Vintage Christmas ornaments, whether inherited from grandparents or carefully curated by visiting flea markets, auctions and the like, will bring nostalgia and tradition to the holiday home. Vintage Christmas décor is so popular that a search on eBay for “vintage holiday” will yield over 122,000 items classified by year, make, color and even country. These ornaments of yesteryear bring a softer palette to the season by replacing the typical bright reds and greens with ethereal hues of aqua, faded silver, and muted green and pink.
Shiny-Brite, one of the most popular brands of vintage ornaments, first came on the scene in the 1950s. These delicate glass ornaments come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with pink the most sought after. The more intricately shaped ornaments command a higher price, and some are even packaged in the original box, which is ideal for purists. Most are marbled and freckled by age and time.
Vintage bottlebrush trees and wreaths are very popular and even harder to find. They come in beautiful shades of aqua, silver, white and pink, and some are adorned with small glass ornaments or flocked with fake snow. A few were made in the style of a music box: The tree sits atop a round pedestal made from tin, which, when wound from the bottom, plays a Christmas song.
Before Shiny-Brites and bottlebrush trees, German glass ornaments were king. They were handblown, made of thick glass and were sometimes intricately painted. Known as kugels (a German word meaning “sphere”), they were originally sold as window decorations, but soon families delighted in using them to decorate the holiday tree. Kugels demand a high price in the marketplace, especially those that still retain most of their original paint.
Glass ornaments went from a cottage industry to an international phenomenon when Frank Woolworth, the founder of F. W. Woolworth and Company (whose stores were often referred to as “five and dimes”) opened his first store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He bought $25 worth of the ornaments, and they sold out in two days. With over 3,000 Woolworth stores, he went on to make millions from ornament sales alone.
Mix your vintage ornaments with fresh greens from the season. Add pink ribbons, roses and anything that sparkles. Give yourself a few weeks to decorate, taking each ornament out one at a time to capture the specific memory that it brings. And may your days be merry and pink.
Read more of Gay’s home styling advice on her blog Canterbury Cottage Designs.