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The Find

Popular Vintage Christmas Decorations from the 20th Century

by Karen Parr-Moody 22 Dec 2021

At some point, every vintage lover turns back the clock and begins to celebrate the December holidays by amassing a collection of vintage Christmas decorations. There are entire subcategories of vintage Christmas decorations to collect, and now’s the perfect time to lay your mitts on these treasures at GasLamp.

The starter kit for vintage Christmas decorations should include some 1960s red-flocked reindeer for the mantle. Milk glass ornaments molded into characters – debonair snowman, Betty Boop, Humpty Dumpty – then painted by a Japanese child of the 1930s is a must-have. And every collector should own a set of multicolored bottle brush trees, a garland of bubble lights and a box of Shiny Brite ornaments.

The serious collector of vintage Christmas decorations can go from that starting point into ever more shiny corners of this cheery universe. Trust us (says the collector of 1960s pipe-cleaner ornaments in animal motifs, including raccoons, squirrels and poodles). Here’s a sampling.


Any self-respecting vintage collector must own at least one Christmas-themed blow mold. It’s a rule. This vintage blow mold features the Christian nativity trio of baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph, who are snazzily outfitted in blue and red robes ($208; Booth B-321).

This GasLamp find is a classic example of vintage Christmas outdoor decorations made from the original Union Molds of the 1950s to 1970s. The 31-inch-tall trio lights up from inside with an electric cord. Bonus: Since the holy child is molded to Mary, you’ll never lose him in a messy corner of the garage (it happens with those separate Jesus-in-a-manger blow molds).


For that mantle, window, or tabletop in need of holiday cheer, add this made-in-Japan Fitz & Floyd ceramic centerpiece from 1978 ($42). This planter’s glossy finish and charming holly motifs create a magical midcentury-modern display. To impress the kiddos in the family, fill it with ribbon candy.


This rare Kugel (the German word for “ball”) ornament is more than a century old ($69; showcase S-600). It’s a beautiful bauble embossed with cut-to-clear floral and crisscross designs. The embossed brass cap is flush to the glass, a mark of its authenticity as an antique Christmas ornament. This ornament is a must-have for any cobalt blue glass collector. 

Showcase S-600 current features several of these Kugel ornaments German artisans made of heavy glass from the 1840s to the early 1900s. At that time, Germany was the king of Christmas ornaments thanks to the productive glass factories of smalltown Lauscha.

Because Kugel ornaments are treasured collectibles filled with intrinsic value, many collectors display them during Christmas – or at any time of year – on a single ornament stand made of metal. Some extremely rare Kegel ornaments can command a price of more than $1,000.


The deep ring of jingle bells reminds us of an American Christmas, but jingle bells are another incidence of European culture transposing the Christmas story onto pagan traditions. Initially, the creators of pagan winter festivals employed bells into the décor because they believed the bells protected the village, town or city from evil spirits.

As Christianity gained influence, bells transformed from a pagan purpose to a Christian one. Today, these vintage brass bells on a thick red string are as American as an aluminum Christmas tree ($69; Booth T-234).

Not just any style of décor can infuse a room with authentic Christmas spirit. Collectors of vintage Christmas decorations know that the bar is as high as a snow-capped mountain in Vermont. Why? Because so many delicious options exist. Now, get shopping!
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