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Your Guide to Personalized Christmas Ornaments

personalized christmas ornament with family of penguins

Things to Keep in Mind when Customizing Christmas Ornaments

Are you looking for personalized Christmas ornaments this holiday season? Christmas is fast approaching — in fact, it will be here before we know it. Get a head start on your Christmas tree decor or holiday shopping by placing your order for personalized ornaments sooner than later.

Wondering where to begin? We have a few things for you to keep in mind when designing your ornaments with Calliope Designs. 

Theme of Custom Christmas Ornament

There are many choices of personalized Christmas ornaments available from Calliope Designs. Some like to keep it classic with ornaments featuring the whole family around a tree. Family members can be featured standing together, or presented as penguins, bears, and other fun holiday characters. Many families make this a tradition, and delight in seeing the ornaments on their tree year after year.

It can also be fun to change up the theme of your ornament, depending on an event or milestone that took place during the year. Vacations, engagements, and new jobs are all themes available on

Number of Family Members

If you are hoping to fit everyone in on your personalized Christmas ornament, take a look at the different family member options Calliope Designs provides on our website:

We’ll make sure to recognize all of your loved ones within your personalized Christmas ornament. 

Names of Family Members

Once you nail down the number of people to be displayed on your ornament, don’t forget to double-check the spelling of their names! Names will be hand-painted onto your ornament, making it the perfect keepsake for years to come.

We often see parents using “Mom” and “Dad” instead of their names — it is up to you how you want to personalize your 2019 ornaments!

Don’t Forget the Date

After you have double checked the spelling of your family members’ names, don’t forget to include the year! Including the date is the perfect addition to your customized Christmas ornament, especially on “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments and those with a vacation theme. Every year you hang it on your tree, you will be taken back in time to that specific time and all of those wonderful memories.

Include a Photo in Your Custom Ornament

Another fantastic way to personalize your Calliope Designs custom Christmas ornament is with a photo frame. Not only will names and year be documented on your ornament, but you will have a visual element to include with it. 

Personalize Your Calliope Designs Ornament Today!

Well, what are you waiting for? September is almost over, meaning the holidays are just around the corner. It is time to nail down those details and get those personalized ornament orders in! Whether you are giving an ornament as a holiday gift or plan to hang them on your tree this year, getting started now is the way to go.
Spend some time looking through all of the different themes and options available for your ornaments, nail down the personalized details, and place your order today. You’ll soon discover why Calliope Designs has been a trusted resource for personalized Christmas ornaments for over 44 years!

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Great Emails from our Customers!

What Our Customers Have to Say About Calliope!

SOOOO good to hear from you. I just had a ball ordering the ornaments this year. Can’t believe we are now up to almost 30 people that count on getting one. And we had 2 babies and a wedding this year so it keeps on growing!!! I still remember how I first found you at Nordstrom and I think that was over 25 years ago!!! You were so sweet to fax your pages to the gift department so we could pick them out. How computers have changed everything. The website looks terrific. Tell Will he did a great job with the pictures. I SOOO hope he will continue the business. You guys are just THE BEST!!!

Our son is a senior this year. Just completed all his college applications (what an intense nightmare). He’s 6’8” so his whole life is basketball. His team was rated third in the state just prior to the season staring so there’s a lot of excitement and a lot of expectations.

It’s always a joy to connect with you each year. I consider myself your biggest cheerleader!!! We wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas. Thanks for the lovely work you do.



The ornaments are just adorable — I love them both. I’m so sorry that the
six for my friends and I didn’t work out for us, but I am so appreciative of
your honesty and commitment to providing a high-quality product that you
notified me immediately when you were less than pleased with the selection
that you had available.

I will definitely get in touch with you next year … much earlier … to
order my ornaments. I’ve been giving my niece and nephew an ornament for
the past 25 years … and am always trying to find a theme that fits with
their past years’ accomplishment. This year, I just started the tradition
with my girlfriends (the 6 of us), so I am planning on keeping this
tradition going also.

Do you make your own ornaments? If so, I’d love to talk to you about the
theme’s for my friends/niece/nephew — if so, perhaps we could get this
planned early in the year Let me know if that could potentially work out.

As for returning the check, I was totally caught off guard. It was totally
unexpected, and certainly not necessary — I love the 2 ornaments that I
received so much — I feel like I’m stealing!!! It was very generous of
you. Thank you.

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season — let me know your
thoughts about your ability to “tailor” an ornament to fit the 3-4 theme(s)
understanding there is an associated cost for the design work, etc.
Looking forward to your response — and again, Thank You.

Happy Holidays,


We usually have themes with our family trips every three years. This year
we are each hosting a holiday and my family has Christmas in Cape Cod.
These will be keepsakes that each family can take home. Your prices are
great and the ornament quality looks great as well. Good luck with your
website. I look forward to receiving the ornaments.
Allison W.


