How do you decorate for Christmas? For some people, putting up the Christmas tree is the central activity of the season. For others, the approach of the holidays means it’s time to set out their Christmas collectibles.
From Nativity sets and Christmas villages to angels and nutcrackers, you probably know someone who loves to collect – and display – symbols of the Christmas season.
For instance, search for “Santa figurines” and you’ll receive more than 11 million results. A search for “Christmas gnomes” yields more than 24 million results! That’s a lot of gnomes and Santas!
Christmas is a time for collectors in other ways, too. It’s easy to give gifts when you know just what they want!
To help you in your search for a great new addition for your favorite collector, we’re reviewing some of the most popular Christmas collectibles.
How many Christmas ornaments do you own? If you display ornaments even after Christmas, you may be a collector. With so many different colors, styles and sizes, a Christmas ornament collection is easy to begin and build.
Ornament collectors often narrow their focus to a particular design or theme. For instance, they may gravitate toward antique, classic or mercury glass ornaments. They may be guided by a hobby or profession.
They might collect ornaments from a particular designer, like Christopher Radko, or those that represent sports teams, brands or animated characters they love.
People of a certain age will recall the magical amazement they felt upon waking Christmas morning to find a model train chugging around the tree. That same childish wonder is reflected in Christmas train sets, décor and collectibles.
From actual electric and battery- operated train sets to train ornaments and Christmas train tabletop accents, there is no shortage of holiday train decorations. After all, who can resist a brightly decorated classic engine pulling cars full of cheerful elves and colorful Christmas packages?
There’s no telling where a train collection will take you!
Snow globes didn’t start out as Christmas decorations. In fact, the first patented snow globe was the failed result of an attempt to create brighter lights for medical operating rooms. But by the 1920s, as they grew easier and cheaper to mass produce, snow globes became popular gifts and collectibles.
While the first snow globes generally featured religious scenes, these days you can find snow globes representing all kinds of themes, from traditional winter scenery to your favorite Christmas special. Many light up, spin or play music.
The best part is, with a snow globe, you can enjoy a little bit of Christmas all year long.
As heralds of the first Christmas, angels are one of the most traditional symbols of the holiday season. Whether they are depicted as cheerful cherubs or trumpeting messengers, you can find angels everywhere at Christmas time.
As long as there is Christmas, there will always be new angel figures to please collectors.
Whether it’s a majestic buck or whimsical reindeer, deer seem to pop up perennially on lawns, mantels and dinnerware during the holiday season.
Deer have been entwined in both European and North American cultures for thousands of years – they’ve even been associated with ancient gods. But the deer’s popular association with Christmas grew after the publication of a certain famous Christmas poem. When Clement Clarke Moore, the author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” chose “eight tiny reindeer” to pull Santa’s sleigh, he cemented their inclusion in Christmas lore.
Even before we became familiar with a certain jolly animated snowman, people enjoyed making snow figures. With their colorful scarves and jaunty top hats, snowmen are a cheerful symbol of winter and Christmas.
Snowman collectibles run the range from figurines to soft sculptures. They may even light up, rotate or play music. And none of them are likely to melt!
Funny, floppy little Christmas gnomes have quickly captured the affection of collectors. Gnomes and gonks, their Scandinavian cousins, are typically dressed in cone-shaped hats and warm knits or fur-trimmed winter wear. Some woodland gnomes don nubby fabrics in muted tones, while Christmas gnomes are ready for the holiday in festive colors.
Gnome lovers have many styles to choose from and their affordability makes gnome decor easy to give and collect.
Colorful and a little quirky, nutcracker figures have been a traditional Christmas gift for centuries. The soldierly nutcrackers common today can be traced back to Germany in the 1600s. Their popularity became more widespread after Tchaikovsky introduced his ballet, “The Nutcracker Suite.”
These days, you’ll find Christmas nutcrackers in all shapes and sizes. Nutcrackers are traditionally made of wood, but you can also find crystal nutcracker ornaments, ceramic nutcracker cookie jars and many other nutcracker-themed products.
While handcrafted nutcrackers may cost hundreds of dollars, less expensive figures in dozens of styles are everywhere during the holiday season. New designs every year ensure a fresh supply for the Christmas nutcracker collector.
Christmas Central offers an extensive collection of nutcrackers, including a number of designs by Christian Ulbricht of Erzgebirge-Palace, headquartered in the German mountain region where nutcrackers originated.
Father Christmas and Santa figurines, art and ornaments are among the most popular Santa Claus collectibles. Within those categories, collectors might focus on specific images, like Norman Rockwell Santas or Coca-Cola Santa art.
Whether you place him on your mantel, by your tree, in an entry way or on your coffee table, a Santa Claus figure is always a cheerful sight.
Nativity Sets & Christmas Villages
The most genuine symbol of the season is the nativity scene. St. Francis of Assisi is said to have staged the first living nativity scene way back in the 13th century. Since then, people around the world have set up their own miniature nativity scenes in their homes each Christmas season, as a reminder of the holy birth.
Beyond the basic nativity set, consisting of figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you might see wise men, angels and various livestock. Some collections expand the scene beyond the borders of the stable, adding figures that represent visitors, villagers and tradesmen of Bethlehem.
Similarly, many folk set miniature villages around their Christmas trees or on tabletops throughout their home. The practice of putting up a Christmas village, or “putz,” is rooted in the Moravian church, beginning around the late 1700s. The hobby grew with the popularity of putting up a Christmas train around the tree, but really blew up in the 1980s.
Some of the most popular Christmas village scenes use molded ceramic or resin representations of modern and old-time homes and businesses. Miniature Christmas village sets may depict small town American life, Victorian England or a European mountain town, among other settings.
Why do people collect? Maybe it's the thrill of the hunt for a new variation of a familiar object or image. Maybe it’s the pleasure of being surrounded by pretty things.
Whatever the reason, collecting brings joy to countless people. And isn’t joy what Christmas is all about?
This list only scratches the surface of Christmas collectibles. If we haven’t mentioned your favorite collectible here, we encourage you to browse Christmas Central for other favorites to fill your Christmas gift list. Some of them just might get you started on a collection of your own!
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