Decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments is a fun and enjoyable experience for many, even a time-honored tradition for some. Whether you’re just starting or simply looking to add new pieces to your collection, this guide will show you the different types of ornaments as well as a few holiday themes you can try this year.
Ornaments originated from Germany, much like the beloved Christmas tree. Hans Greiner, a blown glass artisan in Lauscha, started manufacturing baubles which were then brought over to the U.S. by German immigrants in the 1800s. The retail company Woolworth’s also started importing them, making ornaments one of the most popular types of Christmas tree decorations we know today.
TYPES OF ORNAMENTS
There are many different types of Christmas ornaments and choosing which ones to get could be overwhelming. Below is a list of some of the most common baubles you’ll find on the market.
These are your standard Christmas balls, and they can be made of glass, metal, plastic, or acrylic. We recommend investing in these basic globe ornaments so that as your collection grows, you can mix and match them with themed sets for easy decorating.
These ornaments were inspired by decorative elements you see on roofs, gables, or domes of architectural buildings. Finials have long, tapered points on one end and are available in a range of sizes. Some finials have a round bulb, while others are more egg-shaped.
It’s believed that the tradition of putting angels on a Christmas tree comes from the Nativity story. The first angel ornaments were handmade from natural materials like straw and even edible ones like cookies. Today, angel baubles can be made from glass, plastic, or metal.
These are reminiscent of Fabergé eggs that have become a symbol of opulence since they were manufactured by the House of Fabergé in the 1880s. Many egg ornaments are made of blown glass and feature intricate designs and details such as glitter and metallic accents.
Figurine ornaments are considered novelty and come in a wide array of designs. Nutcrackers, Santa Clause, reindeer, and elves are just some of the classic figures you can find. These are great for classic Christmas decorating themes with a red and green color palette.
Made from glass or iron, snowflake ornaments can add sparkle to any holiday decorating theme. These baubles are available in a variety of unique patterns and designs, just like real snowflakes. Use these for your winter wonderland or snowy forest theme to create an enchanting, magical look.
Like snowflake ornaments, icicles are perfect for a winter or frosted Christmas theme. They can be made from an assortment of materials including blown glass, plastic, or acrylic. Hang them on your tree along with silver or grey baubles for a monochromatic look.
Vintage Christmas ornaments refer to tree decorations from older generations. Some collectors specialize in finding rare, authentic vintage ornaments in specialty stores, flea markets, and garage sales. Commercially made pieces are usually replicas designed to look like they’re from the late ‘30 to the ‘50s.
COMMON ORNAMENT MATERIALS
From artisanal mouth-blown glass to fabrics such as felt and polyester, Christmas ornaments are made from a range of materials. Here are the most common ones:
Glass ornaments date back to the 18th century in Germany where Christmas trees and baubles originated. Artisans use a laborious process that entails heating a glass tube, inserting the end into a clay mold, and blowing the glass into the shape of the mold.
Also called silver glass, mercury glass is blown double-walled, then coated on the inside with a silvering solution, and then sealed with a plug. These are made from clear glass without any mercury or silver, making them perfectly safe to use as Christmas decorations.
These ornaments can be as simple as a one-dimensional star or as intricate as forest creatures. They can be hand-carved or laser-cut and made from different types of wood. Wood ornaments are versatile and complement a range of decorating themes like rustic farmhouse or enchanted woodland.
Whether flat or three-dimensional, these baubles add sparkle to any Christmas tree décor. Metal ornaments are made from a host of materials such as iron, copper, or variants of alloy like steel. You can find pieces that feature different shapes and intricately designed with crystal beads.
These ornaments can be made from felt, burlap, wool, or any type of fabric. They’re usually crafted by hand, giving them that charming, handmade appeal. Available in a wide variety of designs, fabric ornaments add a wonderful texture to any Christmas tree display.
Capiz shells are translucent and durable, making them great substitutes for glass. Capiz ornaments include classic designs such as stars, angels, and bells. Aside from Christmas tree ornaments, they’re also used to make lamp shades, lanterns, and other decorative objects.
Balsam Hill offers a wide assortment of Christmas ornament sets that you can mix and match to create countless themes. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to decorate your Christmas tree this year, here are three ideas you can consider:
You can’t go wrong with a classic Christmas theme. Green, red, and white are timeless holiday colors that inspire nostalgia and a festive atmosphere. Shop the products below to recreate this look.
