Have a crafty Christmas! Retro holiday decor you can make with ideas from the ’60s

Have a crafty Christmas! Retro holiday decor you can make (1964)

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Looking for some authentic retro holiday decor?

Here, find out how to make some cute vintage Christmas crafts from the sixties!

There’s a green burlap holiday wreath, some adorable tabletop Christmas trees, homemade holiday candles, a festive garland, terrific topiary trees, plus a beautiful cardboard Christmas starburst craft. Latest additions include some adorable papier-mache holiday decor. Take a look!

Retro holiday decor - Tabletop Christmas trees - Vintage craft decor

Retro holiday decor: Green burlap holiday wreath

It will last for years — and stay this pretty. It’s a wreath made of bright green burlap, fringed and decked with mobile beads that dance in the air. The big old-fashioned bow is tied like a little girl’s ribbon. For the very easy how-to on this, [see below].

Tabletop crown Christmas trees

They’re sheer fantasy, these “crown trees.” Fabulously fancy as they look, they’re amateur stuff to make when you use half-spheres and tall, narrow cones of Styrofoam. For instructions on assembly and applying felt and sequins, plus sketches [see below].

Cardboard Christmas starburst craft

A starburst that uses things you usually throw away can be your most talked-about decoration. Save all cardboard tubes from paper towels, wax paper, and foil; then turn them into the base for this dazzling decor.

MORE: Get lots of ideas for how to your own Christmas trimmings & decor with some real ’60s flair

Retro holiday decor - Green burlap wreath craft and Cardboard starburst for Christmas

Retro holiday decor instructions: Green burlap holiday wreath

Use an old lampshade metal rim 12″ in diameter for wreath frame. Cut rim apart. (Or you can bend a wire hanger into a 12″ circle.)

Cut 12 one yard strips of bright green burlap, each 7″ wide. Fray 3″ on each side of strips for fringe, leaving a 1″ solid center. Mark, with red pencil, dots down center of the solid areas, 3/4″ apart.

String fringed burlap strips on rim by thrusting rim through red dots. When all strips are strung, tape the cut rim together securely with masking tape.

Cut apart a string of Christmas bead garland. String beads individually on thin wire of different lengths, fasten to rim. They will dance in a breeze like little mobile lights.

Push burlap gathers together evenly on rim. Shake vigorously to fluff up fringe. Add bow at top. Sprinkle the wreath very generously with bright glitter. Some will fall, but enough will stick for sparkle.

ALSO SEE: Deck the halls with lots of homemade ’60s-style Christmas decor

It’s fun to make candles for holiday lights… fun for the entire family. But wear old clothes and spread newspapers! Use your prettiest fruit and pudding molds plus a few inexpensive ingredients.

Retro holiday decor you can make (1)

Make a garland that holds its pretty shape. Mount the greens on a coat hanger, and add ornaments. A sassy bow hides the center hook that lets you hang it on a door, over a door or a mantel. It’s 32 to 34 inches, tip to tip.

Three golden ideas that won’t break the budget nor take much skill to execute: The topiary at left is of natural greens, with “strawberry” guest-size soaps for trimming.

The gold topiary is made of gilded sweet-gum balls. The bird-in-nest, enchantingly nestled in your big Christmas tree, is a little fake bird from the dime store in an old real nest or a tiny basket, all gilded.

Retro holiday decor you can make (2)

Instructions: Crown Christmas trees

Make trees in assorted sizes, 20″ for the smallest to 32″ for the tallest. Styrofoam balls and cones are available in hobby shops and florists. Or you can make a tall, narrow cone out of heavy paper and use a child’s ball for the base (see sketch). Dowel stands are 5″ to 9″ high.

Cut a quarter circle of felt to fit around cone. Glue on with fabric adhesive. Felt “crown” on lower part of tree form is composed of 8 sections of a contrasting color. These cover part of the cone form and the base.

One end of each crown section is rounded, the other is cut in a long narrow point. Make one paper pattern for all sections. Cut 8 pieces. Glue these over rounded bottom of tree form up over lower part of cone, overlapping each other slightly. Use colored glass-headed pins to hold a yarn outline around crown and to secure flower sequins. Top with finial.

ALSO TRY: Make an invisible floating Christmas tree with this retro DIY project

Retro holiday decor instructions: Cardboard Christmas starburst craft

The base of this fantastic decoration is made of tubes from paper toweling, aluminum foil, and wax paper.

You need 16 tubes, 16 2″ rubber or Styrofoam balls, heavy cardboard, one 6″ Styrofoam half-ball, six 36” dowels, brilliant yarn in several colors, harmonizing paper or fabric, gold braid or gold paper edging, masking tape, green bronze powder.

Use four tubes full length; out four 10″ long. Cut remaining eight 7″ long. Wrap full-length tubes and 10″ tubes with brilliant yarn in many colors.

Cover 7″ tubes with bright paper or fabric. Paint 2″ balls with green bronze paint made by mixing green bronze powder with a little varnish. Dry. Insert balls in one end of tubes.

