It wouldn’t be Christmas without… Favourite sentimental treasures
They’re not always the most, ahem, tasteful ornaments – but from the vintage angel to a hand-knitted prawn, you and your family know Christmas only really begins when these special treasures appear…
They’re tucked away in the attic or the back of a cupboard for most of the year, but nothing puts you in a festive mood better than pulling out your old decorations, which carry so many special memories and associations. and while they may not look like much to anyone else, once they’re on display, it means christmas is coming…
The Santa Petrushka nesting dolls anne Wilkinson, cambridgeshire
clambering down the steps from the loft, christmas box in hand, always marked the beginning of the festivities. my three daughters, emily, Beth and alice, would be standing eagerly at the bottom of the ladder. i’d barely reach the bottom step before they’d started unpacking the garlands and baubles, squabbling over the “best jobs” (none of them liked stringing up the christmas cards). the most sought-after job was unpacking the santa claus nesting dolls – 10 cheerful Father christmases, intricately painted and absolutely identical but each one a little bit tinier than the one before it. gifted to me by my mother-in-law who bought it on a trip to switzerland, it always baffled me how many hours of fun it provided. the girls would stash their favourite Quality streets inside the empty dolls, pack them up then unpack them and arrange them in height order. now aged 30, 28 and 26, there’s less squabbling over the honour of unpacking the santas, but i never forget to arrange them, in height order, on the mantelpiece.
The knitted prawn david dowding, tunbridge Wells
we bought these hand-knitted decorations from a local christmas market in tunbridge wells. the first we acquired was the christmas prawn, and then last year we added the seagull to the collection. we fell in love with them as they’re the complete antithesis of our normal taste, but as we have such a mismatched collection of baubles, they actually fit in very well.
‘The girls stashed Quality Streets inside the dolls’
‘They’re the antithesis of our normal taste’
The Christmas crib isabel pearce, St mawes, cornwall
as a child, one of the highlights of christmas was getting out the crib. Unwrapping each figure was part of the thrill – you never knew who you were going to get. the baby Jesus lay in a manger with real straw, but the highlight was the gold-winged angel, who was hooked up to the roof of the stable. we used to fly her around the room. although it’s a bit chipped and worse for wear, it takes me back to my childhood – and this year my first grandchild, two-yearold Penelope, will help me set it up.
The Santa paper hat Sharon Sweeney, london
this is the paper hat my son Zachary, now 24, wore at his school nursery nativity play in 1997. it always goes on the christmas tree, even though it’s now somewhat tattered from years of living in the christmas decorations box. it always raises a sigh and a smile as we cast our minds back to those days and all the lovely children and teachers at lyndhurst nursery in camberwell, southeast london.
The angel tree-topper Sheila Whittaker, cheshire
my mum bought this angel in 1951 from woolworths (three years before i was born) and it’s been used every single christmas since. even though she’s a bit old and ragged, it would seem disloyal to cast her aside. i’ll never part with her.
The family of bears anne burns, hertfordshire
we’d never be without our family of wooden christmas bears, which we’ve had for 15 years. the smallest are so light you can fit them pretty much anywhere, and i arrange some of them doing cartwheels on the mantelpiece. my son took them to decorate his bedroom for a few years, but this year they’ll be back in the sitting room because we all love them.
The book of carols clare anderson, london
in our house, christmas wouldn’t be christmas without singing carols round the piano. this songbook has been in our family for many years and each festive season it gets pulled out from the piano stool again. rousing favourites include The First Noel, God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
The “She Said Yes!” bauble helena cartwright, Surrey
On a crisp new york day just a week before christmas 2016, my boyfriend got down on one knee in the middle of central Park, and asked me to marry him. Of course, i said yes, and in a happy daze, we wandered back through Bryant Park to our hotel. On the way i spotted this tacky, yet irresistible, decoration, and had it personalised straight away. Back home, i hung it on our christmas tree, and it’s had pride of place on the tree ever since. every time i see it, it takes me back to new york and that magical day.
‘You never knew who you were going to get’
‘He wore it at his school nativity play’
‘It would seem disloyal to cast her aside’
‘I arrange them doing cartwheels’
‘Each season it gets pulled out of the piano stool’
‘I had it personalised straight away’