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Vintage Christmas Decorations

Updated on September 3, 2011
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Vintage Christmas decorations are a great way to bring nostalgia and warmth into your holiday home. There are so many different items that conjure up memories of childhood that it can be hard to choose between all of them. From the old fashioned Christmas lights to dolls, figurines, and storybooks there are hundreds of items to decorate with.

Christmas is the perfect time for decorating with antiques and collectibles. There is just something about the season that melds perfectly with the old, the worn, and the well loved. You don't have to stick with Christmas ornaments either. There is a variety of different objects that create that magical holiday charm you are looking for.

Buy what you like and then find ways to use it. Just because you find a Christmas stocking that you love doesn't mean it has to actually be used as a stocking! Hang vintage stockings on the backs of chairs and tuck some greenery inside for a little holiday whimsy. Think outside of the proverbial Christmas box and you will come up with numerous ways to use the treasures you find.

image via: exc
image via: exc

Types of Vintage Christmas Decorations

Antique Christmas Ornaments

Antique and vintage Christmas ornaments are easy to find in a multitude of price ranges. You can even find authentic Victorian ornaments for affordable prices.

There are plenty of ways to use the ornaments besides on your Christmas tree (although that is a great place to use them!):

  • Hang them on ribbons from the curtain rod so that they hang at different levels in your windows.
  • For plain Christmas balls just group them in a large crystal bowl, with some fresh greenery and ribbon tucked in here and there.
  • Figural ornaments can be carefully attached to wreaths and greenery.
  • One year I used a vintage box of ornaments and just left it on the table, open, like someone stopped in the middle of decorating. It was commented on almost more than anything else!

Vintage Bubble Lights
Bubble lights were made in many styles. Basically as the bulb heats up the liquid in the light begins to bubble. These were made in numerous colors and will give a mid century retro look where ever you use them. They were popular from the late 1904s through the 1970s.

Bubble lights look great on a Christmas tree but also look good strung along any flat surface, like a cupboard or shelf. You can find them for very reasonable price on eBay.

Knee Hugger Elves
Another popular decoration from the mid 20th century were the knee hugger elves. There were imported in huge numbers from Japan and hung on almost everyone's tree. The elves can be hung on the tree if you like, or a wreath, but they also look fantastic grouped together on a shelf or an end table.

Mercury Glass
Mercury glass is a type of double walled glass with a reflective substance between the walls. Silver nitrate and grape sugar were used to create the reflective surface. These ornaments are beautiful and bring a Victorian look to anywhere you put them. You can also group them in a bowl, or display them in an apothecary jar or other clear container.

Christmas Houses

Christmas villages have been a part of Christmas decorating for centuries. This German tradition spread and evolved into the popular Dept. 56 collectibles. If you want antque village pieces they can still be found in a variety of materials and designs.

Antique Christmas Postcards and other Ephemera
Antique postcards often are beautifully designed. You can find elaborately designed Victorian cards for very little money. Santa Claus is rarely depicted in cards until after the turn of the century. He continually gained popularity from about 1920 on.
There are so many ways to decorate with these.

  • Clip them in card holders
  • Place them singly in Mason jars and group in a display
  • Balance them in the branches of your tree
  • Use them as gift tags

Evaluating Vintage Christmas Decorations

As with any antique or collectible vintage Christmas decorations have a wide range of values. When evaluating an antique's value you should consider the following:
Condition – This is one of the most important factors in evaluating antiques. Look for wear and tear around edges and corners as well as creases in postcards. Glass decorations may show worn places, crazing, cracks, or nicks. Look for bright colors and clear design elements.
Rarity – Some items command higher prices because they are more difficult to find.
Desirability – The more collectors want an item the more value it will have and the more it will cost.
Provenance - If the item belonged to someone famous or has an interesting history the cost will be much higher than for the same item without the history.

Remember though, antiques are usually one of a kind finds. If you see something you love then its value should be based on what you are willing to pay for it. If you pass it up now you may not ever find another one like


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    • eventsyoudesign profile image

      eventsyoudesign 7 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      I like your article. I enjoyed reading your bio. I will read more. Thanks for sharing.


    • caravalhophoto profile image

      caravalhophoto 8 years ago from Northern California

      I so enjoy antique shopping and antique christmas deco is some of my favorite to search for, second hand stores also ae a good place to find. Really enjoy your hubs.

    • Jeanne Grunert profile image

      Jeanne Grunert 8 years ago from Virginia

      We inherited vintage Christmas decorations and I love them. My sister has a Christmas tree stand from the 1920's, one of the first electric ones...has lights in it....cast iron monster but so beautiful!

    • profile image

      Kimmy 8 years ago

      My Mom has one of those knee-hugging elves, and a set of antique ornaments that were my great-great grandmothers. The caused her to be a bit nervous about putting them on the tree, so she got a set of those light-spheres and wired one ormanent in the center of each sphere.

    • GiftedGrandma profile image

      GiftedGrandma 8 years ago from USA

      I have lots of ornaments many years old and started collecting dated ones about 15 plus years ago. Had to stop getting them got so many :O) Will have something to give children and grandchildren eventually.

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      Thanks, Marye, for this great Hub. Like a lot of people, I like to go back to the past and see things, seemingly small and unimportant, like vintage Christmas decorations. Psychologically, they bring back memories and people start feeling what they felt when they were young and first exposed to those oddly-shaped ornaments or the silver tinsel, or the red and green construction paper joined together to make a complete wrap-around for the tree that we made as kids, and things ornate and old. Thanks for the memories, and keep up the super work on your Hubs, Don White

    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 8 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      This is a very interesting Hub. Thank you for publishing it. It reminds me the wonderful days of Xmas tree decorations

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      My favorite Christmas ornament is and old silvery one that nay be 100 years old and was supposedly brought over from Germany by my great grandmother. I wire it securely to the tree. If anything happened to it, I would be quite upset.

      I also like those little stiff paper houses with the sparkeley walls and have seen new versions of them lately.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 8 years ago from Texas

      I love vintage Christmas ornaments. I actually have a couple of ornaments from our first family Christmas nearly forty years ago. I also have several ornaments from the 1980s I purchased from Avon. They are dated and beautiful. I am trying to replace one or two of the ornaments that were broken or lost through the years. Excellent hub!


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