You can add charm for the holidays with vintage Christmas decor by both mixing in specific Christmas pieces and repurposing everyday vintage items. I’ll show you my examples and share tips for how to do that.
Decorating for the Holidays with Vintage Christmas Decor
I love decorating for Christmas and look forward to it every winter. Each year, I like to make a few new ornaments or decorative items to add to my collection. However, we also try to keep our holiday decorations to a reasonable amount.
Over the past 13+ years, we’ve moved many times and occasionally lived in some small apartments. Even now, our house is on the smaller side. And so we’ve tried as much as possible to keep our Christmas decorations constrained to fit into two large bins, plus the tree box.
Recently however, we have expanded that slightly and upgraded one of the bins for a taller one (cheating perhaps!). There are also a few items that don’t fit such as our outdoor decor, a reel of Christmas lights, and our plywood Santa below. But we do our best to keep the volume under control.
That means I have to be disciplined and both make and purchase items that I truly love and will be classic, or treasures to keep. But it also means I can be creative and repurpose other vintage items around the house for my vintage Christmas decor.
In this post, I’m going to share some of my favourite vintage Christmas pieces, how I repurpose everyday items, and other tips for vintage Christmas decor.
Incorporating a Few Unique Pieces of Vintage Christmas Decor
Over the past decade or so, I’ve collected a few pieces of vintage Christmas decor that I love. There is so much available if you hunt for it, but I don’t want to collect bins and bins of it. For one thing, I don’t have that much room for storage, and I’d also rather invest in non-Christmas vintage decor that I can use all year-round.
But even a few well-chosen vintage pieces that you love can really add charm and warmth when mixed with newer decor items. As well, you can also find newer items reproduced in a vintage style, such as glass ornaments or bottle brush trees.
These vintage style pieces can be more readily available and budget friendly. Although, I still prefer the real thing whenever possible. It’s also better for the environment to repurpose vintage pieces than to buy new.
I’m sharing a few of my favourite vintage pieces to decorate with for Christmas below.
In a previous post, I shared about how we like to collect vintage toy terriers. We also have an adorable vintage bear with leather paws. We named him Albert after falling in love with Royal Albert Hall and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on our honeymoon.
For Christmas decorating, I like to move these toys to a more prominent location. Then I tie on little festive scarves that I knitted in garter stitch. They aren’t specifically Christmas-y, and therefore they look cute all winter long with their warm scarves.
Tip: Tie knitted scarves, or ribbon bows around any toys, dolls, or animal decorations you may have to make them more festive. You can also tie on bells, or even add small hats.
Vintage Stuffed Santa
A few years ago, we were on a family vacation in Ontario and we went to the Aberfoyle Antique Market. While there, we only bought a couple of items, but one of those was an almost-neon vintage Santa that I affectionately dubbed “Kitschy Santa”.
I was super pleased to find him and if I remember correctly, he was a great deal. I carried him around in my arms for the rest of the flea market and received many comments from amused treasure hunters. Above is a thrilled selfie at the flea market when we stopped for lunch. And of course we couldn’t resist buckling him into the car on the way back to our hotel, below.
Our dog, Oliver, isn’t too keen about him, and Santa’s expression can be a bit disapproving. I’m also embarrassed to admit that we only recently discovered that he has a big smile if you prop his chin up. (You can see it in the photo at the top of this post). He looks much more jolly that way!
Stuffed Santas similar to these were made by Rushton and Coca Cola in the late 1950s and onward. There were other similar brands, and hands/mittens, boot style, colours, and faces vary. I can’t find any brand tags or markings on ours, but I like his black boots, his less-creepy face, and his mittens. I think he’s quirky and charming and he usually sits in a chair with Christmas pillows.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to choose a kitschy or unique item. It will show your personality and be a conversation starter.
Vintage Painted Plywood Santa
After seeing this next vintage Santa we have, you might think I only collect Santas. And I don’t, or wasn’t intending to, at least. (And the perfect vintage nativity is also on my list to watch for). However, when I saw this vintage painted Santa for sale, I had to snatch him up. He’s so perfectly jolly and my favourite red and aqua.
I fully meant to clean and seal this Santa before the weather turned cold, but I ran out of time. Even with sealing the flaking paint, he’s going to live inside because I want him to last as long as possible. I recently also made an interesting discovery about this Santa. However, I think I’m going to wait and do a full post about him next Christmas after I’ve cleaned him up properly.
