Those of you who have followed me for any length of time know that I am in total denial about being a collector of any kind. I guess I really don’t think of myself as one of those people who collect items because they are valuable. Or rare. I hope to never be one of those people who has spent tons of money on some sort of collection believing that the items will appreciate in value, and then when I die my heirs can’t even give it away.
But obviously I do have collections, I just prefer to call them non-collections in order to maintain my delusion that I am not a collector.
I really have just one absolute requirement for the items I collect, they have to be something that brings me joy (I followed that rule long before Marie Kondo came along). And I guess there are a handful of additional rules that I generally follow as well:
Rule #2 – the items must be fairly cheap. I think I’ve pretty much established that I’m a frugal person. I’m never going to spend a bunch of money on something just because it’s considered ‘collectible’.
My non-collection of vintage Christmas ornaments totally meets this rule since I typically find my ornaments at garage or estate sales. If I’m lucky enough to find them there, they are usually less than $1 each. These baggies of ornaments for $10 each were probably the most I’ve ever paid for ornaments at a garage sale.
On occasion I have also been known to splurge on ornaments at antique shops, but in this case ‘splurging’ still means paying less than $10 each for really special ones, like this Santa ornament …
Quite a few of my favorite ornaments came from a shop that was in No. St. Paul called La’ Garage. I’m sure some of my local readers remember that place. The best way to describe it would be as an estate sale in a storefront. The proprietors bought out estates to stock their shop. They had amazing vintage ornaments each year at Christmas and I always stopped by at least once each season and purchased some.
They also sometimes sold the old boxes separately and I snatched those up whenever I saw them.
They really came in handy when I sold off a bunch of my ornaments a few years ago.
Sadly, La’ Garage closed up shop back in July 2020, and I still miss them.
Rule #3 – the items collected must be something that I display or use, not something to tuck away in a cupboard somewhere.
I pretty much broke that rule last year because I didn’t put up my tree. Let’s face it, Christmas 2020 was a weird one. Covid was putting the kibosh on most of the usual socializing, and I just wasn’t in the mood to put up a tree. Plus the day job was really overwhelming me, and I didn’t have the energy left over to decorate much last year.
But this year I’ve pulled out my tall, skinny, silver tree once again and filled it up with my vintage ornaments.
I love unwrapping each one from its tissue paper and admiring how pretty it is as I add it to the tree.
Rule #4 – I mainly collect vintage items. They just appeal to me more than reproductions, or new items.
With the ornaments, I especially love the old hand-painted ones. They are always unique. Doesn’t the one above have a 70’s vibe with those daisies? I think that particular ornament artist was ahead of her time.
I’m really drawn to the unique color combination on this next one with its blue and green …
It just happens to perfectly match the gorgeous colors on that vintage book that my friend Sue gave me for my birthday.
I’m not precisely sure what the flowers on this next one are supposed to be, but to me they look like Lily of the Valley. Certainly not a flower you typically think of at Christmas time, but how pretty are they on this bulb?
I also enjoy the more geometric patterns.
Don’t they have a sort of mid-century atomic vibe?
I’ve read that there was a trend towards space age themed ornaments in the 50’s and 60’s as Americans were caught up in the space race. I’m still bummed about the really cool planet ornament I once had that I broke back in 2015 …
I used it in a furniture photo shoot and it rolled off the dresser and shattered into a million pieces (which tends to happen when these fragile ornaments hit the floor). What was I thinking being so cavalier with that ornament?
So far the closest replacement I’ve found for it is this one …
And let’s face it, it’s nowhere near as cool.
So I’m still on the lookout for a replacement planet ornament. Maybe one day I’ll find another.
Rule #5 – I’m also not one who believes my collections have to get bigger and bigger and bigger. Over time, as I find fabulous pieces to add to my non-collections, I tend to start narrowing my scope in some way. As I mentioned above, I sold off quite a bit of my non-collection of ornaments a few years back.
For example, if I had six of the same design, I sold five of them and just kept one.
And I also sold some that weren’t in my preferred color scheme of pink and aqua.
Those gold ones were so pretty boxed up with old book pages to cushion them.
What is it about these vintage ornaments that I find so appealing? Maybe it’s that my grandparents likely used ornaments similar to these on their Christmas tree and subconsciously I am trying to recreate my childhood love of Christmas. Or maybe I’m just drawn to shiny, pretty things. Who knows?
But how about you? Do you have any Christmas related non-collections? Do you follow a similar set of ‘rules’ for collecting, or do you just go for broke? Leave me a comment and let me know.
I have a special treat planned for next week. I’m super excited to be sharing a tour of my friend Amy’s house, which is looking amazingly festive.
Her holiday decorations make me drool, and I bet you guys will love them too! So be sure to stay tuned!