Vintage Christmas

Start your own collection of unique ornaments that you can add to each year.



My favorite holiday has always been Christmas.  As a child growing up in the 1970s, one of my fondest memories was going to pick out our tree from the Christmas tree farm, bringing it home, stringing the lights and getting out all of the pretty, colorful, vintage glass ornaments that had been in our family for years.

While I was visiting family for Christmas last year near Washington, DC, I decided to start my own collection of vintage Christmas items. Strolling through the local antique shops, I began to notice vintage ornaments and items scattered about; in dishes and baskets, hanging on trees and in glass cabinets, just like those I remembered as a child. 

Here in Orlando, I like to visit antique and resale shops like those on Orange Avenue north of downtown, along what is known as Ivanhoe Row. Vintage ornaments typically range from $3 to more than $30, depending on their age, origin and manufacturer. If you buy large quantities, most dealers will work with you on the price. Recently I was able to purchase almost 90 vintage Christmas ornaments for less than $3 apiece. Never hesitate to ask for a price break, most antique dealers are more than willing to work with you. 

A few popular manufacturers are Santa Land, Premier, and probably the most well-known, Shiny Brite. Some of the most sought-after ornaments are made in Poland. Many were made of hand-blown glass and painted—making no two exactly the same. These are typically in teardrop and ball shapes, some with glitter and indents. 

A beautiful way to display your vintage finds is on silver trays, ornate serving dishes or in clear glass apothecary jars or cloches. A vintage silver tree from the ’70s makes the perfect showcase for your antique ornaments. 

The next time you visit your parents or grandparents, ask them if they have any old Christmas decorations they’re no longer using that they would be willing to part with. You might be surprised by what they have tucked away in the attic.