Have yourself a Vintage Little Christmas
He might not have known it then, but maybe Charles Dickens had it right when he wanted us to look back at our Christmases past. Only today, those memories of Christmases past have become front and center in our celebrations. From decade-old ornaments and Grandma’s favorite decorations to holiday traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation, vintage Christmases are becoming more and more popular.
Bob Richter, author of A Very Vintage Christmas: Holiday Collecting, Decorating and Celebrating (Globe Pequot Press, 2016), takes us back to Christmases past and, just like he has, shows us how to incorporate the nostalgia into our holiday and get back to a good old-fashioned Christmas.
What’s the difference between “old” versus “vintage”?
Describing something as old is a somewhat derogatory term. Vintage is a nicer way of describing something that’s 20 years old or older. If it’s 100 years or older, it’s described as antique.
Why has vintage Christmas become popular?
Christmas is one time of the year where we all have a past. It’s when we can be shamelessly sentimental and nostalgic. It’s OK to get warm and fuzzy and cry while you watch It’s a Wonderful Life and think about Grandma. And vintage Christmas ornaments are a conduit to our past – they connect us.
How do you get started?
Be creative. When it comes to decorating, no space is off limits. Every room should have Christmas in it. If you have small children or pets, you can put a fragile glass ornament in a bowl or under a dome so it’s protected and doesn’t break. Most importantly, start your vintage Christmas by being in the present, which means put away the cellphones. They didn’t have cellphones 40 years ago. Other vintage things to do are to bake cookies and wrap presents in giftwrap that looks like it was made years ago. Do not put them in a bag.
For my own Christmas cards, I buy vintage cards at garage sales and flea markets even if they are used and then affix them to new stock.
You should also use old things in new ways. I have three choirboy candles that were always on my grandmother’s buffet in the dining room. She told me that she purchased them in Woolworth’s one year for 10 cents each and it was all she could afford that year. They were special to her that year and she gave them to me. Since my dining room is too small for a buffet, I keep the candles in my bathroom. Now every time I bring them out I remember my grandmother.
How do you find vintage ornaments?
First, think about buying what you like, so as a kid, if you had a favorite ornament, that’s what you should be looking for. Go on to such craft sites as eBay or Etsy and search up vintage Christmas ornaments. You will get millions of entries in return so narrow it down by describing the ornament you want, such as “red ball with stars.”
For the best prices, visit garage sales and flea markets. I just came from a flea market where I bought a box of vintage Christmas ornaments for only $15 for an entire box.
What’s your favorite vintage item?
I love the idea of having a Christmas tree in the kitchen. Last year, I put a two-foot tree in a mixing bowl and wrapped a pea towel on the base. I added a set of white lights and hung my grandma’s clothespins shaped like birds and in these beautiful orange and green colors. I added these World War II ornaments and the tree wound up being my favorite tree. It had character and it reminded me again of my grandmother. That’s what a vintage Christmas is all about. It stirs your memories.