The wedding went very well, thank you. The ornaments were a big hit, everyone loved them. Thank you so much for all of your hard work, we really appreciate it. You helped make the wedding one that everyone will remember.


Dear Stephanie, Thank you for letting me know about the problem… It’s really not all that important which another one we choose, I would just like the brown hair. I think I’ll go with that new angel -the dough one holding the wreath, (brunette, of course) -sounds pretty! Thanks so much! My girls are going to love them! I will definitely keep you in mind for years to come. Every year I try to give both my parents and my inlaws ornaments from my kids, but it’s hard to find because I need one of them to be to both Grandma and Papa, and the other set I need separate. You are a great find!
I just did an internet search (don’t remember if it was yahoo or google) for pregnancy or expecting ornaments. There’s not many out there and yours is by far the cutest one! I try to get one new ornament each year to represent our year and this was perfect! Thanks again!

Our new ornament arrived today safely. Thank you very much. We are excited
to present it at Christmas in anticipation of our baby granddaughter in
February–to be born to our baby, aged 30!! It will happen for you.

Thank you so much!

Dear Stephanie,

Well the Christmas rush is over and we are now into the quiet
January. We had so much snow this year, it made for a beautiful
Christmas. It was also very cold so we did a lot of staying home and
playing games. That was nice too.

The Tree ornaments were a success. Sentimental and meaningful was
what I was going for and with your help, it worked! If the ornaments
vary and change throughout the years, I will definitely be buying
more. I was very happy with the quality. Sturdy little buggers. I
have bought other homemade ornaments and they were not as solid as
yours. I was impressed. Thank you so much for being a part of our
Christmas and I hope you are doing well in one of my favorite cities


We received the ornament and we loved it! It was exactly what I wanted. My son had surgery in San Francisco this year and that ornament was perfect. Thank you.

Happy Holidays!

Scotia B

I sent my son, his wife and new baby the Charismas ornament I ordered from your web site. They just LOVE it. My son’s words “Something we will keep forever!”

Thank you,



I received an e-mail about your New Years Sale, but it doesn’t say how long the sale will last. When will it end, or has it already? I didn’t see the discounted prices on the web site, even on the day I received the e-mail.

Anyway, I will tell you your ornaments were particularly appreciated this year. I ordered one for my grandson’s first Christmas, which his parents loved. But especially appreciated was the two-snowperson “Just Married” ornament I ordered for my daughter and her new wife with their names on it. Her wife had been looking for a first Christmas ornament for them this year and had been discouraged because they always depicted a bride and a groom. Thanks for having so many choices for same-sex couples!

Another that was really appreciated I had made for my son and his new love, who moved in together this year with a total of 5 children, his and hers. You were able to put all 7 names on a cute snowman ornament that read “First Christmas Together.” This is the e-mail I got when they received the ornament: “I wanted to thank you for the lovely ornament. I was hoping to find something to celebrate the season for all of us and you captured exactly what I had in mind.”

I was amazed with the fast shipping and nice lettering on the ornaments – I’ve been a customer for years and will continue to be! Thank you!

Please let me know if the sale is over, or when it ends. Thanks again!

Julie B


I just wanted to drop you a quick email to let you know how wonderfully delighted I am with the personalized ornaments (cruise ship)
We just received from you.

We’re going on a cruise in February and it’s a surprise for our tablemates (they don’t know we’re going) to be presented on the last night of the cruise.

I’m also a cruise agent and I’m certain you’ll be hearing from me again because these will make the perfect gifts for my clients.

Have a great New Year and again, many thanks for the wonderful customer service and quick shipping.

Kim L

Oh Stephanie! They LOVED the ornaments! What a great gift idea that I will
surely keep in mind for another special occasion.
Thanks so very much for your hard work and impressive follow up.

Kim L, ACC
Dare To Dream Cruises
I received the ornament today. It is so cute and just what I wanted. My daughter is in the Navy stationed in Okinawa. She and her boyfriend have been seeing each other for one year so I thought she would enjoy having something to commemorate the occasion. Thank you for shipping it so quickly.

Lynne Froelich
Came yesterday and they are beautiful. My husband really liked them, too. Of course, what do you expect from a Grandpa with two new granddaughters in one year – grandbabies # 8 & 9. We only have two sons. One has 8 children and no, they are not Catholic or Mormon. They just wanted a lot of kids. I thought you might like to see a picture of who you created something for, since I did this for our Christmas card. Margaret

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you so much!

I really wanted to get my partner a “our first Christmas” ornament this year as a gift, and am so happy that I found your website. Coincidentally, my partner and I received your “1st house Christmas ornament” as a gift last year, and loved it. So when I came upon your site today, I knew I struck gold!

Christmas is only a week away and I ordered the ornament only about 6 hours ago, so I’m THRILLED to have learned that the ornament has already shipped. That’s amazing! You can’t get a customized gift and expect it to ship the same day!! I was even plotting to tell my partner Christmas morning, “Now I ordered you something else, but it hasn’t come in yet.” But now I don’t have too!!

