It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

All retail outlets generally go out of their way to ‘look a lot like Christmas’ during the holidays.  Starbucks has done this as well and in my opinion it has been done with a charming and beautiful feel.  Particularly in the earlier years of the 2000’s.  It still is quite wonderful and festive, but to save some money I am sure they have scaled back on specially produced items for printed signage materials more these days.

As I collect only ornaments, the various In-Store Marketing (ISM) displays have not been items I search out.  But I have over the years appreciated them greatly and even was tempted from time to time to ask if I might have some of them when the season was over.  I sadly never did, but to me, one who decorates the entire house for Christmas, the displays were often so creative and of such quality, they would have been welcome in my home.

Recently, however, I learned a few years featured ornaments as the decoration and so that entered into my collectible field of view. I discovered a display tree that is from the early 2000’s.  I know little about it and as I do more research, will update this post with details.  The tree itself is nearly 6′ tall and is really impressive.

Later in 2009 for the “Wishes” theme, Starbucks employed a “paper cut” design pattern creating numerous items in felt, paper and more.  Some had beautiful filigree designs and cost out words such as wish, joy, hope, love.   There was a wide array of product matching this theme.

The ornament tree is not included in our catalog as part of the collection, but I have included the three felt ornaments in the “Dual-Purpose” category.  They serve as ornaments AND marketing decorations.  But the decorations were just ornaments.  So the case could be made to just call them ornaments outright.  As they were not sold to the general public was the deciding factor that led to this decision.

I am not certain of the ‘official’ Starbucks policy of what is to be done with these displays after their use, but I suspect in most cases they were to be destroyed and disposed of.  I am so pleased these survived to find their way into my collection and I hope you enjoy them as well.



You Are Here Goes Global

The You Are Here (YAH) series of mugs has been expanding worldwide at a record pace, but until recently, the ornaments were limited to the US.  They now are crossing the border, but interestingly in very unexpected locations.

Starbucks Ornament You Are Here

The first came out in Vietnam in a unique 3 ornament set featuring Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hanoi and are made in Thailand.  This is the only known YAH ornament sold in a boxed set.

The next were Hong Kong and Macau, sold in Hong Kong and made in China.  The next two were Singapore, both named Singapore and also made in China.  One of the Singapore is of the famed Merlion Fountain and the other, the Orchid Towers, so that is how I will identify them in the gallery and database.

To date there are no other known or rumored releases.

Collecting is Like a Treasure Hunt

One of the reasons I like collecting, at least when coming into it late in the game, is that it is like going on a treasure hunt.  To gather releases as they happen is satisfying, but discovering ornaments from Asia in years past that were not known to US collectors, to find them and add them to my collection, has been really fun.

In addition to the joy of detective work, I have also made some online friendships with people all over the world.

Most recently I acquired a set that released in China back in 2009.  A US collector informed me it was produced, but to find it was very difficult.  When it arrives I will post pictures.  That brings my collection to just 7 ornaments shy of complete!  There are some “Also Ornaments” I still need as well.  They are the 2014 Iron Chocolate Balls, candy tins from Asia.

Here are the ornaments I am still missing…
If you happen to find them and they are available for me to acquire, let me know. 😉

The 2006 Cup and Saucer was released in Japan.

The 2006 Cup and Saucer released in Japan.

2009 Snow Globes from Japan

2009 Snow Globes from Japan

Welcome to My New Digs

I am glad you found yourself here. This is now the new home of all my Starbucks ornament collection and discussion about them.  I hope in time to develop a full on catalog with the ability to sort by details so that you can pull up any group of ornaments you desire.  To do that I had to change platforms for the site host.

I was able to make some other design changes as well.  So I hope you like them.

I have said when trying to figure out if a little Starbucks mug was an ornament or not, “No string, no ornament”.  The string is what makes it a legitimate ornament.  So that has led to my new site tagline, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that string”.  Thanks Chris Falconio for coming up with that!

At this point I am certain that you will find every ornament that Starbucks has ever released here on this site.  From time to time we discover one previously unknown, but I think that time is coming to an end.  In my personal collection, I am only missing 7 of the over 250 produced.  I am constantly on the hunt to acquire them.

Please enjoy the gallery and information as you continue to collect these little pieces of joy on a string.

Same? 2013 & 2016 YAH

I wish we could get in the mind of the product teams at Starbucks.  Why do they release what they do when they do?  Especially when it’s something as random as the three ornaments in the You Are Here (YAH) series.  In 2013 five YAH cities/states were released to much joy and appreciation of all.  The cities/states were Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.  They were beautiful and our first glimpse at a miniature of the, at the time, new full-size mug style.

2014 brought us a “riff” on the series with a set of gold YAH, 2015 brought us the Disneyland and DisneyWorld parks YAH.  Again, well loved ornaments.  And then, as noted in previous posts, we had this odd release of 25 YAH from cities and states all over the country.  In addition to the odd timing, released in March; and the odd purchase options, only sold in licensed stores, collectors are mystified as to the re-release of 3 of the original 5.  Why re-release any, but if you must, why not all 5?

