Dec 13 2021
Whether this is your first year bringing a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament into your home, or you have been collecting them for many years and then some, there’s no denying the magic of unboxing your ornaments and hanging them on your tree each and every year.
We met with two keen Keepsake Ornament collectors, who have been Hallmark fans since 2015, to get a tour of their tree and learn the meaning behind the special ornaments in their home and hearts.
Merle and his partner Giovanni are two lab technicians and live in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. When you first walk into their warm and inviting home, the first thing you notice is the glowing Christmas tree filled with colourful ornaments on nearly every branch. The longer you look at the tree, the more fun little things you can spot.
“Our tree isn’t all Hallmark, but the majority of them are. We spend probably about $1,500 a year on ornaments – from Disney, Hallmark, and overseas. Once we went to America and bought over 50 ornaments from Macy’s and Hallmark. My niece and nephew get a lot of ornaments. I’ll do an order for me and one for them too. My car is currently filled with Hallmark ornaments ready to give them. They think that I’m a professional tree decorator!” Merle says laughing with Giovanni.
When it comes to decorating their ornament-filled tree each year, Merle and Giovanni invite friends over to make it a fun event.
“It doesn’t take that long. The lights probably take me the longest.” Merle says while admiring his handiwork. “It probably takes about an hour with a dinner break. I’m all for putting the tree up early, but it’s hard with our animals, though with covid just looking at it brings you joy. I find that the lights are the worst part because I have a method where I thread them through each branch.”
Giovanni agrees, “I think it was up a little bit early this year, but I love the novelty of it. It’s nice to have it up in that period where Christmas starts happening otherwise the novelty wears off. Though we do have it up well past December 25th because people want to come over and see it. With our friends’ kids, they love finding their favourite ornaments in the tree, they just love it.”
And while Merle and Giovanni don’t have a set theme for their tree each and every year, there are some obvious standouts.
“Growing up, my mum had a colour theme that she would have each year – two colours only. I’d buy all of these fun ornaments that I would want on the tree every year, but they wouldn’t all stick to the theme. That’s how I was bought up. But now, this is how I like it. It’s fun. I appreciate everyone’s trees unless it has tinsel” Merle laughs.
“Everyone says it’s a Disney tree, and the majority of them are Disney because Hallmark create a lot of Disney ornaments. With Christmas, I get ornaments to remind me of things. So, the tree has all of these fun things, but I have little sentimental things on there as well. When we travel, I try to get an ornament from wherever we are. I would love to have a second tree, filled with Harry Potter, or villains, or dark ornaments.
I already have Maleficent, Ursula who is my favourite, and Cruella. I was waiting for a villain this year from Hallmark, and I thought we were going to get Rapunzel’s Mother Gothel, but we didn’t get her! I’m always trying to guess which character will be next. I would love a Jafar ornament, Aladdin is a big one, but I would love a Jafar.”.
So, where did it all begin? What was the first ornament that made them the keen Keepsake collectors they are today?
“I think the first one that made a sound and really got us interested was the Operation board game ornament.” Giovanni says.
Then Merle has a festive flashback and remembers… “Actually, the first Hallmark ornament that we bought together was the washing machine. I remember when we were in New York in a Hallmark store and we saw it, we’ve had it since 2016.” He pulls the ornament off the tree, knowing exactly where it is without hesitation, and showcases how it flashes and washes tiny clothes when the string is pulled.
And finally, we asked Merle for his dream Keepsake Ornament wish list. If Hallmark could make any three ornaments, what would they be?
“A Jafar. Maybe a Kitchen Aid mixer. And a really cool game, like Trouble would just be really cool. Another thing that would be really great would be if Hallmark did Disney prince ornaments. We have the princess ornaments, but we need the princes!”