Recycled holidays are back in style


By Jason Parker Counce

Open any clothing or furniture catalog and one cannot help but notice that retro style is back in a BIG way.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the re-emergence of 1960’s-70’s Christmas decorations that are finding their way back on trees, lawns and mantles across the country. Tucked away in attics and basements for three decades, these once outdated symbols of this festive season are showing up in profusion at vintage stores and antique malls. 

As a child growing up in Nashville in the 70’s, I have a great feeling of nostalgia for these kitschy and sometimes tacky reminders of Christmases spent at the homes of friends and relatives – molded plastic light-up Santa or Frosty in neighbors’ yards, plastic poinsettia and holly wreaths and quite possibly the ultimate collector’s item from this era, the ceramic, lighted, tabletop Christmas tree.

This unassuming Christmas decoration, kiln-dried, painted and adorned with multicolored lights was possibly the pan-ultimate expression of the holiday season lovingly hand-crafted by desperate 1970’s housewives channeling their repressed creativity at evening ceramics classes across America. 

While I’m not advocating a full embrace of retro style, after all who wants their home to look like a John Waters movie set, one can find today tasteful ornaments reflecting 60’s and 70’s color combinations like chocolate, orange and gold or silver, pink and turquoise. These can be found inexpensively at department stores like Target, Kmart and Old Time Pottery.

Create a chic, "recycled style" look by mixing these ornaments with vintage and retro pieces from local thrift stores and antique malls. My favorite haunts in Nashville for unique, recycled holiday decorations are Wonders on Woodland, Gas lamp Antique Mall and Retro-Modern.

Having a holiday open house or cocktail party, don’t be afraid to incorporate retro Christmas tablecloths, aprons or vintage holiday glasses and bar ware from these local shops with your existing holiday serving pieces.

 Most of all, express your own individual style through your holiday ornaments. As with home decorating try to BLEND periods, styles and colors NOT match. You don’t want your house to have a bland, cookie-cutter look so why would you want your Christmas decorations to look like you opened page 79 of the Horchow catalog and ordered everything on it. And remember, the holidays are about fun and exuberance, don’t be afraid to add tinsel with a slight dash of tacky.

Jason is an independent designer focusing on interior, event and design. Visit for more info.