Small Things that Brighten Life: Holiday Ornaments

It’s not a perfume-related story with a lot of the holiday-appropriate pictures, a riddle in the end and a perfume draw (feel free to jump there directly any time)


The Story

Have you ever made your own holiday/Christmas ornaments – either when you were little or with your own kids?

Even though I always loved New Year and decorated my tree, the only attempt at making my own ornament I remember was when, following some TV show instructions, I wrapped a couple of walnuts in foil.

Many-many years later having moved to the U.S., one day after I got over the initial shock and an overwhelming desire to ask for an asylum in a craft store (growing up we had nothing even close to that!), I just couldn’t pass by the plain glass ornaments and a kit for decorating them.


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Though I always liked drawing and painting, I’ve never been good at it. But I had that idea in my head… If I were to paint a window on a plain glass ornament, it would naturally have glass in it and will be see-through. So I painted a cat sitting in a window and looking at the pine tree outside. That tree I painted on the opposite side of the ball.


My First Ornament


Then I kept adding details – a Christmas tree with gifts under it, a TV, a vase with flowers, a painting on the wall, snow, trees – and ended up with half of the ornament representing inside of the house and half – outside.


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I was very happy with the result but my creative fervor hadn’t subsided: I wanted more! So I bought more ornaments and brought them, the one I’d created (as inspiration) and the kit to the office; and persuaded 10-12 of my co-workers to participate. The most enthusiastic of us made 2-3 ornaments each. We got a small tree and decorated it with all 20 ornaments we created. The tree itself was reminiscent of a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree but we were extremely pleased with the decorations – and thus the tradition was born.

These are all the ornaments we created that first year:


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From the next year and going forward the tradition was to make new ornaments, put them on the best spots on the tree and then add all the ornaments lovingly saved from the previous years. Around Thanksgiving co-workers would start asking me: “What are we going to do for the ornaments this year?” Over the next several years we went through many different mediums – wood, metal, plaster, foam and felt, every next year involving more and more people. Then I decided to go the second round (for the new co-workers it was their first) – again glass, wood and metal. And being a multi-cultural company, we introduced many not-that-christmas-specific elements, such as menorah or pop-culture-themed ornaments.

Taking you through about 200 ornaments created in those years would be probably too much, so for the illustration here are just the ornaments I made using the materials I mentioned:


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Since most of the ornaments were pre-made as something holiday-traditional, for a while we were limiting ourselves to decorating and adorning them with ribbons, glitter and sequins. But then we started looking “outside the box” transforming the blanks into something new, not the way they were intended to be decorated:


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Thirteen years later we decorate a 9-feet Christmas tree choosing our favorites from more than 300 ornaments. Some people who created them had left the company years ago; some has just finished their ornament No 13 (+). As you can imagine, many of the ornaments bring good memories as we hang them on the tree, remembering who and when created each of them.

The Riddle

For the last three years we went even further in the creative approach: we would choose some more or less uniform object and use it as a blank canvas for our creativity. Look at the ornaments: all of them within each of the three sets were created from the same object.


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Can you guess what was used as a medium for each year?

The Draw

It’s a Holiday Draw so to be entered you do not need to guess correctly. Actually, you do not need to guess at all – if you do not feel like doing that (and vice-versa: you can guess even if you’re not interested in the draw).

To be in the draw, all you need to do is to tell me: should Rusty pick your name in a random draw, which one from the list below would you like to get?

Bottega Veneta Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum (0.25 oz/7.5 ml mini bottle)

Serge Lutens Laine de Verre (0.16 oz/5 ml mini bottle)

Jasques Saint Pres Isa (0.5 oz/15 ml travel bottle)

Serge Lutens Chergui (0.16 oz/5 ml mini bottle)

Jo Malone Peone & Blush Suede (0.3 oz/9ml travel bottle)

The draw is open to everybody (with the usual fine print of knowing your country’s postal restrictions, possible loss/damage in transit, etc.) until the end of 2015. I’ll announce results as soon as I manage to interest Rusty in helping me with choosing the winner.

