Vintage German Christmas Tree Candle Clips

Before electricity made its way into most homes, Christmas trees had the warm glow of candlelight. The candles were attached to the tree branches via little metal clips. Most often they were decorative clips made in Germany, like these shown here.  Since using candles to light your tree is neither practical, nor safe, we don’t recommend bringing back that tradition lightly. (No pun intended!) But that doesn’t mean you can’t safely use these charming bits of Christmas past this holiday. They make wonderful placeholders, with or without candles, at your holiday table.

antique german tree clips as placecard holders

More than that, these vintage and antique Christmas tree clips can be used to display your holiday greeting cards (collectible ephemera and the new ones you receive from family & friends this year), photographs, etc. (As always, I would recommend sliding old or collectible paper in clear sleeves to protect them from the elements.)

christmas tree candle clips display cards

This sort of display would work well on holiday trim around doorways, etc.,; not just on trees.

display vintage ephemera with vintage christmas tree candle clips

In fact, since the designs on these old tree clips vary widely, including non-holiday motifs, like pine-cones, you could use them year round. For example, instead of clothespins on those framed bits of chicken-wire and other rustic ways to show-off photographs.

While I obviously prefer “old” pieces, if you prefer something more industrial (or at least not so shabby chic), there are contemporary clips as well. Whether you opt for old or new, whether you want to light the candles or not, the fact that they still make these tree candle clips means they still make the right size candles too.

Christmas Decorating For Collectors Who Want To Show Off Their Collections

The holidays, with all their visitors, are the perfect time for showing off our collections. And what collector doesn’t want to show off their collection?! Instead of replacing your antique and vintage treasures with holiday pieces, why not deck your collections along with decking the halls? It can be as simple as mixing in some simple holiday trims.

Here’s a collection of vintage soda pop bottles topped with simple gold and silver ball ornaments. It would make a unique centerpiece on any holiday table.

festive vintage soda pop bottle collection display

Collect breweriana, not pop? Gold balls really make vintage beer glasses come alive!

festive holiday poker display

Here I used some sparking Christmas tree balls and strings of garland to decorate some vintage pottery pieces.

vintage collectibles dressed for the holidays

Even more rustic country displays can be given some holiday glitz this way. I added some silver balls and garland to this set of vintage blue Ball canning jars.

festive primitives glass canning jars

And here, that rustic autumn centerpiece gets a bit more glamorous for the holidays. Along with the ball ornaments, I added some glittery golden picks.

rustic holiday centerpiece

Antique and vintage ornaments are nice to use, of course. And the old glass ornaments are actually much cheaper than you think right now. The kitschy vintage pipecleaner and flocked plastic ornaments, like the shelf-elves, are becoming more popular now and well out-price the vintage glass pieces. In fact, the vintage glass balls and ornaments — even those painted, frosted or otherwise decorated — can be found in antique shops in my area for as little as one dollar! (Contact me at my store page if you want me to be your personal shopper and get some for you!)

However, if you don’t have any vintage ornaments left over once you’ve decorated the Christmas tree, or if you cannot find enough old ornaments to get a color theme for your grouping, you can get extra trimmings inexpensively at the dollar store. That’s where all of these balls, picks, and garland came from.

Sylvia Pope is a 70-year-old grandmother who loves Christmas


Her house in Morriston, Swansea, South Wales is home to her ever-growing collection of Christmas ornaments, which now numbers over 1800 pieces. The glittering holiday baubles come from all over the world and, because she has more than would fit on her Christmas tree, they hang from her living room ceiling for all to enjoy.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

More photos & info if you click 😉

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Pick & Grin – Christmas Memories – Time to Tear Down the Tree

Pick: I suppose it is time. Time to take down the tree, put all the ornaments in their boxes, until next year. We are the only ones in our ‘group’ who have a live tree. When the kids were small, we’d work on putting it up for a few days. You’d do the lights, the girls would put the ‘unbreakables’ near the bottom and I’d do the top part.

Grin: I remember a few of the early years when our trees were SO crooked that we’d have to wire them to the window hardware. Otherwise, they’d tip over. We got numerous comments , none of them good.