Thank you so much! I already know that she’ll love it, and that it will become a lifetime memory that we’ll pull out of the box for years to come!”

Thanks again,

My brother got the bears to ornament in Barcelona. He loved it!
Sounds great! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, and processing the order so fast. Emily P.

Hi, I just placed an order but I was also wanting to get a special one but couldn’t find it listed. Do you ever do Hannukah things? If so, where would I find that on your list? Thanks a lot! We love your ornaments. You’re so gifted and my mom treasures her that I bought at Nordstrom in Seattle YEARS ago! I now have stage IV breast to bone cancer and I am so glad I took the time to do that particular ornament that one year. We’re sorry they don’t have them at Nordstrom anymore. It was just this year that my mom looked at the back of the ornament and told me the name of your business so I could order more. Again, thanks so much.

Merry Christmas!
Katherine Johanson

Hi, I’ve been buying from you at Gump’s in SF since the early 90’s. I can’t get to SF this year so I was so excited to find your website. Thanks for filling my order. It keeps the family ornament tradition alive.

Thanks, Stephanie,
We buy an ornament for our family members every year and are never disappointed.

Thank you again. I am so lucky to have found you. This is my 20th year(I think) of doing these ornaments for my family and friends. In the old days, there were Christmas fairs and craft shows everywhere and I always got them there, but alas, the world is big now. 🙁 Your ornaments still feel homemade and every year around October my friends and family start hinting that they are their favorite gift each year.
Thank you for helping us keep a little “old world” holiday tradition.
Have wonderful holidays and be safe.
Michelle N

Thank you so much for the adorable Santa bobblehead and super fast shipping! You truly have made me a loyal customer! Your designs are more beautiful each year and your customer service is impeccable!

Katie S

Wanted to let you know that I received my order last week. AMAZING work!

Perhaps I might not want to be a distributor, however, I AM in a church that has MANY fundraisers during each year, do you work w/charitable organizations.

Thanks so much, I KNOW the people that get your ornaments will be thrilled!


Hi Stephanie!
Thank you so much! Aren’t we lucky to live in such a beautiful part
of the world?!
I’m sure I’ll be placing more orders with you as lately, I’ve started
giving the
Our First Christmas ornaments as wedding presents. Everyone loves them!

Have a great day!
Shellie O.

Special thanks to the constant support and time of our customers! We are spoiled with the clientele we have for our custom ornaments!

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Ruth Azawa – Artist, Sculptor, & Inspiration

Ruth Azawa posing next to her creations

Ruth Azawa, an American artist, died on August 6, 2013. She was a woman who devoted her life to art and became very well known for her sculptures in wire and her public commissions, especially her fountains which are found all over the San Francisco Bay Area.  There is one in Santa Rosa in our town center depicting scenes from Santa Rosa, the surrounding wine country, and our local history.

Ruth Azawa’s Artistic Legacy – Left Behind for the World

Ms. Azawa was, unknowingly, an inspiring force in the development of our products for Calliope Designs.

She had completed her famous fountain sculpture of the streets of San Francisco which is located near Union Square at the side of the Hyatt Hotel.  It’s quite large, and shows all kinds of fun scenes – the Hills of San Francisco, the famous Winding Way of Lombard Street, the Palace Hotel, Legion of Honor, riding the cable car, and the Cliff House at the Beach are just a few of the many to find.  Tourists from all over the world come to see and photograph the fountain and enjoy its whimsicality.

I believe the fountain is made of cast metal which had been poured into a mold of the scenes just mentioned.  Then the pieces were put together to form the fountain. But the interesting thing to us was that the mold itself and everything and everyone on it was originally made of  “baker’s clay” or “bread dough”.  And following the installation of the fountain, a popular Home and Garden magazine, Sunset Magazine, did an article on Ruth making the fountain and using “baker’s clay” and then she gave her recipe for the clay/dough and showed how she made some of the figurines.

It was this article that inspired our friends, John, and Kathleen Holmes, to have a fun party at their home to make our own “sculptures”  – and since it was close to Christmas, we later thought of this as a way to make Christmas gifts!  The night we had the sculpture party was quite fun – half of the people there were artists, but even the less artistically gifted guests, such as myself, were able to form figures and create some pretty fun little items.

That year we made so many of these little figurines and gave them away at Christmas time. With the positive response, we received from family and friends we were encouraged the following year to join the Great Dickens Faire of San Francisco to sell the wares from a tiny cart. The Dickens Fair is still going on, 44 years later, and we’ve been to every single one. As well as having a business that sold to gift shops and department stores all over the world!

