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

Crafty Christmas Retro holiday decor ideas from the 60s

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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. Don’t miss the adorable papier-mache holiday decor.


A dramatic paper Christmas star craft

This dramatic star, a shining touch for any holiday decor, is impressive but not hard to make. You’ll find a graph pattern for the dimensions and shapes of paper pieces [below]. Now buy the fancy gold paper sunbursts that conceal assembly at the center.

Deck the halls with lots of '60s-style Christmas decor

Directions to make the pink-striped paper star

Cut 8 each of A and B; use dimensions on pattern below. Join A and B, design inside, and staple along short edge. Repeat to make eight units.

With the paper pattern face down, roll bottom corners into seam, forming two cones. Staple these together to hold shape.

Staple pointed end into center of 11″ cardboard circle. Repeat with other units to form sunburst.

Tape small gold paper sunburst to star points. Glue a large gold paper sunburst over center of star to conceal assembly. Circle this with a row of small sunbursts. Makes a decoration about 24″ in diameter.

Directions to make the pink-striped paper star 1960s Christmas craft project


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. 

Retro holiday decor Green burlap holiday wreath

Wreath instructions

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.


Retro-style cardboard tube 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-style cardboard Christmas starburst craft from 1964

Starburst instructions

The base of this fantastic 60s Christmas 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


DIY Christmas candles

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)


Easy 1960s-style Christmas garland with a hanger

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 on a mantel. It’s 32 to 34 inches, tip to tip.

Instructions: Cut a wire clothes hanger in the center of the bottom bar. Bend the hook to form a loop. Curve bar as shown to form the frame. Wire greens to frame. Spray paint dried pots and small balls with pale gold. Tie a gold and red bow on the top to hide the hanging hook.

Create this simple 1960s-style Christmas garland


Topiary: Festive holiday trees you can make

Three golden ideas that won’t break the budget nor take much skill to execute: The topiary 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.

Topiary Festive holiday trees you can make (1960s)


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].

Retro holiday decor - Tabletop Christmas trees - Vintage craft decor

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. 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


Papier-mache baubles & 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

MATERIALS NEEDED

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.

INSTRUCTIONS

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


More 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


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

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.

Crafty and creative Christmas decorations from 1963

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


From homemade ornaments to DIY candy crafts, this collection of retro Christmas trimmings and craft ideas will give you some new ideas for old-fashioned holiday fun!

How to make your own vintage-style Christmas trimmings

Article by Bessie Simpson – El Paso Herald-Post (El Paso, Texas) December 13, 1962

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?

Happy vintage 60s holiday decor - paper balls in red and green

Those times have 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.

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

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.

ALSO SEE: Ribbony Christmas crafts that you can make for your home (1963)

Vintage Christmas decor from the 60s (1)

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.

Retro Christmas tree from the sixties

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)

Paper decorations on a pretty Christmas tree

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.

MORE: How to make DIY stained-glass Christmas ornaments from hard candy (1987)

Vintage Christmas decor from the 60s (2)

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.

MORE: Vintage how-to: Make fun egg-shaped Christmas ornaments from old L’eggs pantyhose eggs

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.

Dec 14 1962 Christmas cards

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.

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

A groovy 60s Christmas party from 1968


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.

Make a sugar-plum tree A retro Christmas craft for the family

You’ll need:

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; cheerful cellophane sippers [they may mean straws] 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); poster paints, 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!”

ALSO TRY: How to make adorable retro ornaments shaped like birds & butterflies: A vintage craft project

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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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