Ahhh, there is nothing quite like Christmas! If you want to be different this year, why not go for a complete set of Vintage Christmas Decorations? Its all the rage right now with glass baubles appearing in shops, but they are not quite the same as the original ones for a real talking point this Christmas!
Artificial Christmas Tree
Without a doubt the first thing to get right is your tree! During the mid century period (50s – 70s) artificial trees were the thing, as plastic and metal manufacturing became easier and materials lighter to work with. Go really kitsch and get a white plastic tree, or stick with traditional green. During the 50s you could even get them in Aluminium! These came in an array of colours from silver, pink, and even purple. They came with a rotating colour wheel also to help illuminate the tree. Now highly collectable of course!
Vintage Fairy Lights
The tradition of using lights on a tree goes back to when candles were used to symbolise Christ being the light of the world. Strings of electric lights became popular in the early and mid part of the 20th Century, when they were also used off the tree to decorate buildings etc. Made with small electric light bulbs from the mid century onwards, they are now more commonly being replaced by LEDs and battery operated lights. Not quite the same charm perhaps, but who can forget them all going out due to one faulty bulb! To go really vintage, get a string of multi coloured lights with plastic lanterns or shades. Always test old electrical items and change the plug to one of modern safety standards before use.
Vintage coloured glass or plastic Christmas Baubles are just the ticket as the basis for your Vintage Christmas tree. Blown glass baubles were originally made in Germany in the 1880s, and when F W Woolworth imported them into his stores in the US, their popularity exploded. They were made from heating a tube of glass over a flame and then inserting it into a mould to get the shape, introducing metals for the lovely shiny colours. These ornaments were very delicate so of course not many survived, so are very desirable to find now, especially in their original boxes. They came in a variety of shapes and sizes from ball, to teardrop and concave, in a dazzling array of colours and hand painted designs.
No vintage home at Christmas would have been complete without a flock decoration or two. From Flock Santas to Kitsch Fawns and other ornaments. These are totally charming! The base of the ornament was usually made from plastic, with the flock being applied as the clothing or fur. For Santa a white pipe cleaner trim would finish off his jacket and hat, and plastic antlers for his reindeer. You can find dancing Santa hanging ornaments, and sets of fawns with bells around their neck.
Christmas Tree Topper
When the Christmas Tree first gained popularity in the 1800s, a figure of the Baby Jesus would adorn the top. However, it began to change to an Christmas Angel or Fairy that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star like the Wise Men saw. You can still find some fabulous tree angels or fairies from the 50s and 60s, often made with a dolls head and a cone body. People would also make their own fairies from an old doll and a net curtain, tinsel etc. Star tree toppers were often also made from blown glass like the baubles and you might still find some in fab atomic designs
Christmas Garlands and Honeycomb Decorations
Garlands originally had quite a bit of symbolism attached to them, such as berries symbolising the blood of Christ and a wreath being circlular in shape, symbolised His infinite love. Now they have lost a lot of their original meaning but are still used to adorn buildings inside and out at Christmas and are a reliable symbol that the festive time is here. If you really want mid century kitsch, look out for the multi coloured foil garlands, often sold in Woolworths etc, that are a cut out honeycomb and fold back into a flat shape when not in use. You can also find folding paper honeycomb decorations in the shape of a bell, angel’s skirt, tree etc which look fantastic when displayed!
I hope you enjoyed my little trip down Christmas memory lane! Do share your own memories of Christmas decorations past in the comments!
This post is written by Rachel Toy, owner of Rachel’s Vintage & Retro. I am a vintage enthusiast writing about a Vintage Lifestyle, focusing on the Vintage Home. I also sell a wide variety of vintage household items from kitchenalia, to homewares such as linens, mid century glass, brewerania, furniture and collectable toys on my Etsy Shop.