Magpie’s Vintage Christmas 2016

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Magpie's Vintage Christmas Decor with small Christmas trees and the Cook Books

This post is something that I have been meaning to write up for you all as soon as my (first!) real Christmas tree full of vintage ornaments went up this year. There are so many little vintage details tucked away into little nooks, crannies and tree branches this year that I knew I would have to write up a post that captured some of my favourite vintage decorations – and thrift finds- this year.

Most finds were at home here in Canada, with a few exceptions, like the first of my vintage ceramic Christmas trees. I found the little one on the left ( only 12 inches high, so cute!) in a thrift store across from my hotel in North Dakota.

three vintage ceramic Christmas treesThe middle tree was from a garage sale this summer and I sold it’s lighter green twin. Someone’s mother had two! Smart lady. It’s 15 inches high.

The last tree is 19 inches high and we thrifted it from Value Village just a month or two ago. We replaced the lights on all of them (Michaels and ceramic stores have all the replacements you need!) and they now grace the front entry hutch.

You can see just how tiny that mini tree is, I have to admit it, it’s my favourite of the three!

plastic and felt Santa decor in a wall mirror with white frame

This plastic and felt Santa is one of my favourite finds this year. I found it in Saskatoon while on my book tour in a thrift store for 99 cents. He’s obviously been cherished and well taken care of over the years and I was happy to give him a new home! He’s almost 12 inches as well, like my favourite little tree.

close up of plastic and felt Santa Christmas decor

On to that main display of mine in the Pyrex room, AKA what used to be called the reading room.

On the left, you can see my felted candle that I picked up in Saskatoon ( heyooo, treasure trove Saskatoon!) for 50 cents. I have some of my treasured vintage cookbooks along with my own this year.

I hope you know that I designed the colour scheme of my book based on whether or not it would match my house, natch.

I mean, seriously can you even imagine a purple book? Oh, my, God. ( That was all said in my head in a very Valley Girl voice, so if you want to go back and re-read it with the inflection, feel free.)

Oh and scary side-eye Santa and Elf are my kids favourite since they are super creepy. Why was side-eye considered the rage back then? All those creepy dolls looking away from you….you just know that when your back is turned that they are looking at you, right? You can feel their beady little side-eyes burning a hole in your back…..

…just me, eh?

Magpie's Vintage Christmas Decor with small Christmas trees and the Cook Books

The bottle brush trees are my favourite however since they were all the rage the past couple of years, there are a lot of new ones out there. You can always tell by the wood used on the bottom. I found the left pink one at Value Village for 99 cents in November and it’s a oldie. The wood is actually plain blonde coloured wood and painted red, with glitter around the base. The wire is old and the ornaments are the old mercury type, very fragile.

The green one is new but was also only 99 cents so she came home with me. You can tell the base is all new and white and the ornaments are heavier, more durable than my old pink ones.

Lastly my 50 cent garage sale score in the bottom right. Old, old ornaments on her, with some foil disk ornaments even and a really old white base, very unique in the fact that it’s not so much the bottle brush type. I also know it’s old because the owners told me their mother had it kicking around since they were kids, and why would I want to even pay for something that old? The 50 cents was a pity amount since I insisted on paying for it….and then I threw the change at them and ran. Ok not really, because that would be jerky, but it is so different from the other two and it is about 12 inches tall to boot!

You’ve all seen the Ikea commercial with the lady running out and yelling “Start the car!!”. Well, that was me with that tree.
close up of small Christmas trees with different color

These next beauties are ones that tug at my heartstrings massively. Can you guess ( without reading on!) what they are just by looking at the photos quickly below? Hint: look at what is in the ribbon in the blue one….

If you guessed that these are vintage Christmas corsages, then you are correct! That is a corsage pin in the blue ribbon.

My Grandma had some of these, so I literally felt all weepy and warm hearted in the store – the Salvation Army store, to be exact. Mike had found the tree topper ( I will talk about that below) and brought me these as well. When he asked ” What on earth are these?” I knew right away. My Grandma had her corsages tucked away in either her or my Mom’s jewelry box and I used to love looking at them when I was little.

