Christmas is a great time to surround yourself with bohemian style. Mixing vintage Christmas ornaments into your favorite Holiday decor is a great way to get a beautiful, eclectic look that will wow you and your guests.
I love collecting and using vintage Christmas ornaments in our Holiday décor. Vintage ornaments remind me of decorating our Christmas tree as a kid. We always decorated our tree on Christmas Eve and then left it up through the New Year until Little Christmas. Every ornament had a memory and story attached. It was fun to share our favorites.
Here are some tips on how I go about collecting and using Vintage Christmas ornaments in our décor.
To get a boho Christmas décor look, remember it’s all about being eclectic and colorful. I like to mix vintage ornaments and modern ornaments with ornaments I’ve made. I also mix bright, cheerful ornaments with natural elements.
Review What You Have
Start by looking in your own collection of Holiday décor. Do you have any ornaments you absolutely love and can present in a new way? Do you have any vintage Christmas ornaments in your collection? Also, consider asking older relatives and neighbors if they have any vintage ornaments they are ready to part with. Often, people love to downsize their holiday stuff.
Collect Year Round
If you want to collect vintage Christmas ornaments, you can often find great stuff year round. You just need to know where to look.
Church and Non-profit rummage sales are my favorite places to find affordable Christmas décor. Garage Sale season is another off-Holiday time to find neat, affordable Holiday decorations. People are often willing to bargain because they just want to get rid of the stuff.
Next, keep your eyes open for Estate Sales. Depending on who is running the estate sale, items can be affordable or pricey. If pricey, decide if you want the items anyway or take your chances that the decorations will be there later. More expensive estate sales often have a half-price time in the afternoon or on the second day. Be sure to ask when their discount sale will take place.
Thrift shops are another place I frequent. You never know what you will find, so I enjoy the random hunt of the shopping experience. Some thrift shops put out holiday décor year round, while others just display it during prime Holiday shopping season. Check with your favorite thrift stores to find out their schedules. At the thrift shop I volunteer at, we have a “Christmas Corner” in one section of our shop. However, we also have a slew of Holiday-related donations we hold onto to display closer to December. At our shop, you can also let our staff know what you are looking for. We will keep our eyes out and contact you if we get something in that you might enjoy.
Thrift shops often get so much Holiday décor that they price it very affordably. They just want to keep the décor moving to make room for more. I have seen all sorts of great vintage ornaments, wreaths, garlands, you name it, come through our shop and the other thrift stores I frequent.
Finally, check out flea markets and antique shops. Sometimes vintage Christmas décor can be really marked up in price at such places. I’ve seen individual glass-blown Christmas bulbs from the 1950s marked as high as $8 a piece. Meanwhile, we may sell a whole box of similar ornaments for $2 at our thrift shop. Be ready to bargain if you see something you really want. Or if you see something really special, maybe it is worth the asking price.
Pick a Theme
Picking a theme for your Holiday décor or Christmas tree may help you figure out what to collect and how to utilize the vintage ornaments you do collect. For instance, for our Bohemian Christmas tree, I recently designed, I was inspired by two things. First, we inherited a set of beautiful hammered and hand-colored tin ornaments from Mexico. My mother-in-law purchased the ornaments in her travels, so they carry special energy for me. We also inherited three hand cut wood snowflake ornaments originally from Germany. I think they were circa 1940s or 1950s. I always admired the ornaments on my in-law’s Christmas tree.
From these ornaments, I knew I wanted to decorate the tree in bright, mostly primary colors. From there I dug out select ornaments from those that we inherited plus some ornaments in our own collection. I then made Christmas garlands and other boho ornaments to add to the tree. And this year, I’ve been keeping my eyes out while combing garage sales, rummage sales and thrift shops for additional ornaments that will enhance the boho décor look.
Keep An Open Mind
See something cool, but don’t know what you’ll do with it? That’s part of the fun of being eclectic and having boho style. Decide how drawn you are to the items and buy those that really call to you. You can always figure out what to do with the items later. Plus, if you didn’t pay much, you can always let go of the decorations later if you never find a use for them.
For instance, I grew up in the country where we were always surrounded by a multitude of songbirds. At our thrift shop, a winter, bird-themed fountain came in. When cleaned up (we dusted it off and then applied some spray glitter to it to freshen up the snow part of it), it was rather charming. I stared at it all season each time I came into work. When it was marked down to $4, I could no longer resist. That fountain became the base to a collection. Now we have a series of winter songbird collectibles that sit on our bookcase for the Holidays. (We also have a summer collection for the rest of the year).
So always be on the lookout for items you can build a collection around.
Keep a Holiday Craft Stash
I always keep a stash of Holiday craft supplies and vintage components that I can visit if I am feeling crafty. Holiday craft supplies can often be found in garage sales. Look for unique components to make boho ornaments out of, such as beads, vintage cookie cutters, napkin rings, ribbon, fabric scraps and such. I also often purchase items 75-90% off around the New Year when the craft stores desperately want you to drag Holiday stuff out of their store at any price. That way I have supplies ready to go if I get random inspiration during the year.
Look Online for Inspiration
Going online to your favorite bohemian blogs and Pinterest are great ways to get ideas on how to use your vintage decorations to build a boho Christmas tree. There are wonderful DIY tutorials on how to make felt ornaments, mini dreamcatchers, yarn God’s eyes and more. You will also find great examples for upcycled ornaments from items like old cookie cutters, vintage lace and mini tart pans.
Add Some World Culture
Bohemian style is all about embracing world crafts and cultures. So finish your tree off with a couple of special ornaments from around the world. Cost Plus World Market is one of my favorite places to look for really unique ornaments. Amazon and Novica also sell a lot of Fair Trade ornaments and décor. World artisans are paid fair living wages to produce their unique crafts, so your money goes to a good cause.
Think Beyond the Tree
Some vintage Christmas ornaments are very fragile. Older glass ornaments tend to lose paint or shine over time. Others are too frail to put on the tree. Consider displaying these ornaments in a glass bowl or in a crystal ice bucket as a Holiday centerpiece.. You can also gently set ornaments into greenery to make a table or buffet centerpiece.
One of my absolute favorite vintage pieces is a 1960s Nativity scene. I found the nativity set in the attic at an estate sale for only $10! Each year, I love unwrapping the figurines and setting them up. It sparks wonderful memories. Our current nativity set is one size smaller than the set we had in our childhood. Our church also had a really large version of the same nativity. When my parents were first married, they collected a few figures each year, as they could afford them.
The nativity scene was one of the first items we were allowed to decorate the house with each year, as well as putting up our advent calendars and Santa cutouts on the windows and kitchen cabinets. This was followed by excessive amounts of cookie baking and being allowed to stay up to watch the classic Christmas cartoons like Rudolph. It’s funny how all the memories come floating back as I carefully put the nativity together.
Collecting Vintage Christmas ornaments is fun. You will love your Holiday boho decor when you mix your vintage finds with the right amount of greenery, regular ornaments, and handmade ornaments.
Happy boho decorating!
Up next in our Bohemian Christmas series, check out how to Make Easy DIY Christmas Garlands with Felt and Wood Beads.