Vintage Christmas Ornaments: Add a Touch of History to Your Tree

Include some vintage charm in your holiday decor with these rare and collectible Christmas ornament ideas.

Lauren Thomann is a business owner, antique dealer, and freelance writer/editor with 16 years of experience and a B.A. in English and Linguistics. She specializes in antiques—mainly Victorian through Mid Century—antique jewelry, old house renovations, and lifestyle and home-related content. Click the link to learn more.
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Christmas tree with several vintage Christmas ornaments

As the holiday season approaches, many people begin to think about how they can make their Christmas tree stand out from the rest. If you’re someone who loves incorporating unique and interesting elements into your decorations, why not try adding some antique or vintage ornaments to your tree?

Not only will these decorations add a touch of history and nostalgia to your tree, but they can also be a great conversation starter for guests who visit your home during the holidays. Here are a few ideas for vintage ornaments and decor you can hang on your Christmas tree. Some you buy, some you can make. Once you’re done decorating, settle in and sip on a warm Christmas cocktail.

1
Victorian Glass Ball Ornaments

German Kugel Ornament, c. 1890; View on Etsy

Glass ball ornaments have been a popular choice for Christmas trees for well over a century. These classic decorations come in a wide range of colors and styles, and can add a touch of elegance to any tree. Look for antique glass ball ornaments at flea markets, thrift stores, or online auction sites.

2
Vintage Tinsel

Vintage Tinsel Garland, c. 1950; View on Etsy

Tinsel is another timeless Christmas tree decoration that has been around for decades. If you want to add some old-fashioned charm to your tree, look for vintage tinsel in metallic colors like gold, silver, and copper. This type of tinsel can be hard to find, but it’s well worth the search.

3
Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree Candles

Antique Christmas Candles, c. 1910; View on Etsy

If you’re a fan of twinkling lights on your tree, consider using antique Christmas tree candles with tree clips. These candles were popular in the early 20th century. More importantly, they have a warm quality that is perfect for creating a cozy holiday atmosphere (even when not lit). A word of warning: Don’t actually light these candles.

4
Popcorn Garland

Popcorn Garland Coated in Beeswax; View on Etsy

Festive popcorn garland was once a common way to decorate Christmas trees, but it has since fallen out of favor. If you want to add a touch of nostalgia to your tree, consider making your own popcorn garland. Simply string popcorn on a piece of thread or ribbon. This can be a fun activity to do with kids, and the finished product will add a charming, homespun touch to your tree.

5
Vintage Tree Topper

Vintage Mercury Glass Tree Toppers, c. 1970; View on Etsy

The tree topper is the finishing touch on any Christmas tree, and a vintage one can add a touch of elegance to your tree. Look for tree toppers made of glass, metal, or even paper. Make sure you choose one that fits the style and color scheme of your tree.

6
Fruit and Nut Ornaments

Dried Orange and Acorn Ornaments; View on Etsy

Fruit and nut ornaments were a popular choice for Christmas trees in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These ornaments were often made by hand and were used to add a touch of nature to the tree. Look for antique fruit and nut ornaments at flea markets or antique shops, or try making your own using real fruit and nuts.

7
Vintage Santa Figurines

Vintage German Santa Ornament; View on Etsy

Santa Claus has been a beloved figure at Christmas time for centuries, and vintage Santa figurines can add a touch of whimsy to your tree. Look for Santa figurines made of porcelain, ceramic, or even wood, and choose ones that reflect the style and period you’re trying to recreate.

8
Antique Christmas Tree Stands

Art Nouveau Christmas Tree Stand, c. 1910; View on Etsy

The stand that holds your Christmas tree is often overlooked, but it can be an important part of your overall holiday decorations. Vintage tree stands, especially ones made of brass or iron, can add a touch of elegance and history to your tree. Look for antique tree stands at flea markets or online auction sites.

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