A Vintage Christmas Will Always Bring Holiday Cheer
By: Kayla Blanton
As a starry-eyed eight year old, I marveled at its cheerful colors—the whimsical glow and shiny emerald green paint captivated me like no other holiday decoration had. Even if it was missing a few multicolored plastic bulbs, the holes they left behind let me peek at its warmly lit center, which gave me the feeling of being let in on a magical secret. It was imperfect, but it was my grandma’s vintage ceramic Christmas tree, and I couldn’t explain why I loved it so much.
It turns out I’m not the only one who found the trees alluring—according to Today, they rose to popularity in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. “Everyone who took a ceramics class and celebrated Christmas made one of [them],” vintage lifestyle expert and author of A Very Vintage Christmas Bob Richter told the outlet in 2018. “People put them on top of the television, back when the TV was a piece of furniture.”
Like any other decor trend, they eventually went out of style, but those who tucked them away made the right choice—because they’re back. You can find various reproductions of the iconic model, big ones, small ones, ones capped with sparkly snow, on Amazon and the like, but they could never replace the original pieces...which are selling on Ebay for upwards of $205.
Twenty years after spotting my grandma’s tree for the first time, I can put a few more words to my adoration of that little lighted statue. When she passed away last year, it was the first thing I asked for. And now, as it sits on my ’70s Broyhill credenza in the dining room of my first home (that she never got to see in person, unfortunately), it feels like it serendipitously belongs there.
I cling to my grandma’s tree not because it’s a rare collectible, but because it holds sweet memories of holidays’ past. Every time I unbox it, I remember her. And that’s why vintage Christmas decor is so special. Although some pieces’ nostalgia may not be as strong as the elusive ceramic tree’s, each one still sparks those feelings.
With that being said, here are some other, much more accessible vintage bits and bobs that can bring those cheerful moments into your home this holiday season.
These will create a mood anywhere year-round, but they’re especially cozy and elegant around the holidays. Light some festive tapers, pour yourself a glass of eggnog, and step back in time.
Maybe it’s the (cookie-loving) kid in me talking again, but vintage tins excite me—even when they’re empty. They’re always printed with classic holiday scenes and sayings, and they’re a great tool for styling. You can put things inside them like wooden beads, garland, and ornaments or use them to add height to other decor by stacking things on top. The options are endless.
This probably seems like a given, but vintage ornaments just feel more festive. Many are hand-painted and delicately designed. Bonus: a growing collection easily becomes a prized possession.
Whether or not it’s the holiday season, you can find French horns tucked into all kinds of corners in most antique stores. But they really are the perfect way to add a bit of nostalgia to your Christmas especially since they come in various sizes. I even use one as a tree topper.
Christmas villages are a timeless holiday decor staple, but vintage villages are the superior kind (we don’t make the rules). Like the ceramic tree, certain villages are super rare and collectible making them worth holding onto and passing down for generations.
Collins glasses printed with colorfully decorated trees, gold-rimmed mugs, and other festive drinkware can upgrade your decor game and your mood. It’s the little details like these that make all the difference.
Nothing quite says vintage like a handmade quilt. If you dabble in sewing at all, use one to make your own quilted stockings. If not, wrap one around the base of your tree and voila! Retro tree skirt complete.
Swap your normal stack of coffee table reads for some holiday stories bound in antique spines. It will elevate warmth and charm almost instantly, and double as entertainment if you have kids. Even if you can't find the perfect statement piece, scout coffee table reads that have a vintage feel or subject.
Some might call them ugly—I call them eclectic and whimsical. To know that so much work was put into hand-stitching their designs makes me proud to hang them from the mantle.
By Kayla Blanton: Jewel tones, brass, and amber glass make Kayla Blanton swoon. Those touches, plus lots of art, animal print, and road trip-gathered trinkets make up her 1920s Cape Cod in Cincinnati. You can read her work in Bustle, Prevention, Everyday Health, and more, and follow her treasure hunting adventures @theweekendantiquer on Instagram.