Every year, my family used to exchange Christmas ornaments; when I was young, they were handmade, and later, when I started babysitting, I would put together my kid-watching funds to buy new additions to my aunt and uncle and grandmother's trees. 


We weren't the only family to do this; ornaments are a popular gift and its always fun to add to someone else's tree. Over time, tree decorations get lost or break, and besides, there's always room on the tree for a new addition. They are an easy gift, and fun to pick out for the gift-giver.


If you are considering buying ornaments this year, try to buy directly from artisans or projects that give back to those who make them. Then you'll have given both the gift of support to an artist or collective as well as a present to your friend or family. A selection of ornaments can also be a great hostess gift, or thank you. Consider mixing materials and styles to create a complimentary collection of colors and textures. Each of the materials below is different, but they would all work together.


Revelstudio's handblown glass ornaments come in a number of colors and shapes, and are made with "...a technique called "feathering" where a tool is dragged through the color while it is hot to create a pattern resembling a feather." Glass ornaments look beautiful in a tree or hanging from a window sash or door frame, too. 


These three kings ornaments are made from gourds, and are created by Manos Amigas, "..a fair trade organization that supports small artisan organizations by training and finding markets for their products. Manos Amigas gives 20 percent of its profits of help fund social welfare projects, like school scholarships, uniforms, and a feeding program for poor children."


These mushrooms are handmade from felted (that's boiled and reduced) wool by Stemellina Supplies. The red and white would look lovely against the dark green needles of a Christmas tree. 
Bettula creates handcarved ornaments (like this turtle dove), earrings and other jewelry, and vases made from birch bark, which the designer says will last for years if handled gently. 
These three monkeys ornaments are handknit from acyrlic yarn by artisans in the Bridge of Hope project, which works "... with women who had no stable income and communities where gifted artisans lived in extreme poverty, the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade Project saw the need to create opportunities so that the women and artisans could benefit economically and socially from their work."
This trumpeting angel ornament repurposes soda cans, turning waste into a long-lasting object. It's purchase benefits the Bombolu Workshops, ".....a rehabilitation project sponsored by the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya. In addition to their income from handcraft production, the 150 handicapped men and women artisans and their families receive free housing and medical care.


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