mid century modern Christmas
Courtesy of Melodrama.

Christmas in 2020 has become a beast of its own—the Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier each year, and once it does, its decor is no longer limited to a tree and a few stockings. So, let’s head back in time to see what Christmases of decades past were like when the commercialization of it was just taking off. Here are the Christmases of the mid century.

christmases of decades past 1940s
A Christmas tree from the ’40s. Notice the Angel Hair tree topper! Courtesy of Old House Guy.

1940s Christmases

The postwar of the late ’40s was where new Christmas trends and designs began to catch on. A surprising trend from ’40s (and into the ’50s) Christmases is angel hair, tinsel’s predecessor. You can still find some for sale on eBay. Angel hair also added texture to tree toppers such as this one.

Ornaments like Shiny Brite made its debut in the 40s, as mass production of ornaments really took off postwar. Other popular ornament types were teardrop and indent-shaped.

The late 1940s also saw the debut of Christmas tree farms. In response to this trend (among many other things), T. S. Eliot wrote The Cultivation of Christmas Trees. Check out this vintage copy with original illustrations by Enrico Arno.

christmases of decades past 1950s
The ubiquitous aluminum tree. Courtesy of Mary Ann Gove via Taste of Home.

1950s Christmases

Bubble lights took center stage on the Christmas tree in the Mid Century Christmas trees of the ’50s. The late 1950s also brought about the advent of the aluminum Christmas tree, a festive and mass-produced glimmering wonder.

The 1950s also introduced a number of widespread cultural phenomenons to American Christmas celebrations, like Christmas parades! Children’s toy sales also took off in the Mid Century, as manufacturers took advantage of growing market, thanks to the baby boom.

christmases of decades past 1960s
Check out this festive tree from the ’60s! Courtesy of the Silver Screen Collection via It’s Rosy.

1960s Christmases

Color wheels adorned the bottoms of aluminum trees in the 1960s, as it was dangerous to hang lights on (highly flammable!) aluminum trees. Other dangerous Christmas decor included tinsel, which was made of lead until the FDA intervened in the ’70s.

Like in Christmases of decades past, those going for a pared-down look would often deck their tree with single-color ornaments, while those who wanted to have a little fun would add in some tinsel and personal ornaments.

Some of our favorite Christmas music and movies appeared in the ’60s—A Charlie Brown ChristmasHow The Grinch Stole Christmas, Nat King Cole’s The Magic of Christmas and Elvis’ Christmas Album, just to name a few!

Learn more about Christmases of decades past by creating some retro ornaments of your own! Check out A Very Vintage Holiday: Mid Century Christmas Collectibles to learn more. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!