House & Home

Hip new tree ornaments reflect larger trends

Posted November 24, 2008 2:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2008 3:54 p.m. EST

Christmas tree ornaments tend to reflect styles we see in the year's home furnishings, as well as what's on the fashion runway. We like to dress our tree as we dress our rooms and ourselves.

This season, inspiration trotted the globe, from Morocco to Moscow, Punjab to Pyongyang. Stools and step chests grace the living room, while ethnic fabrics and motifs adorn wall art and clothing. So it's no surprise many holiday ornaments evoke these graphic prints and international sensibilities.

Look for elaborate paintwork and embellishments, tassels, bright good-luck Asian reds and golds. At the other end of the spectrum are graceful, muted tonal shades, simple Zen-like branches, winterberries and blossoms.

No doubt you've seen the charming peasant looks, blanket-stitching and textural garments that fill stores this fall. In home decor, this trend has shown up in Scandinavian-style carved furniture, homespun wool throws and Nordic patterned rugs.

For the holidays, this translates into charming, folk-art, stitched-felt animals, stockings and people, as well as evocations of natural elements in carved wood, painted tin, bark and even dipped metal.

Some see a cultural trend emerging that has to do with nesting, comfort, and home and hearth as a safe haven from the daily storms of life. So childhood treats like candy canes, gingerbread cookies and cupcakes become temptations for the tree.

Sur La Table, a national retailer of all things epicurean, stocks luscious glass ice cream cones, chocolate dipped strawberries and glitter frosted sweets.

"Food plays such an important role during the holidays - dessert and food-related ornaments just appeal to our senses," says Linda Nangle, Sur la Table's tabletop buyer.

With millions of Americans watching "Mad Men," "Life on Mars" and other shows steeped in the styles of the '60s, '70s and '80s, it's no surprise that shelter magazines and on-trend furniture retailers have embraced the mid-century years. Retro-look ornaments such as martini glasses, starbursts and kicky teardrop shapes are smart, fresh and sophisticated once again.

And for those who dress their homes in all-out glamour, Christmas is a time to really put on the glitz. We see lustrous hues such as persimmon, silver, grape and chartreuse in pretty sweaters, silk jackets and other party wear. There are myriad baubles dressed up in feathers, fur, sequins and glitter that catch the light.

Robin Coogan, buyer and display artist for the gift and ornament store Seasons Too in Larchmont, N.Y., decorates 12 to 18 private homes for the holidays each year. "Everyone loves the sparkly metallics, as well as rich reds and chartreuse. Especially those who do a lot of entertaining - they want their tree and mantel to really set a festive mood."


Sourcebook: - Chocolate dipped strawberries, $10; Lemon Wedge $10; Ice Cream Cone $10 - Martini set (set of two) $9; Red Tinsel Apple $3.95; Luster Finials (set of three) $14.85; Winterberry Balls (set of two) $11.90; Felt Birds (5) $39.85 - Painted Tin Birds (set of five) $59 - Frog, $18 - Red Sequin Shoe, $50; Red Mushroom, $28; Paisley Ball, $40 - Chrysanthemum Ball, $6; Moroccan Glass Ball, $14 - Leaf Ornaments (set of three) $39.95