How to Mix Old Sentimental and New Decor & Our Swedish Christmas

10 tips for mixing family heirlooms and antiques in with your new holiday decor & how to create Swedish Christmas decorating style.

This post is in partnership with World Market.

This one hits me right in the feels y’all. It’s not often that I cry over decorating, but this one did it.

If you’ve followed this blog for a few years, you probably already know about my Swedish roots, which I’ve mentioned a time or two. My great-grandfather came over from Sweden in the early 1900s, and I’m still fortunate to stay in touch with my Swedish cousins there.

Even though he passed away before I was born, I was very close to my half-Swedish grandmother growing up. She whipped up her famous Swedish pancakes every time we visited, and she treasured all of her heirlooms from Sweden around her little house at Fort Bragg.

10 tips for mixing family heirlooms and antiques in with your new holiday decor & how to create Swedish Christmas decor style.

She passed away when I was 12, but Christmas always reminds me of her playing on her beaten up piano belting out “Joy to the World” with little footy pajama’d me curled up next to her.

So this year for Christmas, I decided to display all of her special items my family inherited from her with a few Swedish/Nordic inspired decor pieces from World Market. Seeing it all around our home, I don’t think my heart has ever been more full of so many emotions during the holidays.

Christmas kitchen with hot cocoa station and styled shelves with gingerbread.

If you have sentimental items in your attic or in storage and want ideas for weaving them into your holiday decor, here are a few tips, no matter what your ancestral roots are:

1. Mix heirloom serving pieces in with neutral dishes to highlight their uniqueness.

My grandmother’s silver tea pot is perfect for using as a hot cocoa station when we have guests during Christmas.

Christmas kitchen with hot cocoa station

Christmas kitchen hot cocoa vignette

Stone Mugs | Cocoa Mix | Marshmallow Toppers | Mug Rack | Kitchen Towel | Tea Pot (similar to my heirloom)

2. Display old knick-knacks under cake stand domes or cloches with some greenery and fairy lights.

This Dala horse has never looked so fancy.

Swedish Christmas kitchen shelves styled with Dala horse and gingerbread

3. Place old cookbooks on kitchen shelves to show them off.

The more worn out it is, the more loved it is, right?! I surrounded my maternal grandmother’s old cookbook with these sweet light-up wooden houses to create a little Christmasy glow and wooden cutting boards for texture.

Swedish Christmas kitchen shelves

4. Frame a few handwritten recipes by loved ones using this preservation method displayed in a float frame.

I found my grandmother’s Swedish meatball recipe in her handwriting in a stack my mom gave to me a couple of years ago, and it’s been hanging on our kitchen wall right beside our stove ever since.

Preserved and framed handwritten recipe

5. Use old bowls for holding ornaments or fruit in holiday colors.

Swedish Christmas with Dala horse, candlelight, and pomegranates in a bowl.

6. Use a sentimental item as a centerpiece on your table.

This candelabra was my grandmother’s that I dress up with greenery to look like a Swedish St. Lucia crown every year.

Swedish Christmas centerpiece using an advent candelabra to mimic the St. Lucia crown

Swedish Christmas breakfast nook

7. Display sentimental trinkets on shelves and tabletops alongside mini Christmas trees.

I remember playing with this Dala horse as a child on my grandmother’s living room shelf, so it makes me overjoyed to see it on our entry table every day when we walk through the door of our home.

Swedish Christmas vignette with candlelight, Dala horse, bowl of pomegranates, greenery, and twinkle lights for hygge

8. Incorporate old vases and canisters into decor with seasonal flowers or plants.

This silver sugar bowl was part of my grandmother’s collection.

Repurpose family heirloom vessels by displaying them with greenery stems or flowers as vases.

9. Create small vignettes using special items on your end tables or coffee table.

This mining lamp belonged to my great uncle when he worked in the coal mines of West Virginia.

Display family artifacts in vignettes on end tables, coffee tables, and dresser tops.

10. Hang special heirloom ornaments on your tree mixed in with world culturally-inspired new ones.

All of the Swedish/Nordic/Scandinavian style ornaments make me totally giddy!

Swedish Christmas tree with Scandinavian inspired ornaments, abundant greenery, chunky knit stockings, nature touches, and pops of red.

Swedish Christmas ornaments

Tree Collar | Cranberry Garland | Felted Ornaments | Red Wood Heart Ornaments | Wooden House Ornaments | White Bird Ornaments | Wooden Snowflake Ornaments | Wooden Nordic Ornaments | Star Ornaments

And if you want more ideas for decorating with sentimental items, you can see others I’ve shared in the past here and here too.

If you want to channel the style’s cozy vibe, here are some ways to pull it off:

1. Utilize chunky knits in your pillows, blanket, or stockings.

We added our usual DIY printable stocking tags again this year on these chunky knit stockings.

Chunky knit stockings for Swedish Christmas style

2. Use textured woven baskets in place of tree skirts, for added storage, and as decorative pieces.

Now that we’ve gotten this woven tree collar, I’m never wrestling with a tree to stuff it in a regular basket ever again.

Swedish Christmas ornaments and gift wrap

3. Add in plenty of candlelight.

Swedish/Nordic/Scandinavian style is known for lots of cozy candlelight because daylight hours are so short in winter. So place lanterns and candles on tabletops for instant hygge!

