How to make your own vintage-style Christmas trimmings
by Bessie Simpson
Remember the days when Christmas trimmings were not to be found in just any store? . . . when popcorn was strung on long strands of twine and cranberries strung on ribbons to cascade about the full, fragrant branches of a fresh green pine tree, lovingly selected by members of the family on a Sunday jaunt?
Those times lave gone forever, but the thought of them brings a nostalgic feeling to many of us.
Many of these old fashioned customs have been brought back into the spotlight by Robert L Smith, a young man, who, to be certain, never experienced such early day customs, but has wealth of wonderful and original ideas about decorating.
Mr Smith, who is a member of the display staff of The Popular, spends every waking hour dreaming up ideas about unusual and ingenious decorating gimmicks.
He has consented to share a number of ideas with homemakers for decorating their homes for the holidays and his plans call for ordinary household items and otherwise useless items, making your decorating plans cost very little, but also making them a conversation point of your home.
Here are some of Mr Smith’s Christmas decorating ideas.
Christmas tree balls
Take a complete page of a newspaper and crumple it into a ball about the size of an apple. Take a half page of newspaper and wrap around the crumpled paper ball. Next wrap a piece of twine or clothesline four or five times around ball and knot it.
Now take a piece of thread and tie it to the top of the ball. Remember the knot should hang to the side and back when displayed. Hang ball in a well-ventilated area and spray with gold spray paint, purchased in a can at any dime store.
Take Elmer’s or Dexall glue and squeeze out along twine line. Take sequins from your sewing basket and place on glue. As an alternative, you may use glitter in place of sequins.
The best way to apply glitter is to sprinkle lightly or place it in the cup of your hand and blow it on gently. You may also take your paper ball and completely cover it with glue and then glitter. This eliminates gold spray. Shake off excess glitter, let dry overnight and you have a pretty and unusual Christmas ornament.
You may purchase glue, paint and glitter at any dime store.
Indoor Christmas wreath
Take a sharp single-edged razor or a pair of scissors and cut out a wreath base from a cardboard carton or box. The size is up to the individual.
Take an old magazine and rip out pages printed with a lot of color. Cut these pages into three to five-inch strips, and glue onto base.
Take your old Christmas ornaments and break them into pieces. (Remember, they may be sharp.) Cover your base with a light coat of glue.
Sprinkle the Christmas ball pieces onto the base. You may blow on glitter lightly after applying pieces. Add a pretty red, gold or green homemade bow.
You now have your wreath ready for hanging. For fast hanging, remove a picture from the wall and utilize the hook. If you can’t do this, stick two straight pins into each back side of the wreath. Tie the string to pins.
Take the hanging end of the string and attach to the wall with adhesive tape. If your piece is too large for this, better check on a more conventional hanging method.
You may make this an outdoor piece by applying a clear spray, back and front, after gluing colored paper down.
Paper decorations on a pretty Christmas tree
The tree is 8 feet tall with wide interstices between branches to allow plenty of room for ornaments.
With the exception of a few sprigs of yarn, every inch of the decorations is paper: tissue, Origami paper (from Japanese stores) and construction paper (from any art store).
The gamut of ideas could only have come from a child’s imagination: baroque festoons made of strips held in coil by staples; birds, fans, prisms, snowflakes and torn-paper faces and torsos of what gleefully pass for angels.
The filigree ornament, top of page, is made of seven strips of construction paper 1 inch wide, anchored in shape with staples (a child finds a small, hand-sized stapler easiest to use). Main loops form a clover; curlicues fill in spaces between.
The elegant bird, is stapled at beak-tip, at throat, and at every point on his tail where the feather whorls meet.
SEE MORE OF THESE: How to craft clever Christmas ornaments from paper (1960)
Door arrangement, a Christmas project for children
Mother, save the tops and bottoms from all your canned goods. Make sure your tops are of the shiny type, and have a gold or silver looking finish. UNDER YOUR SUPERVISION, let the children squeeze glue around the edge and apply glitter.
Once this is done, the sky is the limit. Let them make lines, zig zags, little circles, and any other forms they want. They can use solid color glitter or mix up colors.
Silver glitter can be mixed with any colored glitter you use. This gives a better twinkling effect.
Take a small bottle of rubber cement and apply it to the backs of each tin piece. Chalk or pencil an outline of a Christmas tree on your door and apply dabs of rubber cement to coordinate with where your tin tops are to be placed.
Remember to allow the rubber cement to dry before adhering. As virtually all tin cans are now treated, rainy weather should not tarnish your piece.
When your door piece is ready to come down, pull tin tops off, rub the rubber cement left on the door and it will come right off with no fuss or muss.
