Of course, this can get awfully expensive, especially when you love authentic or vintage ornaments.
When we lived in Beijing, we had the phenomenal luck to stumble across a Western-run Christmas ornament factory on the outskirts of town, run by Susan, a lovely woman from the US, who pumped out an astonishing assortment of handblown and handpainted glass ornaments.
Her workers enjoyed fantastic working conditions and pay, and the results were quite spectacular... just look at this toy racecar nestled next to a clear glass wrapped bonbon, and a glass bauble hand-painted on the inside with the Forbidden City, overhanging a bright red mushroom (above).
The two santas (above) are just two of many - a traditional St Nick and a festive Scandanavian style in robes and carrying a gift basket and tree. Hard to see in these pictures, but there is a faint sparkle of glitter over these gorgeous hand-blown and moulded pieces. The open book is another stunner, hand-painted with scarlett wrens on wintry branches.
I have used these ornaments the past four consecutive Christmasses and have featured them again this year on our beautiful 7-foot faux pine tree. I dot them with special treasures like the ceramic Starbucks lattè cup (below) - one of a pair and a gift from my Japanese girlfriend Megumi. Next to it is a very lickable ice cream cone, dripping with handblown glass.
In the pictures below you can see a few more of the many glass baubles I fell in love with. On the left you'll see a London telephone box and a Raggedy Ann, and on the right is a teardrop Santa (handpainted on the inside) and a small blue church with vibrant windows dancing with candlight. There's also the top of a spectacular angel (frosted glass and wire) and a very European glass bauble I found at a homewares store here in Aus many years ago.
In the picture below you'll see the body and legs of my beautiful frosted glass snowman (along with the angel, he was bought in Aus), a clear glass shaped bauble, a nutcracker teardrop and a groovy disco ball ornament which I unearthed from storage.
In Beijing, I had seven Christmas trees to hold everything but this year I have only one. Well, actually, two - the other smaller one is sitting on the dining table and is completely bare, guarded closely by a snatch of tall, wooden nutcracker soldiers. The kids also have a small tree in their room, which they deocrate with the ornaments they receive each Christmas.
Even though I'm still blissfully in love with all these very kitsch and vintage-style pieces, I can feel a shift in my decorating taste once again - not sure about you, but it seems to happen every four years with me. I think I'm feeling a Scandanavian bent coming on - lots of white, straw, touches or red and pale blue, and not so much sparkle.
It feels good to 'retire' many of my pieces to boxes this year. I don't think it's mandatory to have absolutely everything on display and it makes for an exciting 'new' Christmas next year to open all the things I've left wrapped up.
I have put up my ceramic village and decorated several garlands with ornaments instead of using trees - so I'll show you those in a post soon. Can't wait for you to see my feathered glass birds!
Isn't this such a gorgeous time of year?