Vintage plastic Christmas lawn decorations go from tacky to trendy

There are subtle ways to show off your Christmas spirit. Then there’s Laura Stewart’s lawn.

On his property in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, there are approximately 100 blow molds – hard, hollow plastic lawn decorations that light up from within.

“We love Christmas, and we love them,” said Stewart amid the glow of dozens of snowmen, Santas, candles, nutcrackers, candy canes and other assorted basics. .

Once considered tacky and outdated, blow molds are experiencing a resurgence in holiday displays in Canada and the United States.

Tens of thousands of people in both countries are members of blow molding groups on social media, where they share photos and videos from their awe-inspiring holiday exhibits, brag about rare finds and post items for sale.

Laura Stewart and her husband won a community decorating contest last year in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

And what once sold for a few dollars at yard sales, or could even be found in the trash, now sells for several hundred dollars on buy and sell websites and in vintage stores.

Stewart, 40, is a longtime collector.

Stewart still acquires blow molds for her collection, but she has paid a lot more for them in recent years. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

She received her first blow mold from her neighbors when she was a young girl – a Santa Claus whom she always proudly displays next to the back steps of her mini-house. This is a testament to the lifespan of ancient decorations.

“I would put it on my mom’s house every year and then sort of continued the same tradition and continued to collect over the years,” she said.

Stewart has blow molds dating back to the 1960s through the early 2000s. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

It takes up to three weeks for Stewart and her husband to set up the display each year, taking out each blow mold and strategically placing it in their front or back yard on a stake before attaching it. The process involves hundreds of extension cords.

“This is what we love and we love to bring joy to others,” said Stewart, noting that she also had around 25 classic Christmas accessories in her home.

Blow molds gained popularity in the late 1950s

Blow molds have been around since the mid-20th century, and their origins may be more familiar than you might think.

A variety of Christmas blow molds are featured in a 1969 Sears Wish Book. (

The manufacturing process was invented in the 1930s, but gained popularity in the late 1950s when a man named Don Featherstone created the iconic flamingo.

Companies eventually began making Christmas-themed lawn ornaments, gaining places in the familiar staple – the Sears Wish Book – throughout the 1960s and 70s.

These same blow molds still exist today and some collectors spend years researching certain pieces.

Calvin Bursey, 42, was once on this quest. His coveted Santa Claus in his sleigh and three reindeer now proudly soar into the night sky from makeshift metal scaffolding outside his home in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Bursey has over 100 blow molds scattered outside his house – on his steps, perched above his garage, lining his driveway, in his windows.

Even more are crammed into his garage – he just hasn’t found a place to display them yet.

Bursey admitted that buying blow molds around this time is much more expensive than it was when he started collecting about 15 years ago.

Calvin Bursey’s pride and joy are his Santa and Reindeer blow molds, which his friend spotted and flagged for him. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

But it’s something he enjoys, and seeing the cars slow down as they pass by his house is worth it.

“My nieces and nephews are blown away by this and it just fuels the fire when they scream, hugging the blow molds as they climb the steps,” Bursey said.

Bursey’s work as an electrical engineering technologist comes in handy when creating his screen. He hard cables several of his parts together. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

Mike McKenna, owner of The ReFound Shop in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, knows that blow molds have exploded in popularity in recent years.

He used to acquire them quite easily, but now it takes him all year to accumulate them for the holiday season. He also pays them much more.

“It’s hard for us to find them because they are getting more and more popular and people are hanging on to them,” said McKenna, standing next to a group of lighted up snowmen and Santa Claus in her little one. shop.

“People always come asking for blow molds or ceramic Christmas trees – anything nostalgic or reminiscent of a memory is what people are looking for these days.”

Some of the larger and rarer pieces at The ReFound store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia sell for up to $ 125. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

Across the harbor on bustling North Street in Halifax, Joe Huntley’s house is hard to miss.

Her foredeck is full of Christmas blow molds. And if you were to pass a few months earlier, you would find a similar onslaught of plastic figures for Halloween.

Huntley has limited space, so he’s made a habit of swapping out his blow molds over the years, unloading parts as he brings new ones home.

But he has a few rules: he only buys locally and he doesn’t buy the new blow molds currently sold in stores.

Joe Huntley says he enjoys connecting with other collectors on a Maritime blow molding Facebook group, where people buy, sell and display their collections. (Dave Laughlin / CBC)

Companies caught on to the craze and started making blow molds en masse, but Huntley said there was nothing quite like the originals.

“I love nostalgia,” he said, noting the superb quality of antique blow molds – they were made to withstand inclement weather and harsh winters.

“I like to stand on my doorstep and watch the little ones stop and watch. But even adults, it reminds them of when they were younger when they had them at home or their neighbors had them.

“They are just plain fancy.”

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