Taking care of antique Christmas ornaments

December 03, 2013


Nobody probably has to tell you that you are in good company with antique Christmas ornaments. Neither does someone have to tell you that it requiers some special handling to make them last. Although I haven't experienced it myself yet, luckily, it is not uncommon that these fragile ornaments shatter to pieces; either by your own hands, a little enthusiastic puppy dog or the cat's tail or head-butting.

I want to share with you a few tips for maintaining your antique Christmas ornaments to make them last another couple of decades.

Remove glue with Goo Gone. This is also sold in the Netherlands. What really irritates me, are recycle stores that glue or stick price tags on antique ornaments. This doesn't only irritate me with ornaments by the way, but also on antique books. I really don't get it! Anyway, get a cotton swab and a bit of Goo Gone and gently remove the glue or leftover stickyness from stickers.

 Hang them on the higher brances. I am not just an antique ornament collector, but as a nostalgist I also úse what I collect. That also means that I do hang the collected ornaments (which I collect throughout the year by the way) in the tree. Fortunately my kitten does not share my obsession for Christmas ornaments and leaves them be. I realize I am lucky with such a cat! I know from others that they saw many an ornament getting shattered because a furry paw sweeped it from the branch of the Christmas tree. To my fellow ornament collectors that are planning to use them and have a cat that loves to bat low-hanging ornaments, I'd like to say: hang them on the higher branches cause then there's less chance of them getting broken. 

Remove the hooks. When Christmas is over and it's time to store away the ornaments, dust the ornaments with gentle makeup brushes and also always remove the hooks which may cause damage while in storage.

Avoid storage in cardboard boxes. Including the giftboxes they came in. Cardboard is made from woodpulp and therefore it is highly acidic. The chemicals on the cardboard will eventually destroy the paintings on the ornaments. This saddens me as I always want to keep the ornaments in their original boxes. (See tip below how you can storage your ornaments safely in their original boxes). Make sure you choose storage that keeps moisture out, this is damaging for your ornaments. The best storage, according to pros, is Rubbermaid or Sterilite. Even better is storage with a tray.

Don't wrap the ornaments in tissues. Unless you know for sure that the tissues are acid-free. You can ask for acid-free tissues at the craft store. Keep in mind that if your ornaments are colored, that you use a non-buffered or pH neutral tissue for the best results. There are people that use microwave towels but I would not recommend it as the fine fibers on the towel might dislodge the glitter (if they are glittered ofcourse) on the ornaments. Collectors like me, who wish to storage their ornaments in their original cardboard boxes, do this safely by first wrapping a acid-free tissue around the ornament.

Dessicant. To remove moisture it is a good idea to pack your ornaments away with a package of dessicant. You can buy these at craftstores.

Temperature. Put your ornaments away in an area where the temperature will be fairly constant.


You all won't be freed from my Christmas obsession yet, because this week Ben and I have an appointment with a museum in a town nearby ours who collects anything from the 1930s and also Christmas decorations and he's - we've heard from one of our favorite recycle stores - willing to sell! That is music to my ears! I'll let you know how it went. After we've been there I shall make some advertisement for this tiny museum in a tiny city in the Netherlands.



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1 Comments

  1. Excellent advice, honey. I remember well the one box of vintage ornaments (blown glass with sparkles) that we had when I was little. It wasn't until we were considerably past the early years of childhood that my mom would even let us hang them on the tree (and as it were, a few still got broken over the years - as is the nature of Christmas ornaments sometimes).

    Big hugs (the first from my new computer :)),
    ♥ Jessica

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