I’m Dreamin’ of a Retro Christmas!

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It’s Christmas! There’s so much joy packed into just a few short weeks! I adore cheerful holiday displays – especially  antique, vintage (or vintage-inspired) decorations. This year, I’m dreaming of a “retro” Christmas! Play some Bing Crosby, and deck the halls – vintage farmgirl style!

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There’s serious collectors of vintage Christmas this-and-that, but I just choose what speaks to me. Each year, I add a little something different to our Christmas decor, trying now to incorporate more of the vintage style I love so much (giving me an excuse to go junk-tiquing with my gal-pals). Decorations from Christmas past have so much more charm than their contemporary counterparts, don’t you think? I especially love anything adorned with Santa! I’ve been counting down the days to Christmas with a tin Santa Advent Calendar I picked up at a tag sale this summer. (It was torture waiting for December so I could put him up)! Not convinced he’s that old (perhaps 90’s vintage), his ol’fashioned smiling Santa face makes me happy.

IMG_5538Of course, my little Santa blow mold greets me in the kitchen…

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Also softly lighting the night is my kitschy, glittery cardboard Putz church with bottle brush trees (that was offered for free! on a tag sale – LOVE IT)!

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Christmas figurines were the rage in decades past, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. Companies like Lefton (started by George Lefton in 1941), and Napco (started in 1938 and located in Bedford, Ohio), specialized in porcelain from Japan. My husband surprised me with this little Napco couple from the mid-fifties. The figurines are actually salt-n-pepper shakers, only a few inches tall, and sit on hall table as opposed to a dining table. To collectors, they have “spaghetti trim”. Aren’t they sweet?

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Also from the same era, this little angel holds a tealight.

Also from the same era, this little angel holds a tealight.

Popular now (again), are ceramic light up trees just bursting with 1970s nostalgia.

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Ceramic trees like this look amazing lit up!

Ceramic trees like this look amazing lit up!

One of the most amazing Christmas displays I’ve ever seen is this giant Santa Claus, once used in advertising, now seen climbing a ladder in front of a local house. Jackie Stakel says her Santa is around eighty years old! She’s the third generation to display the Santa, made of hand painted wood. Jackie’s grandfather started a paper product company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that created the first foil baking cups. Her grandfather did business with various advertising companies, one of which gifted him with the enormous jolly Santa. This is Jackie’s first year to display Santa, who has been handed down from her grandfather to her father to Jackie. “I’m so glad so many people like my Santa”, she says. He certainly makes my family smile whenever we pass by.

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I started a thread a few weeks ago on the MaryJanesFarm Farmgirl Connection, asking which decorations were everyone’s favorite, most-special holiday decorations. The answers were all different; it was interesting to see what each person holds dear. One of my most special decorations is the first to come out for display after Thanksgiving. Made from vintage greeting cards, my hand-sewn paper card baskets were a gift from MaryJane and Meg, and featured in the December2012/January 2013 issue of MaryJanesFarm (with instructions on how to make them). The baskets are so lovely and delicate. I love how Christmas lights reflect their soft colors.

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Speaking of cards, my favorite illustrations feature Ellen Clapsaddle’s drawings. While I don’t have any original cards, I love items adorned with her work. My little wooden piece with its reproduction of an old Ellen Clapsaddle Christmas card, came from TJ Maxx one year, and I have seen similar pieces there each season.

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I still hand-sign, hand-address and mail out “real” Christmas cards each year, sadly a disappearing tradition. I so enjoy sending and receiving cards. They look so cute displayed in a old soda-pop crate. There’s so many ways to re-purpose those crates, and the pop of red blends great with holiday decor.

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I love incorporating pieces that aren’t necessarily “holiday”. My porch greets visitors with cheer using my daughter’s first pair of skates, an old, antique railroad lantern (lit at night with a battery-powered tea light), and a washtub filled with evergreens.

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An old red train case looks festive tied with a vintage hankie, opened to display a collage of old family photos of Christmas from generations past.

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White milk glass “pops” when mixed with festive colors of red and green!

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Production of Little Golden Books began in 1942 as an economical, easy way for children to read, and didn’t break parents’ piggy banks at only 25 cents! After only five months, debut sales soared to 1.5 million books sold! When my daughter was born, I wanted to share with her the cherished titles I remembered as a child. Now that she’s a teenager, I enjoy seeing them displayed as a nod to Christmas past (and yes, that’s a real corn cob pipe by Frosty)!

