7 Nostalgic Ways to Decorate with Vintage Christmas Ornaments

Celebrate Christmases past with these classic holiday ideas.

christmas tree with ornaments
Photo: David Land

Before you deck the halls this season, take a look through grandma's attic or swing by an estate sale because vintage Christmas decor is back in style. Vintage Christmas ornaments have a playful, colorful look that warms up a dark winter day, and they're an easy way to mix the nostalgic trend with holiday decor pieces you already have.

Add a bowl of vintage ornaments to your Christmas tablescape or decorate your tree with a bright collection of jewel-tone baubles. You might already be familiar with vintage Shiny Brite ornaments even if you didn't know they had an official name: They're the fun, candy-colored glass ornaments that are coated in a silvery sheen. They were produced in huge quantities in their heyday of the 1940s, and many of the originals are still in circulation.

To help inspire your own Christmas decor scheme, we're sharing our favorite ways to decorate with vintage Christmas ornaments. Whether you choose to display them on or off the tree, these creative ideas will add a dose of nostalgia to your holiday celebrations.

01 of 07

Shiny Brite Vintage Ornaments

white christmas tree with shiny brite ornaments


Add some sparkle to your tree this year with one of the most popular ornament trends of all time. Made popular in the '40s, Shiny Brite ornaments were made with silver nitrate to help them stay shinier than any other brand. Thousands of these ornaments were produced over the years, so your chances of finding real vintage options at a thrift store or online are high. And because vintage Christmas decor is having a moment right now, you can find cheap recreations of these originals in many holiday decor aisles.

02 of 07

Vintage Card Ornaments

ornaments made out of vintage holiday cards

Carson Downing

Turn sentiments from Christmases past into new, trendy decor pieces. You may not be able to mail a Christmas card that's already written on, but you can turn old vintage cards into new ornaments. Known as an icosahedron, this Christmas card craft is a fun way to spend a December afternoon. The finished product looks elaborate, but if you can cut out circles and draw triangles, you can make this ornament. Look for vintage cards at thrift stores or ask your older relatives if they have any stashed away.

03 of 07

Vintage Ornament Package Topper

green plaid christmas gifts and ornaments

Jacob Fox

Think outside of the box—literally—by turning a vintage ornament into a pretty gift topper. It's always fun to incorporate a small part of your gift into the wrapping, and this adds a festive touch that your recipient can actually use again. Tie the ornament to the ribbon securely and make sure anything with a fragile glass ornament lands at the top of the pile.

04 of 07

Pastel Vintage Christmas Ornaments

pastel vintage christmas ornaments

Better Homes & Gardens

From matte patinas to crackled pastels, vintage ornaments come in a rainbow of colors and finishes. Save the holly green and the bright red ornaments for the tree, and opt for non-traditional holiday colors for the rest of your Christmas decor. A monochromatic assortment of baubles showcased in an equally old-school bowl or basket makes a beautiful and unexpected Christmas centerpiece.

05 of 07

Decorate a Themed Tree

christmas tree with ornaments
David Land

Glass vintage ornaments will be the star of your Christmas tree this year. Because they come in so many colors and patterns, you can mix and match different styles of vintage ornaments for one cohesive look. The iconic blues, pinks, and greens will lend a playful vibe to your tree, and it's easy to continue the theme with solid-color ball ornaments if you don't have enough vintage pieces for the whole tree. Decorate the tree with bigger, heavier ornaments toward the bottom and smaller, lighter ones up top.

06 of 07

Pink Vintage Christmas Decor

Pink ornaments in gold bowl
Bryan E. McCay

Give your holiday decor a modern yet traditional twist by hopping on the pink Christmas decor trend. If you're worried about the vintage ornaments on your tree, or if they just aren't a fit with the rest of your decor, style them in a festive bowl on your mantel or as a centerpiece or as part of your Christmas tablescape. The bright pink vintage ornaments give the nostalgic pieces a contemporary feel.

07 of 07

Vintage Glass Christmas Ornaments

Vintage Christmas ornaments in glass dome

Better Homes & Gardens

If you're worried about little hands (or paws) pulling your candy-colored vintage glass ornaments off the tree, here's a way to keep them protected but still on display. This monogrammed glass dome rests on a white dinner plate and is an easy way to keep your ornaments safe from breakage. If you don't have a glass cloche, recreate this look with a deep glass candle holder instead.

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