Still Remembered in Santa Rosa

Twenty years later the City of Santa Rosa commissioned Ruth Azawa to create a fountain for our downtown city center plaza.  She accepted saying she would like to have the children of Santa Rosa participate in making the baker’s clay figurines to be used in the fountain’s design.  For several months it was our delight to give boxes and boxes of our colored dough to the local schools that had been selected to participate.  We worked with the teachers giving tips and techniques so that the kids could have some practice in using the materials.  When Ms. Azawa came to Santa Rosa she had many willing and excited school children to help with her project.

The fountain is an integral part of our City and it’s lovely center plaza, and we are proud to have been an influence on her project.

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Part of Our Community for 40 Years

hands held high for community team spirit

Over the years Calliope Designs has had the opportunity to give back to our community in Santa Rosa, California and throughout Sonoma County. When a business becomes involved with the giving of time, products, or money it enlivens the spirit of the employees of the business as well and gives them the feeling of generosity and contribution.

Doing Our Part for the Community

For many holidays our employees conducted a food drive to create some lovely holiday dinners for our local women’s shelters. Most of our employees were women and most of them had families. They filled the baskets with pumpkin for pies, loaves of bread for turkey stuffing, cranberry sauce and applesauce, canned yams, and canned peas and other products too.  We always added a turkey at the end! This gift from each one of them became a beautiful tradition.  Calliope Designs accompanied the baskets of ingredients for a special meal with dozens of our handcrafted dough ornaments and sent special instructions and pens with each basket so the ornaments could be personalized for the children in the shelters.  Our employees were proud of their work and proud that their beautiful creations that were donated at Christmas time to someone less fortunate.

As a company, we became known as a destination tour for girl scout and boy scout troops, classrooms, art schools, and nursery schools throughout Sonoma County as well.  We often had two or three tours a week, especially during the Autumn and pre Thanksgiving. Groups would come to our business building and be carefully led through the “factory” where the dough was mixed in many colors. The children were each given a piece of dough to carry around and squeeze and roll!  They loved the tactile soft feel of the salt and flour dough.  Then they were taken to the tables were our talented employees formed the ornaments.  The kids were fascinated with the process and quietly watched as Santas, Snowmen, Penguins, and Teddy Bears were hand pieced into adorable ornaments.  After they were made the children loved seeing trays of ornaments placed in the huge pizza ovens we had which held over 2000 ornaments – a day’s production.

We toured the shipping department where ornaments were carefully packed for shipment to gift shops and department stores.  The children really loved our pellet dispenser which hung from the ceiling…. because we called it Big Bird!  They enjoyed seeing the boxes piled up at the back door, waiting for UPS to come and pick them up and send them on their way.

And the end of the tour there was always a box of bags of different colored “bread” dough for the teacher or troop leader to take back to class.  We imagined a wonderful art session the next day where everyone got to make a creation of their choice.

Continued Support & Giving

As the years went on the word went out to the teachers of Sonoma County that our company was happy to donate our leftover colored clay to schools for art projects.  We always made fresh dough every single day.  It kept the colors vibrant and kept yeast from developing in the flour causing distortions in baking the ornaments.  We had so many teachers calling to pick up leftover “dough” that we had to make a schedule.  It was really fun to make this contribution, and we still get calls from teachers asking for dough – unfortunately, we now make the ornaments from polymer clay!  But we pass out the recipe when anyone asks.

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Catchy Quotes About Our Pets

cat and dog in santa hats

We love our pets and expect very little in return for their food, their home, their entertainment.  Of course, our dogs and cats entertain us too.  Our dogs take us out for walks so we can get our exercise.  They sleep on our bed so we can stay warm.  They lick the tears off our faces when we are sad.  And wag their tails in greeting making us feel welcomed upon coming home.  Our kitty cats are equally adorable in their habits but do tend to keep us on our toes in the expectations department, as we accept they will only do what they want to do about 99.9% of each day.

Personalized Pet Christmas Ornaments at Calliope Designs

The holidays are even more fun when you have a pet, and we’ve made quite a selection of adorable pet personalized Christmas ornaments for our own pets, and for gifts for friends.

Here are some funny and thoughtful quotes from some famous people, and some anonymous contributors.  Quotes are interesting ways to start fun discussions at the dinner table with your family, especially children.

A house is not a home without a pet. – Anonymous

No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.  Abraham Lincoln

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  Roger Caras

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. – Ben Williams

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man. – Mark Twain

The Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him. – Rudyard Kipling

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, ‘My God, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that! – Dave Barry

Dogs have owners; cats have staff. – Anonymous

Cat Law of Selective Hearing “A cat can hear a mouse yawning a mile away while filtering out the sound of a pleading human just six feet away. – Anonymous

Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this. – Anonymous

The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog. – Ambrose Bierce

“The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals” ~ Anonymous

“A dog has lots of friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue.” ~ Anonymous

“If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.” ~ Alfred North Whitehead

“…he will be our friend for always and always and always.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”

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Cowboy Santa -29 Years with Neiman Marcus

Cowboy Santa Personalized Christmas Ornament

When you have the opportunity, why not start at the top?

