Your Christmas Decorations in the Attic Might Be Worth Something

Over the years we accumulate Christmas decorations. Is it trash, collectables, or high sentimental value items?

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What makes Christmas long remembered?
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gifts or old Christmas tree decorations?

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Every year after the Christmas Season ends, we usually dismantle the Christmas tree (if plastic), throw it away (if a fresh tree), or keep it in the garage (if a dead but reusable tree). The Christmas decorations hung on the tree are returned to their storage or shipping containers and stashed away until the next Season. Over the years, we get tired of the decorations we usually hang on the tree and buy new ones, yet keep those things-grandma-bought-for-their-first-Christmas-together in the attic mostly, where all memories repose.

But sometimes those sentimentally-valuable objects can be cash-valuable as well, particularly if they are antiques. With the advent of plastic, tinsel and (sometimes) fiberglass Christmas decorations as mass-produced cheaper alternatives, the old glass, pewter, wood and paper/cardboard Christmas decorations are disappearing from the stores and from the Christmas trees themselves. Many are staying put in the attic treasure chests gathering wool, dust and value for reasons other than simple dislike on the owners’ part. Perhaps part of a set broke one time, and it is not seemly to display what remained. Or they look incongruous alongside more modern baubles and plastic Christmas tokens.

Whatever the reason may be, it might be better to ‘monetize’ the items than to let them decay through the years. And they can be really valuable, too. For example, some 1930s fantasia bowls painted with snowmen, trees and fences may fetch $10-$15 each, higher if in sets and in mint condition and with the original box. Small berries or baskets circa 1940s and 1950s may sell for $50-$60 a box if in good condition and appearance, and complete.

Feather trees (they exist!) are of course more expensive, especially if in their original condition, and the older they are, the more pricey they become. A three-foot-high feather tree sold for $230 at an auction in 1998.

The first glass baubles –those round Christmas balls—originated in Lauscha, Germany in the early part of the 1800s. They were imported into the United States by F. W. Woolworth in the 1880s and he made money retailing them in his stores. So the original baubles from Germany will be worth substantial money today, and perhaps even those Woolworth imports. If you have German ancestors who immigrated during the first part of the century to America, chances are they brought with them some authentic Lauscha baubles. Or perhaps imported them after settling in to give their Christmas a real German ambience.

Then there were the Dresden ornaments, those tiny, finely-detailed cardboard Christmas decorations that originated from Dresden-Leipzig area of Germany. They were made originally from the 1880s to 1910, from wetted cardboard pieces which were stamped into forms. When dry, the pieces were assembled into objects, painted and sold. Precious few remained today, hence their substantial values in the antique Christmas decorations world.

Many of our Christmas decorations have sentimental value for us, s we are loathe to dispose of them, preferring to keep them as mementos of days gone by. Still, pragmatism can be reason enough, and those moments, we can perhaps scan the book Christmas Rarities just to see how much our memories are worth, in those Christmas decorations we keep in the attic.

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