I’m Dreaming of a Shiny Brite Christmas: All About the Classic Ornaments

Shiny Brite ornaments are a staple of the mid-century Christmas. They come in several color schemes, from the time-honored red and green to the multicolored Whoville variety.

I’ve always wanted to start a Shiny Brite collection. So I was ecstatic when they gifted me several boxes for this article.

Today I’m sharing everything you need to know about Shiny Brite ornaments. Find out where to get them, how to care for them and how to display them on your Christmas tree.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Learn more on my Disclosures page (and thanks for your support!)

The Christopher Radko company gave me the ornaments for this article.


Where to Find Shiny Brite Ornaments

Made of oh-so-shiny glass, Shiny Brite ornaments were produced from 1937 to 1962. But when plastic ornaments grew in popularity, Shiny Brite went out of production for a while.

Luckily, in 2001 Christopher Radko brought these vintage ornaments back into production. That means collectors have options.

Shiny Brite ornaments in their original boxes

Antique Shiny Brites

You can still hunt down the original ornaments. At 60+ years old, they have signs of wear but are full of vintage charm.

Every holiday season I spot a few in my local antique shops. Check eBay and other secondhand online stores, as well.

If you find pre-owned Shiny Brite ornaments for sale, you may want to do a quick Google search to confirm they are authentic. Sometimes the Shiny Brite caps get swapped over the years and placed on other ornaments.

Reproduction Shiny Brites

To get the brand new Shiny Brite look, you can turn to the reproductions. I love the idea of mixing old and new while building a collection.

Shiny Brite icicle ornament from the Festive Fete collection

You might find the new Shiny Brites at home stores, including Target and West Elm. Sometimes stores carry exclusive or discontinued options, so it’s worth taking a peek. But I’d also check the Christopher Radko site for the best selection.


Shiny Brite Collections

Right now Christopher Radko has five Shiny Brite Christmas collections available, each with a unique color scheme. And many of them work well when mixed and matched.

Gray kitty looking at Shiny Brite ornaments on aluminum Christmas tree

Holiday Splendor is the choice for a classic Christmas in shades of green and red. Find all the reflectors, icicles and festive shapes you could want.

Vintage Celebration offers what I would call a Sugar Plum Fairy Christmas, with candy-colored pastels in pink, turquoise and yellow.

Nostalgic Holiday has retro vibes in red and turquoise accented with golden orange.

Christmas Confetti is your go-to source for a rainbow Christmas. These ornaments come in all the colors, and there are several new options for 2020.

Reindeer diorama scene ornament from the Christmas Confetti collection

My diorama Christmas scene ornaments are from Christmas Confetti. So precious, right?! These are available in other collections, too.

And if Eric had known about this space-age tree topper, we definitely would have ended up with this one instead of the finial I picked out. I adore the Christmas Confetti collection, but…

Festive Fete has my heart. Most of my ornaments are from this collection, which combines traditional red and green with mod pink and turquoise. I’m all about a turquoise Christmas.

Plus, I have a very orange couch, which is challenging to tie in with Christmas decor. The solution is to use all the colors, but I love how I can still highlight some red and green with Festive Fete.

Shiny Brite also has a collection of Halloween ornaments. Check out a few of them on my Halloween tree.

About Ornament Sizing

Selecting the right ornament size is tricky when you’re ordering online. My rule of thumb is to stick with 2.5” and above for a large tree. 1.75” options work well for most tabletop trees, and 1.25” are the very tiniest of ornaments for mini trees.


How to Decorate a Shiny Brite Christmas Tree

Shiny Brite ornaments will look stunning on any Christmas tree, but the colors really pop on a silver or white tree. Though I might be biased as an aluminum tree fanatic.

Decorating a Large Tree

Here’s a video of how I decorated my aluminum tree with Shiny Brite ornaments. Watch to the end to see how everything looks at night, lit up with a vintage color wheel.

