New and Unique Christmas Tree Ornaments
The Christmas season is such a beautiful time of year, when the gorgeous displays, lights, food and good spirit can really take us away from the banality of the day-to-day.
Small things, like beautiful Christmas tree baubles, figurines and ornaments add the magic of the holiday, and become cherished family mementos as the years roll by.
I love a non-traditional Christmas tree, adorned with unique ornaments that reveal personality on every branch! Come with me to explore beautiful, original and quirky treasures and trinkets to create an enchanting tree and start conversations.
I’ve also included the fascinating history of our modern Christmas tree traditions and ornaments, below. It’s interesting to discover how the ritual of embellishing trees began, and evolved into the widely-varied styles of decorating we see today!
Christmas Tree Ornaments to Covet
Glass Sushi Ornament Set
This spectacular set of 3 Glass Sushi Ornaments will create a playful scene on your tree, and have everyone asking where you got them! These intricately detailed ornaments that look just like the real thing, only shiny and perfect.
Their height is 1-1.5″ and their width is 2-2.5″, and each one come with a silver string for hanging. Hang these close to the tips of the branches where they can be seen and appreciated more easily!
Cardinals on a Snowy Branch
This hand painted, mouth blown glass Cardinal Ornament is an absolute stunner! The red cardinals are beautifully detailed, and sit on glittery, frosty branches, against in icy aqua background. You can see the quality from every side of this gorgeous bauble. Traditional, but better!
BigFoot, The Holiday Yeti Christmas Ornament
We’ve found BigFoot, and he’s a holiday Yeti this Christmas! This Christmas BigFoot was made using real crushed stone bonded with durable designer resin and measures 2″W x 2″D x 3″H. He comes with a gold string for hanging.
This fellow has some fantastic reviews, with one happy purchaser saying:
“Purchased this as a gift for a Bigfoot enthusiast — he loved it! I of course opened up the box to make sure that it was okay before giving it to the recipient, and I was impressed by the quality. Heavy for its size, and nice detail with the molding and coloring. Definitely a fun addition to any Christmas tree… I might have to buy one for myself too!”
Glass Heart Assortment
This set of 6 Glass Heart Ornaments from Old World Christmas are hand crafted in age-old tradition with techniques that originated in the 1800s. They’re mouth blown into finely carved molds, and then hand-painted and glittered in a series of labor-intensive steps. The end result is a high quality set of ornaments that will surely add a sense of decadence and exuberance to your tree!
These 6 gorgeous hearts come in a variety of shades of pink, and measure 2.5″ x 2.75″ x 1″.
Christmas Concepts Extra Large Tree Baubles
Look at the color and detail on these Extra Large Luxury Tree Baubles! This set of 5 baubles are crafted highly reflective joyous orange, with swirls of frosty glitter and tiny shimmering golden beads!
I simply can’t take my eyes off these 10mm globes. They look like pure happiness!
Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Glass Christmas Ornament
Time for dessert! How sweet is this sumptuous Chocolate Dipped Glass Strawberry ornament from Old World Christmas! Made with mouth blown glass, and hand painted and glittered, this delightful ornament will remind you of decadent holiday feasts! This ornament is 3″ x 2.25″ x 2.25″, and has some good reviews.
Silver Lining Glass Dog Bone
Decked in silver and gold, this Silver Lining Dog Bone Ornament from MacKenzie-Childs is a charming addition to your tree and sure to become a family favorite.
It’s also a great gift for your favorite dog lover, who just might be yourself.
This beautiful glass ornament was finely handcrafted, mouth-blown, and hand-painted in Eastern Europe by some of the world’s most talented glass artisans.
It includes a MacKenzie-Childs brass logo charm and keepsake gift/storage box.
It measures 5″ wide, 2.75″ tall, and 1.5″ deep.
Puffer Fish Glass Christmas Ornament
This is pretty much what I look like after the Christmas meal! This glass Puffer Fish Ornament from Pinnacle Peak Trading Company, is handcrafted in Poland. If you’re looking for a strangely beautiful and unique ornament, this is it!
The puffer is elegantly shaded in glistening powder pink, gold, and bronze, to catch the light and sparkle on your tree.
Patience Brewster Rose PJ Fairy Ornament
This Patience Brewster Rose PJ Fairy Ornament is happy to share some joy with you this holiday and every day.
Dressed in her rosy PJs, Rose PJ carries a tiny striped candle. With little gold wings and an innocent stance, she makes us see bright days ahead.
Patience Brewster by MacKenzie-Childs is a wonderful, whimsical addition to their seasonal and holiday stories. Created by Upstate New York artist Patience Brewster, the handmade and hand-painted collection features the charming and colorful groupings of Dash Away, Nativity, and 12 Days, among many more. Within each group, the lovingly detailed characters are rendered as figures, ornaments, and more.
Christopher Radko “A Very Gifted Tree”
Gifts, as a rule, end up under the tree, but this Christmas collection of presents make for an especially gifted decoration. Don’t you agree?
