How to Decorate Old-Fashioned Christmas Trees

christmas ornaments


Decorate your Christmas tree in a truly traditional fashion featuring a variety of holiday themes. For generations, Christmas has been the time to celebrate with friends and family, play in the snow with children, travel through winter wonderlands, relax around a fire, and prepare special meals with family and friends. For over a hundred years, this holiday involved extensive decorating inside and outside the home. Evergreens were strung over portieres, banisters, around fireplace mantels, and even along the borders of doors and windows.


Vintage Christmas Tree



In the past, weeks before the Christmas holidays, children made up little parties in search of moss, ferns, gravel, and bright-hued stones to be used in making a Christmas Putz, a miniature landscape placed under an old-fashioned Christmas tree. For the children, the tree was the most prized possession of Christmas, holding all the presents underneath for them to joyfully open on Christmas day.


Vintage Christmas Tree

In preparation before the tree arrived, the woman of the house would secretly gild and silver nuts and ornaments, making little balloons with fluted sides, and cutting fanciful shapes from colored papers to adorn old-fashioned Christmas trees. To increase the genuine fun for the fireside, the children were encouraged to manufacture as many of the trimmings as possible. Christmas trees were lit with candles attached to the tree. There were a variety of ways to decorate an old-fashioned Christmas tree, all can be easily duplicated today.


A Real Christmas Tree

A trip to a Christmas tree farm can not only supply you with the perfect evergreen, but can be the beginning of a new family tradition. For a real Christmas tree you can choose a symmetrical young tree from a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm or a pre-cut tree farm. Before you begin your tree picking adventure, be sure to measure the height of the ceiling where you will display your tree. You will want to choose a tree that is at least one foot shorter than the ceiling height. Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, noble fir and Scotch pine are said to be the best for shape, color, lush branches, and superior needle retention. Always try to find your Christmas tree early and before the best trees have been sold. 


Christmas Trees

Artificial Christmas Trees Victorian Christmas Tree
Choosing a Christmas Tree Celebrate a Victorian Style Christmas
Christmas Ornament Feather Christmas Tree
Crafts: Free Ornament Design Try a Feather Christmas Tree



Artificial Christmas Trees

Many of us remember the white or silver  fake Christmas trees of the 1960s with the rotating light wheel directing rainbow colors to reflect off of the tree. But did you know that a hundred years earlier, an artificial Christmas tree was introduced with all the bells and whistles of the "modern" age?

In 1868, Harper’s Bazaar magazine described a new style of Christmas tree -- an artificial Christmas tree that was made of “metal tubes, trunk, branches, and all in one, imitating so accurately the Christmas pines that when placed beside real trees it is difficult to distinguish the metal tree from the natural one.” The artificial Christmas tree was decorated with “reflectors of polished tin and gay-colored paper” to reflect the light. Then Christmas ornaments in the shape of “name-colored animals in miniature, elephants, tigers, lobsters, etc.” were suspended by elastic cords. Today, one cannot help but think that the safety of the household displaying such an artificial Christmas tree would be in question!


Victorian Christmas Trees
Victorian Feather Christmas Trees.
[Photo courtesy of Puppenhausmuseum Basel]


Don't forget the goose feather Christmas tree. The feather tree was the first artificial Christmas tree and originally made in Germany as early as 1845. Metal wires or sticks were covered with goose, turkey, ostrich or swan feathers. The feather sticks were drilled into a larger one to resemble the branches on a tree; the feathers were often died green to imitate pine needles. The trees were made to resemble the locally growing white pines of the German forestland, so they had wide spaces between their branches, short needles and berries on the end of every branch tip. Sears catalogs of the early 1900s listed a variety of feather christmas trees.


Victorian Christmas Tree

Many of our modern-day Christmas customs have their roots in Victorian Christmas traditions. Prince Albert is to thank for making the decorated Christmas tree popular in Great Britain. In line with the custom in his homeland of Germany, Prince Albert had the first Christmas tree erected in Windsor Castle in 1841 and adorned with traditional German Christmas decorations. Also, it was in 1846 that two London bakers invented the ever-popular Christmas cracker and carol singers can also trace their origin back to the Victorian period. When it comes to decorating your holiday tree like a Victorian Christmas tree, explore our many authentic Victorian Christmas crafts, including a free ebook with patterns and instructions to create 19th century Christmas ornaments.


Christmas TreeA Tree Good Enough to Eat

A Christmas tree good enough to eat may be made by trimming it with oranges, bananas, lemons, grapes, apples, raisens and nuts. Little figures made of raisins and prunes can be wired, then hung on the branches. In the nineteenth century, a small tub was filled with sawdust, and in it were placed gifts wrapped in mystifying bundles and securely tied. On Christmas morning each member of the household was given a fishing-rod and each one, in-turn, took a chance at the bundles with it. The parcel hooked was opened, unwrapped and given to the one whose name was inside.





Red & White Christmas Tree

A red themed Christmas tree may be made by tying all the packages in white tissue paper with red ribbon, or red tissue paper with white ribbon. Use white and red candles surrounded by red holly berries in clusters. Take single grains of popcorn, run a pin through and stick on the branches of the tree. Fill small white tarlatan stockings buttonholed in red thread with popcorn. You can even decorate old-fashioned Christmas trees with red and white peppermint candy canes and red and white paper flowers, and drape the walls at the back of the tree with red cheesecloth.





Christmas TreeChristmas Tree Full of Icicles

A Christmas tree full of icicles giving the effect of a winter thaw makes a glittering delight. This effect may be carried out by many short strings of glittering beads in gold, silver, or opaque draped across the branches. To have a silver-white Christmas tree, cover the branches of an eight-foot spruce tree with cotton batting, simulating drifts of snow. To the ends, and here and there on the branches, suspend glass icicles. Hang frosted silver balls upon the tree. When it is all finished scatter over it a shower of silver glitter or tinsel.




How to Decorate a White Christmas Tree

Today Christmas trees come in many different colors varying from green, silver, gold, red, pink, and even white artificial Christmas trees. Having a white Christmas tree adorn your home offers many new options for decoration than the traditional green tree. Depending on how you would like your tree, you can buy a pre-lit white Christmas tree or one without lights. White artificial Christmas trees offer a neutral background for any color or theme. There are endless options in decorating a white Christmas tree. An array of vintage ornaments and trimmings would stand out in a white backdrop. Or for a cooking or baking theme, ornaments can be found shaped liked cakes, pies, fruits, vegetables, and cooking utensils. For an animal lover, varieties of animal ornaments such as dogs, cats, birds, and zoo animals can stand out on a plain white Christmas tree. You can even make a "patriotic" tree like this one here.