Rusty and Holiday Draw 2015


Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers!


Images: my own


30 thoughts on “Small Things that Brighten Life: Holiday Ornaments

  1. Wow-wow-wee! I LOVE this post…thirteen years in the making is probably not an exaggeration! If I were not running out to a Candlelight service, I would be guessing right now but as it is, I will revisit this post again tomorrow and make my guesses!

    Merry Christmas to you, my dear Undina…and of course, a Happy New Year!!! (I just realized I have more exclamation points than sentences but it is what it is!).

    • OK, I’m back. Let me also say that the first ornament you made with the cat and 360 degree view of his world is amazing :-)

      My guesses for the the medium used for each year:
      2013 – wood disk
      2014 – cardboard (solidier?)
      2015 – clay

      You are so creative!

      • Thank you, hajusuuri! I’m very proud of establishing and maintaining this tradition: many people tap into an unexpected creativity once they started thinking about what to make each year.

  2. What a lovely collection of ornaments!! You are so talented, Undina!! I couldn’t quite guess on 2013 and 2014 but could it be spoon you used for 2015?

    Wishing you a lovely Christmas and please tell Rusty Happy Birthday!

  3. Hello Undina and of course wishing you, your vSO and Rusty a very happy Christmas.
    Those are some wonderful ornaments and what a sweet tradition it has become over all these years.
    When I was in elementary school I was attending the art club after school hours every week. We did various things there including preparing our own Christmas balls too. I still have it but it’s not nearly as pretty as those done by you and your co-workers.

    My guesses would be:
    2013- small paper disposable plate
    2014- a special cleaning rod used to clean narrow areas (we use that for test tubes in lab, I don’t know what’s the English name for this object)
    2015- plastic spoon

    • Thank you, Lucas.

      I wish we had something like that when I was a child: it’s so much fun even now!

      You were talking about pipe cleaners. I used one as ballerina’s arms but it wasn’t the main item – just a supporting element.

  4. Merry Christmas, Undina and hajusuuri. The same best wishes to all the readers of the blog. Ornaments are beautiful, I like them a lot. I am not entering this time. It is a right moment to say big thanks to hajusuuri for wonderful Caron’s samples and decants from one of the previous giveaways. Happy Holidays, everyone!

    • Thank you, Damir. Warmest wishes to you and thank you for all the support through the year: I don’t always thank you at the time but I notice and appreciate it.

  5. What a wonderful post. The handmade ornaments are so much more of a treasure than the purchased ornaments for sure. No need to enter me in the draw. A very merry and happy Christmas to you and yours and a big hug to Rusty from me! xoxoxox Steve

  6. Merry Christmas and Thank you for a great blog! Love the glass ornament painting! I see sand dollars, clothes pins and I think spoons, but not sure how they were made flat. My SO and I were talking about stringing popcorn and the fun of putting it outside for the birds after the holiday. Maybe next year : ) I would pick the Serge Lutens Chergui because the notes sound divine, but I need to research the Jasquas Saint Pres Isa because I’m clue free ; ) Happy New Years! and all the best! , Lisa

    • Thank you, Lisa. Happy New Year to you too!

      Before today I haven’t heard of stringing popcorn for birds (I looked it up now – it’s a very festive idea, thanks! :) ).

      I wrote about Isa here, if you’re curious.

  7. Merry Christmas Undina.
    What a fun tradition to have created. I think of all the ornaments I love your first idea best, the kitten looking through the glass window on snow and fir trees, how fun that I painted that image too, and obviously you’d feel a connection there :-) Although you beat me with the idea of using ‘real’ glass, a really brilliant idea.
    I think the last one might be a spoon, and the middle one a pibe cleaner???, if you call it that?
    No need to enter me in the draw, but thank you anyway.

