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Are vintage ceramic Christmas trees worth a lot of money?

Their value shoots up around the holidays, but now could be the best time to stock up, an expert says.
/ Source: TODAY

Remember ceramic Christmas trees?

They were huge in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and they were basically the perfect, no-mess Christmas decoration: they fit on a tabletop or mantle, they had cute, twinkly lights, and some of them even spun around and played music.

“Everyone who took a ceramics class and celebrated Christmas made one of these trees,” vintage lifestyle expert Bob Richter told TODAY Home. “People put them on top of the television, back when the TV was a piece of furniture.”

This 1978 ceramic tree was on sale last December on eBay for $245. At that time of year, that price is not surprising, Richter says.eBay

Ceramic Christmas trees pretty much went out of style by the ‘80s, but people held onto them and, today, the retro decorations are making a comeback.

Perhaps feeling nostalgic for the holidays their youth, people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars on sites like eBay for vintage ceramic Christmas trees. One vintage tree recently sold for $100 on eBay, another for $149, and another for $218. (And closer to the holiday season, the trees can fetch even higher prices on the auction site.)

So if you have a ceramic tree collecting dust in your attic, and it doesn’t hold any sentimental value, it could be a nice opportunity to make a little extra holiday cash later this year.

This musical tree from the '70s was listed for $144 on eBay last year.eBay

It's definitely best to hold onto them until closer to the holiday season, according to Richter.

“The truth of the matter is, they’re not incredibly valuable at other times of the year," he said.

Richter, the author of “A Very Vintage Christmas,” recommends selling them on eBay with a three-day listing and including an incentive like "Get in time for Christmas" in the title.

Around the holidays, vintage ceramic trees could fetch a few hundred dollars, depending on the type and condition. Last year, Richter recalls selling multiple vintage ceramic trees for between $100 and $200 each.

Ceramic trees may have passed their heyday, but new ones are still in production around the holidays. This new, white ceramic tree was available on Amazon in December for $38.Amazon

Musical trees tend to be more valuable, he says, as well as very large very small ones. And as when selling anything online, the photos make a big difference.

“People don’t like buying something that’s being held by a hand that has dirty fingernails or if there’s a mess in the background,” he said.

If you’re interested in selling vintage ceramic trees, Richter recommends stocking up now in the summer when there’s a low demand.

This 9-inch tree was available new on Amazon for $19 last December.Amazon

“I buy holiday items off-season in July, when you’re sweating at a flea market, because you can get those trees for $10 and $20,” he said. “But at this time of the year, everybody wants one. So even at flea markets the prices are much higher.”

Richter says ceramic trees have become more popular recently because the younger generation is feeling nostalgic for the ones they had at home as kids.

“At the holidays everybody wants one because it reminds them of the past. And it’s a recent thing within the past couple of years,” he said. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, my mom had this, my aunt had this, so I want one.’ … Basically, you’re buying nostalgia. You’re buying the memory.”

This musical tree from 1977 was listed on eBay last December for $99. eBay

And for that reason, Richter says that while there’s nothing wrong with selling ceramic Christmas trees, it might be worth hanging onto them for sentimental reasons.

“The truth of the matter is, I think it’s great to turn them into cash, and it’s also great to bring them down and plug them in and use them, and tell a story of your grandmother or your aunt or your mother or whoever it was who had them in the first place, because I think that’s the true value,” he said. “It has emotional value, and that has gossamer wings.”

This article was originally published Dec. 10, 2018.