When you open the box of Christmas decorations, you probably run across a few items that belonged to your parents or grandparents, or even great-grandparents. Mixed in with all your newer Christmas decor, these items probably get ignored and packed away for yet another year unused. Maybe it’s the sentimental value of those items that makes you want to keep them well out of reach of tiny hands or flying nerf-gun bullets, but we’d like to propose that this year, you use those items.
Creating an American Vintage Christmas starts with some of the items you already own, the ones passed down from generation to generation. Dig through. What do you have? Ornaments your grandparents bought for $0.50 cents a box? Vintage lights? Handmade wreaths? An heirloom nutcracker?
Target decor is great, but a connection to your past and the people that helped make you uniquely who you are, is better. That’s the beauty of “vintage” Christmas decorations; they are a simple and treasured link to our individual heritage. Through the items your parents or grandparents handpicked and proudly displayed, you can create a home that reflects your family’s soul and keeps the spirit of those you love alive during this beautiful season.
Meaningful Decor & Incorporating Old Traditions
“When I think of vintage I think of having a connection to the past, being able to give new life to something that was once discarded.” – Ness, Marigold Vintage
There’s something about always doing something, every year, that adds such a magical feeling to Christmas. Especially when that something was done by your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond. These traditions keep your loved ones alive during the nostalgic and sentimental Christmas season. We all wish our family that is no longer with us could join us again for Christmas, so what better way to honor their memory than to keep a tradition they started going? Or better yet, to pass that tradition on to the next generation? Incorporating vintage decor not only keeps traditions going, it breathes new life into the tree lights, creche, handcrafted wreaths, garlands, ornaments, and centerpieces from past Christmases. In this way, we are connected to those Christmases and we are celebrating those traditions. Just like we routinely celebrate Christ, every year, without fail, through vintage decor we can routinely remember those who loved us and say a little prayer for them as we keep their memory alive with items they chose or made themselves.
Doing this adds meaning to all of our decor. It’s easy, around Christmas, to get lost in the fray. To trudge through the routine of decorating, baking, eating, buying presents, and then cleaning it all up. And if an old Christmas tree bulb pulls us out of that routine and forces us to focus on the beauty and blessing of what and who is around us, then it’s worth messing with the aesthetic of your typical decor. Hopefully, while adding heritage decor to your mantelpiece or tree, you’ll be able to slow down, take time to remember the importance and story of that particular piece, and know that it’s watched over many Christmases and added joy.
Vintage Christmas Economics
For a moment, let’s talk money. Using what you have is certainly a good way to ensure that you stay well under budget creating your vintage Christmas. But if you don’t already have what you need, there are incredibly easy ways to “get the look” without breaking the bank. Thrifting, for one thing, is a fantastic way to find amazing, beautiful, vintage decor for a fraction of the price. With a keen eye and a little bit of dedicated time, thrifting can be a very easy (and fun) way to find great decor that still carries a lot of Christmas sentimentality.
An added bonus, when you thrift, you’re shopping local and finding items that reflect where you’re from. You’ll possibly be able to find ornaments made locally, and decor from businesses that helped build your town.
Follow these tips from Ness at Marigold Vintage to find vintage Christmas decorations:
-Browse estate sales and yard sales. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt and find unique items that you definitely won’t find in stores.
“I’ve often taken my three kids and made a fun morning of it.”
-Head out to a local vintage and antique shop.
“The good ones have booths that are lovingly + thoughtfully curated by their vendors.”
-Don’t completely write off thrift shops, though they can be hit or miss.
-Don’t forget about online!
“Instagram shops, Etsy, eBay, and FB Marketplace are all great places to shop and you can do it in the comfort of your own home!”
Return to Simplicity
Even though our grandparents might have gone a little overboard with the tinsel and bold colors for their Christmas, choosing to go vintage can also include pairing down what you actually use around the house. Pick out the most sentimental, meaningful items and make those the center of your Christmas decor. Vintage pieces have the special ability to remain timeless, so there’s no need to buy new every year if you have a handful of special items. This is all part of prioritizing what’s in your life, what you let in, and what you choose to collect. Are you collecting trinkets or memories? Returning to the basics, the things that truly matter, have sentimental value, and impart real meaning in our lives returns us to a simplicity that is fulfilling. It’s not easy letting things go, but knowing that what you do have has a value beyond the price tag makes it easier to focus on what matters most — especially at Christmas.
“What makes something timeless is its beauty and history.” – Ness, Marigold Vintage
If you’re not sure where to start, think timelessness. We’ve talked before about the quality of things these days. Well, back in the day, things were made to last. So not only will they not easily break, but their sentimental value will grow, and their design and style will remain in vogue for as long as you like. It’s a special talent that vintage items have.
“What makes all these things resonate with us today is that you can’t walk into a big box store and buy that kind of quality, handmade item. Things today are generally mass produced, even the packaging from vintage and antique items is something people buy.” – Ness, Marigold Vintage
Some items to look for in stores and at yard sales:
- Santa mugs
- Old sleds
- Vintage ice skates
- Shiny Brite ornaments
- Vintage thermoses
- Putz Houses
- Aluminum trees
Start Something New with the Old
Delving into the vintage decor world, you’ll have your pick of the styles and be able to curate your decor to suit a favorite style. Going full retro, purely antique, old fashioned rustic, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern, or even chic ‘70s, is totally possible when you peruse the thrifting aisles, antique stores, or Ebay sellers. Remember, integrating vintage does not necessarily mean throwing out what you already have. There are plenty of ways to use the old and the new in harmony. And here’s the best part: you can do that however you like.
“Do what you love and what your family loves” is Ness’s best advice. The point is that you’re infusing soul into your home, reflecting your family, your community, and your own personal style. One of a kind pieces are great ways to express yourself and start a tradition your kids and grandkids will always remember.
Search through old magazines, browse Pinterest, or dig through those boxes in the basement for inspiration. No matter what, don’t be afraid of new traditions that integrate the old decorations or revive a tradition that may have gotten lost along the way. Because in the end, vintage decor tells a story, it helps remove you from the trend mindset, and connects you to something: time, memory, a moment in history.
There is no right or wrong way to create the American Vintage Christmas; because it is, most importantly, built around you, your family, Christ, and the unique items that have proudly stood the test of time and trends to greet us, whole and well-loved, for yet another glorious Christmas.
Traditions to introduce:
– Ness at Marigold Vintage told us that she and her siblings never had stockings as kids. Instead, they each got a boot for their first Christmas and it was a highlight of the Christmas season to get the boot out and put it on display.
– A German tradition is to hang a pickle ornament on the tree. The first kid to find the ornament on Christmas morning opens the first present.
– Each person opens one present on Christmas eve.
– Start the tradition of giving out matching pajamas to the whole extended family.
– Gift each child an ornament every year so by the time they move out, they have enough to fully decorate their own tree.
– Read the Nativity story out loud.
– Listen to (or attend in person) a Nine Lessons and Carols performance.