Whether you go full-on retro with your decorations or just add a few subtle touches, the 60s can be the perfect source of ideas for a festive and unforgettable holiday celebration.
Take a trip back in time and find some inspiration for your Christmas party decor from the unique aesthetics of the 1960s.
1960s Christmas party decor: Drum hospitality table (1961)
This table invites one and all to step up and share the season! The cardboard drum frame is covered in green felt trimmed with gold upholstery cord.
Sparkling decorative Christmas tree cake (1968)
This year, stage a Christmas spectacular… with a glittering, glistening eggnog cake!
Shape it like a starry Christmas tree, deck it with silvery garlands made from foil. On high, put a shining angel, and at the base, rock candy crystals to reflect dancing candlelight.
1960s Christmas party decor: A red and white holiday table with a candy cane centerpiece (1965)
Shower of gold drapery: Shiny fringed door decor (1961)
This shimmering curtain is like a shimmering fall of everlasting golden rain, is a 3-foot-wide, 8-foot-long curtain of slender, supple strands of metallized vinyl, which is also drapable in swags or festoons. Or you might cut it into glamorous fringing, to hang from chandeliers or from the ceiling.
1960s Christmas party decor: Festive fireplace with a huge metallic star
Kissing rings Christmas ornament craft from 1960
Kissing rings are a delightful Christmas custom. These are embroidery hoops covered with red ribbon and sprigged with holly and mistletoe. Lucky the one caught beneath! Ribbon can be glued to or wound around the rings.
1960s Christmas party decor: Tall wood-dowel Christmas tree decoration (1961)
The tall, bracketed geometry of a wood-dowel tree repeats the structural lines of the modern living room. It is also a lesson in how you can tie in the trimming colors with the color scheme of the room.
The color of the painted tree and its hurricane-shaded candles are intensified earth tones from the draperies, walls, and rug. Silver-spiked glitter balls furnish lively glitter.
Homemade 60s Christmas decor: Deck the halls in keeping with your home
If your house is Colonial, be traditional.
Revive the charm, banish the cliches of long-ago Christmases. Use an abundance of ready-made ropes of real greens from the florist’s. Wind them with ribbons cut from bright felt.
For a wreath, fill a giant copper mold (housewares departments carry these) with Christmas balls attached with glue. Instead of a Christmas tree (unknown in Colonial days), have a decorative centerpiece of clove-studded apples or oranges anchored with wooden picks. Make gaily wrapped presents very much part of the picture as shown on these pages.
Use everything from greens to metallic paper — and don’t forget imagination!
If your house is an apartment, be original.
Remember those fallen needles last year? Put your tree on the terrace to save space and work. Weatherproof decorations like our plastic bows are a must, and Christmas balls reflect city lights.
If you don’t have a terrace, mass your packages around two or more tabletop trees. Draw attention to one, or both, of these arrangements by draping the window with paper chains. See how we use paper chains, swags, and ropes in all our settings. Don’t be afraid of an unconventional color scheme, but do plan one that’s becoming to your room.
If your house is Victorian, be sentimental.
Bring out the special warmth and glow that only a Victorian house has, with frankly old-fashioned decorations.
For example, that ladder, also used for tree-trimming purposes. Paint it red, garland it with smilax (no Victorian dinner table was ever complete without smilax [a climbing shrub]!) and use it to hold presents and candles.
If you live in a ranch house, be regional.
Look to our own Southwest for ideas. After all, that’s where the ranch house originated. Borrow from Mexico, too.
Probably your living room is done in neutrals — the beiges and the browns — and furnished in contemporary or modern, so choose uninhibited colors. The more the merrier your Christmas decorations will be.
Topping this typical ranch-house fireplace is a handmade star out from tin cans and trimmed with “Eye of God” yarn motifs from Mexico. Also from Mexico are mulled wine mugs and gourd-shaped figure.
Giant decorated Christmas stockings (1965)
Dark green felt covered in spangled hot pink crochet, chartreuse felt with all-over golden beads and a maribou cuff, and pink velveteen with scalloped fake fur cuff and sequins tied on with yarn.
Groovy teen Christmas party ideas (1968)
Grow a tree of twigs hung with silvery bells and gay felt goodies. More merry-makers: a napkin basket stuffed with finger-towel napkins; liners under the plates for color cheer.
Feast your wondering eyes on the quick “silver” collecting idea: sterling and stainless in matching patterns! Can you guess which is which? Guests won’t.