Retro holiday decor - Vintage Christmas craft instructions

MORE: 35 Christmas door decoration ideas & wreaths so you can celebrate the vintage way

Christmas with baubles and birds to make this Christmas (1966)

Delightful papier-mache ornaments that spread holiday cheer throughout the house. They’re easy as pie to turn out right in your own kitchen, and a great creative project for the whole family.

1. Like having your own flock of partridges in a pear tree, fanciful papier-mache birds suspended on heavy yarn.

Below them, on a staircase newel post, their own nest of greens intertwined with tiny lights and red velvet ribbon.

fanciful papier-mache birds

2. Festive papier-mache Christmas balls brighten a chandelier made from a new or antique pot rack, wound with red velvet ribbon and twinkling with tiny white lights.

In the center, twigs of mistletoe and boxwood stud a Styrofoam ball. Rope that holds chandelier is slipped into a red velvet sleeve.

festive papier-mache Christmas balls

3. Christmas fantasy above a mantelpiece: brilliantly colored papier-mache disks and balls hang from a branch spray-painted snow white. 

brilliantly colored papier-mache disks and balls

How to make the above 3 papier mache Christmas decorations


Strips of newspaper cut 1 in. wide, 8 in. long; flour and water; hairpins, paper clips or wire; clear varnish; tempera paints in assorted colors; wads of newspaper or small balloons.


1. Base for balls is made from wadded newspaper or small balloons.

2. Attach hook (hairpin, paper clip or wire) to base with cellophane tape or simply hold it to the base while winding first layer of strips.

3. Wrap ball with newspaper strips that have been dipped in a thick mixture of flour and water. Apply first layer all in one direction; the second crosswise, so you can see how many layers you’ve wound. At least four layers are needed for a sturdy ball.

4. Dry ball thoroughly on a cake rack for about 2 days, or if you’re in a hurry, dry in a very slow oven (lowest possible oven setting). As balls dry, any roughness can be pressed smooth.

5. Paint balls with white tempera to give clean smooth surface.

6. Decorate balls as you wish — with paints or paper cutouts.

7. When dry, give two coats of clear varnish.

For disks, use dime-store poker chips or round pieces of cardboard as the base.

For birds, make basic shape with wadded newspaper and complete as described for the balls. Tail and other appendages are made of colored paper, stiffened with wire and stuck into the bird.

MORE: 20 retro DIY Christmas ornament craft ideas from the ’60s that are just as awesome as ever

Beautiful Christmas decor & gifts you can make (1963)

Here are some beautiful Christmas decor and crafty holiday gifts that you can make! They’re creative and affordable, and all in an authentic ’60s-style.

Lace cone Christmas tree

A frothy lace cone tree is created by cutting and gluing paper lace placemats around a stiff peak of cardboard. Trim with satin ribbon, artificial flowers.

Wreath is made with pleated cellophane, topped with coasters.

Crafty and creative Christmas decorations from 1963

Gingerbread boys

Gingerbread Boys, on the run, to make the kiddies’ Christmas a happy one. Cookies on top of big red apples make a merry centerpiece.

The bamboo skewers are baked right in. Easy sugarplums on plate are marshmallows dipped in warm milk and rolled in colored sugar.

ALSO SEE: 28 classic gingerbread house ideas: Get inspired & find out how to make your own

Crafty and creative Christmas decorations from 1963

Candlesticks and cushions for the holidays

Opulent candlesticks that look worth a princely price are glass containers from the grocery store! Paint with aquarium paint; top with a votive candle.

To hold narrow necks together, cut a cork to fit and insert through the two openings. Use glue on the wide necks and bases.

Cushions, at right, are ready-made felt ones decorated with ribbon, long tassels, buttons.

ALSO TRY: DIY milk carton candle how-to: Easy retro craft made with ice & wax

Crafty and creative Christmas decorations from 1963

Pretty decorative pots

To give a special holiday flair to gift plants, and to sidestep wrapping them, decorate the pots with bright, self-adhesive plastic and metal tapes.

Design possibilities are unlimited with the various colored and patterned plastic tapes available. Copper, silver, and brass tapes come in smooth, hammered, and etched surfaces.

Spray the outside of a new flowerpot with clear plastic acrylic to get a waterproof surface. Then cut strips and pieces of the tapes to fit the design selected, and press into place.

These gifts are as much fun to make as to receive.

Crafty and creative Christmas decorations from 1963

MORE FOR THE HOLIDAYS: A sweet collection of cute & very colorful classic Christmas cookies

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. Good morning! Thank you very much for interesting information! I would like to make Crown trees. Would you help me? I don’t understand where can I find page 53?
    This phrase: Make one paper pattern for all sections,see page 53 for shape.

    1. Hi! Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have that page – and the magazine itself is boxed up and among hundreds of others. I hope to re-scan a few things one day, but for the moment, unfortunately, I don’t have access to anything that may be missing. I’m sorry!

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