collage of three upcycled Christmas decorations

Thrifting List: Best Finds For Great Upcycled Christmas Decor

As I write this post, the holiday season has just passed. 

We are all packing away our holiday decor. So this is a natural time for a large infusion of donations to thrift stores. 

Most thrift stores do not have much storage space to inventory all they receive. So surprisingly this can be a great time to score some holiday finds for next year. 

Plus this gives you plenty of time for makeovers and upcycling (two of my favorite kind of projects)!

My favorite local thrift store also has a huge blowout in July. The fully stock their “Seasonal Shop” with Christmas and run a 50% off sale all through July.

Plus estate sales and any version tag~garage~yard sales are great sources for many second hand finds in need of a new life. And we all know these happen virtually any time of year.


Why should you treasure hunt for second hand?

Thrifting is great because:

  1. it’s eco-friendly #1 — saving items from the landfill
  2. it’s eco-friendly #2 — reducing how much is made in the first place
  3. it’s budget-friendly
  4. unique decor vs. mass-produced
  5. I love creating
  6. I love clear and creative ideas

List of Potentials For

Makeover, Upcycled Christmas Decorations

Christmas Village Houses —

Three very detailed, brightly colored Christmas village buildings

Yes! These rather gaudy, dated Christmas village houses can be made over into beautiful sleek modern decor. 

Revived miniature Christmas Village house on a Christmas tree

I chose the go with glossy white houses, adding some metallic green to wreaths, garlands and trees and then piling on some glittery snow.

But these same house can become more whimsical and charming.

gingerbread house in a gallon glass jar with another gingerbread house as a centerpiece

If you are into the gingerbread craze, Jen with Midwest Life and Style used similar thrifted houses to create these incredibly charming gingerbread houses.

String Ornaments —

old Christmas ornaments in a bowl with a bit of greenery

Remember these? String ornaments from the 50’s and 60’s. 

I’ve passed by so many of these over the years, but when we were cleaning out my sweet mother-in-law’s house, I came across a whole load of these that I don’t remember ever seeing her use — I think they predated my entry into the family.

They were in pristine condition and I knew I could do something fun with them.

Three finished ornaments displayed on brass candlesticks

I just didn’t realize how simple it would be! Literally a bit of leftover chalk paint and 20 minutes later, I had ten upcycled Christmas ornaments. 

Loved them so much I went back and did many more.

What a beautiful way to remember such a lovely lady. We even refer to them as Mago’s ornaments (her grandmother name).

Nativity Scene —

Nativity Sets come in all shapes, sizes and colors!!!

Some are so beautiful, and then . . . well, you know!

Mis-matched thrifted, bright colored nativity statues are lined up on a wood table

The old sets, or partial sets are typically readily available at most thrift stores and often at estate sales.

Finished Wise men and camel statues on a linen backdrop

But look at what a little spray paint followed by a wash of basic crafting acrylic paint can do! Amazing transformation, right?

Sheet Music —

I bet you’ve seen wreaths made with vintage sheet music for years now. 

Brown paper packages embellished with sheet music make lovely gifts

But my friend Michele [Vintage Home Designs] used sheet music in her gift wrapping. Plus she used sheet music in her Christmas table displays.

a tree is cut out of sheet music and laying on top of a dinner plate with a clear salad plate over the tree
a pair of sheet music pages are removed from a book and serving as a placemat under the placesetting

Embellishment under a clear salad plate, and as a placemat!

HINT: I’ll be making a garland with sheet music (probably in July) so have some vintage sheet music on hand to join me.

Lanterns —

closeup of two old faded black metal outdoor lanterns

Old light fixtures can be found everywhere — even on a neighborhood curb ????!

I picked up this pair, planning to repaint and add some gold detailing.

closeup of vintage lantern on a reclaimed wood post with bow and florals

But once I paired then with reclaimed wood for lamp posts, I loved them in their current aged, faded shape.