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Comfy handmade pillows in vintage prints make for a comfy reading corner.

I love to sew. Comfy handmade pillows in vintage prints make for a cozy corner.

Collectors love antique ornaments like those made by Shiny-Brite. While these aren’t Shiny-Brite, they’ve weathered with age. They were actually inexpensive and new when my husband and I bought them for our first tree in 1992. A plus to getting older – our things become “vintage”!

 IMG_5531No “retro” Christmas would be complete without some fun, festive drink ware! A dear friend gave me four vintage glasses last year after I admired hers, then I found four more at an antique shop. I love the  “Merry Christmas” on one side, and “Happy New Year” on the other.  I like their smaller size and use them for everything from seltzer to juice to iced tea. The little tray they sit on was a gift from an elderly couple at a church my husband and I attended as newlyweds our first Christmas away from all of our family. I can’t remember their names after 23 years, but I always remember their kindness each year I pull out the little tray. When friends visit, various retro stirrers keep guests from mixing up their glasses.

 IMG_0198IMG_5504-001Christmas nowadays can be hurried and stressed with today’s lifestyle. Maybe that’s why I prefer vintage decorations, all sweet and jolly. From simpler times, they are a reminder to slow down, relishing in the wonder and joy this season brings.

What is your most favorite or special decorations, and why? Stop by the comments section and say hi!

Until Next Time…Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Farmgirl Hugs! ~Nicole

 

Leave a comment 28 Comments

  1. Cindy says:

    Looks great love the old time look!

  2. Dori Troutman says:

    Merry Christmas Nicole!

    I love all your vintage things – so simple and so precious. I saw a Snowman Blow Mold in the window of one of our local antique stores a couple weeks ago. I didn’t have time to stop and check the price, but I went back a few days later and it was sold. :-( I LOVE those hand sewn card baskets – what a special gift. You will cherish that forever. I too love sending cards and it is sad to me that with social media, etc… I receive fewer each year.

    Big Holiday Hugs!

    – Dori –

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori, Sorry you missed out on the snowman. “Nothing haunts us like the vintage we didn’t buy”. Giggle. I’m sure you will come across another one though. I saw on the news today that this year marks the least amount of Christmas cards sent in history. Sad news, but I still will be sending mine, and I am loving all the ones we got in our mailbox. On Christmas Eve before we go to bed we get them all out and read them again. Hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Theresa Talarek King says:

    This is delightful! I love all of your retro things! I remember many of those from growing up in the ’50’s and ’60’s. I’d love to make those antique Christmas card baskets (remember my Mom had one.) I hope I have the Mary Jane’s Farm issue that included the instructions. If not, I hope the instructions are available elsewhere – in one of her books, the web site, etc.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Theresa, A friend of mine made some of the bowls one year for our farmgirl sisterhood swap. They came out so cute! If you can’t find the issue, call MaryJanesFarm and see if they have the directions listed somewhere else, or perhaps you can get one of the back issues. Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Nicole, this is a blog with so many memories. I love the giant Santa on the house, and the collage of pictures of past Christmases. So glad you have them. I need to see larger ones later. You show so many great pictures of your vintage collections! I love them all! Your home is beautiful for the holidays and shows so much of you. Love,
    Mother

  5. Victoria Hall says:

    I’m with you, Nicole. I handwrite my cards on the inside and addresses. I cannot give up this tradition!!! For heavens sake….its only once a year that we have to do this. I absolutely refuse to send out Christmas greetings via Facebook or email. For many friends and some relatives this is the only time we exchange news. I can tell the folks who do this are getting smaller and smaller…but as long as there is one, I shall respond!!!! Merry Christmas!!!

  6. michele says:

    Nicole, Merry Christmas to you and yours! Loved your collection of retro treasures. I have a small collection of “Golden books” that I had from my childhood. My favorite is Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. I would love to find an old copy of the Frosty the snowman book you have. I also have two Christmas elves from the early 1960’s. One has a red cloth body and the other green. They both have plastic heads. Although the are old and faded I treasure them anyways. Christmas blessings to you! Michele

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Michele! My favorite is Rudolph, too. Have you checked Ebay? That’s where I got my Frosty. The actual copies I had as a child are long gone, lost when we moved from my childhood home. I bet your elves are adorable! Merry Christmas and Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Nanette Boots says:

    I volunteer in our local thrift store’s Christmas Store. You would enjoy our retro table. Come for a visit and I’ll give you a behind the scene’s tour. The Christmas Store is open from the last weekend in October thru the holidays. Our prices are very reasonable too! Merry Christmas.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Nanette, Where is your store? Do tell…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • Nanette Boots says:

        Nicole, the store is in Bismarck, ND. It is called Seeds of Hope, and funds the Abused Adult Resource Center. The Christmas Store is in the same building, but sectioned off from the rest of the very large thrift store. I “worked” today for a few hours, and since Oct. 25th we have sold over $53,000 just in the Christmas Store. We have a wonderful community that donates and buys. Every year we sell it all! We never hold items over til next year. All year long we clean, price and sort Christmas donations. On opening night people line up the stairs, and out to the street waiting to get something special. It is a wonderful organization, and I’m very proud (as you can tell) to be one of their volunteers. I hope some day you can see it!

        PS: North Dakota has a very different beauty from your state.

        • Nicole Christensen says:

          Hi Nanette, How awesome is that! The store I purchased my antique treadle machine from is similar…the funds go to help victims of domestic abuse. The Christmas store sounds lovely. I would love to see it someday. I have never been that direction in the US, but I have heard how beautiful it is there. Someday! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. CJ Armstrong says:

    Love all your wonderful vintage Christmas goodies! You’re a farmgirl after my own heart!!
    It’s been several years since I’ve had ALL my Christmas decorations and collections out on display! I have so many fun things!
    This year I didn’t even get to decorate anything outside . . . oh well!
    We have SNOW however and it’s just like the good ole days when I was growing up, so we WILL have a White Christmas again!
    CJ

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi CJ! Lucky girl having snow! It’s record breaking warmth here. I shouldn’t complain about it, but snow is very nice on Christmas! Feels more like spring here, and I saw bulbs blooming on a walk! Enjoy and Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Marilyn Collins says:

    Love the photos and the nostalgia. There is nothing better than a vintage Christmas. Enjoyed the article tremendously. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of blessings.
    Marilyn

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you so much, Marilyn! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog…thanks for “stopping by’. Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years to you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Jennifer says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned about the card baskets. I’ve recently come across my mother’ Christmas card collection: cards she saved every year since she and my daddy were married in 1969. I’m loath to just throw them out, so I’ve been looking for something to do with them! Thanks!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jennifer! Oh that is wonderful! You’ll have to send a pic when you make one. Vintage cards are the best! My cards that I sent out this year were reproduction vintage. So cute with Santas and kittens. Luckily I found them in a store that discounts their merchandise so they weren’t expensive either. I had seen some online but cost a fortune! Anyway, good luck making those card bowls…I know they will be beautiful! Merry Christmas and Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Carol says:

    I love your decorations and the porch looks fabulous! I have the Frosty and Rudolph books that you displayed as well. I read to my granddaughter each day of the holiday season.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Carol, Thank you! I loved reading those books to my daughter when she was little, and hope someday to read them to grandchildren, too. They are wonderful classics. Thanks for stopping by! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Jessie Yonkovit says:

    Catching up on blogs I missed over the Christmas season…I laughed out loud when I saw your “vintage” advent calendar (the tin dial kind with Santa): I have the same one! I bought it new at Target about ten years ago. Not quite REAL vintage, but I keep it up with my truly vintage Christmas decor, anyway!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      I knew it couldn’t be that old, lol. I still do love it. And it goes with Vintage style. 😉
      I love what I love! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Rosemarie says:

    Loved this blog as I love Christmas and all the decorating and traditions that go along with it. As you know, I packed up my parent’s household items from their home and brought them to mine. I ignored the teasing of my brother as to why I am taking boxes of trinkets 700 miles in a U-Haul truck. I am so glad that I did as I have many of the items that you mention in your blog that my mom once displayed in our home around the Holidays. I have a Angel with tea light, Santa with spaghetti trim, childhood Christmas books, tiny Christmas houses my uncle made, and a lighted Christmas tree! I loved having all my mom’s items now displayed in my own home.

    I love the Holiday glassware! I did find a set in a local antique store and passed them up. I am now planning to revisit that store and hopefully they will still be there!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rosemarie! It’s good that you kept your mom’s items. I wish we had more of my childhood things, but most of my childhood items (like the dollhouse my dad built from scratch just for me, hand made Christmas stockings, my books) were all lost when I was in high school and we moved. Hope that glassware set is still there – “Nothing haunts you like the vintage you didn’t buy!” Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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