I’m Dominique, the blogger behind Gusto & Grace. My husband and I live in Austin, Texas with our dog, Nola. Gusto & Grace is a creative outlet that mirrors my DIY approach to life and challenges me to live creatively, even when I don’t feel inspired. My hope for Gusto & Grace is that it becomes a supportive community for creatives and a source of inspiration for all who read it. I aim to live with a little gusto and a lot of grace. Join in!
One of my favorite Christmas traditions from my childhood was getting a new Christmas ornament from my stocking each year. For years now I’ve been collecting European blown glass ornaments, and my mom continues the tradition of adding to my collection.
If you don’t know where to look, finding high quality, European glass ornaments can be a wild goose chase, but there are certain stores you can go to year after year, and certain brands that make stunning ornaments. I’m here to share my secrets!
Brands to look for:
• Christopher Radko- Christopher Radko is really the brand that popularized intricate blown glass ornaments in America and can be found at department stores and boutiques alike. These ornaments tend to retain their value for years to come and are quite popular on secondary markets, like Ebay.
• Eric Cortina- Eric Cortina makes some of my favorite quirky and whimsical ornaments such as my French bulldog wearing a top hat, bowtie and a spectacle, and my clip-on of Santa’s boots sticking out of the Chimney.
• Inge Glas- Inge Glas is one of the oldest German-based glass blowers. These little treasures are usually more reasonably priced than other brands.
• Landmark Creations- Landmark Creations is best known for their ornaments of, well, landmarks.
• Michael Storings- Made by Landmark Creations, Michael Storings hand paints bulbs, typically of different scenes in New York City.
•De Carlini- If you prefer the Italian style blown glass ornaments, with a very distinctive look, De Carlini is a great go-to.
• John Huras- Read this guys story; it is really neat. Accustomed to the gorgeous and traditional trees of Poland, he originally started making ornaments for orphanages whose trees wished could bring more cheer to the children..
• Jay Strongwater- These last two brands are both on my wishlist, not on my tree. They are extremely pricey, but every ornament I have seen by these two artisans are stunning.
Patricia Breen- As mentioned above, the detail on Patricia Breen’s traditional designs are breathtaking.
Where to shop:
• Bergdorf Goodman- Bergdorf Goodman has many exclusive ornaments with at least five themed trees each year. They will ship internationally, but if you’re in New York City for the Christmas season, I highly advise a stop on their 7th floor where their Christmas room is set up.
• Neiman Marcus- Like Bergdorf, its sister company, Neiman Marcus has many exclusive ornaments made just for them each year.Neimans boasts of the widest variety of readily available European ornaments year after year. Be sure to shop in store, as many of their exclusive ornaments are not available online.
• Bloomingdales- Bloomingdales carries more Landmark Creations and Michael Storings ornaments than any other large department store
• The Christmas Store in Fredericksburg- If you’re in central Texas, this is a great little shop for any time you need Christmas fix as it is open year round. They are one of the few retailers in the United States that has an entire room dedicated to Radko ornaments. If you’re out-of-state, give them a call, and they’ll help you hunt down what you’re looking for.
• Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland- Flip through their catalog or shop online year-round. Bronner’s is a place of Christmas overload, but narrow your search to European-made ornaments and it is less overwhelming.
• Macy’s (online only)- Macy’s doesn’t carry many European ornaments, but they do carry Christopher Radko online.
• Dillards- Dillards is one of the few department stores that carries Radko in store. Go and check out the quality for yourself!
• Marshalls, TJMaxx, Homegoods- A lot of smaller brand German and Polish ornaments can be found at these chains. I’ve gotten lucky and even found a few Radkos for under $10!
• Tuesday Morning- At Tuesday Morning you can find a few different brands, including Radko’s from last season at up to 75% off!
• World Market- World Market usually has a small selection of ornaments made in Poland. Their quality isn’t superb, but they’ve got some fun additions like hamburger, stand mixer, and digital camera ornaments.
Non-European ornaments aren’t always sub-par. I have a few treasured ornaments that were made in China. Sometimes you just find an original concept or design that makes up for lesser quality and sometimes the quality and detail are equally lovely. Old World Christmas ornaments are made in China and you can find them in endless shapes so they’re great if you are looking for a very specific ornament. Anthropologie occasionally has blown glass ornaments that are unique and worthwhile. I also have a few ornaments on my tree that are travel souvenirs made in China, such as a bearskin soldier I bought in London, and a bulb with a mural of Graceland from a trip to Memphis. Waterford’s blown glass ornaments are typically made in China, but the detail on my Waterford ballerina ornament rivals that on many of my German and Polish made ornaments.
For more Christmas inspiration, visit my blog, Gusto & Grace!
Do you know of any stores or brands available stateside that I’m missing? Do you collect a specific type of ornaments?