornament and go home with 12 very different handmade ornaments for their trees. We eat and visit and just enjoy ourselves. I have one dear friend who moved a way but drives quite a distance to come every year with her ornaments.

Every year I pick a theme. In years past the themes have been "white Christmas," "Christmas symbols", "Santa's workshop", "Christmas around the world," "Christmas carols," "angels", "favorite things,"and ,"nature's Christmas." But the theme for my very first ornament party was "nativity", and since this was the 10th annual ornament party this year, I decided to revisit that theme this year again. (You can't go wrong with that theme!)

What is so fun is that every body's ornaments are so different - made from vastly different materials and skills. It is so fun to see what everyone comes up with and even more fun to get to take one of everything home! My kids can't wait to see what ornament I get each year, and it is so fun, year after year to fill my tree with ornaments made by the hand of my dear friends. I have over a hundred now that we have been doing it so long, and I can remember which dear friend made each one. my kids always ask, "Who made this one, Mom?" A tree full of friends.

WE all bring our ornaments in a covered basket or bag, and when the time comes, we each take turns unveiling our ornaments, but usually only after we make our disclaimers about why our ornament didn't turn out like we planned, etc. We all do it - its pretty funny. But everyone is always so complementary, and the ornaments are usually terrific. But they are all made with love, so they are all always loved.

At the end of the party I give them next year's theme, so they can start right away through the rest of the holiday season, and all year long, getting ideas for next year's ornaments.

My ornament is the one above - a paper mache star decoupaged with vintage Christmas images. They were maddeningly frustrating to do because the new decoupage medium that I tried to use this time smeared and blurred the images terribly. Oh well.

Wanna see what my girlfriends made? So fun!

My friend Staci made the first one with sheets of galvanized metal, and vellum. I think is turned out really pretty, and the metal just gleams!

Tara used nativity themed fabric to made little hand-sewn pillows for all the different parts of the Nativity. I lucked out and got a big beautiful camel. Wouldn't the whole set of them be great together on a tree? (And I like that my kids can't break it)

My sister Lisa made the one above left. She blew up little balloons and wrapped starched string around them to make the lacy eggs. When her husband saw all the ballons drying on the counter he was a bit concerned. "You have made better ornaments in the past," he said. But once the were finished with little baby Jesus inside, they became just the cutest things ever.

On the right, my friend Shannon, who is a talented cross-stitcher, stitched us these beautiful ornaments with metallic thread. She always does such fine work. A canning lid serves as the shiny hoop.

My dear friend Michelle, a talented seamstress made this two-sided ornament with her terrific embroidery machine. Red velvet! I love red velvet, especially at Christmas! Really great.

Every year my devoted friend Kristi makes her ornament out of seashells. Just so clever. This is her second angel she has made over the years. She is incredible, her dress, head, and even wings are all shells.

Dayna, who collects jingle bells, designed this clever ornament. The tag says "Gold was brought at his birth, Silver was traded at his death, "Ring in the Christ that is to be.'" She came up with that. I love it.

My sweet friend Shea made these simply elegant porcelain ornaments stamped with Staz-On and embellished with a gold leaf paint pen. Mary, Joseph, and the babe on one side, and the three wisemen on the other. Beautiful!

My dear friend Shari came up with this beautiful stained glass ornament. It too is stamped, andthe edges are foiled. It is so pretty with the light behind it!

And finally, my sister-in-law Shirley! Her ornaments have gotten perpetually better over the years and are now nothing short of spectacular, thanks in big part to her hubby Mike, who is a genius with a scroll saw. He cuts them and all the pieces out, then Shirley disassembles each little piece, sands, sculpts and stains each piece, then puts them all back together like a jigsaw puzzle, glues it and varnishes it. Wow! That is a LOT of work! But I am so glad, because the results are stunning!

So at the party she pulls our a baby Jesus ornament, and a Mary ornament, and a Joseph ornament. Everybody gasps and the question is asked, "How on earth will we be able to choose?" Her answer: "You don't have to!" She unveils her basket containing little tied-up bundles of a Mary, Joseph, and baby. We screamed! Lucky, lucky us!

They could charge a fortune for those. That was truly a labor of love!

This angel was the ornament they made for us last year. I went wild over it! Isn't she gorgeous! I hope they keep making pieces every year until we have the whole set!

Every year, besides the ornament, I make my honored guests another gift that has to do with the theme. This year I made everyone these simple nativities. The bodies are made with 2x2 boards cut at 6in for Joseph and 5in for Mary. The heads are 1 1/2inch or 1 3/4inch wood balls. Baby Jesus is a piece of 2 inch lath, and a wood plug. A little stamped tag reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.

Don't you just love this cute little family? Me too!

Another wonderful year of great handmade ornaments and even better friends!

Start an ornament exchange of your own, and before you know it, you'll be digging your ornaments Out of your Attic and have a tree full of friends too!

Merry Christmas!


  1. Beautiful ornaments and beautiful, talented friends. Amazing!

    I am inspired to start this tradition with my friends. Thank you for sharing your tradition!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.