I started a tradition in my family about 10 years ago I would make beads about the size of walnuts out of bread clay...now it is so much easier with polymer clay!
I have so many to do and a broken pasta maker so its all hand rolled this year
I tied a string with a tag on each one and for Christmas everyone grabbed one out of a large mouthed jar. They wrote down there favorite memories of the holiday season and the year on the tag (with there name of course)
when the decorations were put away they went in too.
the following year they all had a memory to share and remember from the year before If you are making with children USE bread dough or play dough!!
I also made ribbon candy out of the clay and candy canes for the tree. My sister actually didn't realize the candy wasn't real but as it was wrapped with the clay she tossed it!
now they all have many and the grandchildren strung them last year and put them on the tree like garland!
can be painted ..or the clay ones are colorful!