These would be pinned to your lapel and worn during the holiday season, year after year. That was back when frugality reigned supreme and re-using things was the norm, not the very disposable society we live in today. Sure they might have littered like crazy, but you kept things. Reused things. Cherished things. And that’s how we are able to thrift these things, because when houses are cleaned out, these cherished items make their way to the thrifts. I honestly can’t believe that I found three altogether, but obviously they came from the same person’s house. To be honest I don’t think that many people pay attention to these when sorting donations and they might just get tossed ( oh, my breaking heart just thinking about it!) or lost in the fray of larger Christmas decor.

I was thrilled to be able to share these with you all this year so that YOU can keep an eye out. Now you know to save these very special Christmas corsages that were a very big deal back then. Send them to me, if you don’t want them but I fully encourage you to wear them or display them at Christmas!

These were $4.99 for the three of them, because I know that was your next question. 😉

Christmas corsages with different colors

So, let’s talk now about Mike’s luck while thrifting.

I am always on the hunt for vintage tree toppers, another thing that is massively underrated and gets broken or lost in the thrift fray. Vintage tree toppers make for a seriously beautiful display in your house. I showed Mike what I was looking for and the same day he came walking up to me with the blue one below in his hand along with those corsages and said

” Is this one?”

Yes Mike, you lucky sonofa. That’s one. A GLORIOUS one at $2.99, cobalt blue, stunning star design and utterly fantastic in every way.

How does he do it? Just walks right in and picks up what I am ALWAYS looking for? He must have a lucky thrifting beard or something that I just don’t ( luckily) possess.

The red one is a recent purchase from a fellow Pyrex collector. We’re into everything vintage, not just Pyrex.

Pyrex is the gateway drug, my friends. I’m totally serious.

cobalt blue and red color vintage tree toppers

Let’s get on to the tree!

First, this is my first real tree in decades, literally. They are messy, a pain in the butt and beautiful. They smell amazing and it was a wonderful experience to take the kids to get their first live Christmas tree.

That said, I am on the hunt for a vintage silver pom-pom Christmas tree like you wouldn’t believe. I even already have the colour wheel for it, I just need the tree. ( The colour wheel spins and shines light on the tree, changing the colour.)

Until then, this is our tree. It’s sappy, sticky and altogether wonderful.

Christmas tree with vintage ornaments in the middle of two couches

I lucked into an insane amount of vintage ornaments this year while thrifting in Calgary with my sister. Cheap and plentiful, and by the BAG. Oh man did we buy decorations. Sadly though, some didn’t make it home from Calgary. My amazing 1969 table and chairs did (more on that on my vintage bar tour, coming up soon, I promise!!) but some of the ornaments didn’t.

This is my favourite ornament of all. It’s so fragile it feels like if you breathed on it, it would shatter. It had a twin with a snowman and it’s twin didn’t make it home from Calgary, I was SO upset.

It’s so delicate that I’m actually going to keep it out year-round on my display because I am afraid to pack it. It is so crazy fragile that I can’t believe it’s made it this far and through a thrift store, the glass feels like air in your hand.

vintage fragile Cristmas ornament

On to what is actually hanging on the tree!

Christmas ornaments with different colors and shapes

While fragile as well, these are all on my tree. They are more readily found than my favourite ornament above but still I’m having to watch the tree.Christmas ornaments with different colors and shapes

Can you believe that Fanta the Cat has had NO interest in my tree? We knew that Buffy ( our older black cat) wouldn’t care, but I thought that Fanta would be climbing the blasted thing.


He must sense it or something….

Christmas ornaments with different colors and shapes

Not all of them are very vintage, there are a lot of 1980’s mixed with the 1970’s/60’s going on. My elves on a ladder are a 1980’s Sears product that I found this summer in Victoria while thrifting.

Christmas ornaments with different colors and shapes with elf sitting in ladder

On a more personal note, I have really realized this year that I love “rescuing” treasures that might not have otherwise been re-homed. In this very “disposable” society that we have now, I get immense joy in re-homing all of these treasures.

The best example of this would be this little mailbox decoration that came in a bag with other more flashy, glamorous ones.