For fun and favors, turn soda bottles into bright yarn fantasies and pour in party spirit using a funnel and a pitcher (at right). Giant coffee cups of dips and dunks (at the left ) are labeled for nibbling behind their funny faces.
1960s Christmas party decor: A candy-coated church (1964)
This church is fast to make, fascinating to see as an end-of-the-table decoration, or in front of a lighted window with both sides decorated.
To make it: Cute 3″ wide plastic sheet [they apparently mean styrofoam] into the appropriate shape, glue to a cardboard base. Outline doors, windows and edges with your favorite hard candy.
Creative 1960s Christmas party decor (1964)
Expandable Christmas castle, made from a combination of mailing tubes and boxes, can be tiny or tremendous to fit your decorating needs.
The main fortress is a shoebox with cardboard cylinders at each corner. For added interest, insert slender tubes inside slightly larger ones, adding a serrated border of paper. Paint towers brilliant hues.
Mexican-inspired wreath is made in minutes by covering a plastic circle with many-colored yarn, gold ribbon.
Pert reindeer with tinsel-laden antlers creates a jaunty centerpiece for Yuletide tables.
To make: cut and fit two plastic detergent bottles together in an “L” shape and spray gold. Cut one-inch diameter circle at top and insert two felt ears and branches. Trim with fringe and ribbon.
Christmas princess castle dollhouse from plywood and cardboard (1964)
Opulent tiered table Christmas tree with green paper loops (1965)
This Christmas tree is fashioned of loops of heavy crepe paper in brilliant shades of lime and holiday green.
To make it: Thread three plastic foam balls (3-, 2-1/2-, 2-inch) on a 32-inch dowel pointed at the top. A food container sprayed gold serves as the base.
Make loops by stacking four pieces of heavy crepe paper 10 inches long and the width of the circumference of the largest ball. Stack and sew 1-1/2 inches from the longest edge. Cut into inch strips up to stitching. Repeat for her two balls. Strips are then looped back, pled, and pinned around the plastic balls.
1960s Christmas party decor: Crystal-like western “table tree” dessert stand (1968)
Storybook 1960s Christmas party decor ideas (1969)
Better Homes and Gardens (December 1969)
Is it a party, a parade, or pageant? Actually, it can be all three — or any one you choose. These storybook characters who crowd the recreation room are going through the most delightful experience of their young years.
Dressed in box costumes ([bottom], Pierrette, Mother Goose, Drummer Boy, Pinocchio, Toy Soldier, Rudolph, and Pirate; [above], Dancing Doll, Drummer Boy, and Rudolph), they are re-creating scenes they’ve read or heard on records.
How does this happy holiday happening come about? Start with any clever mother who wants to give her youngsters and their friends a memory of Christmas — and something creative, too.
A party with box costumes will require only one preliminary get-together. Invite the group over, and present them with a choice of well-known storybook characters.
This calls for a bit of extra planning on your part, since some of the classics are too long and complicated for small children to comprehend. So have a condensed version ready to recount — or read them just the highlights of the story, showing them the accompanying illustrations.
Of course, if there’s been a popular television show recently, that wooden puppet with the long nose, or a peg-legged pirate, or a tin soldier may be everyone’s choice. This requires a little artful dodging on your part.
Point out that there’s a prize for originality… costume design… and acting. And if they still all want to be tin soldiers, let each child spin tales of his deeds of derring-do! Then send them home to work on the box costumes with an assist from their parents.
If you decide to turn the party and play into a pageant, it won’t involve very much more. Call two or three dress rehearsals and let the children practice skits together. (Don’t be surprised if the stories become strangely altered when the kids interpret them.)
They can wear “stand-in” boxes while they’re rehearsing to get used to the bulk (save finished creations for the pageant).
Of course, a pageant must have spectators. So mothers, fathers, cousins, sisters, and aunts are all invited to the big doings. You may want a special committee to work on invitations, collect extra chairs, help actors into their finery, and (say this in a whisper) clean up the mess.
Start the pageant with a parade, either indoors or from house to house. A great dividend from these costumes is that kids can wear outdoor clothing underneath – bell bottoms and tights are just the right accessories in most cases.
After the entertainment, give out prizes. Mother Goose with all her rhymes may win, or Pierrette with an inspired dance routine, or Captain Kidd with fearsome swashbuckling. Prizewinner or not, every child who participates in this playful pageant will be thrilled to see the characters of his favorite stories come alive.