How did people decorate Christmas trees in the 70s? See 55 different ways

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See how people festively decorated Christmas trees back in the '70s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

On this collection of pictures showing festive Christmas trees in the 70s, cuddly creatures, lace, ribbons, flowers, Santas and toys, were all radiantly spotlighted with the gleam of shining ornaments.

But there were so many more creative ideas, too — like a tree suspended from the ceiling, as you can see below.

Take a look back here, and get a little retro inspo for your holidays!

Cute 1970s Christmas tree with knitted ornaments (1972)


A festive Christmas tree filled with bird and flower ornaments (1973)

A party tree filled with bird and flower ornaments (1973)


Decorating Christmas trees in the 70s: De-lightful tree decorating possible

Article adapted from The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) December 18, 1973

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer may be the only perfect solution to this year’s Christmas lighting problem.

But don’t despair; there are delightful ways to decorate a Christmas tree without the usual strands of electric lights and shiny drugstore bulbs.

Leave that stuff in the box and warm up the house with an old-fashioned Christmas tree using traditional decorations everyone in the family can make.

Borrow freely from the colorful Christmas trees of other countries or revive Nineteenth-Century America with a Victorian tree or its country cousin, the pioneer’s tree.

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Old-fashioned Christmas trees from 1975


Christmas trees in the 70s, adorned with doily holiday ornaments

Vintage Christmas tree decorations from 1977 (2)


Decorate a tree with cookies & candy, cranberries & popcorn

Decorate a real tree with homemade cookies and marzipan, peppermint canes, nuts, paper cornucopias of candy, and chains of cranberries and popcorn.

Also appeal to other senses. Fill your rooms with fragrant greens and hang throughout the house clusters of pungent red peppers and lots of oranges studded with cloves.

MORE: How to make old-fashioned pomander balls with oranges & cloves

Vintage Christmas tree decorations from 1977 (1)


Simple 70s Christmas tree with snowflake ornaments (1976)

Simple 70s Christmas tree with snowflake ornaments (1976)



Retro Christmas tree with lots of red ribbon decorations

Retro 1970s Christmas tree with lots of red ribbon decorations


Retro Christmas tree decorations including popcorn strings (1979)

Popcorn is probably the most traditionally American decoration because it’s the only indigenous one, says Mrs. Henry Lochte, production chairman of the annual Christmas tree exhibit at the Cheekwood Fine Arts Center in Nashville, Tenn. 

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Retro Christmas tree decorations including popcorn strings(1979)


Ribbons & Victorian pedestal baskets on a tabletop tree

Ribbons & Victorian pedestal baskets on a tabletop tree


Shiny red ribbons & silvery garlands of tinsel

Shiny red ribbons and silvery garlands of tinsel


Victorian-style ornaments

According to a curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, a collection of Victorian tree ornaments includes a white glass ball painted with delicate flowers, small wicker baskets with cloth tops that tie with a drawstring, and a variety of small toys. The curator says cornucopias made from cones decorated with lace and ribbons were especially popular then.

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If you forgo colored lights, you may want to use highly reflective tree ornaments. Decorate small mirrors or fill your tree with figures cut from disposable aluminum foil pans or sheared from tin cans. Cutouts made from aluminum pans can be decorated with felt pens and clear or colored nail polish.

Cans often yield both gold and silver-colored metal, and you can use the sides as well as the lids if you cut the seams off with a wall or electric can opener. (Wear gloves when handling cut tin.)

Retro Christmas trees from 1975 (3)


Victorian-inspired tree with candles, a creche, and curving forms

How did people decorate Christmas trees back in the 70s (2)


Tin ornaments, fruit, cookies & more

Tin ornaments will be shinier if you burnish the cans with soapy steel wool. Easy-to-cut tin figures include camels, roosters, butterflies, gloves when handling cuts like a fleur-de-lis.

If you decorate with fruits and berries, a coat of shellac will help to preserve their appearance. (Pears don’t last as long as other decorative fruits.)

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Decorating Christmas trees in the '70s

Since you can’t eat your coated fruit, bake cookie ornaments that are tasty and sturdy. Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg, IIl., provides these recipes from Anne Lewis:

Basic sugar cookies for ornaments: Combine 3 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup shortening, 1 teaspoon baking powder. 1 teaspoon soda. and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix together like crust and add 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 4 teaspoons milk. Make a hole with a plastic straw or insert an ornament hanger, then bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes.

White icing for the cookie ornaments: White background icing: Beat 4 cups powdered sugar into 3 egg whites until light and fluffy. Thin with water to the consistency of enamel. Apply to cookies with a 1-inch paintbrush. Let dry before decorating with colored icing.

No matter what kind of decorations you choose to make, consider a trip to the library to consult the many how-to books often available on Christmas decorations.

Dec 1976 Christmas tree girl


Christmas tree in the 70s in mod living room

Christmas tree in the 70s in mod living room


Bright flowers and red yarn swags (1970s)

Christmas tree decorations


Favorite fantasy characters join in a toyland show of Christmas colors and merry spirit

Toyland tree, beautiful girl- and boy-land tree (below), bending with a burden of goodies every child hopes Santa Claus will bring.

It’s an eye-popper, this rollicking profusion of delights for the young, a veritable animal kingdom of soft, cuddly creatures riding the silver balsam tree along with Santas, fire engines, drums, doll babies, clowns, angels, trinkets, and trifles to defy a toy shop inventory, all radiantly spotlighted with the gleam of shining ornaments.

Toyland show of Christmas colors and merry spirit (1974)

It’s the quintessence of Christmas, seen through the eyes of a child, the stuffed animals (most of them handmade), the long-time accumulation of Walt Disney memorabilia by Lenny Meyer, cartoon animator and illustrator of children’s books.