Tip: Bring the outside in and the inside out! Use vintage outdoor pieces as interior decor. You may also be able to use indoor items outside as well. (Depending on the item materials, your particular climate, and whether you have covered a porch)
At the same vintage store where we found the plywood Santa above, we also found a set of vintage metal snowflakes. They are covered in some sort of fluffy, glittery substance. I’m a bit concerned about what it actually is and whether it’s safe, so I try to handle them very little.
There are 5 snowflakes, 2 large ones and 3 smaller ones with different ends on them. A few arms were bent so I bent them back into shape. I use bakers twine to tie them around our curtain rod in the living room where they dangle prettily.
The snowflakes and other vintage items are some of my pieces of vintage Christmas decor. However, I find other ways to use vintage for the holidays as well.
Repurposing Everyday Items for Vintage Christmas Decor
If you already have some vintage decor that you display all year round, there are many items that can be repurposed when decorating for Christmas. I like to “shop” my house and hunt around for items I can use. Then I just shuffle things around to highlight certain items for the holidays and put other things in a less prominent place.
Here are some ideas of items to consider incorporating into your holiday decor:
Sparkle and Shine
Everyone loves an extra bit of sparkle at the holidays. Look for metals such as tarnished brass and silver, coloured glass, mercury glass, etc. Think about candlesticks, vases, trays, candle holders, bowls, and so on.
I like to use my vintage aluminum tray (that matches my vintage aluminum coffee pots) and a vintage Curling Championship bowl to add a bit of metallic sparkle and shine.
I also pulled out some vintage brass items as you’ll see in a photo further down.
There’s something special about a blanket of white snow everywhere that makes white and off-white so appealing at Christmas. Consider decorating with white ceramic or Ironstone pieces such as dishes, pitchers and soup tureens. But also think about other whites you may have including everything from vintage linens to sheet music. White and off-white items can be very classic and elegant when paired with greenery and white twinkle lights.
Hunt through your collections for items in Christmas colours to add to your displays. That might be traditional red and green, or you might opt for a different colour scheme. I prefer red and aqua/turquoise which automatically feels retro and also Christmas-y.
The items you pull don’t have to be Christmas items. But when they’re paired with a few well chosen pieces of Christmas decor, they can add pops of colour to the display when it’s viewed as a whole.
I’ve tried to make sure each shelf in the living room has both red and aqua. In the photo above, I’ve pulled a vintage Bing Crosby Christmas record set and placed it on a vintage brass music stand. I also grabbed a stack of vintage red books from another room.
On them, I placed a vintage stuffed Elf that I ordered years ago from Etsy, and a carved gnome handmade by my father-in-law. Finally, I added the stuffed Scottish Terrier toy on wheels because of the red wheels and plaid coat.
When I was decorating for fall, I rearranged books on shelves around the house to pull groupings of coloured books for the living room shelves. For fall I used yellow and turquoise. I did the same thing again at Christmas. This time, the yellow books were moved back to the bedroom, and I brought out stacks of red books. The red and turquoise books provide a big pop of colour and vintage style.
As well, I like to use books to prop up other smaller items to bring emphasis and make displays more balanced and visually appealing. Shown above, I stacked the vintage elf and carved gnome on top of a stack of vintage books to add interest, a pop of colour, and to display them more prominently.
You might also like Vintage Books As Decor.
Bowls, Boxes, Trays, Baskets
Use vintage bowls, boxes, trays and baskets as containers for other items. Fill a bowl with pine cones or pretty ornaments. Make a gift wrapping and tag station in a wooden tray, or set up a hot chocolate station or holiday bar on a vintage tray. Put small wrapped gifts or a small tree in a basket. The possibilities are endless to repurpose all sorts of vintage containers as decor!
You might also like Vintage Wood Boxes and Drawers.
Cake Stand, Platters, Cookie Jars, Trays
I’m repeating trays again, because you can use also them to create a Christmas vignette, just as you can with cake stands, platters, or large cookie jars. In my recent post, I shared how I created a gingerbread vignette on my cake stand (this one is not vintage) and incorporated vintage bottle brush trees. See the gingerbread vignette post for more tips and ideas.
Vintage Christmas Decor and Repurposing Everyday Items
You don’t need that many vintage Christmas items to add charm to your holiday decor. As well, you can get creative and repurpose many other vintage items you already have such as colourful books and storage pieces.
I want to hear from you. Do you decorate for Christmas with vintage Christmas decor? What’s one of your favourite vintage Christmas treasures? Do you repurpose everyday items from around the house for holiday decorating? Or do you have an idea that I’ve not listed above? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,