This holiday season, wistful holiday nostalgia surrounds me more than ever before. One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories is the annual unpacking of the Christmas decorations. Unwrapping the sparkling ornaments, remembering favorite pieces, and listening (again!) to their origin stories is a poignant touchstone from my youth. And, some of my favorite pieces were the tiny village houses and vintage bottle brush trees carefully preserved from my mother’s own childhood.
The tiny cardboard houses, with their spangled roofs, charming picket fences, and cellophane windows were reverently placed under the decorated tree amidst a sea of cotton batting “snow” dotted with vintage bottle brush trees. Arranging the village – just so – was the final finishing touch to a delightful evening spent decking the halls.
The history of these miniature trees goes back to the 1930s according to House Beautiful magazine. And, their popularity surged again in the 1980s when Kurt Adler released a series of bottle brush ornaments featuring characters like a clown, Santa, and snowman. For me, though, bottle brush Christmas trees never really went “out of style!”
If you don’t have any vintage bottle brush Christmas trees saved from your childhood, they are easy to find. Simply visit your local antique store or flea market. You can also scores loads of them (from all time periods) on Etsy and Ebay. Or, better yet, comb through your mom’s or grandmother’s attic!
Vintage trees are available in a wide variety of colors and styles. In addition to traditional evergreen (with or without a “snow” frosting) you may also unearth kitschy 1950s shades such as teal, white or pastel pink. Some trees even feature adornments from tiny glass ornaments to wee garlands.
Of course, new versions are also widely available. Pick up bargain multi-packs in craft stores and hobby shops. Or, try gift shops and the holiday décor section of mass retailers like Macy’s for more upscale options.
Wondering how to decorate with these little gems?
- Create a snowy “forest” under glass in a cloche (easy tip – use salt as snow)
- Line up bottle brush trees up like soldiers on a window ledge, mantle, or down the center of a dining table (varying the heights and colors)
- Mass on a plate, footed cake stand, or in a box or wooden drawer as a centerpiece
- Nestle individual trees into teacups, sugar bowls, and compotes (I personally love the combination of the green trees with silver serving pieces and a bunch of red berries or two)
- Tied with red and white twine to a toy truck, camper, or car
- Use as part of a vintage display with other period pieces such as Santas, nutcrackers, reindeer and snowmen
The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. Happy holiday decorating!
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