This dazzling piece by designer Christopher Radko is mouth blown and hand painted in Poland. The Very Gifted Tree features a festive stack of enticing Christmas packages, measuring 7.5″”H. x 3.5″L. x 3.”W.
The front and back of the ornament are different, creating a true 3D figurine.
This ornament is part of the artist’s 2018 Gift and Packages Collection, and comes in a classy Christopher Radko presentation box. This one will be a timeless keepsake, invoking the excitement of Christmas giving (and receiving!).
Galapagos Tortoise Glass Ornament
Pinnacle Peak Trading Company brings us this impressive Galapagos Glass Tortoise, made by Polish artisans. The tortoise is made of mouth blown glass, and hand painted.
It’s approximately 4″ tall, and comes in an original Pinnacle Peak Trading Company box and packaging.
Stacking Teacups Ornament
Tumble down the rabbit hole into wonderland with Stacking Teacups Ornament from MacKenzie-Childs, inspired by the classic tale written by Lewis Carroll. With MacKenzie-Childs’ signature patterns and products add their New York City boutique spin.
This beautiful resin ornament will turn your tree into a storybook, and delight for children and anyone who’s still young at heart!
It measures 4″ wide, 6″ tall, and 4″ deep.
Baby’s First Christmas Bottle Ornament
A sweet holiday scene created with a bottlebrush tree and miniature toys is tucked inside this 2018 year-dated pastel pink baby bottle.
Created by Terri Steiger, this Christmas tree ornament comes pre-packaged in a box that makes it a perfect choice for a baby shower gift to expecting mothers!
It measures 1.5″ W x 3.375″ H x 1.5″ D.
Christmas Tree Ornaments – History and Traditions
A Simple Beginning
The tradition of Christmas trees and Christmas Ornaments is a much disputed one what with several theories about their origin doing the rounds for a long time. The most popular theory holds that the tradition was started by a monk who came to Germany in the 7th/8th century to preach.
It is said that this monk was Saint Boniface, the Apostle of the Germans. According to history, he was the first one to bring a fir tree to the German people to decorate, for he claimed that its triangular shape represented the Holy Trinity – God, his son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
A story is told of Martin Luther, the 16th Century Protestant Reformer, as the first to add lighted candles to the tree. One night while walking home, developing a sermon in his head, he was mesmerized by the bright stars above twinkling through the evergreen trees. Inspired to recapture this scene for his family, he brought a tree inside his home and decorated its branches with candles.
The tradition was lapped up by the devout Germans who started decorating the Christmas tree in a liturgical way with simple white candles.
The Pioneer of “Modern” Christmas Decorations
In the 15th century, Germans began to incorporate ornaments into the Christmas decorations in Germany. In Latvia, circa 1510, a fir tree was decorated with roses which was associated with the Virgin Mary.
A New Trend – Indoor Tree Decoration
In 1605, a tree in Strasbourg (a city on the Rhine in eastern France near the German border) was brought indoors and adorned with paper roses, lighted candles, wafers, nuts, and sweets. This is said to be a groundbreaking moment in the history of Christmas decorations for it kicked off a new trend, adornment of the Christmas tree in an indoor setting.
With time, the decorative ornaments grew more diverse and each family used its own inventiveness to beautify the Christmas trees.
Later decorations included painted eggshells, cookies, and candies.
The high point came with the introduction of tinsel in 1610, an item that has been a favorite decorative item since. Tinsel was originally made with pure silver.
Christmas Tree Decorations Move West
As time passed, the Christmas tree traditions gradually found their way into English homes, where the decorations began to be more ornate what with glass beads and hand-sewn snowflakes being used to adorn the trees.
With the arrival of the 1800’s, the Christmas tree tradition eventually arrived in American homes.
Edible Christmas Tree Decorations
The first decade of the 1800s saw in the Christmas tree decorations the use of such edibles, such apples and nuts because these were the items that would grow on the trees. Also, along with the evergreen trees themselves, these fruits symbolized the regeneration of life in the spring season.
Soon other fruits also began to be hung on the trees, along with paper streamers and bits of shiny metal foil. It was from this time that the idea of reflecting the light of the room on the tree came into being. Christmas is, after all, a season of lights and merriment.
From the reflection of shiny foil, the idea of adding light to the Christmas tree soon became popular. At around this time, Germans begin adding more varied decorations, such as gingerbread and other hard cookies, baked into the shapes of fruit, stars, bells, hearts, and angels.
Evolution of Christmas Decorating
As the tradition of Christmas trees and ornaments became more widespread, each country added its own ingenuity to the decorations. Americans, for example, would string long strands of cranberries or popcorn to encircle their trees. In the UK, imaginative ornaments of lace, paper or other items showed the ingenuity and skill of their makers.
Small newspaper scraps or magazine illustrations, as well as small gifts also began to be used in the family Christmas tree decorations. Little handcrafted baskets, nestled in the crook of a branch or just suspended by a small piece of thread would contain small treats or gifts.
