Traditional Christmas treasures have travelled a long way since gold, frankincense and myrrh. Although gold has retained its worth, popular festive gifts that hold practical value nowadays are usually rare vintage ornaments or figurines.
However, Christmas can bring with it several investment opportunities for those with a keen eye – from festive decorations to childhood toys. In this piece, we’ll be discussing whether placing your money in either could be a golden opportunity or just an expensive lost cause.
Prized Christmas collectibles – a golden opportunity?
Described as the ‘holy grail’ of Christmas ornaments, Dresdens, which are hand-crafted decorations produced in the Dresden-Leipzig-Furth area of Germany, are some of the most prized Christmas items in the world. These rare little miniatures, produced between the 1800s and WWII, are hugely sought after, with pieces fetching anything from £100 - £1,000. One rare Dresden ornament even sold for £10,000 in the early 2000s!
With Christmas ornaments often passed down through generations, you could, in fact, be sitting on a rare collectible without even realising. Popular keepsakes and family heirlooms from the festive season are Hallmark decorations, which were first introduced in 1973. The 1980 Hallmark Christmas Kitten, one of just 200 made, can sell for over $300 (£240).
Alongside Christmas decorations, toys often gifted during this time of year could become a worthy collectible if kept in good condition.
Worthy childhood toys
One of the most successful film franchises in the world, the Star Wars legacy has unsurprisingly led to producing the most lucrative merchandise out there. If you got onto the hype early, you could now have toys worth thousands. A 1978 Luke Skywalker figurine, one of just 20 made, fetched an astounding $25,000 (£20,000) at auction, while the 1978 Obi-Wan Kenobi figure (with a telescopic lightsaber) has an estimated worth of £4,000 - £5,000.
Other profitable vintage toys include the 1965 ‘reverse colour’ BP Dodge Wrecker Matchbox toy, which sold for over $8,400 (£6,700) on eBay, the Corgi 267 Batmobile, worth over £500, and an original 1959 Barbie, dressed in a striped costume, which auctioned for an eye-watering $27,450 (£22,037).
What makes a collectible?
Prized Christmas collectibles, particularly those that are commemorative or rare, can increase in value over time. Nostalgia has been said to run in 20-year cycles, which means that what you purchase now could become a collectible in 20 years.
Items with production errors could also become a worthy investment. A manufacturing fault turned the TY beanie baby Peanut, an elephant, a darker shade of blue. One of just a few thousand made, Peanut in royal blue is said to be worth anything up to $5,000 (£4,000).
What could be the future Christmas collectible?
Investing in the latest Lego sets could be a worthy venture. Astonishingly, Lego sets in pristine condition have increased in value by 12% year on year since 2000. In particular, those based on films, landmarks or brands can be profitable, alongside seasonal or limited edition sets. Figurines are still a go-to collectible, with first edition Frozen figures already selling for thousands.
Prized Christmas collectibles – more frankincense than gold?
Risk is still a factor to consider with Christmas collectibles, just like any other investment. An all too common problem, purchasing a Christmas item that has all the characteristics of a potential collector’s item doesn’t mean you’ll be sitting on a small fortune. Once considered a valuable Christmas ornament, Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates were purchased by collectors hoping to see a substantial return on investment. Although some can fetch for up to an impressive $4,100 (£3,300), in the 1970s, Royal Copenhagen noticed the increased demand and cleverly churned out industrial quantities of ‘limited edition’ commemorative plates, which subsequently saturated the market and diminished their value.
Similarly, after the success of Heston Blumenthal’s orange Christmas pudding in 2013, many Waitrose customers flocked to purchase the iconic dessert the following year, only to find that Waitrose had increased supply, and that their Christmas pudding was worth just its retail price.
Tastes and attitudes change over time, and just like frankincense - whose preciousness has declined over recent years - you could find that your ‘special edition’ Christmas item has, in fact, lost its place as a festive treasure.
Is it worth the risk?
Any investment opportunity has its dangers, and with Christmas collectibles, you could very easily be out of pocket when purchasing an item solely for its potential value. The golden rule with this kind of investment is, “if you don’t love it, don’t buy it”. By following this rule, even if your festive keepsake doesn’t earn you a holiday or a tidy nest egg, it will look good on the mantelpiece – and, sometimes, that can be just as rewarding.
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