In any case we now have a 2016 (bottom stamped 2015, but released in 2016) version of New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.  Many collectors decided not to bother getting them since they were the same.  But are they?  Below are side-by-side pictures showing the differences.  In reality, the differences are only to the degree of being a variation and not a fully new design.  But there are differences to be noted nonetheless.

2013 and 2106 YAH Comparison

It may be the production differences but the placement on the cup is a bit different, most notably the Seattle. Colors of the 2013 version are more saturated as well.

2013 and 2106 YAH Comparison back

2013 again is on the left and this view again highlights the color differences.

2013 and 2106 YAH Comparison side

2013 is on the bottom and here you can definitely see the different location of the image on the mug. New York is only slightly different, San Francisco a bit, but Seattle very noticeable.

2013 and 2106 YAH Comparison bottom

Here are the other distinct differences. The 2013 on the left are Made in China and the 2016 on the right are Made in Thailand. The strings are quite different too. The 2013 are a silk cord and the 2016 is a woven string that is course and kind of inexpensive feeling and looking. IMO

A Special Discovery

Realizing that Japan did in fact have variants for the To Go Cups, I began to search out to acquire the To Go Cups for as far back as I could find.  To my surprise, not 2006 Red To Go Cup Japan 2only did I find the variants, but a completely unique design that nobody, to my knowledge, in the USA knew about!

In 2006 Japan released a Red Cup and a Saucer and Tea Cup.  The Tea Cup I had been made aware of but was suspicious of its origin as it has the “Holiday 2006” in a red script font on the bottom.  No other ornament from Japan has this and this made me quite curious.  But if it was a USA release why were we not seeing it on eBay along with the “wishes” style that was released here?  With the discovery of 2006 Red To Go Cup Japanthis new Red To Cup, all is made clear.  It also has the “Holiday 2006” in red script on the bottom.  The design is sweet showing a family walking their dog and there is a star burst pattern covering the entire cup in a deeper red.

This journey to discover new ornaments has been fun and this one in particular is a special find.  I think we are near the end of finding previously unknown ornaments to the USA market, but who knows?


The Variant Years

I suspect some international standards dictate how the copyright and production information are worded.  And for that reason there are a few years where the To Go Cup ornaments are identical except for French included on the bottom for the USA/Canada ornaments.  And then for the new logo design, the TM/MC and TM differences as noted in another post.  Look over the below infographic to see the variations between the 2009-2012 USA/Canada and Japan ornaments.

Update: Since this was originally posted I discovered that 2008 was also a year with a variation. Here is a quick summary of the red cups release by year and region:

  • 2004 One version
  • 2005 One Version
  • 2006 USA and Japan have unique versions
  • 2007 USA and Japan have unique versions
  • 2008 USA and Japan have same version with bottom stamp variation
  • 2009 USA and Japan have same version with bottom stamp variation
  • 2010 USA and Japan have same version with bottom stamp variation
  • 2011  USA and Japan have same version with bottom stamp variation
  • 2012 USA and Japan have same version with bottom stamp variation
  • 2013 USA and Japan have unique versions
  • 2014 USA and Asia and Europe have unique versions
  • 2015 USA and Asia have unique versions

2009-2012 To Go Cup Comparison

What’s Your Fave?

There are far too many fantastic ornaments to come down to just one favorite.  At least for me.  But I am curious to which ones you are drawn.  I will from time to time create groups of ornaments for you to vote on as your favorite of that group.

YAHs by Year

Over the years Starbucks has released a number of mug styles, the most ubiquitous being the Icon and You Are Here (YAH) styles.  The latter has also been released in small doses in the 2 ounce size to ornament collector’s and mugger’s (those who collect mugs) delight.

The first set of 5 was released in 2013 featuring the cities/states of Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.  In 2014 a more Christmas themed version was released, called Gold YAH.  This set featured the cities/states California, Chicago, Florida, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, Pike Place Market, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.  My favorite of the releases came in 2015.  It was part of the Disney Collection which, in addition to the YAH ornaments, included To Go Cups, Cold Cups, and a 60th Anniversary tall mug.  The YAH set featured the six US theme parks, Disneyland, California Adventure, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.

All the sets to this point were released during the Christmas shopping season.  The 2016 set, however, was released in March, and only to licensed stores such as those in airports, hotels, and turnpike rest stops.  This set includes the cities/states Alaska, Arizona, Atlanta, Boston, California, Colorado, Dallas, Florida, Houston, Illinois, Miami, Michigan, Nashville, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas, Virginia, and Washington DC.

Each of the individual ornaments can be seen on the ornament gallery page.  Here are pictures of the the full sets together.

2013 You Are Here Set3116 2014 You Are Here Gold Set3164 2015 Disney Series You Are Here Set2016 You Are Here Full Set