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Make Old-Fashioned Christmas Ornaments: Easy Decorations Inspired by Vintage Handmade Designs

Published by Madge Maglori

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Vintage ornaments, with all their simple charms and one-of-a-kind designs, are sometimes hard to find. While time may take its toll on antique versions, consigned to crumble in musty storage boxes or break from years of display, many old-fashioned traditions can be recreated.

Twisty icicles dangling from tree branches, bird’s nests tucked among branches, and snowy pine cones — these are a few of the traditional tree ornaments that can be recreated with basic craft supplies. Add a few embellishments of your own to finish each piece uniquely.

Twisty “Tin” Icicles

These pointed, spiraling icicles were once cut and twisted from tin during hard times to decorate Christmas trees. Today, they can be cut and rolled from sheets of craft foil or flashing, with strips of glowing copper or shiny silver aluminum decorating tree branches.

Materials Needed:

  • One roll of foil or flashing (colors vary)
  • Wooden dowel, skewer, or pencil
  • Heavy craft scissors or tin snips
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Ribbons

Cut a long strip of foil or flashing, then wrap it around a round object like a pencil or dowel; keep the spirals close together or overlap them if necessary. Using needle-nosed pliers (or small jewelry ones), grab the end of the icicle and pull until the spirals descend.

Use the pliers to tighten the spirals at the end of the icicle so it gradually tapers to a point; then bend the top to form a loop for hanging a ribbon. The size of dowel, pencil, or skewer helps determine the size of icicle, but decorative chopsticks or hair knives can help enhance the tapered point if used as a substitute.


Mossy Bird’s Nest

With bright feathers, intricately-woven nests, and miniature eggs, birds have long been a favorite Christmas decoration through the centuries. Easy to make and display, old-fashioned bird’s nests look beautiful nestled in tree branches.

Materials Needed:

  • One bag of craft Spanish moss
  • Glue
  • Clear glitter
  • Mushroom bird (or miniature fake bird) or miniature craft eggs

Pull a handful of Spanish moss frm the bag and mold it into the shape of a next. Use glue, perhaps mixed with a little water, to help stiffen the nest and hold its shape. Leave ends of the moss trailing from the body of the nest, like moss dangling from a crack or crevice.

While the glue is wet, sprinkle the nest with a light layer of clear glitter. Once dry, add a miniature bird or eggs to the nest before nestling it in the tree branches.

Snowy Pine Cones

Rustic pinecones have dangled from Christmas tree branches for ages, from the simple ornaments of a humble Victorian Christmas to Depression-era country firs. A glittery version looks at once old-fashioned and elegant amidst modern ornaments and shiny Christmas balls.

Materials Needed:

  • One bag of craft pine cones (any size)
  • Craft glue
  • Glitter (clear or colored)
  • Ribbon

Coat the top of the pinecone generously with glue, letting it drip slowly down the sides like candle wax. Sprinkle the wet glue with a generous layer of clear or colored glitter – glass glitter is a particularly elegant touch.

Once the glue is dry, glue a ribbon to the top, then tie its ends to form a bow with dangling ends. Trim with any additional ornaments desired, then hang the finished ornaments from the tree branches.

Recreating the traditional ornaments of the past celebrates the traditions of simpler times and old-fashioned fun. Simple designs capture the spirit of vintage handmade ornaments for future generations to enjoy.

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