In fact, so many decorative items were used during this period, that with each passing year, it became increasingly difficult to actually see the tree beneath the ornaments.
Commercial Christmas Tree Decorations
Until the 1880s, Christmas tree decorations had mainly been the creative domain of family and friends, and the only ornaments available in the market were German hand-cast lead and hand-blown glass decorations.
But the 1880s saw many German entrepreneurs seriously thinking of manufacturing ornaments on a mass scale and selling these strictly as Christmas ornaments. The idea was soon translated into reality.
The glass firms around Lauscha, the hub of the glass ornament trade in Germany, (which had until then been engaged in making glass articles such as bottles and marbles) soon began to create little glass toys like molds of children, saints, famous people, and animals, and released them in the market.
This new type of Christmas ornament was an instant success and was met with a huge demand. Soon, nearly every family in and around Lauscha became involved in some way or other in the creation of Christmas glass ornaments working either in a factory or in a home-based foundry. Now each ornament had a touch of individual craftsmanship and became highly prized possessions.
As a result of their commercial Christmas ornament manufacturing, Germany went on to capture the world market in Christmas ornaments made from glass molds, and for a long time, was the major world source for glass ornaments. Most hand-blown glass ornaments used for decorations on Christmas trees came exclusively from Germany.
American Stores Start Selling Christmas Ornaments
Queen Victoria’s Influence
The long reign of Queen Victoria saw a revival of the Christmas celebrations that had been lying low for a while.
In December of 1860, an illustration of her family around their Christmas tree, that appeared in December, in Godey’s Lady’s Book.
That illustration influenced the British and Americans to embrace again the Christmas celebrations without any inhibition, and carols, festivity, sumptuous feasting and of course Christmas trees and Christmas tree decorations gained prominence once again.
Germany’s Christmas Ornament Monopoly is Broken
With the commencement of the Twentieth century, Christmas began to gain popularity among most Europeans and Americans, and was celebrated with gusto. It was during this period that the German monopoly over the Christmas ornament market was broken.
In 1925, Japan challenged Germany’s dominance over the world Christmas ornament market by producing ornaments on a huge scale. They brought in newer, more colorful designs and began to bite off the German market.
Later, Czech Republic also entered the competition with an impressive amount of fancy Christmas ornaments. By 1935, more than 250 million Christmas tree ornaments were being imported to America.
Despite stiff competition from the Czech Republic, Japan, and several other countries, Germany retained a solid market base the world over because of it’s handcrafted origin (even when produced in a huge scale for an ever-increasing number of consumers). This was because the German ornaments were often handmade by people who often followed ancestral glass making traditions, which were appreciated by customers.
War, The Corning Company, and F.W. Woolworth
World War I had a tremendous impact on the world market, and the German glass industry was not exempt from it. The War created a momentary backlash against all things German. Though it was not long lasting, and the production and purchase of German glass ornaments began in earnest soon after the War, the threat of another war approaching was felt by many.
Max Eckhardt, a US businessman associated with the glass ornament trade felt that his business could be greatly affected by possible hostilities as another war would mean that shipments from Germany would stop. He knew that the Corning Company of Corning, New York had a type of machine that ordinarily made thousands of light bulbs out of a ribbon of glass. Now what he needed was only to persuade the Corning Company to determine a way to make American glass ornaments.
In the late 1930’s, Eckhardt teamed up with a representative of F.W. Woolworth and succeeded in doing just that! Sensing a golden opportunity, the Corning Company agreed to see if its machine (one of which now resides at The Henry Ford, America’s Greatest History Attraction, in Dearborn, Michigan) could successfully produce glass ornaments and meet with popular demand. And it did!
The Corning Company’s glass ornaments were met with a resounding success. By 1940, the company was making ornaments on a much larger scale than the manually produced German items, and sending them to other companies for decoration. Corning’s biggest Christmas ornament customer was none other than Max Eckhardt, who by now had established an All-American company known as Shiny Brite.
In 1939, World War II had broken out, which caused severe material shortages, and forced Corning to do away with their earlier practice of coloring the inside of the ornaments silver (so they would shine brightly for longer periods). Instead, Corning began decorating the clear glass balls with simple thin stripes in pastel colors which required much less metallic oxide pigment.
Fortunately, Corning was able to alter its machines to produce an increased variety of shapes and sizes of glass ball without using scarce war material. But the war crisis resulted in a forced replacement of the sturdy metal cap (that held the little hook for hanging the ornaments) to a cardboard one.
Post World War II, F.W. Woolworth’s highly popular “Five-and-Dime Stores”, it’s competitor Kresge and Neisner’s, as well as some more department stores like Macy’s and Gimbels were the main source of Christmas ornaments and decorations. The purchase of these ornaments were, however, limited to a few commemorative ornaments a year. The complexity and variety of the ornaments were the driving engines of ornament sales.
I hope you’ve been inspired to add a wonderful new ornament or two to your Christmas collection this year!
Have a Beautiful Christmas!
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