What’s the Original Calliope Ornament Neiman Marcus Featured?

Neiman Marcus was the first department store to sell Calliope Designs personalized ornaments in the United States. The buyers found us at The Beckman Gift Show of Handcrafted products in 1977, and knew immediately our darling little handmade dough ornaments would be well received in Texas, as well in the many other cities where Neiman Marcus stores were located. In these years having a Christmas store within a department store was not a big trend. Most ornaments were purchased by the box at a local drug store or at a seasonal pool patio shop that would change over to Christmas ornaments in December. But the talented buyers at Neiman Marcus knew their customers appreciated fine quality items, the latest designs, and would pay a premium for handmade products. And they knew the eclectic themed Christmas tree was in style – trees that were covered with personal items, small dolls, toys, handmade children’s crafts, strings of popcorn, and fun family items. They knew our ornaments would be a wonderful addition to their growing concept of a beautiful Christmas tree ornament department.

And our ornaments were a hit as they had projected! Customers loved the whimsical designs created by Dorr Eddy our company’s designer. The selection always included baby ornaments and wedding ornaments, some angels, teddy bear styles, and snowmen. In addition to our traditional line of products, we created a custom design each year of a Western theme, for Texas of course, of a Cowboy Santa.

This ornament became our signature product in the Neiman Marcus chain of stores and was offered as well in the world famous Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. Our Santa Cowboy had a certain look – a big white Stetson hat with a candy cane band. He wore a red shirt with a green fringed vest with a star on his chest of course. His legs were covered with white chaps, and he wore wonderful cowboy boots. Santa still had his beard and mustache, and twinkly blue eyes, but he was a Rootin Tootin Santa and he inhabited the Neiman Marcus catalog each Christmas for 29 years.

And this is truly how a collection begins! Each year Santa would be doing something different. The first one was riding on a bucking bronco, holding his rope in one hand and hanging on for dear life with his other hand. We were sure to put the year on the ornament – very important – and this design was so successful we were making them as fast as we could, just barely keeping up with their sales week by week. The next year Santa Cowboy was riding a long-horned steer. In 1979 Santa drove a wonderful Stagecoach, and in 1980 he sat on top of the gushing oil of a Texas oil well. The years went on and on – and each year Santa did something Texan and something fun, and people from all walks of life looked forward to the catalog to see what he would be doing next.

In around 1980 we partnered with Neiman Marcus in beginning a personalization program so that these little Santa’s could have a name as well as the year added for each customer. An instantly popular parent and grandparent gift for children that greatly expanded our sales, and made us really happy that we could make a better product for each customer by including personalization.

The Santas kept coming – Santa drove a Covered Wagon, he sat on a western fence, he held a bag of toys, he was in a wreath with one of his reindeer. One year he piloted a red airplane, wearing his big white Stetson hat all the while, and another year he drove a train. He drove a red model T, went cowboy skiing, raced on a Palomino, and had a Rootin Tootin Christmas with his six-shooters.

I think we could have gone on forever with adorable creations just exclusively for Neiman Marcus, but as in life, all things must change, and our successful partnership came to an end. To this day we still receive orders from many of our lovely customers from Neiman Marcus who had to search long and hard to find us on the world wide web. We receive delightful Christmas cards and notes and emails from customers who have purchased for their children – who are now adults, and some who are now purchasing for their grandchildren. All in all, our 29 years with a partnership between Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog and Calliope Designs was a very happy and satisfying endeavor, one of which we are proud.

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Wholesale Personalized Ornaments

Some tales of how a little “in the kitchen business” got started are just too much fun! I imagine everyone who has ever owned a business has that moment when they know, just KNOW, that it’s going to be successful. For Calliope Designs, it was the year – 1976. The place – The Blue Whale Design Center in Los Angeles. The occasion – The Beckman Gift Show of Handcrafted Items. Our products – personalized Christmas ornaments for the Wholesale gift shop trade.

Started at the Bottom, Now We’re Everywhere!

Perhaps many of our readers don’t really know how gift shops and department stores find all of the wonderful items they have to offer for sale. How they are continuously finding new and different products, and constantly getting the best and most popular gift to sell in their stores. The two main ways buyers find merchandise is 1) Gift Shows held in 13 different cities around the United States each winter and summer, and 2) Sales Representative organizations who bring samples and pictures of products to the buyer to obtain an order. When a company like Calliope Designs is just starting out they will often sign up for and attend a Gift Show. These are usually held in large convention centers in the major market locations, such as Los Angeles. And that is exactly what we had done to test out our designs to the gift shop and department store buyers. The Beckman Gift Show of Handcrafted Items was filled with crafts from pottery to jewelry, blown glass to hand made Christmas ornaments! And everything in between that could possibly be handmade in America and for sale in stores everywhere.