TIP: Add battery operated puck lights for a great way to add light where you have no power. So easy and so budget-friendly!

Tomato Cage —

I green cypress tree in a black pot on a porch

My upcycling bestie, Cindy [Reinvented Delaware]  made a very simple tree for her front porch using an old tomato cage as her frame, clippings from her yard and fabric left from another project.

I loved her process of having the fragment of an idea, a rough vision and then making it happen. 

Cindy walks us through it in this YouTube video, and also in this tomato cage tree blog post

Chicken Wire Frames or Doors —

two door filled with chicken wire are hanging above a table and a tree is made with vintage glass globe ornaments hanging in each door

How’s this for a touch of holiday magic?!!!

Sometimes simplicity is the best!

Yes, it’s another of Cindy’s holiday upcycle ideas. So simple, she hasn’t even done a post about these doors, but they are featured in this post along with several other fun ideas.

Excuse this quick pause: Are you enjoying these ideas? Please consider joining this creativre community by subscribing here:

Thanks bunches! Now back to your Thrifting Look For List–

Reclaimed Wood, Spindles and Fence Pickets —

Great for making stars, snowflakes, signs, Christmas houses, Christmas trees and more. 

I made this sign from some reclaimed wood that someone else was throwing out.

two rustic wooden churches made from reclaimed wood
set of three simplistic houses made with scrap wood and copper pipes

These churches and charming houses from amazing Do Dodson [Do Dodson Designs] remain favorites of mine!!!

Vintage Silver Trays or Ironstone–

Vintage silver dishes and trays arranged on a wall in the shape of a Christmas tree
Vintage ironstone dishes and trays arranged on a wall in the shape of a Christmas tree

How about these trees created by Michele of Vintage Home Designs. Yes Michele’s vision knows no boundaries. From sheet music to ironstone to silver!

Both are awesome examples of creating Christmas decor with things you already own or collect.

large wreath made of overlapping vintage silver trays and platters

Similar concept, but this time Cindy [County Road 407] made a wreath with her collection of platters and trays. You could do this with transferware saucers and dessert plates too.

Beyond Vintage

Of course, there are innumerable options for making holiday ornaments, decor, and sweet remembrances as the holiday season approaches. 

Pinterest is a great source for Christmas crafts using everyday items such as fabric scraps, glass jars, tin cans, mason jar lids, toilet paper rolls, wine corks combined with crafting mainstays of a hot glue gun, paint pens, pipe cleaners and such. I have curated a board of budget-friendly Christmas crafts that I consider very doable and a bit elevated in taste while still be very inexpensive!

And here’s a curated board of kid-friendly crafts. Be sure to follow these boards as I will be adding to them.

Be sure to pin this to your thrifting or upcycle or Christmas boards to keep it handy:

Pin collage of 4 upcycled finished Christmas decorations with the title of Upcycled, Makeover Christmas

I hope this post has inspired you! I hope when you stop at an Estate sale or drop into a thrift store you give interesting things a second look. You try to imagine it in a new light.

Don’t hesitate to share something I overlooked. It’s so much fun to support and encourage each other. If you see something and want another set of ideas, send me a picture, maybe together we can come up with a fresh idea that fits your family and your home.

round image of Diane smiling next to a Signature that reads: With Joy, Diane


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diane Sudhoff
key with a tags that reads "Subscribers" Next to the words "Free Printables Library"
close-up of hand holding a cell phone mock-up of an order page on top of a collage of products
Sidebar title box reading "Most Popular Outdoor Posts"

Click Image to

Jump to  Post

View of uplit trees around a patio overlooking a lake at dusk  sidebar graphic
overhead view of a DG patio sidebar graphic
View of outdoor sheer curtains snagged back on a balcony sidebar graphic
Split moss wreath hanging on french doors sidebar graphic
closeup of cup and saucer flower arrangements at each pacesetting sidebar graphic
Closeup of embroidered straw bag sidebar graphic
Copyright © 2024 South House Designs