Whether you're decorating a special Christmas tree or looking for inexpensive gifts that are sure to please, you can find some wonderful and unusual ornaments at local home accessories and gift shops this year. Here are 10 of my favorites for $10 and under.
Crate & Barrel in Towson Town Center has some of the prettiest glass ornaments around, in many different shapes and sizes. The ones I like best are the glass balls ($4.50) in rich jewel tones: deep ruby, emerald, cobalt and purple. They are 2 1/2 inches in diameter, hand-painted with gold, and they glitter with star and moon designs.
Also in Towson Town, Pottery Barn offers folk animal ornaments made of hand-painted papier-mache. From 2 inches to 4 inches in height, this whimsical, brightly colored menagerie is reasonably priced; the rotund little giraffe pictured at right sells for $5.
For people on tight budgets, Ikea in White Marsh has some excellent bargains in handcrafted ornaments. Ten charming decoupage balls, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter, are decorated with old-fashioned Christmas scenes and sell for a surprising $2.95.
Pier 1, at Belvedere and York roads, and other locations in the area, offers a variety of ornaments imported from around the world. I love the dangling gold, purple and red tassel-like ornaments for $2.99 from India. They jingle gently and look as if they might adorn a rajah's favorite sedan chair.
The Nature Company in Harborplace and other locations has trees decorated with various categories of "eco-ornaments" -- an all-wildlife one, for instance. My favorite ornaments are the celestial ones, especially a shooting star of gold-covered wood for $4.95.
At some of Baltimore's smaller gift shops you'll get ornaments you aren't likely to run into elsewhere because they don't stock any one kind in quantity. For the same reason, the stores may no longer have the exact ones shown here. But don't worry -- you're likely to find something you like even better at a comparable price.
Night Goods in the Gallery carries a charming line of German glass ornaments in the shape of fruits and vegetables, such as the carrot (at right) for $8.95. The ornaments are produced with an actual antique mold, and each one has a story behind it. The carrot ornament, for instance, was a traditional gift for brides because it was supposed to bring good luck in the kitchen.
The delightful cat angel ($6.50) from Irresistibles in Cross Keys has a soft body and a hand-painted face. Her wings are Battenburg lace, her dress pink tulle and her halo a circlet of gold and miniature stars. Any child will fall in love with her, and you will too.
You wouldn't be surprised if the hand-carved and hand-painted bird ($3.25) from Menagerie in Wyndhurst Station cost double or even triple what it does. With the natural wood, black paint and a touch of red, the crafts person has created a miniature work of art with lovely detailing.
In a different vein, the Kellogg Collection on Falls Road has faux Victorian pendant ornaments ($4 to $7) made of gold, fake pearls and crystal. A Christmas tree decorated with these would glitter wonderfully -- or just one would add an unusual accent.
Finally, just for fun, the new gift and accessories store at Greenspring Station, Dahne & Weinstein, has a line called Party Animals ($10). These rotund little papier-mache bears are adorable, and come in all sorts of outfits. Our Party Animal is an ice skater, with a real cloth scarf and tiny red earmuffs.
On the Home Front welcomes interesting tidbits of home and garden news -- events related to the home or garden, new stores, trends, local people with ideas on design and decorating, mail-order finds, furniture styles, new products and more. Please send suggestions to Elizabeth Large, On the Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.