It looks like a cute little mailbox but when we looked inside of it, the letter had the address of a ____ Smith, here in Edmonton, Alberta. A woman’s address, written on a little note and placed inside. The thought of her ornament being lost in the trash made me tear right up – as Christmas is wont to make me do- so we saved her written letter and made a letter of our own to join hers.

So what could have been thrown in the trash ( and was sadly most likely discarded by her family, not realizing that she had personalized this ornament) has now become a treasured Christmas ornament of ours.

I am such a sap. For reals.

Personalized Christmas ornament

And there you have it, the highlights tour!

Now, we also did a massive revamp of our bonus room and turned it into a vintage bar room. Pinball machine included. Oh, it’s crazy and I can’t believe that we took on that project at the same time that my Flapper Pie & a Blue Prairie Sky book came out, but we did! We wanted to have a crazy, amazing Mad Men themed Christmas party….

…and we totally did!

Stay tuned for that post! In the meantime, do you have any vintage Christmas treasures that you want to share? I’d love to hear about them!

Love you more than a good ol’ retro Christmas,



Learn to cook like the Kitchen Magpie

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a copy of Flapper Pie cook book

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. Amy Melby says

    Some friends and I just went and painted these at Clay and. Cupcakes a few weeks ago. Hopefully it can become a family ornament for my daughter and her future children.

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      I had asked on their FB page if they had any trees left…I want to take the kids and paint one for each that can be theirs …

    • Amy Melby says

      The Kitchen Magpie they had limited quantity left (8 I think?) when we wanted to go so we actually called ahead and pre-paid so they would have them for the weekend we could get in.

  2. Mary Ann Hyndman Smith says

    I had a little porcelain Xmas tree , but left it on a high cupboard when I sold a house, realized my mistake within hours, went back and asked if I may please have it, but the woman, ( nasty piece of work) told me that I sold it with the house- tough luck!
    I wished her blessings at Xmas for evermore, and may the tree, gifted to me by a beloved, late relative, bring her family the happiness that it brought to my tiny children, 4 & an infant, who loved the colourful lights.
    She told me to , ” F-off” and get lost.

  3. Lisa Henderson says

    My best friend’s mother used to do ceramics back in the 70’s and she made a ceramic tree. I always loved it and as an adult I tried to find one. They were expensive on ebay and I couldn’t find one elsewhere. So, I painted my own and I LOVE it! A also painted a wreath in the same style. Hopefully my girls will cherish these as much as I love them!

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      Oooh I really want a wreath!!! I think we will make some next year with the kids!

    • Lisa Henderson says

      I go to a paint-your-own-pottery place called Crock A Doodle. I love painting the pottery – it is very relaxing!

  4. Patsy Druimeanach says

    I have a couple ceramic Xmas trees too….I love them a little too much. Today I found some sweet vintage flower twists for them. I also found these glass decorations…my eyes bugged out when I saw them….ahhhhhhh! 1 buck each I’ll take ’em! Ikea lady I am!

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      Those are beautiful \U0001f60d\U0001f60d\U0001f60d\U0001f60d

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      I’ve been wanting some for a long time!

    • Elise Marie says

      My grandma had one that her friend made for her ! We have it now, it’s my favourite 🙂

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      Rozanne Stephenson crossing my fingers for you!!!

  5. Sarah Hodge says

    My grandmother had one of those trees that I loved!

  6. Shelley Samoleski says

    I am so excited ..I just got your cookbook from Chapters today!! And my sister is getting one for Christmas♡

  7. Cathy Krecsy says

    Thanks for sharing I really enjoyed all your thrift finds…..searching is half the fun….and when you actually find something its a BONUS!!! Value Village and the Salvation Army have become my new exploring stores…..I love looking through EVERYTHING…you never know what will catch your eye!

  8. Sophie Nakoneczny says

    Lovely! I have some vintage (I think) ornaments on my tree going back to our family tree growing up. Think I’ve got the bug now \U0001f643

  9. Keri Edison Clifford says

    I have an elf that my mom got on a grocery store promo in 1971. He’s stuffed with straw and looks like Elf on the Shelf!

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