RB Roadtripping: Making Ornaments From Souvenirs


While traveling, especially on long trips, I try to find something at memorable destinations along the route to bring home that won’t end up becoming clutter … or add to my already massive collection of hoodies (personally I feel you can never own too many hoodies, but that’s another post topic!). So I search for ornaments for my travel themed tree. I started picking up ornaments at destinations starting in December 2008 when I snagged the first few while in Fredericksburg, Texas during their annual Christmas festival.

At some destinations I can find ornaments regardless of time of the year and at others, I’m searching for what seems like forever for something that I can convert into an ornament.

My favorite go-to trinkets that can convert to ornament status are patches, bookplates, and keychains. Keychains are ready to go — I use the keyring to hang it directly on the tree in most cases. Bookplates and patches need a little help, however, to hang on the tree.


Travel trinket in need of a way to hang on the tree (i.e. patch, bookplate)


Low temp hot glue gun + glue sticks


First, cut the ribbon in lengths that allow enough length to tie it in a knot and still have a reasonable amount of space to hang on the branch easily. Tie the ribbon into a knot.
Once your hot glue gun is warmed up & ready to go, squeeze a glob of glue (I know, real technical description) onto the back of the trinket. Take the knot end of the ribbon and press it into the glue. Hold it in place until the glue hardens.
Once the glue is completely hardened and cooled off, its ready to go on your tree!

Here’s a few examples of items I’ve converted into ornaments …


Beaded Fish keyring from the Chickasaw Cultural Center (as well as the Graceland keyring at the bottom of the image | Pops on Route 66 Bottle Opener | Stuffed Park Ranger Bear I found in 2013 became my new tree topper!


Patches from the Rock ‘n Soul Museum in Memphis, Monarch Pass, Colorado, & the Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, NM; keyrings from Moab, Utah and the Blue Swallow Motel on Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico + the sugar skull keyring I found at a shop on Route 66 in NM; bookplates from Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and the OKC National Memorial; doorplate from the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado (where The Shining miniseries was filmed; that room is haunted); hiking pole medallion from Arches National Park (I had to commemorate that hike somehow!)

All of these images were actually taken days before Christmas in 2013 … none of my decorations are up yet at home, so here’s a few more from last year since I’m sure I’ll slack like last year and not have a fully decorated tree until December 19th or later!

IMG_0472 IMG_0473 IMG_0475

Linking up with Bonnie Rose for Travel Tuesday

  • Ursula Zavala - December 2, 2014 - 11:30 am

    What a cute idea! This is my kind of Christmas tree!ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 8, 2014 - 1:44 pm

      Thanks Ursula! With all there is to do in Texas, I bet you could deck out an entire tree with ornaments and souvenirs from your adventures 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - December 2, 2014 - 9:02 pm

    I do the same thing and pick up ornaments from all the places I visit. You’re right that sometimes they just don’t have an actual ornament or sometimes they are way too expensive. I’ve never thought to use patches but have converted bookmarks (wooden and metal ones) into tree ornaments and they work great. I’ll be on the lookout for more options now.
    Don’t you just love decorating your tree each year and remembering this trip or that trip? I love it! Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 8, 2014 - 1:43 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets creative on the souvenir ornament hunt Stacey! Patches usually mean I couldn’t find other good/long lasting items (or if I did, they cost more than I wanted to spend). And yes, I do love reminiscing each holiday season as I decorate the tree or walk by it!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel G - December 2, 2014 - 11:58 pm

    I love themed Christmas trees in general, I think this is a really cute idea, and the theme definitely suits you!ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 8, 2014 - 1:41 pm

      Thanks Rachel 🙂 Being able to reminisce about past travels each holiday season is a great way to give a purpose to otherwise dust-collecting souvenirs!ReplyCancel

  • Yalanda @ Laugh Anyway - December 3, 2014 - 6:24 am

    This is amazing and perfect in so many ways! I love DIY ornaments! We just made some for our little expat tree too! Thanks so much for linking up and sharing this idea!ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 8, 2014 - 1:40 pm

      Thanks Yalanda 🙂 While many may not get it, travel lovers and expats will since its a great way to reminisce about past travels each holiday season.ReplyCancel

  • Marcella @ WhatAWonderfulWorld - December 3, 2014 - 10:32 am

    Wow! An amazing idea, I LOVE this! 😀ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 8, 2014 - 1:38 pm

      Thanks Marcella!ReplyCancel

  • Camila - December 4, 2014 - 2:01 pm

    Love this idea! So cute and so original! Although not going to lie, I would want to have them hanging there all year long and not just for Christmas 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 8, 2014 - 1:37 pm

      Thanks Camila 🙂 To be honest, the tree stayed up until the end of January because I didn’t get it up and decorated until December 20th! It would have stayed up longer had the others in the house not protested 😉ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - December 5, 2014 - 5:13 am

    What sweet Christmasy photos! The background kind of looks like you live in a cabin, or at least a cabin-y style house (swoooon)ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 8, 2014 - 1:36 pm

      Thanks Cynthia! The living room walls are pine tongue & groove siding that have been varnished … when its just a tree sitting in the living room (with or without lights on it), it has quite the rustic vibe going on 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Yeti//Finding Indian Food in Korea - December 9, 2014 - 4:21 am

    […] week I am featuring a super fun DIY project by Christina over at Route Bliss. She came up with the idea of using souvenirs of past travels for Christmas […]ReplyCancel

  • […] crafty DIY post on how to make ornaments from souvenirs….wish I had read this about six months […]ReplyCancel

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    […] worth a second look: RB Roadtripping: Making Ornaments From Souvenirs | Not the Park Ranger I Expected To See … | RB Roadtripping: Holiday Travel Tips | RB Budgeting: […]ReplyCancel

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    […] crafty DIY post on how to make ornaments from souvenirs….wish I had read this about six months […]ReplyCancel