Pick: We have talked about getting an artificial tree, but then you mentioned the ‘limited space’ in our attic. And I truly love the smell of a real tree. A friend has an artificial one and her son-in-law always walks up to it, takes a good sniff and retorts “Ahh, the smell of dust!” I don’t want that from my son-in-laws. (Not that either would be so crass – ha!)

Grin: And then there is the concern of the ornaments. The ones from your grandmother, for example. If you left them on the tree, you would worry until next year if one would be broken when moved around. So, since we have to take it all down and wrap them, we’ll keep the live tree. But is there any way we can eliminate some of those ornaments?

Pick: Each time I pack and unpack I have fond memories. I remember putting that exact angel on our tree-top at home. She has withstood the test of time. And the bird with the tail-feathers, why, that was my grandmother’s and there is precious little from her.

Grin: That is understandable – you’ll always want to keep that one. But what about these poorly-painted ceramic ornaments.? They are a bit tacky on your classy tree. And we have so many to pack away.

Pick: But don’t you remember these? We made them with the kids when they were about 8 or 9 years old! They are very special to me.

Grin: OK then, but these plastic ones can go. They are out of date and very cheap too!

Pick: Now wait a minute – those are the bottom-of-the-tree ornaments. Nicholas, our youngest grandson can still come over and touch things. You know how I want to be a ‘fun grandma.’ And then if our Westie knocks one off when he strolls past, who cares? You need the lesser ones near the bottom.

Grin: Sounds like you have rationale for every one on this tree. But then, I am not surprised. It is the same with your year-round decorations. Everything has a special memory, or makes you smile to recall where you found it or who gave it to you. Someday, the house will just sink slowly into the ground.

Pick: You exaggerate – there is still room in the basement for a few things and the attic has a bit of room.

Grin: Dear, if you started collecting toothpicks, we’d be in trouble. But let’s get back to the tree.

Pick: It will look so darn empty in this room when it is gone. Can you put up an Easter Tree?

Felt Projects With Vintage Cookie Cutters

I shared this at my other blog, Things Your Grandmother Knew, but I figured those who collect cookie cutters might be like me, always looking for ways to put them to good use — when not baking.

Because most of my cookie cutters are vintage, I’m still protective of them and am not interested in altering or damaging them; yet their simple & charming shapes seem to beckon to be put to use more often then just to make sweet treats.

I’d long been thinking that cookie cutters would make great templates for simple crafts for kids. So I put it to the test with Destiny, my (then) 12 year old, making felt ornaments. (With the various shapes, these can be used for nearly any holiday decorations.)

The project is simple:

#1 Trace the cookie cutter onto felt with a pen — twice.

(Note: If using patterned felt that’s only got the pattern printed on one side, you’ll need to cut out one piece, then flip it over and trace it onto the patterned felt; otherwise the pieces won’t both be patterned on the ‘outside’.)

#2 Cut out the shapes.

#3 Match up the shapes, then sew them together with embroidery floss using the whip stitch. Start stitching between the two layers of felt, hiding the knot; and stop before stitching all the way around, leaving an opening for the stuffing.

(The whip stitch was a new stitch for Destiny — but she picked it up really fast!)

#4 Stuff with cotton balls (as well as felt scraps from cutting & trimming and left over bits of thread).

#5 Finish sewing & then decorate. Children can make the eyes & other details by sewing on other bits of felt, using knots &/or other sewing stitches, or gluing on ‘google eyes’, pipe cleaners, and whatever other crafty bits you have around the house.

Voila! You have handmade family heirlooms!

Destiny had so much fun, she kept making more of them — for 4 hours. And she plans to continue to make more. (Rather amazing as I had great trouble getting her to finish her latch-hook rug. I think the fact that one of these ornaments can be completed comparatively fast, giving her a sense of satisfaction quickly.)

