Make New Ornaments Look “Vintage”

Last night I FINALLY hung a wreath that has been five years in the making, literally.  Here is a sneak peak…
ornament wreath and christmas tree hunt 2010 035

I was unable to get any decent pictures today because we were out hunting down a Christmas tree when the light was right.  Look for tomorrow’s posting with hopefully better pictures and an explanation of why it took five years to make a wreath!
As you can guess, it is a vintage ornament wreath.  If you have seen these before or made one yourself, you know that they require a TON of ornaments of all different sizes and shapes.  Finding all of those ornaments is a lot of work and can be expensive.  Often many of them get buried under others.  It seems like such a waste.
So, the temptation is to use use newer ornaments but they just don’t look right.
So I figured out a little trick to make new ornaments look old!
To start with, you will need some new ornaments.  I am pretty sure this does not work on the plastic type ornaments.
Please do not do this on expensive or sentimentally important ornaments.  This is meant to be done on “cheapy charlie” ornaments that won’t upset you if they don’t come out as planned.
ornament wreath and christmas tree hunt 2010 002
Next, you need a working surface you don’t care about, nail polish remover and paper towels.  I started with cotton but found that they left fibers behind and took things off more in chunks.
ornament wreath and christmas tree hunt 2010 004
From there it is pretty easy.
Add a little nail polish remover to the paper towel and lightly dab at the ornament till you get the effect that you want.
When you first start dabbing it only takes off the shine and then a little more dab and it brings it down to the silver.  Try to be patient and just lightly dab.  It looks more authentic that way.
If you wipe instead of dab it starts to sort of “smoosh” the finish which can then lead to peeling which is not so great.
This is the look that you should get.
ornament wreath and christmas tree hunt 2010 007
Or, if you want you can take off even more.  It is really a personal choice.  This is an ornament where I was not patient and I wiped and you see the big sliver spot looks less natural then the dabbed areas.
ornament wreath and christmas tree hunt 2010 008
This technique can be used to work ornaments in with truly vintage ornaments in a project.  Or, you can do a whole project or display with this technique to get a “vintage” look with inexpensive ornaments.
If you would like to see other Christmas and Holiday ideas, you can visit here.
You can also read additional tips about this type of wreath here.
And you can visit our Christmas Home Tour for 2011 and 2012.

If you try this project, I would love to see your results!


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46 thoughts on “Make New Ornaments Look “Vintage””


  1. Thanks for the tip! I'll be back to see the whole wreath too. I'm visiting from the DIY site.

    Sherry @ A Happy Valentine

  2. Love this tip. I did some and didn't dab I wiped, big mistake. Doing some more tomorrow. Love it.

  3. Great tute.

    This kills me b/c my dad's side of the family had a TON of glass ornaments from Italy.

    The whereabouts are unknown.

    Perhaps, I should check my mother's garage…

    1. Please don’t put hot glue and glue on old ornaments! Hang them with pretty ribbons – in a few years the glue looks yellow and when you try to take it off you take off the finish or worse break the ornaments. I see so many people use beautiful ornaments that are from 40-50s on these wreaths and ruin them. This trend will go by the wayside, use cheap NEW balls and make them look old like she has done and take plastic ones paint them make them chippy and you will see the beauty, save the old balls for M E M O R I E S…. Sorry don’t want to be a spoil sport but I am in Europe and I see these all the time with the old balls and I cry every time.

  4. Perfect!! I have wanted to make this type wreath but didn’t want to “waste” my shiny brites underneath! Thanks so much!

  5. another suggestion….tarnish the metal holder a bit using some alcohol inks from Ranger Inc. Just dab them with a q tip dipped in the ink.

  6. Great idea, I love vintage. Am going to hit the after Christmas safes on ornaments and give this a try for next years. Thanks for the tip.

  7. Thanks for the tip!
    I collect vintage/antique ornaments, and it breaks my heart when people glue them, or alter them.
    This is such a wonderful alternative to ruining those precious old ornaments!
    THANK YOU!!!

  8. I love the vintage look on Christmas trees. I takes me back to my childhood along time ago (when they only made the big multi-colored lights) Now that I’ve seen this, I will do this to my ornaments. Great idea.

  9. I loved your idea but I tried it and it didn’t work. Any ideas on what I’m doing wrong? The ornaments are the cheapies as you suggested from Walmart and I dabbed and dabbed by nothing:(

  10. Great idea. I’m going to try this on some crazy hot pink and purple ornaments someone gave me. It will look great in my daughters room. As for the question before me, I’m wondering what kind of polish remover you used. If it was acetone or non acetone it might make a difference. What kind was used in the original post?

  11. I LOVE old vintage silver ornies so I purchase old glass ones and run them under warm water and it takes the color right off and leaves a nice silver patina. 🙂

  12. I was wondering if it will work on non shiny bulbs? I bought some from a local craft store that are already dull to give a more antique look to begin with, so I am not sure how or if they will turn out? Thank you, Beth

  13. Haha I just thought of trying this for next year with our ornaments but I think my mum would kill me if I did. I will probably have to wait until I move out of our house. Great instruction though. Thanks!

  14. Pingback: Casa Vintage
  15. I dabbed and rubbed for about 15 minutes before I saw even the slightest bit of silver. Am I doing something wrong?? Seems like way too much work for no effect??

    1. My guess is that you may be using an ornament that has some sort of hard coating over it or it may even be plastic. It only works with ornaments that are metal and painted. Hope that helps!

  16. Thank you for this I made a wreath several years ago looked great but I didn’t use any glass ornaments because I couldn’t age them now I can

  17. You can also use just about any household “chemical” to get different looks. Simple green. Krud Cutter. Vinegar in different strenghts.