Shoults blow mold collection. Photo by Lauri Griffith.

Pam and Brian Shoults’ neighbors say they feel a little guilty. Every Christmas they get to enjoy the family’s blow mold collection, and it’s like living in a holiday snow globe.

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If you’re not familiar with the blow mold craze, the plastic lawn ornaments have been used in the United States since the 1940s but became popular in the 1950s. The first blow mold to really capture the imagination of Americans was the Pink Flamingo, created in 1957 by Don Featherstone, who went to work for Union Products right out of art school.

Union Products and many other blow mold companies have now gone out of business, making the quest for vintage blow molds a serious challenge. Diehards scour the booths of Canton, Round Top and other antique markets to find elusive designs to complete their collection.

The Shoults family purchased their first blow mold Santa six years ago when oldest daughter Mary Carol was in kindergarten. Today, she’s a seventh grader at Lake Highlands Junior High, and sister Charlotte is a sixth grader at White Rock Elementary.

“I remember enjoying blow molds as a kid in St. Louis,” says Brian. “They’re more common in the Midwest.”

“We started collecting blow molds after going back to visit the Shoults side of the family at Christmas,” says Pam. “We would drive around and see them in people’s yards, and we loved them. We found them at antique malls and garage sales – they just have more of them up there.”

“You can buy them at Walmart and Lowe’s, but the vintage ones are tougher to find, and the prices have skyrocketed in the past couple of years,” explains Brian. “So far, we’ve collected 112, and we said we’d stop when we ran out of attic space. At this point it’s not about quantity, it’s about finding the ones that we really want. We only have one or two duplicates – we want to collect as many different ones as possible.”

One piece the family has their eye on is the Santa Claus train and tender car, seen online for as much as $1,200.

“It’s all about the bargain and the hunt,” laughs Pam.

It takes the family two full days to pull the blow molds out of the attic and set them up, then they pour hot chocolate and watch the reaction of passersby.

“There’s a younger child and his grandma who’ve come every night so far,” says Brian. “That’s part of the fun. We hear every year from neighbors whose kids ask to drive by our house. We do it as a family because we know people enjoy it.”

If you’d like to check out their display, the Shoults family lives at 9443 Spring Branch, not far from the Walnes’ house on the Lake Highlands Women’s League home tour. The Pioneer Woman shares tips on starting your own collection here.

Mary Carol Shoults with the family’s first blow mold Santa.