Do you long for the days when Christmas was filled with cranberry strands on the tree, a traditional nativity scene and the smell of evergreen and freshly baked goods? You can still have your old-fashioned Christmas! With just a few simple touches you can turn your house into the Christmas you remembered as a child, and let your kids enjoy a simpler time right there with you.
The first step to an old-fashioned Christmas is the decorations! First break out any decorations that were passed down to you like Santa figurines, nativity scenes and garland. Next you can find vintage items by going to estate sales, thrift stores and even garage sales. Buy anything that gives you that sensation of Christmases as a child.
Front Yard/Front Door – Hanging Christmas lights around your house is a must! Also try to put some lights on bushes and trees if you’re able. Put a big red Christmas bow on your mail box and hang a simple, old-fashioned wreath on your front door. Sleigh bells on the door knob is another great touch. If you have an old pair of ice skates, placing them near the front door adds an old-fashioned charm as well. You can also put a vintage sled in the front yard too.
Hallways – Place the Christmas cards you get into a wicker basket or brass bowl on a table in the hallway. This is also a good place for a bowl of Christmas potpourri or candles in various Christmas scents like peppermint or gingerbread. If you have stairs, hang a garland or bows on the banister.
Living Room/Family Room – The fireplace is first. Leave it burning when it’s cold, the fire itself is a wonderful addition to your old-fashioned Christmas scene. Place simple stockings on the mantle piece as well as some vintage Santa or Reindeer figurines and a pretty garland. You can put apples and pine cones in decorated baskets on tables, on top of a thin layer of scented potpourri. Under the tree is the perfect place for a train set or nativity scene. Hang tinsel and snowflakes from lights, chandeliers and wall scones.
Kitchen/Dining Room – This is the place where many of your Holiday festivities will happen. No matter how pretty the rest of your house is, guests tend to linger in the kitchen or dining room. Start with the table by replacing your chair cushions with festive red ones or a Christmas print if you can find them. You can also wrap a large Christmas bow behind each chair. Before table cloths became popular, Holiday quilts were often used to cover the dining room table. Finish the table off by adding a basket of pine cones and cinnamon sticks in the middle of brass candlestick holders.
Old Fashioned Christmas Tree
The Tree – Get a real one! There is nothing more old-fashioned than the evergreen smell of a real Christmas tree. Take your family along and pick one out together, if this is their first real tree then they are in for a treat!
Lights – You can either use a solid color (clear or red) or the multi-colored lights which were probably around when you were a child. Try to find the larger bulb lights, those will make your tree fit right in with your theme.
Ornaments – Go simple here. Search flea markets and thrift stores for brass and wooden ornaments and glass balls. You can also get Victorian-inspired reproduction ornaments anywhere that sells Christmas decorations. Put some of your kids’ handmade ornaments and don’t forget the candy canes! It’s also common to hang walnuts and apples from the tree.
Garland – Most old-fashioned trees had some sort of garland. The best thing to do here is to string your own popcorn and cranberry strand.
How to String a Popcorn and Cranberry Garland
Choose only white popcorn and fresh cranberries, they work the best. Thread the needle with string that is fairly long, but still manageable. Run the needle the largest “bumps” in about 3 or 4 pieces of popcorn, then through a fresh cranberry. Keep using this pattern until you are happy with the length of your strand, or run out of popcorn! You can fasten each end of the strand by threading the needle through the past popcorn or cranberry of the strand. Now you’re done and it’s ready to be put on the tree!
Sounds and Smells
Music – Christmas music is a charming addition to your old-fashioned Christmas. You can find a lot of great selections of old Christmas music from instrumental to crooners. Choose your favorite and play it softly as often as possible around Christmastime.
Movies – Show your family the holiday movies you grew up with. A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th Street are all great choices.
Scents and Smells – Which scents remind you the most of Christmas? Maybe the smell of pine cones and evergreens, peppermint or baked goods like gingerbread and cinnamon. Whatever your preference you can find a wide range of potpourri, candles and room spray in these smells. To make your old-fashioned Christmas more authentic try making the smells the real thing by placing cinnamon sticks and pine cones in baskets and bowls, get a real Christmas tree and bake often.