8 Unexpected Ways to Decorate with Vintage Christmas Ornaments…Other Than On the Tree
What could be better than a mass-produced Christmas ornament? A vintage Christmas ornament! (Duh.) Why, you ask? Let us count the ways…For one, they’re incredibly beautiful—miles more-so than today’s mass-produced counterparts. Two: They’re often hand-painted, and even hand-made. Three: Their ages indicate there’s a story behind each one. And finally, their well-worn patinas beget an un-precious modesty that perfectly embodies the True Spirit of Christmas. Need we say more?
We will anyway: Here’s a little history. By the 1940s, Americans were buying Christmas tree ornaments from local five-and-dimes and large department stores such as Woolworth, Macy’s, and Gimbel’s. (All-day ornament shopping was something to aspire to.) Rather than incurring the cost of importing fine, hand-blown glass ornaments all the way from Germany—as America had done up until WWII—the Corning Co., a light bulb producer, got into the ornament business, too. (It sent its finished products to Shiny-Brite, a newly formed NY/NJ company dedicated specifically to decorating said ornaments.
In the ’50s, plastic molds (into which glass could be poured, versus hand-blowing) were able to so convincingly replicate and create ornaments with such detail and precision, that previously hand-blown versions were hardly missed.
Nowadays, because they’ve been damaged, broken, or simply eighty-sixed as casualties of Christmas Past, antique and vintage ornaments are harder to come by. Fortunately, we have a few you’ll love ;)
Here are 8 unexpected ways to decorate with vintage glass ornaments. Do try these at home!
BY FAR, THIS JAR
Simply fill a transparent vessel (like this 1950s apothecary jar) with a bunch of smaller glass ornaments. The results are stunning—and you’ve created a masterful centerpiece, mantelpiece, #shelfie vignette, or coffee table decoration with jaw-droppingly little effort.
Have a cloche laying around? It’s also a beautiful way to display ornaments, stylishly showcasing each ornament as an objet d'art.
Here, a tiered tray becomes the fierce-est centerpiece guests will ever feast their eyes on. Easy isn’t the word, people: Pile ’em on!
Placing ornaments on a flat, silver-plated tray looks super-stylish, too.
For major oomph in an unexpected place, fill a hand-woven basket with a large grouping of pretty ornaments. Place the basket in a corner, or on the floor in a guest or powder room. Even better, fill up two baskets (they don’t have to be the same size) and flank a fireplace. Overflowing, abundant baskets make for the best visual impact. Don’t have a ton of ornaments? Fill up the majority of the basket with a festive throw, then place ornaments on top.
THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
This ornamental chandelier may not produce actual light—but it’s just as lustrous. These can be as large or small as you'd like.
Get This Look:
- For a more abundant, ornamental chandelier, screw a hook into the ceiling above where you’d like the chandelier to hang (or use an existing one).
- Attach two 48-inch ribbons to the hook. Varying colors OK.
- Tie 2 ornaments to each end. Varying sizes are OK, but this will look best if it’s symmetrical.
- Measure four more 46-inch ribbons. Attach to hook, and tie ornaments to each end.
- Cut 4 more 44-inch ribbons. Repeat Step 4. Keep decreasing ribbon measurements by 2 inches until you run out of ornaments.
- Use removable mounting putty to ensure fragile ornaments don’t collide, and shatter.
Give guests the best seats at your holiday table by topping vases and candleholders (of varying heights) with vintage blown-glass tree ornaments. Personalize vintage ornaments by spelling out each guest’s name in glue, sprinkle on some glitter, and let dry. Each pillar signifies that fine line of demarcation, and visitors won’t stress over picking seats. Christmas ornaments then become lovely parting gifts that loved ones will treasure—and reuse.
Oh, this? It’s a part folk-art, part mobile/stabile Christmas decoration that’s likely to be handed down for generations. Toronto-based Loulou Downtown invented this AMAZING idea…But this is our version. Yours can be as simple or ornate as you’d like. You can use dowels instead of branches, strings of popcorn as connectors, grosgrain ribbons, and more to further customize your version. Create multiple tiers for extra hanging space.
Get This Look:
- Gather ornaments, branches, dowels, twine, ribbon, etc.
- Lay branches and ornaments flat, in the way you’d like them to appear when hung.
- Measure out either 4 pieces of twine, or one extra-long piece that you’ll eventually loop around branches. (To give string and/or twine extra support, separate into plies and braid or crochet. We braided ours.)
- Loop twine around the top branch—this is how the mobile will hang, suspended in air.
- Hook ornaments onto twine, using festive ribbons and/or string.
- Trim (or leave as-is) excess twine. Option to secure loose ends, etc. with hot-glue.
- Further adorn as you wish!
Happy Holidays and Happy Hunting!
Have you completed any of these projects? Instagram your pics and tag @youandyoursfinevintage. Share thoughts in the comments section, too!