It’s not exactly a tree trim you can go out and buy all at once. The designer was James K. McNair, an author and horticultural designer, who punctuated the toy trim here with wooden tops, cherries and apples lacquered a merry red.


Burlap bows & dried flower sprays

Retro '70s Christmas trees (2)


Christmas trees in the 70s: Sewn fabric ornaments and papier-mache doves

Sewn fabric ornaments and papier mache doves

MORE: Cute vintage Christmas decorations made with everyday items (1966)


Family scrapbook Christmas tree – Tinsel and embroidered animal ornaments

Family scrapbook Christmas tree - Tinsel and embroidered animal ornaments


Gingham and bread dough figures – White tree with colorful globes and Japanese fans

Gingham and bread dough figures - White tree with colorful globes and Japanese fans


Golden pear Christmas tree – Pastry tree decorations

Golden pear Christmas tree - Pastry tree decorations


Hanging tree suspended from ceiling – Tree with antique ornaments

DON’T MISS THIS: Make an invisible floating Christmas tree with this retro DIY project

Hanging tree suspended from ceiling - Tree with antique ornaments


Mini berry tabletop tree – painted dough ornaments, poinsettias and ribbon bows

Mini berry tabletop tree - painted dough ornaments, poinsettias and ribbon bows


Tree adorned with decorated cookie ornaments

Christmas trees in the 70s with cookie ornaments


Fun fabric Christmas tree decorations

the quintessence of Christmas


A pretty tree all in red, white and pink

How did people decorate Christmas trees back in the 70s (1)


Decorating Christmas trees in the ’70s: Childrens’ toys and dolls plus fabric ornaments

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Retro Christmas trees from 1975 (2)


A toy-filled retro Christmas tree

For the creative decorator, a joyful holiday mood can be established with traditional bloom and greenery or with stylistic mood-makers

Artist Bill Polito wraps up unique holiday gifts the boxless, paperless way, using natural straw suitcases, hampers, and baskets all tied with bright red velvet ribbon bows.

Robert Webb designed the assemblage of gifts with a prancing silver horse from Christopher Chodoff around a carved wood, black marble-topped console table that stands beneath one of Polito’s paintings in his dining room. Gifts are given as a postprandial treat.

Designer Dick Ridge of Ridge-Hill Interiors dresses up a classic entry hall with traditional Christmas symbols (below left). Black-and-white checkerboard tiles and ivory walls hung with mounted prints and horns are transformed into a festive interior with holiday flora — a circular evergreen wreath amid the prints and poinsettias blooming beneath the table. A paper Santa greets arriving guests from his own special perch on a champagne cooler.

Turn a tall green tree into a Noel beauty


Short Christmas tree with plaid taffeta bows, candy canes, and pine cones (1973)

Short Christmas tree with plaid taffeta bows, candy canes and pine cones (1973)


Vintage 70s Christmas tree with salt dough ornaments

NOW TRY IT: Remember making salt dough ornaments for Christmas? Here’s how to do it again

Vintage 70s Christmas tree with salt dough ornaments


Any objects dear to the heart can turn a tall green tree into a Noel beauty

An impressive 12-foot Douglas fir stands in the California living room of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Chumo (below). Lyn Chumo of Combs and Combs Studio of Design designed the tree without electric lights.

Instead, lively ornaments are a marvelous collection of dolls gathered in the Chumos’ travels around the world and clothespin dolls made by friends. Snowless though Pacific Palisades may be, the jolly snowman makes his appearance in the form of a woven basket.

Retro '70s Christmas trees (3)

Interior Designer David Laurence Roth loves flowers no matter what the season. So, for his living room, Jack Bangs of The Gazebo embellished a tree with natural-look artificial blooms in hot pink, red, and orange. Tiers of heavy yarn festoon the branches, replacing glittery tinsel but offering the same swag effect.

Packages in brilliant hues to match the paper flowers and tied in multicolored ribbons add up to a charming holiday setting.

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Retro Christmas tree in the 70s with silver tinsel

Christmas trees from the seventies (2)


Celebrity Christmas:  Actor Michael Landon and family

Christmas trees from the seventies - Michael Landon and family

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Michael Landon and his family at home (1975)

Two pretty 1970s Christmas trees with gifts beneath

Two pretty 1970s Christmas trees with gifts


A simple vintage Christmas tree with homemade decorations

A simple vintage Christmas tree with homemade decorations


Vintage 1970s Christmas tree with blue & white fabric ornaments (1975)

Vintage 1970s Christmas tree with blue and white fabric ornaments (1975)


Origami animal ornaments from shiny foil (1975)

1970s Christmas tree decorations - Origami animal ornaments from shiny foil (1975)

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A Danish Christmas tree

On the Danish tree hang stars and clusters of cone-shaped bells made from bright gold paper. Colorful paper peacocks and other birds nest in the Polish tree amid chains of bright paper circles.

Candies wrapped in tissue paper with fringed ends hang among elves and angels carved from lightweight wood on the Swedish tree.

You can copy the Scandinavian custom of decorating with small flags. Try a melting pot of flags or use only one flag, stringing the miniatures together or tying up just a few together.

In Scandinavia and parts of Eastern Europe, straw is widely used to recall Christ’s birth in a manger. You can use straw or paper drinking straws to fashion stars tied with red twine. The Lithuanian tree features small straw angels and is topped with a whisk-broom angel with burlap wings.

Vintage Christmas tree decorations from 1977 (3)


Christmas tree with toy stuffed animals & big red bows (1973)

Christmas tree with toy stuffed animals and big red bows (1973)


7 more cute retro Christmas trees in the 1970s

Retro Christmas trees in the 1970s

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