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Updated January 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best holiday ornaments

When the holidays arrive, it means one thing: it’s finally time to decorate with all your favorite holiday ornaments. Because holiday ornament collections are always growing, you might be wondering which baubles, creatures, or characters should adorn your home next. 

Holiday ornaments come in all shapes, sizes, and designs, ranging from simple round ornaments and icicles to light-up creatures that dance and sing. When it comes to choosing new ones, you may be searching for ornaments that match your current collection or seek out new ones that add variety. If you’re looking for collectible ornaments, there are plenty of those, too— with new ones coming out every year. 

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Some people invest in more than one Christmas tree to display all their ornaments, which may include a smaller tree for mini ornament collections.

How to choose the best holiday ornaments

Popular types of holiday ornaments

The most versatile holiday ornaments are popular shapes like balls, ovals, stars, teardrops, and icicles. They can decorate trees on their own or function as a festive backdrop for detailed ornaments that feature animals, cars, action heroes, pop culture icons, or cartoon characters. There are also handmade or personalized ornaments, which often hold sentimental appeal given their unique designs.

What are collectible holiday ornaments?

Collectible holiday ornaments are only available for a limited time, making them valuable and desirable to collectors. Hallmark, for example, releases new collectible ornaments every year, but they’re far from the only brand that does it. Michael Aram, Christopher Radko, and Lenox all release collectible ornaments, too. Some of these manufacturers collaborate with other brands, like Disney, Marvel, LEGO, and Nintendo for special collections. 

How many holiday ornaments do you need?

Although there’s no set number of ornaments required to decorate a tree, many people prefer adding as many ornaments as it takes to make the tree appear lush and well-balanced with decorations. 

On average, it’s common to add approximately 10 to 20 ornaments per foot on a Christmas tree. For example, a 6-foot tree may have around 60 to 120 ornaments, whereas a 7-foot tree may have 70 to 140 ornaments. As expected, the ornaments’ shapes and sizes impact how many you can fit on a tree, as well as how much garland and lights you intend to hang on the tree.  

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Did You Know?
Ornaments with glitter occasionally need touch-ups to keep their sparkle, which is why it’s worth keeping a glitter assortment and clear craft glue on hand.
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Features of holiday ornaments

Materials

Classic holiday ornaments are made of handblown glass and feature intricate designs. While beautiful and timeless, glass ornaments are delicate and may break if they’re dropped or bump into one another. Regardless, glass remains one of the most popular options. 

Porcelain ornaments have fine designs and construction, and it’s no surprise they’re usually expensive. They’re noticeably heavier than most ornaments, which is why they’re usually hung on stronger tree branches. Like glass, porcelain ornaments are delicate and may shatter, so they require careful handling. 

Wood ornaments are timeless like glass ornaments, only they’re more durable — not to mention more likely to withstand the test of time. They often have hand-carved or hand-painted designs featuring nutcrackers, birds, snowmen, and sleds. Two-dimensional wood ornaments and silhouettes, like snowflakes or trees, are also festive favorites.

Several modern ornaments are made with shatterproof materials, namely plastic and silicone. They withstand heavy handling and drops, and many of them don’t need to be stored as carefully as glass or wood ornaments. Although lower-quality plastic and silicone ornaments may lack aesthetic appeal, better-quality designs look just like wood or glass. 

Moving parts

Certain holiday ornaments are brought to life with moving parts, such as ears and tails that wiggle, dangling charms, or poseable arms and legs. They’re lively and engaging, but the more moving pieces there are, the more delicate the ornament will be. As a result, it’s important to store them just as carefully as glass or ceramic ornaments. 

Interactive features

A growing number of holiday ornaments have interactive features, which are especially popular among kids and collectors. Car and truck ornaments, for example, often have flashing lights. Action hero ornaments, on the other hand, may play their character’s most common phrases and blaster sounds. Other interactive ornaments are motion-activated and may play songs or begin light shows when you get close to them.

Hanging style

Holiday ornaments are hung on trees via hooks, loops, or ribbon. Hooks and loops are usually made of metal or wire, but some are now made with plastic. They’re cheap to replace and fairly durable, but they may be dangerous to use in homes with pets or small children. Ribbon or thin string are often used to hang lightweight ornaments. One of the drawbacks is that they are prone to breaking or untying, and eventually, they require replacement. 

Mini ornament collections are often wrapped in tissue paper and kept inside shoe storage boxes. If you have several boxes of mini ornaments, label each box with a permanent marker so you can distinguish them. 

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Best accessories for holiday ornaments

Artificial Christmas tree

If you’d like to make a long-term investment in a Christmas tree, there are many gorgeous ones available. Nowadays, many people choose pre-lit trees for the convenience they offer.

Ornament hooks

It’s not unusual for ornament hooks to break or go missing, which is why it’s wise to keep a backup set on hand. 

How much do holiday ornaments cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable holiday ornaments cost $12 and under. These include individual ornaments, which start at $1 each, as well as mini ornament sets that start at $5. Quality is hit-and-miss among these designs, and more often than not, they are more delicate than other ornaments due to lower-quality construction. 

Mid-range

Holiday ornaments priced between $15 and $40 include high-quality sets and collector ornaments. These sets usually include hand-blown glass and well-made plastic ornaments with fine designs and details. Collector ornaments, many of which are licensed designs, often have moving parts or interactive features. 

Expensive

Deluxe holiday ornament sets run between $50 and $250 and may include as many as 100 or more pieces. There are also some glass and ceramic ornaments that fall in this price range, particularly those made by premium collectible brands like Precious Moments, Lenox, Waterford, and Lladró.

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Staff Tip
If you have handmade ornaments, you may wish to wrap them individually in tissue paper and store them separately from other ornaments. 
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Tips

  • Use paper clips in a pinch. If an ornament’s ribbon or hook breaks, you can use an opened paper clip to hang it instead. 
  • Date your ornaments. To remember when a holiday ornament was added to your collection, write the year in permanent marker on it. 
  • Invest in durable ornaments. To avoid mishaps like broken ornaments and shattered glass, invest in ornaments made with plastic or silicone.
  • Remove batteries. It’s wise to remove the batteries from interactive ornaments between seasons. Not only does it prevent the battery from running out sooner, but it may also prevent battery leaks that could ruin the ornament. 
  • Store ornaments up high. If you plan on storing ornaments in a basement or garage, place them as high off the ground as possible. In the event of a flood, it may save precious, sentimental ornaments from getting ruined. 
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If you have pets, you may need to reconsider which holiday ornaments you can put out for display. For example, curious pets may end up damaging or knocking over ornaments with their paws or tails.

FAQ

Q. Should I use garland or string lights with ornaments?

A. It depends on preference. Some people prefer using string lights with ornaments because they cast a gentle glow behind them, not to mention they add festive illumination to rooms. Others prefer using garlands, though they may prefer smaller or larger garlands depending on the size of their ornaments. It’s also common for trees to be decorated with garland, lights, and holiday ornaments. 

Q. Do I need to save original ornament boxes?

A. It’s not necessary, but the boxes may be your best option for affordable storage. This is especially true for ornament sets, which often come in plastic boxes or tubes that are easy to store with other holiday decorations. If you have collectible ornaments, such as those made by Hallmark, it’s recommended to keep the box. In the event you decide to sell these ornaments later on, you’ll get more for them with the original packaging. 

Q. Can I find holiday ornaments off-season?

A. Yes, and you may be able to find them much cheaper than during peak season. However, you may find odd lots of holiday ornaments, and not necessarily the designs or colors you’re searching for. Certain retailers also sell opened boxes of ornaments, including those with missing pieces, at deep discounts. 

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