Ceramic Christmas trees are the hottest vintage holiday decoration

Hopefully you saved your original tabletop tannenbaum from the 1970s.

Pink plastic trees covered in bubble lights. Aluminum trees splashed in orange, blue, red and green light from a color wheel. Tinsel, tinsel everywhere. The midcentury was not just the golden era for home design, it was the (silver and) golden era of Christmas decorations. 

Now, another piece of vintage Americana is lighting up trendy living rooms. The ceramic Christmas tree was a seasonal staple in the 1960s and 1970s. Crafty grandmothers and aunts often gifted them to their families. You could buy a kit to make one, either painting the base white tree form a bright green, or leaving it white for a snowy look. Those looking to cut corners could simply buy a completed one from the Sears Christmas Wishbook.

The tiny tabletop trees, typically about half a foot in height, had little plastic lights. The tiny bulbs could often snap off over the years in storage, which is perhaps why mint antiques can fetch hefty sums on Etsy and Ebay these days. On both site, a vintage ceramic tree runs anywhere from about $50–$100. This red-and-white one covered in illuminated birds, rather than bulbs, is going for a couple hundred bucks. And that's not even painted. Thousands of others are on offer, too.

More and more nostalgic stories about these charming decorations have started to pop up. Which makes us feel pretty smart for holding onto our original for more than four decades. Did you light up a little ceramic tree in your home?

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


JoeCopenhaver 41 months ago
I have one from the 60's my Grandmother made. When I was a kid and we visited (which was daily) she always had it out and had gumdrops (on toothpicks) in the holes. It was one of the best memories of visiting her. Now this year, it is the only Christmas decoration I have out.
Sjm JoeCopenhaver 5 months ago
Do you by chance know of anyone who has something similar? I have been searching for years and years for one. I had the same tradition with my grandpa growing up. Nobody knows where that tree is now :-(
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?