The Gift Show requires attendance for five full days. Each vendor has a display space either 10′ X 10′, or 20′ X 10′ depending on the size of your product line. A sample of every single product the company makes is on display – so a nice booth has to be built, and a display set up for the buyers to make their selections. Printed color catalogs and price lists need to be prepared to be passed out to buyers. Business cards and samples to pass out also come in handy. It’s often a new company’s first opportunity to introduce themselves to the Gift Industry in a professional way, so everything about the Show has to be planned to make a great first impression of professional mixed with reliability.

Set up for a trade show usually takes 2 days. This is the time all of the samples and display materials are delivered to space in the convention center that will be the company’s booth. All the boxes have to be unpacked and all materials and boxes saved for “tear down” at the end of the show. It’s a big messy job! Then the display gets set up first, and the samples added to the walls and the various tables, chairs, and selling materials set out. This sounds easy, but it’s stressful. Everyone in the whole places is hammering and rushing, there is usually no air conditioning or heat, and it’s a total mess. The big challenge is to get everything done in time, to make a fabulous display to make the best possible impression on potential buyers and to get all cleaned up and ready to go on time.

The gift show itself opens on a Saturday morning and goes on all day from 9-6 for Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The buyers stream in the door at the beginning and continue to arrive all during the day, walking the show, looking at everything that is displayed. Some buyers like to look at everything before placing their orders for future delivery. Some know exactly what they want and put their orders in first, to make sure they get the products they want asap. We, the business owners or sales managers, stand in the booth looking our best, holding a clipboard, waiting to “write”. Writing orders mean just that – taking a blank order form and filling it out as the buyer chooses one item after another, always specifying how many of each style is needed. At the end of the process, the order is totaled up and copies given to the buyer and kept with the company. It’s an exciting process, especially when your product is in demand.

And our product was in SUPER demand in 1976! This was the era of the handcrafted gift, the small business, and the appreciation of all things handmade. We had been selling our products at crafts fairs and local boutiques, so we knew how much customers loved them. And the gift shop and department store buyers did too!

The gift show was almost over. It was Tuesday at 6 p.m. and the show was officially closed for the day. We were happily counting up our orders, and relaxing in the booth. Sitting down. Doing paperwork. And in walked a lovely looking couple. They were both tall and slender. She was wearing a peach colored fuzzy wool sweater dress with pearls and matching high heels. He was wearing an off-white linen suit with a peach colored shirt and matching tie. They were very striking. But it was the end of the day and we just let them look, not jumping up to wait on them as we thought they were interior designers from the Blue Whale Design showrooms. And then the beautiful woman said to us….
“These are absolutely adorable!” Speaking with a Texas drawl she continued “We’re from Neimans…. and we’d love to have these darling ornaments in all 32 of our stores!” And that was our moment! When we knew Calliope Designs personalized ornaments would be a success.

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Christmas Ornaments as Souvenirs from Hawaii

Scuba Diver Female Personalized Christmas Ornaments

Hawaii! One of the most beautiful and tropical vacation spots in the world! It’s sunny and hot, and the prevailing clothing style is swimsuits and flip-flops. Outdoor activities – beaching, golf, tennis, scuba diving, sailing, wind sailing, and much more abound. Healthy dining, lots of fruit, fish, vegetables in beautiful restaurants by the sea. Would you ever think it was a place to sell Christmas ornaments? All year long? Convincing a gift shop buyer to actually purchase Christmas tree ornaments to be put out for sale in June, in the middle of a tourist mecca like Lahaina Hawaii for example, was a very very hard sell! We knew the ornaments would sell! We knew we could come up with adorable designs that would appeal to tourists and ornament collectors alike. And we were confident the stores would want more. But getting our foot in the door was quite a task!

Say Aloha to Custom Hawaiian Christmas Ornaments at Calliope

One of our best customers was with a store on Front Street in Lahaina Maui, Hawaii named David’s of Hawaii. Does anyone remember that store??? David Taylor was the owner, and a very unlikely person to purchase Christmas ornaments. He was a very talented gift shop owner and buyer of products for his successful store, but he just didn’t see the purpose of these little handmade Christmas ornaments. A friend of ours, Suzi, lived in Maui and worked for the store sewing the cutest Hawaiian “sun suits” and swim suits that were all the rage. They sold tee shirts and sweat shirts. The other things they sold in the store were little pipes for smoking illegal substances (I think you all know what I mean!). For some reason selling those items was not illegal in Maui. But the point is, it was really an unlikely spot to have a thriving Christmas ornament business.

Our friend Suzi had worked for us in California selling our ornaments at local crafts fairs, and she had seen how much everyone loved them and how fast they sold. She talked David into giving it a try, and because she already had great lettering skills, and experience selling the ornaments, she knew just what to do. She set up a big display inside a glass cabinet. The ornaments were made of “dough” then, and while they were coated with heavy coats of polyurethane for protection, Lahaina is a very very humid place. So the ornaments needed to be protected from the elements! She personalized a few examples and put them out, and customers started buying them like mad.