  8. Congratulations on having created such a wonderful tradition at your workplace. No answers here as I am really poor at recognizing shapes (except perhaps perfume bottles). I do love your original glass ornament and later, the beautiful glass under-the-seascape and the lovely metal bell.
    As for any Christmas decorations I made, they were limited to cut-out paper snowflakes and three-dimensional stars made from strips of paper. Wish I remembered how to do those.
    If I were the lucky winner I would choose Serge Lutens Chergui.
    Thanks for the draw opportunity and all the best to you in the new year.

    Did Rusty get oranges as a treat for Christmas and all his hard work all year long?

    • Thank you, Lindaloo. I’m very proud of the tradition and hope it’ll continue.

      I forgot snowflakes! I made those as well.

      For Christmas/his birthday Rusty got some crab and lobster. And cheesecake.

  9. Undina, you are too cool for school! I love the first ornament you made – it has a sense of homey sweetness about it – and also how you turned this into a 13-year tradition at your workplace.

    No need to enter me in the drawing, but it’s a fun contest. I’m guessing wood clothes pins as the medium for 2014, but couldn’t guess the others. Merriest of Christmases to you, Rusty and your vSO.

    • :)
      Thank you, Suzanne. I put that ornament on my tree this year (we finally got a tall enough tree for Rusty not to play with all the decoration) and I’m glad I have it. I should probably start making ornaments for my own tree. Maybe something perfume-related?..

  10. I know I’m repeating everyone else but I LOVE this idea. What a sensational group involvement idea. Undina, it’s fabulous. What a treat it was to see them all, so inventive and gorgeous. Your original one is inspired but Chewbakka is my fave of them all, hilarious.
    Thanks for sharing. DNEM.
    Portia xx

  11. I’m thinking that the medium used every year was a small tub top – like perhaps mustard or yoghurt? Am i right? :-) Your decorations are wonderful and i may play around with my paints and bits and bobs and do something special for next year’s christmas tree. Its nice to make it personal. Well on to the draw and i would love to have Jo Malone’s Peony & Blush Suede as it is soooo pretty. thanks and have a great 2016. x

    • Thank you, pats. Happy New Year to you too!

      I think I mislead you in my question: each year was a different medium.

      You should try making your own ornaments: you might enjoy it more than you even think.

  12. What a stunning array of ornaments – I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the different designs. The mad imagination that went into them is beyond impressive. And it is a lovely way of promoting a spirit of teamwork and group bonding amongst colleagues. I also love your original ball with its sense of perspective as you look through. I can’t honestly recall making Christmas ornaments myself, only paper chains to hang round the ceiling. No need to enter me, but I think the last set are made from those disposable takeaway spoons. It looks particularly clever as a cat. ;) And then either a very long Tepe floss pick(!) or a pipe cleaner for the middle set, as others have said. Not sure about the disc-shaped one…

    • Thank you, Vanessa. I was also amazed at how involved and creative some of my co-workers turned out to be.
      Do you want to try and guess whose ornament was that cat? ;)
      Paper chains… I wonder why we never did it as kids? We did have colored paper… Interesting.

  13. We used to have coloured paper chains on the tree, as well as different small baskets (some made of coloured paper) when I was a child. My favourite ornaments would be some felted birds my grandmother sent us. I never got any longer as an adult than to making a few crocheted ornaments (like snowflakes mostly). I really like seeing the same ornaments over and over again, in my family we have ornaments which are some fifty years old and more modern designer ornaments, all in a happy mix on the tree. These days I never seem to find time for the homemade decorations. I agree it must be a fun thing to do with colleagues.

    Do not enter me in the draw, I have received so much scented stuff for Christmas (very unexpected, and good stuff like FM, Bulgari and l’Occitaine!) so I feel I have enough for a while!

    • I always admired crocheted snowflakes but could never make one myself. I wonder if I could do it now?

      I also enjoy seeing favorite ornaments on my tree. The oldest one I have now is about 35 years old. It was my grandmother’s ornament and I brought it with me to the U.S.

  14. Pingback: Ornaments Riddle Answers and Perfume Draw Results | Undina's Looking Glass

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