Christmas candy wall piece craft
First, decide what shaped object you want to make. It can be Christmas balls, a small tree, a Santa or an angel. Determine how large you want to make your arrangement — a Christmas ball five inches around, etc.
Cut your shapes out of cardboard boxes or cartons. Now take plain Christmas wrapping paper, preferably the foil type, because of its reflection value. Glue your cut-out cardboard shape onto the Christmas paper and trim the edges. You are now ready to apply your candy.
Take large marshmallows, white or colored, and one by one give one side of them a good coating of rubber cement Set aside and allow to dry. Now take your rubber cement and spot dab it on the cut-out and papered form. Let it dry.
When your candy and form have both dried, stick your candy on. Take a knife and make a small cut into each marshmallow.
Squeeze each marshmallow from the SIDES and apply rubber cement in the cavity. Take small gum drops or Christmas candy and apply rubber cement to one side. Allow to dry, and place in little slit in marshmallow.
Apply rubber cement to back of display, and also to wall, and mount Remember to let your rubber cement dry before adhering. You may of course use any candy you wish but the above, to can finger glue in between the already mounted candy and apply glitter.
When your wall piece is ready to come down, PULL OFF GENTLY and rub any remaining cement and paper off the wall.
REMEMBER, if you are making a Santa or an angel, to make candy eyes and mouth, or if you like, make the mouth of red sequins or stones from your sewing basket or your favorite piece goods counter.
Eggshell wreath craft with retro glitter eggs
This is a good project for the homemaker who cooks a large egg breakfast every day. Start saving your broken eggshell halves. Wash them out and allow them to dry. (The oven is a good place for quick drying.)
Now, you must decide how large a wreath you want and then cut out your design from an old cardboard box or carton. You are now ready to work with the egg shells. Take your eggshells and set them down on your cut-out wreath shape, broken edge down. Leave enough space to fit in a bow later.
Take an egg shell that is circled all the way around by eggshell and put an X on it, After you have uniformly marked your eggs throughout the wreath design, remove the marked eggs and turn them broken edge up.
Take glue and finger it inside the marked eggshells. Now sprinkle a red and silver glitter mixture into these glued shells.
After you have completed your glittering, set these egg shell halves aside.
Now remove the other egg shells from the cardboard wreath shape. Take glue and brush a heavy coating onto your cardboard base, section by section. As you brush on your glue, place your egg shells on, broken edge down.
REMEMBER to leave a blank space large enough to fit in your glittered broken pieces of shell, edge up, later on. Squeeze a drop of glue wherever the eggshells touch on the sides. This ensures better construction stability.
At this stage allow your glue to dry completely. After your glue has dried, spray what you have so far completed, with gold spray paint. Antique or bright gold is the best.
Now take a can of green spray paint and spray over your design lightly. This should give you green-tipped shells fading into the gold and add depth to your wreath.
Take your glittered egg shell halves and dab glue to all four outer sides and fit them into the blank spaces, remembering not to use the blank ribbon space.
Your wreath is done, and now you are ready to make the ribbon. Take some newspaper and shred it into long pieces that are the right size for your wreath. Using glue, place the shredded paper on the blank space left for it on the wreath.
Always keep your display piece flat when working on it.
Glue it in a sunburst design, layer by layer, until it looks foil-like. Using long strokes, dab it here and there with red nail polish or paint. Again, brush glue on top of this in scattered places, and blow on a mixture of red and silver glitter.
Now lightly spray your shredded ribbon with gold spray in such a way as to not completely cover the red glitter and paint, or polish.
Let dry overnight, and it will be ready to hang the next morning. The glue dries to a clear finish, so don’t be alarmed if it looks messy to you when you are working with it.
Make a sugar-plum tree: A retro Christmas craft for the family
From Ladies Home Journal, December 1960
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
‘Tis a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop Sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.
Festive, inexpensive and lots of fun to make: it’s this sugarplum tree.
paper cups (the cone-shaped kind that you can buy at the drugstore fountain and the more conventional cups in assorted sizes);
paper soup bowls;
gay cellophane sippers which, stapled together in the center, make glittering stars;
lace doilies of snowy white and silver and gold;
colored construction paper;
slim satin ribbons in Christmas red and green;
bright stickers (notary seals are wonderful — they come in red, gold and silver at the stationer’s);
and, of course, a big pot of glue (rubber cement seems to work best).
Clear off a big table, spread out the materials and then let each family member create his own designs to hang on the tree. Variations are as infinite as your imagination.
To hang: loop string or heavy thread through the rims of the cups and slip over sturdy boughs. Fill each cup with cookies and confections—your own pet recipes, Christmas canes and rainbow-colored hard candies.
An evening’s fun for everyone, and you have it — a radiant sugarplum tree. What a lovely way for you to say, “Merry Christmas!”