Collecting Christmas With a Vintage Flare

Author and Christmas aficionado Bob Richter shares his vast holiday knowledge in his book, "A Very Vintage Christmas."

Photo courtesy of the publisher.

Bob Richter’s love of holiday décor began when his father, handing him a box of ornaments, suggested he start a collection. A true Christmas fanatic, Richter now has a 2,500-piece collection of novelty Christmas cards, vintage magazines and ornaments galore.

In A Very Vintage Christmas, published in July 2016 by Globe Pequot, Richter shares the whimsical pieces from his collection that tell the visual history of Christmas decorating. He gathered his large assortment and expertise from scouring flea markets across the country. Here in New Jersey, Richter, a resident of Lambertville, recommends the town’s 40-year-old Golden Nugget Antique Market for vintage Christmas finds.

A self-proclaimed maximalist, Richter’s aesthetic of “more is more” is evident on every page of his book. He admits to spending days rearranging ornaments on his tree because “it’s half the fun and part of the process.”

Richter also was a fan favorite on the PBS series, Market Warriors. An antiques dealer and interior designer, he hosted the YouTube series Flea Market Minute, serves as a correspondent for the Huffington Post, and is a tastemaker on the high-end shopping portal, One Kings Lane.

Building on his fond memories of childhood Christmas celebrations, Richter suggests decorating every nook of your house, especially the mantle, with greenery, pinecones and cut holly—just like his mother used to. Or try one of his favorite ideas: spread holiday ambiance into the kitchen by mounting a small real or artificial tree in a mixing bowl on the counter.

Richter has ideas aplenty, including a wealth of outdoor décor concepts. “It all starts at the front door,” he says. The Christmas aficionado also has lots of practical tips for hosts and hostesses—as well as expert secrets like how to keeping lights untangled (Do tell!) and how to store fragile ornaments.

While Richter cherishes every item in his collection, he is willing to part with some of his finds as gifts for friends. Vintage cookbooks, individual letters from old signs and old-fashioned frames with black and white photos inside elevate a present’s sentimentality, he says.

This holiday season, Richter advises fellow holiday hoarders to take their antiques out of the boxes tucked away in the attic and auction them off or pass them on to beginner collectors. “Keep the vintage holiday spirit alive and well,” he writes.

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