Character Clues on the Christmas Tree


Dismantling my Christmas tree is like a trip down memory lane. First I’ll tell you of some of my memories, then I will show you how it can help when you’re creating your fictional characters.

PINE CONES. I love these, and use them on the tree and in my wreaths. I collected them when my children were young. We rolled them in white paint, and they have been a big part of Christmas ever since.

A TINY SKATER. Our first child was born December 22nd, so I spent that Christmas in the hospital. John brought me a tiny skater ornament. She reminds me of that special time in our lives when we became a family.

DAUGHTER ON A BLACKBOARD. From Jalena’s elementary school. I love seeing her eight-year-old smile on my tree.

BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE. Tourist mementos. I have a San Francisco cable car, one from Mount Rushmore, and this one from St. Thomas.

MEDIEVAL KNIGHT. One of the singers at my first book signing gave me this little guy.

FOUR MOOSE SKIING. A reminder of family ski days when we’d ride the lift together.

CRYSTAL LOCOMOTIVE. Found this beauty at the Cheyenne railway station gift shop. It reminds me of my land title work and the crew in Wyoming.

Now, how can ornaments help character development?

What memories does your character cherish? If it’s pine cones, is it her love of family? Of the child who helped paint the cones?

Is it a little skater, which brings back the time when she taught her daughter how to skate? Or a time when she skated, before the accident that shattered her leg, and it’s a memory that devastates her every time she recalls it now?

Is it the daughter-on-a-blackboard, and her father is depressed because his baby girl is getting married and moving out of the country?

Is it a crystal locomotive, and her brother’s nickname was “Train” and he was killed during a protest? Or he remembers the harrowing railroad ride from Durango after they robbed the train? Did the amateur sleuth tour a museum of sunken treasure at Blackbeard's Castle that gave him an important clue?

Maybe your ornaments are already stored away. Or maybe you don’t decorate a tree, and have no ornaments. St. Nick’s in Littleton is open year-round, and there are many year-round online stores in which to browse. Through ornaments, find some clues to your characters that could add to some colorful images/backstory/details to your work-in-progress.

Happy browsing!

Janet Lane
Janet has a new release this month! ETTI'S INTENDED, part of her #1 Amazon bestselling series, will release on September 1 in ebook and paperback format.
The fifth book in the series, Etti's Intended is available now for pre-order at -- order now and you'll be among the first to read what Library Journal reviewed as "Almost too perfect ... Lane does a superb job creating layers to the Gypsy culture... a must-have for fans of the series."
Her novels are set in fifteenth century England during the so-called “Gypsy Honeymoon” decades. The first novel in the series, Tabor's Trinket, is a #1 Amazon bestselling novel. #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author Lara Adrian called Emerald Silk “ enchanting medieval romance filled with passion, intrigue and vividly drawn characters that leap off the page. I loved this novel!”.
Janet was a featured author in RMFW Press’s Tales from Mistwillow anthology, and co-chaired the editorial board for RMFW's 2009 anthology, Broken Links, Mended Lives, which was nominated for the Colorado Book Award.

Janet welcomes your comments here or via her blog at, or her website,

6 thoughts on “Character Clues on the Christmas Tree

  1. Hi, Pat! I’m glad you found it interesting, too. In my 15th centiury-set work in progress, my character will remember a small, treasured possession. The Christmas tree had not become a tradition in that time period, but I will still visit St. Nick’s for inspiration.

  2. Hi Janet! Thanks so much for this blog post. This is something I’ve never tried before, and I think it’s a wonderful idea. I’ll put it to use as I plot my next book! Have a wonderful week!

  3. I love this! Most of our ornaments have a story behind them. I keep saying that one of these years I’m going to document them all, make a book. Now I see writing potential well beyond just cataloguing our collection. Thanks!

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