When we were growing up, we had the usual assortment of store-bought ball ornaments. We also had this set of old ratty cardinals that my mom insisted had to go on the tree. She said she didn't know why other than "it's a Catholic thing." My mom is a non-practicing Catholic.
We lived in a small town and for something to do, Mom took up ceramics. One year, she made a really cute collection of little mice ornaments. One is in a mailbox that says North Pole on the side, one is in a wreath, etc. When my parents divorced, they stayed with Dad. When he died, I took them. They go perfectly with my "theme."
When I was in college, my best friend introduced me to cross-stitching. I did a couple of small ornaments, and then really got into it after I graduated. Most of what I have made has been samplers and bibs I have given as gifts to other people, but I do have a set of the "12 Days of Christmas" ornaments I made for myself. At first, they were the tree skirt for my little Kmart tree. Now, instead of putting them on the tree since it has to be so small, I hang them up on the mantle.
Having these was part of my inspiration several years ago for deciding that with a few exceptions, I only wanted handmade ornaments on my tree. I bought several kits from The Oriental Trading Company and spent quite a bit of time assembling my ornaments. I was pretty grumbly by the end (James was pretty unsympathetic: "you're the one who only wants homemade ornaments on the tree") but in the end I was pretty happy with the end result and even he had to admit it looked pretty good (very wise on his part to realize I would pout if he didn't admire the tree!). I think having the handmade ornaments takes away from the commercialism Christmas has become.
I have a couple of store bought ornaments that were given to me as gifts that go on the tree if there is room. I bought us an engraved ornament from Things Remembered for our first Christmas together. That one is guaranteed to go on the tree. The angel I use for a topper is not handmade but it was a gift from my late aunt so it has special meaning.
Several years ago, I started cross-stitching ornaments for my nephews. My plan was to give them one a year until they graduated so they would have their own collection to take with them when they left home. I told my brother about this and he threatened to keep them, so now my plan is to make the ornaments and give them to the boys when they have their first Christmas on their own. At the rate I am going, I am going to need all the time I can get to finish them!