These mid century Christmas door decorations would still work today…
Dress up your doors — inside & out — with a retro Christmas decoration vibe
In the postwar 1950s — when the American economy and babies were booming — thriving suburbs bursting with brand new tract homes popped up all over the country.
Reveling in their new-found prosperity, 50s families enjoyed a new Christmas tradition: Extravagantly decorating their homes for the holidays. (A tradition we continue escalating to all-new levels!)
The nature of outdoor Christmas decorations has changed over the years. Strands of lights were, of course, ubiquitous from the get-go, even as specific lighting styles have evolved over the years.
These days we may have gigantic sculptures and inflatable Santas on our lawns, among other festive tableaus — not to mention lavish light show productions with a synchronized musical program (possibly even uploaded to YouTube or TikTok for the whole world to enjoy!).
Families in the 50s, however, were more likely to lend special care to how they decorated their front doors, and enter their elegantly decorated home into a neighborhood contest, one that was perhaps sponsored by their local power company.
Whether you’re a nostalgia buff or looking for some 50s-inspired Christmas door decorations for your mid-century home (or both!), we have some fun and festive ideas from these doors of yore.
Festive lighted Christmas door decorations
On the left is a big shiny red bow, while on the right is a retro-style tall Christmas tree design outlined in yellow outdoor twinkle lights.
A few small objects, importantly grouped, create large-size drama
From 1957: See how you can compose small objects into large, impressive effects. Make the stylized wreathing by stapling separate leaves to a frame of cardboard, overlapping each leaf. Use laurel, rhododendron or paper.
Door wreaths are inset with red-sprayed Styrofoam wreaths, centered with a pleated paper sunburst and scattered with sequins — all easy to get, inexpensive materials.
ALSO SEE: Bad vintage Christmas ads: 20 retro holiday sales pitches that you’d never see today
Simple but sweet ribbon stripes on this 50s front door
From 1958: A simple ribbon treatment on a plain slab door is a very easy but tremendously effective decoration for the holidays. For double beauty, repeat the design on the inside. Ribbons can be fixed with tacks or double-faced cellophane tape.
If you have a glass area near the entrance, as here, in the Dr. Marco Rogo home, place your Christmas tree near it, so the lights shine through with their warm, inviting glow.
Vintage paper Christmas door decorations
Blue holiday wrapping paper serves as the background for these two angels
Christmas door decorations with classic beauty
From 1958: To be truly beautiful, the decorations you use in and about your home should be in keeping with its style of architecture, its period of decoration, and the color scheme you have used.
For the bronzed, classic beauty of the Keuhnaman doorway, Edward Axman and Walter Sorenson made plaques of cones, nuts and leaves, and a pair of stylized trees. The dramatic effect is greater because the designs are so right for their setting.
ALSO SEE: 30+ stunning vintage crystal chandeliers: Sparkle this perfect never goes out of style!
Golden door decorations are cut from metallic foil
Old-fashioned Christmas door decorations: A dove and a silver bag of ornaments (1958)
From 1958: Silver rope, a luxuriously plump and gleaming twist of metallic yarns, comes six feet long, with a sumptuous large tassel at each end.
It’s supple and easy to drape, so its glamorizing possibilities are limitless. See it below putting the finishing touch to a swag basket full of satin Christmas ornaments.
Lovely vintage 50s Christmas wreaths
Left: This yarn wreath, designed by Gladys Herndon, is fashioned in bold Persian colors ranging from gold to fuchsia to violet.
It is decorated with bright ropes of Christmas beads. The yarn is wrapped around a plastic-foam frame. Gold paper stars scattered over the door add importance and drama to the smart decoration.
Right: Colorful rope circlets and a fringed rope wreath bid visitors “Welcome” and “Adieu” during the holiday season.
ALSO SEE: 35 Christmas door decoration ideas & wreaths so you can celebrate the vintage way
There’s a festive feeling all around this door
Multicolored outdoor string lights make this leafy garland shine! (See a similar modern-day pre-lit version here.)
Four pairs of golden baroque flat designs accent this vintage door (1956)
Christmas door decorations: Seasonal greenery surrounds this 1950s doorway
A golden chain garland drapes a doorway
Christmas door decorations: Tinsel-edged swags and poufs (1958)
MORE: Cute vintage Christmas decorations made with everyday items (1966)
Lighted snowflake garlands hung vertically create a festive holiday look
Sliding glass Christmas door decorations
Christmas door decorations from 1958: Large, floor-to-ceiling windows offer wonderful opportunities for the “artist at home” to go to work. And you don’t need to be an accomplished professional, either.
These stately trees, each topped by a star, were inspired by the exciting array of plastic gift-wrap and color masking tapes now available. Keep your design simple, sketch it out roughly on paper, then transfer it to the window — scaling proportions to fit.
Christmas door decorations from the 1950s
4 more quick ideas for vintage-style Christmas door decorations
From 1959: What’s on your door? Oh, any number of exciting decorations! Try some of these suggestions for indoors and out.
An artificial succulent wreath is trimmed with nuts. The cuckoo clock is a gift box covered with wallpaper.
Wooden gingerbread boy is painted, trimmed with braid and fringe. The lollipop tree is shaped from a long line of lollipops secured with tape on white cardboard.
DON’T MISS THIS: 100 vintage Christmas scenes so sweet and old-fashioned, you’ll wish you had a time machine
I was a great fan of Sunset magazine when we lived In California from 1964 -1975. I did many of the crafts that were shown in the issues. In fact I still have items that I clipped from the magazine. Many things that were popular then are in fashion again. My children have asked what happened to my string art and I have made new macrame hanging for friends and family. Our children were young and we made many Christmas presents for family.
I am quite excited to see your newsletter and what surprises it will hold