This is what the world needs: vintage Santa

Midcentury Santa yard sign

Do you remember this Santa? Of course you do! (Photo from Retro Renovation,

As I’m sure you know, I am far from the only person interested in vintage stuff, i.e. decor and artifacts and design from my mid-20th-century childhood here at the Manse in Queensborough. The internet is jammed with information about, and photos of, midcentury vintage, and if you love that stuff it’s a bit easy to get lost in it. But tonight I’m going to be your curator and choose just one seasonal thing from all that information: vintage Santa lawn decorations!

There is a blog called Retro Renovation that I recently discovered – thanks to the New York Times drawing it to my attention – and absolutely adore. It contains lots of posts about how people have renovated midcentury homes, or homes of another era onto which they’ve grafted midcentury style, and it makes for delightful reading. Lots of before-and-after photos and whatnot. Hey, can you say pink bathroom? (I know some people who deliberately remodelled their bathroom to get rid of the 1950s pink fixtures. Can you believe that craziness?)

Anyway, Retro Renovation, rather like Meanwhile, at the Manse, has been featuring lots of Christmas-themed posts recently, and a couple of them have been about the once-ubiquitous lawn ornaments made (in kit form; you had to put them together yourself) by a California company called U-Bild – which, incredibly, is still in business and is still making the kits for vintage Christmas lawn ornaments.

Here is Retro Renovation’s first post on the subject, about a chap named Mike who got the kit and had a carpenter build him a vintage Santa-and-reindeer display, impressing his neighbourhood all to heck into the bargain. And here is a followup post about U-Bild and the holiday displays the company still sells. So that any of us could do what Mike did!

Here is a gallery of the finished products (all photos thanks to Retro Renovation, which I urge you to check out):

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I don’t know about you, but I think that, unless and until I can get my hands on some Peanuts Christmas lawn ornaments, a U-Bild Santa and reindeer would be just perfect for the Manse’s lawn!

6 thoughts on “This is what the world needs: vintage Santa

  1. Loved Retro Renovation’s blog – thanks for the link. It’s now my second favourite blog to visit 🙂 And yes, you really do need a Santa Claus at the Manse.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Lindi! I think Raymond and I have both pretty much come around to the idea of a vintage Christmas display on the Manse lawn for next year, either the Peanuts band or the U-Bild Santa and reindeer. Now just to acquire same and do the work! (Raymond’s job. Did I mention that? Oops – sorry, Raymond…)

  2. Ah yes, a festive task well suited to a retired gentleman. As an elderly acquaintance of mine put it, when he showed me a beautifully dovetailed wooden chest he’d built – “a man needs a man’s hobby.”

  3. I became a follower of RR around the time we closed, in November, on our “new to us”, c. 1959 Mid Century Modern home (or more accurately MC “Modest” – according to the website.) It’s a great resource. If only I had some money!

    • Well, one of the nifty things about Retro Renovation is that some of the stuff they find is not terribly expensive. And regardless of price, the photos are always fun! But more to the point: now I’m dying to see your “midcentury modest” home, Jane! How cool!

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