Decorating An Old Fashioned Christmas Tree

Handmade and simple ornaments adorned trees of the past. With these ideas and tips you will be able to create a simple yet beautiful old fashioned Christmas tree.

Decorating An Old Fashioned Christmas Tree

Getting Started

The trees were most often small, not like our large trees of today and placed on a table. The tree was held in place by putting dirt or sand in burlap and wrapping it around the tree. To achieve this look while still using a tree stand simply wrap the burlap around the stand and tie to the tree trunk with a bit of raffia.

The Lights

Although trees of the past sported small candles tied to the tree, this is far too dangerous. So don’t feel guilty about using Christmas lights. After you have gotten the tree situated in its stand the next thing you will want to do is string the lights. You will want to use a more pale white light and put on lights in abundance. The pretty twinkle of the lights will add charm to the tree.

The Garland

popcorn christmas tree garland

Now you will want to put on the garland. Garlands were most often made out of food items. The most common were cranberry or popcorn garlands. To make one use a needle and strong thread and string the cranberries or popcorn on until you have reached the desired length. Rope could also be used as a garland. Another fun idea is a button garland. Using thin rope attach buttons every couple of inches for a fun effect. Start with the top of the tree and work your way down when you are putting on the garland. There is no set way of doing this you can have it hang in small curves, or let it flow down the tree in large curves. A good way of know how much garland you will need is by this rule for every foot of tree you will need about 2 yards of garland.

The Ornaments

Tin ornaments were simple to make by the people of the 1800’s so look for them in flea markets and garage sales. They add a twinkling homespun touch to your tree.

orange slice christmas ornaments


Photo Credit: Klara Kim

Apples, walnuts, pinecones and wrapped candies were also often hung as ornaments on the tree. Little nets filled with popcorn, tied with ribbon and hung on the tree was another popular homemade ornament. Oranges were often cut into slices and dried then hung with bits of rope or raffia to the branches. Dried flowers, leaves, herbs and berries are another lovely addition to an old fashioned tree. They were just placed in the boughs of the tree. Sometimes dried flowers were tied together with ribbon and hung up side down from a tree branch.

Small dolls and angels were also made out of bits of leftover fabric and placed in the branches of the tree. You could also make star shaped ornaments out of burlap to hang on the tree.

Old spoons with a bow tied on them make a charming addition to your old fashioned tree.

Ideas for Decorating an An Old Fashioned Christmas Tree

The best advice for placement of ornaments is to start with the largest ornaments first and space them evenly apart. Then fill in with smaller ornaments. Don’t be afraid to put some ornaments closer to the trunk of the tree. They will still be seen and will add some depth to the tree. After the ornaments are placed, then you can go in and add the dried flowers, leaves and berries in the empty spaces.