Vintage Christmas: 5 ways to source your classic holiday decor

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Nothing captures the holiday spirit quite like vintage Christmas decor. If you’re yearning to add a touch of yesteryear to your holiday celebrations this year, you’re in the right place. Here are five ways to source vintage treasures to make your season magical.

Vintage Christmas decor adds a touch of magic to any room. Yet only some people have their own collection of family Christmas heirloom treasures. If you need to find a few new old-time Christmas decor items, here’s where to start looking.

Thrift stores: Your first stop for hidden treasures

A rooster, pine cones, and other decorations on a table.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Thrift stores offer a goldmine of vintage Christmas items. Visit your local second-hand store, and you’ll stumble upon everything from tree ornaments to festive eucalyptus wreaths. It’s a bit like a budget-friendly treasure hunt — you never know what you’ll find.

Remember these thrifting tips before you get started.

  1. Go early in the season to get the best selection.
  2. Check the glassware section. You might find delicate holiday goblets or vintage Christmas mugs.
  3. Search for holiday tablecloths or bedding to use as-is or repurpose and sew into vintage Christmas stockings, placemats, or other vintage Christmas decor items.
  4. Watch for discount days or special sales to save even more.

“I cherish a little cluster of bells that date to the 1930s. This ornament came from my grandmother on my mother’s side. The family endured hard times during the Depression and WWII years. The ornament reminds me of the beauty of faith in all circumstances. As I get older, vintage has come to mean things that date to my childhood, and I recognize them in antique stores!”

— Betsy Wuebker, PassingThru

Garage sales and auctions

Garage sales, farm auctions and estate auctions offer another rich hunting ground for old-fashioned holiday decorating items, especially since the things here often come from personal collections.

Look for old-fashioned tree ornaments, old-time advent calendars and retro Christmas serving dishes. These pre-loved items add authentic vintage holiday charm to your home.

You don’t need to wait for winter or visit a German Christmas market to shop for used vintage holiday items. Scan newspaper listings or community boards for upcoming sales every season, and prepare to haggle.

Farm auctions and estate auction events often feature belongings from older generations, including items like old-fashioned children’s Christmas books. This makes them a prime spot for discovering vintage Christmas decor you won’t find anywhere else.

If you go auctioning, take cash, as not all auctions accept cards. Be patient and stay until the end; sometimes, the best items get saved for last. Prices at auctions vary widely, so set a limit to avoid overspending.

And remember, while you’ll generally find great prices at garage sales and auctions, items can move quickly, so head out early.

“Do you remember the ceramic Christmas trees that were about two feet high and had small, colorful light-up bulbs everywhere? I have my great-grandmother’s that was passed to my grandmother, and it brings me joy every time I turn it on. I remember the visits to my great-gram’s house, all the time I spent at my gram’s, and all the time we would spend in the fancy living room with the plastic couch covers talking with the special treat of being allowed to have Christmas cookies in the fancy room like important guests.”

— Michelle Price, Honest and Truly

Church bazaars and craft sales: A dash of nostalgia

A wooden sled with a christmas wreath on it.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Church sales and bazaars often feature an array of homemade and vintage items. These sales usually occur around the holiday season and offer a delightful mix of rustic Christmas crafts, baked goods and vintage Christmas decor.

If you’re looking for new fun Christmas activities for kids, attend a church sale where you can grab Christmas baking for the kids and a vintage Christmas wreath or treasure for your collection. Arrive early for the best selection, and take small bills and change, as these are often cash-only events.

Holiday markets

Two pink painted easter eggs on a wooden table.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

A holiday market is similar to a festive pop-up shop with multiple vendors. You’ll find all sorts of Christmas treasures, from vintage ornaments to handcrafted old-fashioned-style wreaths.

Holiday markets are great places to take the kids, and you can hold and look at items before buying, making sure they’re suitable for your family holiday collection.

You may even uncover unique decorations you won’t find online or in stores; however, remember that prices vary at these markets.

Make visiting a holiday market a simple holiday tradition you and your family will look forward to each year.

Online marketplaces: Vintage finds at your fingertips

The internet offers many platforms to find vintage Christmas decor, from online markets to local buy-and-sell groups or free item groups on social media.

Shopping online for vintage Christmas items offers a wide selection and often great prices. However, the downside is that you can’t physically inspect the items for wear and tear or damage before purchasing.

Always read item descriptions carefully and look for terms like vintage, antique or retro.

Contact the seller for more information or additional photos if needed.

While prices for online vintage Christmas decor items range from frugal to expensive, always remember to factor in shipping costs.

Vintage Christmas decor adds nostalgic charm to your holiday celebrations. It allows you to create a season filled with memories that stand the test of time. Whether you scout thrift stores, browse online or explore auctions or holiday markets, the joy is as much in the hunt as in the find.

Sarita Harbour is a homeschooling, homesteading mom and a long-time business and finance writer. She created An Off Grid Life to help people become more self-reliant. Sarita and her family live off the grid in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

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