If you’ve ever helped your grandparents decorate their Christmas tree, chances are you’ve hung a few Shiny Brite ornaments. The ornaments (appropriately named for their signature shiny coating) were insanely popular in the 1940s and 50s, so many people in our grandparents’ generation still have and use the ornaments today.
First made in Germany in the late 1930s, Shiny Brites were created by ornament maker Max Eckardt, who had the idea to coat glass ornaments with silver nitrate to make them stay shiny longer than any other ornaments on the market. At the onset of World War II, Eckardt moved the company to America and found almost instant success. The ornaments were so popular that he partnered with the Corning Glass Company in Corning, New York in order to make more inventory. In 1939, Woolworth’s ordered 235,000 ornaments—and sold them for just two cents each.
The ornaments were originally only made in silver, but throughout the 40s and 50s, the glass company began offering red, green, gold, pink, and blue ornaments in the same style. By the mid-1940s, the company was producing more than 300,000 ornaments a day—which might explain why so many of them still exist.
And while sales have tapered off in the last 50 years, the brand hasn’t gone anywhere. And since vintage and nostalgic Christmas decor is back in style (hello, ceramic Christmas trees!), Shiny Brites are in high demand again. And we’re not the only ones excited about the trend: Google searches for ‘Shiny Brite ornaments’ are up more than 800% over the last five years, according to Google Trends.
This Christmas, you can decorate your tree in a brand new set of Shiny Brite ornaments, which are available exclusively at West Elm right now. The new collection features everything you love about the classic ornaments you hung on Grandma’s tree, and they’re currently on major sale.
Stock up on a pack of 20 classic ball ornaments, or grab a few special shapes to add to your existing collection. The vintage-inspired tree topper is my favorite piece in the new collection (I’ve already got it in my cart!), and since all the ornaments and accessories are inspired by the original designs, they’ll fit right in with any vintage pieces you might have inherited from Grandma.
These are a few of our favorite Shiny Brite pieces available from West Elm.
This set of ornaments most closely resembles the shapes I grew up hanging on my grandma’s tree, so I can’t wait to decorate my tree with them this Christmas. The design for these ornaments is based on the original styles and shapes, which the Shiny Brite company has preserved for all these years. The set of nine features three distinct shapes, all painted in different colors.
Perhaps the most festive piece in the collection, the Shiny Brite glass tree topper is made from clear glass and decorated with shiny stripes of red, pink, green, and blue. I love how modern it looks sitting on a flocked tree, while also giving me the nostalgic feeling of celebrating Christmas at Grandma’s. It’s 14 inches tall, so be sure to measure the space between the top of your tree and the ceiling before ordering.
If you’re looking to add just one or two new pieces to this year’s tree, this festive ball ornament is the most inexpensive item in the collection. It’s made from multicolored glass, painted with the signature white stripes, and even has the classic shape imprinted into the ball. The ornament measures 4 x 8 inches, so it’s an easy way to make a bold statement on this year’s tree.
If you’re planning a total ornament rehaul this Christmas, this set of 20 is the best bang for your buck. The 1.5-inch classic ball ornaments are made in different colors of blown glass, and each one is decorated with the signature sparkly stripes in various colors. The set is just $14 right now, which makes each ornament less than $1 each. Stock up while you can!
This set of striped 1.5-inch ball ornaments is another holiday staple. Half of the classic ball ornaments are made with various colors of blown glass in vertical stripes, while the other half have a modern color-block design. At $17 for a set, these gorgeous ornaments should be at the top of your Christmas list this year.