5 vintage finds to snag for your holiday decorating

Thrift store treasures to turn up the sparkle and shine in your home.

Thrift store treasures to turn up the sparkle and shine in your home

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images; art: CBC Life)

It's the time of year to decorate with a capital D! We don't mean your average laying out of furniture and accessories but the kind of maximalism that makes you want to drag an eight-foot fir tree into your living room and cover it in ornaments and lights. Fancy, sparkly, reflective and gilded objects call out to help make your home merrier and brighter. But the cost of holiday decadence can be outrageous.

Thankfully, there's thrifting — the not-so-secret weapon of every good decorator. You can spend years treasure-hunting at garage sales and online marketplaces to fill your troves. But you can also get a jump-start this year by hunting down these five types of decorative items you can always find at a thrift or antique shop, no matter the season. 

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images; art: CBC Life)

Cut glass or crystal

The ornamental patterns of cut glass and crystal add a lot of holiday sparkle to a room. If you stick to colourless vessels, they're pretty versatile too. Grab a bunch of bowls and fill them with clementines or other holiday citrus, or throw a salad into one and mix it in with your everyday serveware. 

It's also fun to style a few different sizes and shapes of candlesticks together in little groups, either around the room or on the dinner table. Don't forget a vase or two to turn grocery store flowers into an eye-catching focal point. 

Don't forget it's not uncommon to luck out and find full sets of crystal flutes or wine glasses — which calls for immediate celebration!

(Credit: Credit: iStock/Getty Images; art: CBC Life)

Ornate white milk glass

Ornate white milk glass objects are common in thrift stores — and so perfect for holiday decorating, with their fanciful shapes and patterns and bright white reflectiveness. Think outside the box when shopping for them: "Could this bowl hold red roses?" "Is this medium vase a perfect way to present the cutlery on the buffet table?" "If I buy two of these bud vases, are they now candle holders?" The answer to all these questions is yes.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images; art: CBC Life)

Brass candlesticks and objects

If you see even a single brass candlestick, consider snapping it up. You can mix and match these pieces into a variety of vignettes year-round. At this time of year, brass adds warmth and a bit of gravitas, and looks wonderful styled with holiday greenery. Keep an eye out for less obvious objects too, like a bud vase or a wise little owl. Brass menorahs and reindeer are also easy enough to source.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images; art: CBC Life)

Patterned dishware

The botanical, pastoral and often gilded designs of vintage dishware make it easy to throw an eclectic holiday table together. A few strategically placed plates adorned with roses and gold trim, bought for just a few dollars, are much more cost-effective than fresh florals nowadays. You could also set an entire table with mismatched plates, though you may want to keep a single colour scheme, like blue and white, or pattern type, like florals or toile. For a good conversation starter, you might want to know a little bit about where the pattern came from and when it was popular. To find out, start by turning the piece upside down to check for a stamp that may identify its manufacturer and date of production. 

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images; art: CBC Life)


You can lean into the ornate and traditional look by picking up a complete collection of real silverware — if you have the energy for the polishing. But given how abundant silver-plated items are in thrift stores, that's probably why many people give them away in the first place. Instead, try mixing one piece in with your more contemporary tableware. A gleaming tray or platter works well. A pitcher is great for holding flowers. Vintage silver cutlery is an easy way to give your table a fantastical holiday spin. You can even skip the polishing and go for a more rustic look. 

A word of warning when it comes to thrifting: you may become obsessed. One minute you'll be reading this article, the next you'll be scouring the aisles of your local second-hand store for your next big Cristal d'Arques score. Lest your cupboards begin to overflow, don't forget that all your special finds can make great gifts too.


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