- SPRUCE® CHRISTMAS TREE
- NORDIC FROST NOVELTY ORNAMENT SET
- RED BH ESSENTIALS CLASSIC ORNAMENT SET
- WHITE BH ESSENTIALS CLASSIC ORNAMENT SET
- RED BH ESSENTIALS SWIRL ORNAMENT SET
- SILVER BH ESSENTIALS SWIRL ORNAMENT SET
- RED FELT & WOOD VINTAGE BEADED GARLAND SET
- SMALL RED BERRY PICKS
- RED BERRY LEAF PICKS
- NORDIC SNOWFLAKE TREE SKIRT
An enchanting woodland motif is a dreamy way to decorate your Christmas tree. Start with a frosted tree to create that snowy forest look. Click on the links below to see more details about the products used for this theme.
Elevate your Christmas tree décor with a metallic theme. This motif features a mix of ornaments in varied gold tones, along with matte green and neutral colors. Browse the links below to see the products used in this motif.
Want more inspiration? Check our CHRISTMAS DECORATING THEMES for more ideas or take our quiz below to find your holiday decorating style.
Keep your ornaments organized and protected by investing in specialty storage bags. These will keep your delicate and precious baubles away from dust and damage. Balsam Hill’s CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT STORAGE BOX is made from polyester and includes a lid and 3 drawer-style trays with dividers. We also offer rolling ornament chests made from durable 600D polyester fabric with padded canvas. They include removable trays with handles and acid-free, fabric-lined dividers and a front storage pocket.
Tips For Decorating With Ornaments
Ever wondered how professionals decorate their trees to make them look perfect? Here are some tips from our experts at Balsam Hill:
CATEGORIZE YOUR ORNAMENTS
Organize your ornaments in containers before hanging them on the tree. This will make the process easier since you won’t have to rummage through boxes looking for a specific ornament. You can group them together according to color, size, shape, materials, or theme.
HANG ORNAMENTS LAST
Ornaments should go last to avoid bumping and breaking them as you decorate. We recommend that RIBBONS go first, especially if you need to anchor them deeper into the branches. If you’re stringing your own lights on the tree, make sure to do that before adding your ribbons.
LAYER YOUR ORNAMENTS
Combine large and small ornaments to achieve a layered look. Start with the larger ones and tuck them deeper into the foliage to add depth, then hang the smaller ones on the tips of the branches to create a draping effect. The more intricate ornaments should also be displayed on the tips so they’re more visible from any angle.
DETERMINE HOW MANY ORNAMENTS YOU NEED
The number of ornaments you have to use depends on the size of your Christmas tree. Your style preference is also a factor – do you want a light or heavy coverage? Click the link below to find out how many you need using our Christmas Tree Decorations Calculator.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here are the answers to commonly asked questions about Christmas ornaments.
WHAT IS THE MOST POPULAR CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT?
Angels and stars are always popular, whether as an ornament or TREE TOPPER. Classic Christmas balls also never go out of style.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT SHAPES?
Christmas ornaments come in a variety of shapes including balls, onions, teardrops, finials, stars, angels, snowflakes, and more.
WHAT MATERIALS ARE USED TO CREATE ORNAMENTS?
Glass, metal, fabric, wood, and capiz are some of the most common materials used in making Christmas ornaments.
HOW DO YOU PICK CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS?
Choosing Christmas ornaments depends on your personal style and preference. Start with a theme and build out your ideas from there. For example, a winter wonderland motif would look great with white and red elements, snowflake accents, and faux frozen red berries.
HOW MANY ORNAMENTS DO I NEED FOR MY TREE?
Wondering how many ornaments you need for a 6-foot tree? The number of ornaments depends not just on the size of your tree, but its shape as well. The sizes of your ornaments also come into play, including how light or heavy you want the coverage to be. Use our CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS CALCULATOR to find out.
HOW BIG SHOULD MY ORNAMENTS BE?
Ornament sizes can range from mini, standard, and jumbo. Mini ornaments are usually 2 inches in diameter, while standard ornaments can range from 2.5 to 3 inches. Jumbo ornaments, on the other hand, can measure anywhere from 6 to 10 inches in diameter or larger. Mini ornaments are great for smaller tabletop trees. Use standard-sized ones if you like everything to look uniform or mix them with jumbo ornaments to add visual interest.
HOW DO I CUSTOMIZE ORNAMENTS?
If you’re into DIY arts and crafts, customizing ornaments is a wonderful way to make them more personalized. Start with plain ball or star ornaments and decorate them with various materials like glitter and sequins. You can also paint them in your favorite colors using watercolor or craft paint.
We hope this guide helped you learn more about Christmas ornaments and inspired you how to decorate your tree with them. Visit the Balsam Hill website to see our full collection.
Looking for more decorating guides and expert tips? Read these next:
CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATIONS: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
20 OF THE YEAR’S BEST DECORATED CHRISTMAS TREES