The Archive Lady: Preserving Family Christmas Ornaments

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Are you properly storing and preserving your family’s heirloom holiday ornaments? Learn the best preservation methods with Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady!

Jackie in Illinois asks “As I get ready for Christmas and trim my tree with family Christmas ornaments I wondered if there is a particular way that I should be storing these precious family heirlooms when Christmas is over. Can you tell me what is the best way to preserve and store my family Christmas ornaments?”

Are you properly storing and preserving your family's heirloom holiday ornaments? Learn the best preservation methods with Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady!
Handmade Ornament, Wikimedia Commons

Jackie asks a great question, especially for this time of year. So many of us are dragging out those boxes of Christmas decorations and making our homes ready for the holiday season this month. We are mindful of our family heirlooms that we have in our possession and we see on a daily basis but have you considered those Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa family heirlooms, like handmade ornaments, when it comes to preservation? Maybe, like Jackie, we only think about it when we are unwrapping those family ornaments and then we are not sure what to do.

Unwrapping Christmas ornaments and placing them strategically on the tree so that we don’t leave any holes. Many of these ornaments bring back so many memories. Handmade ornaments made by my daughter when she was growing up. Christmas ornaments that I inherited from my Grandmother after her passing, they remind me that she always had one of those silver metal trees. And ornaments that my husband and I purchased at monumental times in our married life like the one that says “Our First Christmas”.

Are you properly storing and preserving your family's heirloom holiday ornaments? Learn the best preservation methods with Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady!
Handmade Ornament, Melissa Barker

As a county archivist, I work every day to archive and preserve my county’s historical records. Using the right archival materials like file folders, boxes, tissue paper, etc. to make sure these records, ephemera and artifacts are preserved for future researchers.

Preserving our families precious and one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments is something that I find most genealogists don’t think about, not like they do their genealogical documents. The fact is, these handmade ornaments have meaning and tell a story just like our family documents do. Preserving these ornaments properly is something that any genealogist can do quite easily.

Archival Items You Will Need:

  • Archival Tissue Paper, to wrap handmade and unique ornaments with for protection
Are you properly storing and preserving your family's heirloom holiday ornaments? Learn the best preservation methods with Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady!
Gaylord Archival Tissue Paper
  • Archival Divided Compartment Box, to store the wrapped ornaments
Are you properly storing and preserving your family's heirloom holiday ornaments? Learn the best preservation methods with Melissa Barker, The Archive Lady!
Archival Box from Gaylord Archival

Wrap up each ornament very carefully in the tissue paper and then lay them in the compartments in the archival box. If needed, crumple up additional tissue paper and put around the wrapped ornament so that it won’t move around in the box.

Store these ornaments in a cool, dry and dark place. Do not store in an attic, basement or in direct sunlight. It might be a good idea to put these family ornaments where genealogical records are stored since they are considered family artifacts.

So, as you are putting your Christmas tree up this year and you are seeing the handmade and unique family ornaments, think about preserving them like I have discussed instead of putting them back in the garage or attic where they could be deteriorating.

Family Gatherings: Dragging Genealogy Information Out of Your Family

Having trouble getting genealogy information out of your family during the Holidays?

Family Gatherings: Dragging Genealogy Information Out of Your Family

PDF Version: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=2680

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If you have a question about researching in archives or records preservation for The Archive Lady, send an email with your question to: melissabarker20@hotmail.com

Melissa Barker - The Archive Lady

Melissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation. 

©2019, copyright Melissa Barker. All rights Reserved.

 

2 Responses

  1. Robin Landgren

    12 December 2019 1:45 pm

    We always dust off the ornaments first. Either with a soft painter brush or a soft, clean cloth. The family has lost a few over the last 66 years to dust damage early on. It can make the paint peel. Then we wrap individually and pack away.

  2. Colleen

    15 December 2019 6:57 am

    It is great to read these tips. I have a couple ornaments that my grandparents bought the year my mother was born (1928). These tips will help me keep them safe. Thanks.

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