During the 1950s and 60s, many tiny Christmas items came out on the market that could sit on a mantel, dash across a coffee table or perch on the edge of a windowsill. Here are a few pieces to look for and inspire your own collection this season.
Dream Pets Reindeer
This collection of velveteen reindeer is known as Dream Pets, and was a Japanese-manufactured product from Dakin, Inc. They grew to popularity in 1957, and the company produced over 2,000 unique characters. The Dream Pets reindeer are no longer in production, but their quirky looks and the variety of individual characters makes them a highly valued collectible that has gained a resurgence of popularity with MCM and antiques lovers alike. Look for average prices of $5–$10, or get a good deal for a bundle at a flea market.
For Etsy shop owner Lisa Price of Vintage Goodies, it’s the cute and quirky snowmen that make the grade. “Some of my pieces have really interesting expressions, and I’m drawn to those quirky pieces,” she says. “I have some snowmen that look grumpy, and I’m attracted to their personalities.” Many of Lisa’s pieces are tiny—only 2–3 inches tall. “They have a handmade quality, and they might have been hand assembled,” she says. “Some of them have a spring on their head so their heads wobble.” Always be on the lookout for pieces that catch your eye. “Your local antiques malls, starting in November, have holiday displays,” Lisa says. “Some of them have open houses with sales, which can be fun.”
Also known as glitter houses and Christmas villages, Putz houses have been around since at least the 1800s. The name comes from the German-American idiom putz, which means to putter around. The original German houses were made from wood or candy boxes. As their popularity gained speed in the US, mass production moved to Japan. The houses became cardboard, and often had cellophane windows with a hole in the back to insert a Christmas light. Their popularity reached a peak during the the midcentury era, and glitter became a staple during that time.
You can opt for the vintage variety or even make them yourself, as Dawn Newell of The Pink Tree has done here. “I didn’t know if it would work or if they were going to fall apart,” she says. “But I was so happy with how they turned out.”
If you like the idea of adding a midcentury vibe to your Christmas home this year, check out our sister magazine’s annual special, Vintage Holiday. It has information on Christmas collectibles and home tours to get your MCM inspiration flowing.