Add lanterns and candlelight to your Christmas decor to create hygge in your home.

4. Incorporate paper crafts like trees, stars, hearts, and snowflakes.

I remember my grandmother had some paper trees similar to these light-up trees. They make me smile!

Swedish Christmas with paper tree figurines, chunky knit stockings, abundant greenery, fairy lights, and pops of red

5. Display gingerbread in your kitchen.

This was our best attempt at decorating ours. Haha! But if you’re not good at constructing them from scratch, this gingerbread house that’s ready-made is easier to work with.

And we pick up this tin of Swedish style gingersnaps every year to keep in our kitchen. They’re addictive! Beware.

Display this pre-built gingerbread house on your kitchen countertops for a festive Swedish-inspired Christmas look

6. Stick to natural elements like carved wooden accents and kraft paper wrapping with ribbon.

Kraft Wrapping Paper | Gold Star Wrapping Paper | Red Ticking Ribbon | Natural Woven Ribbon

Swedish Christmas ornaments

7. Add greenery everywhere!

The more garlands and wreaths and branches you have, the cozier your home will feel.

Eucalyptus and red berry wreath and garland

It’s always beautiful to me seeing the house all aglow for Christmas, but this year is absolutely my favorite for obvious reasons. Pretty things are nice. But decorating with things that have soul… that’s what truly makes a house a home.

That is what makes Christmas even more worth celebrating.

You can find all of the Swedish-inspired decor we used here, if you love Scandinavian style as much as I do:

Do you use sentimental items in your decor? Or have any other tips? Do you have a heritage that you are super proud of and love displaying in your home? I want to hear all about it!

P.S. World Market is currently having a 40% off ALL furniture sale! Use the code WMFS75 to get free shipping on $75+.

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23 Comments

  1. How did you hang your garland on your mantel. Looking for ideas on how to best hang mine! Love how you did yours.

  2. Prettiest Christmas decor I have seen this year! More importantly it evokes every feeling Christmas should bring. Wishing you a beautiful holiday season in your beautiful home.

  3. Thank you for this delightful, inspiring article! I try to incorporate my late mother-in-law’s German Christmas things into my decor every year. It brings back happy memories of our German Christmas Eves followed by Irish Christmas Days. Our children had the best of both worlds.

  4. Lovely! My dad is from Denmark and I actually just returned from visiting him. You would of loved all the Christmas decor they had on display…very “hygge”.

  5. That is neat about your Swedish heritage. My daughter-in-law’s great-grandparents came over from Sweden in 1923, and her grandfather was their anchor baby. Some of their cousins in Sweden found them on Facebook, and they stay in touch.

  6. Lauren,
    Breathtakingly beautiful!
    I could sense the “soul” of your Christmas decor!
    LOVED hearing of your family heritage!
    Yes! I received a porcelain musical angel from my MaMa’s dearest friend
    as a child. When my son was celebrating his second Christmas, he rolled
    the tissue paper across the floor shattering her head. Although my heart was breaking,
    I remained calm as I rescued all the slivers I could. “Mr. Ed” glued her head
    back together, but she has several chunks missing. It has become my most
    treasured Christmas decoration. First precious to me, then precious to my son.
    He loved hearing her music and watching her go round and round. He is now
    46 years old, and he still admires the angel every Christmas!
    Blessing be upon you as you treasure this Christmas Season.
    Pat

  7. All so lovely! The red heart ornament reminded me of a co-worker who was born and raised in Norway. He was headed there one October to visit family, and I asked him to bring me a Christmas ornament. I was totally expecting something very similar to your heart ornament (hand stitched red transfer)–you know, Scandinavian stitchery. What he brought me was a very sleek, contemporary glass Santa—base was clear glass and head was red round glass–no eyes, ears, or facial markings. Initially, I was disappointed but didn’t let him know it, of course. Later discovered that the Santa was made at the oldest glassworks in Norway, founded in the late 1700s. I grew to love it more and more, and subsequent trips to Norway yielded Mrs. Claus, a teenager, and 2 young children. I now have a Claus family and would not trade them for anything. What a great job you have done incorporating old and new. My children are 42 and 39 (I must be your oldest follower!!), and I still have a gingerbread house my dad gave them when they were small. I just store it in a plastic bag, and it is still, amazingly, in good shape. Thanks for all you share.

    1. Leslie this is a great story!! Thank you for sharing. Some of the best gifts can start out as a disappointment. I am so glad, as I am sure you are, that you held on to the gift and able to discover the greatness in it.

  8. My great grandfather came to America from Sweden; and my great grandmother came from Norway. I loved listening to the languages spoken at our family reunions! Such precious memories! I will definitely be using your ideas and tips this Christmas!

    1. HI!! You are so sweet! Thank you!! They can be found if you search ‘botanical prints’ or ‘seasonal prints’.

  9. Wow!! This looks SO incredible!! You have truly been given a gift with decorating. I have been getting your posts in my email for about a year now and I just love them! Thank you for sharing your talents with us! ♥️

  10. Can’t wait to read this entire post after work! I LOVE all things Swedish!!! Dala horse? YES please! Everything is so lovely and so well displayed. Thanks!❤️

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