I started by placing the bigger ornaments, then working my way down to smaller shapes. My tree has 2.5” Festive Fete rounds and reflector tulips, 3.25” diorama scene rounds and 4” shape icicles.

And of course that finial tree topper! Note that with the finials, some have narrow bases for topping the tree, and others have wider bases for using in a decorative tabletop display.

I like to keep my tree on the minimalist side. Usually I place the ornaments a few inches back from the branch tips and only fill about half the branches.

Shiny Brite ornaments on aluminum Christmas tree in mid-century modern living room

Related: DIY felt tree skirt with retro Sputniks

For a fuller look, you can fill in the tree with more Shiny Brites, or add complementary solid color rounds. Try using two ornaments per branch by hanging some near the tips and some halfway down the branches.

And you don’t need string lights for an aluminum tree. Let the color wheel work its magic! Mine is tucked behind the couch, and you can see it in the video above.

Decorating a Mini Tree

I also created a pink Christmas tree display with this Shiny Brite bedazzled beauty. Get a sneak peek in this video, and see if you can spot the cameos by both of my furry helpers.

I used 1.75” Festive Fete rounds for this 2-foot tree, squeezing them in by bending the ornament hooks shorter. 1.25” ornaments would fit, too.

Related: See this tinsel tree in a pink Christmas village display


Shiny Brite Ornament Care

Here are a few guidelines for extending the life of your Shiny Brite ornaments, whether vintage or new:

  • Don’t use any water or cleaner on them.
  • Do gently dust them with a cotton cloth.
  • Don’t store them in direct sunlight, in a basement or in a humid area with wild temperature fluctuations.
  • Do keep them in a temperature-controlled room in a dark, dry place.
  • And do store them in a sturdy container that won’t get crushed.

See more care and storage tips from Christopher Radko.


Don’t Forget These Accessories

You may need a few accessories. First off, make sure to stock up on ornament hooks. For a large tree, try a color wheel to light up those Shiny Brites. And for a mini tree, I often use lightweight string lights.

Wire ornament hooks
Vintage style color wheel to light up the Christmas tree
Battery-powered string lights for a mini tree
Ornament storage container

Find more vintage Christmas decor ideas:


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6 thoughts on “I’m Dreaming of a Shiny Brite Christmas: All About the Classic Ornaments”

  1. Oh man, I inherited a box of Shiny Brite ornaments from my grandparents (though when I first got them I had no idea what they were called so I learned something new today), and I love putting them on my tree each year. They have lost their shine and some of them are not in good enough shape to use but I absolutely love them. It makes me so excited to hear that they are back in production. I may have to splurge and get some new ones this year.

    Reply
    • Oh that is so cool! That’s awesome you’ve already started your Shiny Brite collection with heirloom Christmas keepsakes. 🙂 I love any kind of nostalgic holiday decor, so this was a lot of fun. And Shiny Brites are addicting. I’m already itching to add a few more to my collection. 😀

      Reply
  2. Beautiful ornaments displayed beautifully on your mid-century trees…(we all need some “Shiny Bright-ness” in this 2020.) I do remember these ornaments from my early days (50’s/60’s). I totally enjoyed this H &H and the videos..so fun and informative!! Love it!!

    Reply
    • Thanks! I agree…2020 needs more Shiny Brites! I told myself this is the year I’ve got to start my collection. That’s cool you can remember the original ornaments. They are so nostalgic and sweet. 🙂

      Reply
  3. These ornaments are so cute! Now I want some. I loved the videos you made. I was wondering how the colors changed until I read about your color wheel. I’ve never seen that. Looks cool!
    Merry Christmas to you!
    P.S. Loved the kitty “interference.”😉

    Reply
    • Thanks Lauren! Haha the kitties love getting involved in Christmas decorating. 😆 I was so excited to start my Shiny Brite collection this year. I love having the nostalgic Christmas decor, reminds me of Grandma’s house. 😊

      Reply

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