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My husband and I in the reflection of 2012’s tree ornament as it hangs from the Christmas tree in 2013, aww….

I’ve been trying to write this blog post since 2012, haha!! So FINALLY, here it is!

 My husband grew up with live Christmas trees. I absolutely did not. I think we had ONE when I was a kid and then my mom hated cleaning up all the dry and spilled pines afterwards so we had artificial trees ever since. I didn’t realize until my 30’s how the smell of Christmas trees was so intoxicating!

When my husband and I had our first Christmas together in our first apartment, we (of course) got our lovely Christmas tree. He insisted that we get a real one. I was like wait huh why??? 

It smelled so good. It was the first real tree I had since childhood. It was the first tree my husband and I had together.

 I wanted to keep that feeling forever. I wanted to keep our tree forever!

 Of course I couldn’t just shove the whole tree into our closet, so I came up with this simple, elegant and inexpensive heirloom ornament idea! And while my original idea was to just save the pines from our first Christmas tree, I decided this was going to be a yearly tradition, so now I have ornaments from 2012 to 2019. This year I might add a skull and crossbones charm to the ornament, because this is 2020, after all.


All you need are:

1. The Christmas pines from your tree

2. A clear fiillable  ornament. I prefer glass, but there are plastic ones if you need something a little less delicate.

3. A year charm and chain. I got my year charms and chains from AncyPants on Etsy.

1. Dry out the pine needles thoroughly. The easiest way to do this is to pick up the needles off the floor the day you drag the tree out of the house after Christmas. Likely the needles on the floor are already dry. You can also clip a branch or two off and lay it flat on some newspaper for a few weeks, and then check on it in a week or two. Make sure it is completely dry. I made the mistake one year of storing some pine needles before they were dry in a plastic bag and they got a little moldy. But as they were they only needles from that tree that I had saved I had to use them. I dehydrated them a little more in the oven and they’re fine. I also may have opened the vacuum and scrounged around in the bag for some, yikes haha!

2. Remove the loop and cap off the ornament. Be careful if you’re using glass as there could be some sharp edges!

3. Fill the ornament with pine needles, as full as you can. Or not. It’s up to you.


4. Once you have filled the ornament to your heart’s desire, put the cap and loop back on the ornament.

5. String the chain with the year charm through the ornament loop and close. You can glue the cap onto the ornament for added security if you wish

6. The last thing you need to do is add a hook or string so that you can hang the ornament on your tree!

As you can see, I have 4 more ornaments to go before I get to buy another box. I might go for a different shape, maybe hearts or stars? Or that funny teardrop shape. I dunno, I’ll let you know in 4 years haha!

These ornaments are going to be a family heirloom. I’m not *too* worried about them getting broken because you can always scoop up the pines and put them back in another ornament. It’s not the container that’s important, but what’s inside that counts. Pretty good life lesson there, too. But I will be investing in an ornament case, anyway.

My kids are too small for me to have glass ornaments on the tree for awhile but that’s okay. Ironically you can’t see them on the tree because they blend in so I might have to get a second smaller artificial tree in a different color so they can be seen LOL! But more than likely I’ll just get a fancy ornament display.


1. You could get smaller ornaments or glass tubes and put ONE needle in for a minimalist and elegant option. This idea could also work if you have kids and want to give them their own heirlooms without compromising the originals. You can hang the year charm from the bottom loop.

2. Instead of a charm attached to the ornament loop, you could get a bead cap and glue it to the bottom of the ornament so the year charm dangles from the bottom.

3. Spray adhesive on the needles and sprinkle glitter on them before you add them to the ornament so they sparkle with the Christmas lights.

4. Include photos in the ornaments! A cute idea would be a photo in front of the tree of that year!