Other ideas: These do not need to only be Christmas tree ornaments or holiday decorations. They can be shade pulls, key rings, jacket pulls, cellphone &/or purse decorations. If made with just one piece of felt, glue magnets onto the backs and use them to hold up notes and more kids’ art on the refrigerator. The felt shapes also can be used as appliques for patches on clothing, to make pins, or for more complicated sewing projects. Who knows what ideas you and your kids will come up with?

It’s inexpensive too. Felt pieces are (currently at Hobby Lobby) 5 pieces for $1 for solid colors and 2 for $1 for patterned pieces; embroidery floss runs between $1-$2. Everything else (scissors, cotton balls, needle etc.) can be found in the home.

It’s a great simple and inexpensive way to have children make gifts for family and friends, keep them busy and creative on days off from school (and away from video games etc.) as well as to teach them to sew.

Christmas Trees Have Never Been My Favorite Things

merry-christmas-unhappy-children-circa-1910This antique photo of a Christmas tree surrounded by little boys who seem less than thrilled suits me because Christmas trees have never been my favorite things. Primarily because it was our family custom for my father to get the itch to go Christmas tree shopping on the coldest, nastiest day of the year — and my mother, ever-interested in presenting a united parental front, agreed.

So there, in the frozen Christmas tree lot, wind freeze-drying our eyeballs, or feet and hands so cold we nearly prayed they’d get frostbite so they’d actually go numb, my sister and I stood, agreeing with any tree selected to hurry this thing up.

Only it never did.

My parents took their time looking over every tree in the lot. They called it “being selective.” But my sister and I begged to differ (and to go home) as our family’s other Christmas tree tradition was to bring home a tree with severe scoliosis — and a bad side dad would have to hide in the living room corner.

Once our tree was selected it was time to get it home, into the house, and set up. Parental bickering was involved, of course, as mom questioned dad’s desire to break all her holiday knick knacks and he in return wondered why she didn’t understand his simple directions of how to hold the tree while he sawed off branches and fit the trunk into the tree stand.

Then real fun was supposed to begin. But let me tell you, dripping noses and frozen fingers prohibit you from enjoying decorating the tree.

It’s no wonder I wished Christmas trees arrived by Santa’s sleigh too.

antique-photo-children-horse-sled-with-christmas-treeWhen I hit my 20’s, I actually had a beautiful tree selecting experience. My then-boyfriend took me out on the family property — complete with horse in tow — to cut down our own very own little Christmas tree for our apartment.

I giggled with joy over such a charming and comparatively discomfort-free holiday tree selection. On the way back to the car, holding hands with my boyfriend who led the horse, tree trailing behind him, a gentle snow fell to complete the Normal Rockwell imagery and my insides warmed with the romance of it all.

Too bad that relationship ended with more pain and tears than the cumulative hours spent Christmas tree shopping with my folks did.

Since then, I’ve had children. And a divorce. Then a new marriage — with a new daughter. All situations which affect Christmas trees and my affection for them.

Marriages bring debates over conflicting traditions, such as Real Trees Vs. Artificial Ones, just where the tree should be placed, when and how to trim the tree — including whether or not tinsel can be used.

Children bring ornaments. By the truckload. Each child has multiple Baby’s First Year ornaments, packed in layers of tissues with of all the ornaments they’ve made through the years.

My husband, ever the packrat, has all his old childhood ornaments, set aside and saved for him all these years by his loving mother.

presents-on-christmas-tree-dated-1896Which means every year my Christmas tree looks more like the cliched family art gallery refrigerator than the holiday tree of my dreams.

Among the complications of a blended family like ours at holiday time, are the sheer number of ornaments. Since we both were single parents for a number of years, we each had more than enough ornaments for one tree — and now they’re combined. The only preferential treatment my fancy themed ornaments get is to remain safely tucked into their boxes, saved for that future One Day.

You know, that one day when my children are older and I give them the boxes of their ornaments I livingly saved for them… Then I can have a fancy designer styled tree.

Only thing is, I’ll probably miss my cluttered Christmas tree, that literal mess of memories, and the stories each ornament had.

No, Christmas trees have never been my favorite things; but they do contain memories and they are decorated in stories.

Vintage Christmas photos via The Antique Christmas Lights Museum.