Lahaina is a big honeymoon spot, so the most popular styles were the ornaments that had to do with weddings. This store is where the term “Just Mauied” was invented, and it was on our ornaments! David’s of Hawaii became one of our biggest customers buying as many ornaments as the entire chain of Neiman Marcus stores – all 32 of them! We made special designs for his store – Santa on a Whale because whale watching is so popular in Maui. Santa under a Palm tree. Dolphin designs. Tropical bird designs. Santa sailing a sailboat, windsurfing, and scuba diving. It was really a fun venture. Luckily by this time, we had quite a few people helping us to make all of the ornaments they needed, and they often sent in orders each week.

David has retired now and has moved back to California. David’s of Hawaii no longer exists, but we still occasionally hear from a customer about their special Hawaiian souvenir that came from the little store in Lahaina, and from the company Calliope Designs.

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Christmas Ornaments as Souvenirs from National Parks

Hiker Boy Personalized Christmas Ornaments

Summer’s here and it seems like a strange time to be thinking about Personalized Christmas ornaments. There are a few people who DO enjoy doing their holiday shopping during these easy months – but most of us don’t give it a second thought. Since Calliope Designs has been selling Christmas tree ornaments since 1971 we’ve seen a lot of trends evolve and one of the most fun things has been the development of the Year Around Christmas store. Have you noticed them in just about every tourist location you’ve been to? It’s pretty amazing to think that our little business had a hand in this trend and became a very popular product in many many of these stores. Here’s our story!

Get Your National Park Ornaments at Calliope

One of our favorite chain or stores was a group called Hamilton Stores. They owned almost all of the gift shops in Yellowstone National Park and one summer they decided to try a few of our products. We had quite a few bear designs, and they asked us to add to that selection by creating ornaments with Moose and Elk as well. We did some really cute items. We had a moose family, bears climbing trees, camping ornaments, a stagecoach ornament and the like. We even had a fun design of Old Faithful spouting off with a little brown teddy bear at the top of the spray of the geyser! Each ornament was hand-lettered with Yellowstone National Park and the year. We were excited to get this order but became even more excited when after having the ornaments for sale in their stores for a month the buyer called back and placed a huge order for more items…. right away. At this point, our products were being sold alongside of the rubber Indian tomahawks, the wooden carved grizzly bears, and the various other mementos and gifts of the typical tourist souvenir shop. Little did we know this was the beginning of a trend that lasted 15 or more years.

One summer the buyers for Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and also a store in Jackson Hole Wyoming invited us to come to their stores during the busy tourist months and make personal appearances in their shops where we could meet the customers and also personalize their ornament purchases. Our children were the perfect age for this trip, and we had an amazing summer vacation ourselves. Well, they did! I was the one that got to work every day in the stores. But that was fun too, and we did end up spending two weeks in Yellowstone Park where the average tourist visit is 5 hours. It’s an amazing place, that’s for sure. We also loved Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole. Highly recommended for summer fun.

The word spread among the other concessionaires of the National Park gift shops and hotels, and soon we had orders from all over the United States. We were lucky to have a good ornament designer, Dorr Eddy, who created special products for Mt. Rainier in Washington, Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park CO, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Mt. Washington National Park in Maine. And the list goes on.

Ornaments became such a popular summer souvenir that Yellowstone National Park actually opened up a summer Christmas Store where only ornaments and other wonderful Christmas items were sold. It was a very popular gift location in the park and existed until it was decided that selling Christmas ornaments in our National Parks was not inclusive enough of all of the religions of our national population.

One of my favorite stories of those years was when I received a phone call from a customer who tracked us down from the sticker on the back of the ornament. She and her family had made summer vacations of going to National Parks year after year, and she had realized the souvenir ornament they selected in each park had been made by our company, Calliope Designs. She told us how much fun her kids had each Christmas getting out each souvenir ornament to hang on the tree. How they laughed and talked and remembered their past summer vacations as a family. But there was one park she had missed getting one, and she wondered if we had anything she could buy directly from us. It was for Grand Canyon, and yes, we had several styles for her selection. We felt glad we could fill in her collection.

We hope you find these short stories interesting. We’ve had our business since 1971 and many wonderful things have happened to us, things we could have never anticipated.

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What is Great Customer Service?

Family of Snowmen (5) heart personalized christmas ornaments

Great Customer Service Is…

I really appreciate you taking care of this; because of you excellent customer service I am saving your website to order all my future keepsake gifts from your company. Johanna S.

Hi there,

That’s fine – I totally understand! I’ve ordered from Calliope 6 or 7 times now, and everything has always been of superior quality. And the customer service is great!

The order information is below. Let me know if you need anything else from me.

Thank you,
Thank you for the response. Things like this happen. I would like another if possible.

I thought I would write back to tell you how much I did appreciate Will’s help. He wrote me an e-mail very quickly after I sent a worried sounding one and within an hour had called as well. I have purchased quite a few ornaments online lately and am extremely impressed with how concerned he was about my purchase. I will make sure to become a frequent customer with your company thanks to your great customer service.

