Display Your Heritage Ornaments for the Holidays

By  0 Comments

Every year I add a few more ornaments, maybe a banner or two, a new ceramic piece and anything else that says Christmas. I’m guilty of crass commercialism, but I also love the homemade ornaments that my mother made as well as those I’ve made myself. What can I say? Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love decorating the house.

Merriam-Webster defines heritage as “something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor” or “tradition.” This means all the ornaments and other decorations you have accumulated over the years, children’s homemade tree ornaments, handmade ornaments and hangings, pieces that have come to you from your parents, and those you purchased because you liked them. All of these are your heritage ornaments.

Decorating with heritage ornaments isn’t hard. It depends on what you have collected and what pleases you the most. Many companies over the years have produced “heritage” ornaments and other decorations that lend themselves to collecting. By carefully selecting a piece or two each year, you can achieve an amazing display that all members of the family can enjoy.

One of the loveliest collectibles is the glass tree ornaments that originally were imported from Germany by Woolworth’s in the 1880s. After World War II, Japan entered the market because the glass baubles were so highly successful. Hallmark began their keepsake ornaments in 1973, and since then many families collect ornaments or other decorations from their yearly collections. Waterford also produces collectible ornaments; a fabulous ornament for 2019 is a ruby-red ball with white ribbon and a silver dated tag. Lenox, Wedgewood and Swarovski all have collectible heritage ornaments to decorate your tree.

My decorating begins with the tree. I always haul out my ornaments—many heritage, many not. After I weed out those that just don’t cut it anymore, I start putting ornaments on the tree. I have far more than will fit on the tree, so each year my tree looks slightly different as I choose a heritage ornament here and another one there.

Year after year, professional decorators strive to come up with new colors and themes, but I generally ignore them and go with my traditional color scheme of red, green and gold. I don’t have the “pickle” ornament that some German immigrants hang on their tree, but I do have a “peanut” representative of the South, where I’m from. It’s fun to include unusual ornaments that are representative of your distinctive culture or background. Regardless of the newer themes, I love to decorate with the crocheted angels my mother made. The flat ones go on the tree, and the round ones are displayed throughout the house.

Many families gather to set up the crèche or manger scene on a table or the mantel. In Latin America, the manger scene can take up a huge space in the living room as new pieces are added each year. It can quickly become the village of Bethlehem with Thomas Kinkade houses and animals strewn around the basic manger scene.

Next, I begin decorating with the mugs, snow globes, nutcrackers and ceramic village houses that I’ve collected over the years. Many people decorate the mantel above the fireplace; but fireplaces are rare in my state, so I use the attached shelf over my sideboard. Every year, my collection of Santa Clauses is spread out in an artful arrangement. Below, on the sideboard top, goes the collection of Christmas mugs.

Now, I tackle the walls and table surfaces. My banners and handmade wall hangings go up. Nutcrackers are placed on tables and even on the floor in odd and unexpected places. The plush long-legged elves add whimsy to the tables and keep the nutcrackers company. My front door has a huge red bow, but feel free to hang your wreath! One huge or several small red poinsettias finish decorating the entrance to my house.

Back inside, it’s time to get out the linens and dress the tables. Today, there are so many beautiful stain-resistant tablecloths in seasonal prints so I don’t have to worry about spills from the grandkids or wine lovers. A clever way to use ornaments is to place one at each place setting as gifts. Seasonal pillows are tossed on the couch and in chairs. My handmade tablecloths go on tables used for decorative purposes only. The tables are adorned with glass containers filled with heritage baubles.

Finally, I get out my supply of cross-stitched hand towels and decorate the bathrooms, with maybe an elf sitting on the counter. We’re done!

Decorating with heritage ornaments is fun whether yours are family heirlooms handed down, handmade by you or purchased. So this holiday season, fill your home with all your heritage ornaments and nourish feelings of joy, peace and good will to all. Happy holidays! ■

Sources: familytree.com, heritageherald.com and study.com.