Thank you again! Christina S.
Merry Christmas! I’ve been shopping with you for several years now, so I’ll be back again you can be sure. Keep up the great work!

Rachel O.
Great thank you so much, and thank you Will for your help as well! Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Marby
I just wanted to let you know I rec’dmy corrected ornament today and I appreciate your speedy shipment and great customer service. I will be returning again and telling others about your site.

Thanks, Amanda S.
Hi Will,

I typed in the tracking number you provided in your e-mail into the tracking system and it says “Your item was delivered at 3:08 PM on December 15, 2008 in MIDLAND, MI 48642” I then called my mom to check and she said it was the first of my packages to be delivered. So I guess the progress was just never updated the way it should have and I have nothing to worry about! Thank you for doing such a wonderful job to ensure that my order was taken care of correctly.

Have a Merry Christmas and thank you again!


Thank you Stephanie! The mailman just knocked on the door with the ornament. It is beautiful!
I appreciate you sending a replacement. I have no idea where the original one disappeared to!

I just wanted to let you know that I received it. Thanks and have a Merry Christmas!
Hi Stephanie! Sorry, I should have included more information in my email since the order is under my married name. Below are all the details from the order. That is very nice of you to replace the lost ornaments! I ordered a couple ornaments from you last year and can’t wait to add to my collection! Your ornaments are great! Dana
I just wasn’t sure about the whole order process
Thank you very much for your help and speedy response
I look forward to receiving the ornaments
Thank you so much for the follow-up and for letting me know that you did receive the box back – I was really worried that it was lost in never never land.

Congratulations on the engagement of your daughter – what an exciting time for the entire family. I cannot believe everything you had to do in 24 hours – amazing considering you probably hadn’t had a day off in months.

Best wishes for a safe and happy new year and thank you for everything. You are the best!
Hi Stephanie. Thank you for researching it. Yea i have no idea why i did that! I actually placed an order yesterday because i wanted to get an ornament for my daughter’s god mom for christmas (i really do love your ornaments!) and added a new Reindeer ornament to it to so no worries. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, i really appreciate it.
This is a very meaningful year and thought it went out wrong. THANK YOU

Happiest of holidays to you and the staff and will be your customer in
the future.

Dear Stephanie –

Thanks so much for your efforts, I really do appreciate it. I worked on the damaged ornament to make it presentable so I have something to give the family before they leave. I touched up the face with a black Sharpie and made a hanging loop from a thin piece of copper wire. I inserted it into the open slit from the original hanger and used a ton of Gorilla Glue to hold it in place. I can’t do anything about the other issues but I’m sure they will appreciate it and I will give them the replacement when they return.

I love your ornaments, this is the third year I have given them as presents and everyone loves them. I never have time to put up my own tree, maybe next year.

Have a fantastic holiday.

Hi Stephanie,
Thank you for your fast response to my email! I have been meaning to respond for a while and then I got your check in the mail last night, which prompted me to write. I appreciate the refund and, more importantly, your concern for your customers. I understand that mistakes are bound to happen and it sounds like that is what may have happened with my order. I am glad you have taken my concerns seriously and it is nice to have clarification from you. Thank you for such great customer service and I look forward to doing business with you again!
Sarah H.
Thanks for your fast response. My order # is: 7251. I appreciate your help. No worries if it doesn’t come by Friday; I’ll just explain. On ones perfect, it’s totally understandable. Thanks again and I’ll be sure to forward your site to all my friends receiving the ornaments. The fact that your customer service is so personalized is awesome!

Happy Holidays! Jamie P.

I have found it! It is at the post office! I should have known, the mail in Chicago is terrible! Thank you so much for your help. I am picking up my package after work today! Can’t wait to see the ornaments!!

Thanks again,

Kelsie G.

It’s ok! I figured that’s probably what happened!! Can you please send it to my home address this time? I didn’t realize that when I sent it to my husband’s work that there was a chance someone else would open it!! Thankfully he intercepted it … but I was hoping to change the shipping since it’s going out today!! Thank you so much. We absolutely love the one we received!! And it arrived super fast!! Thank you again and I look forward to receiving the other two!

Thanks Stephanie, I now realize what you mean by your system didn’t take the apostrophe that I typed in my order to you. Thanks for catching that and adding it on the ornament and the full date of our wedding day. Rosie ;o)
Thank you so much. I really appreciate your prompt response and great
customer service.

Sara Paone

Thanks so much! You saved me from a potentially embarrassing Christmas present 🙂 Laurie A.

“Laughter is sunshine; it chases winter from the human face” Victor Hugo

I received the replacement ornament today. Thank you so much. Your customer
service is excellent.

Thanks so much for your help, means a lot, we had two ornaments broken by our three year
old at Christmas, the important ones!