The ultimate guide to an old fashioned Christmas
An old fashioned Christmas doesn’t need to live only in our dreams. You can bring the best of those visions to life with a little Christmas hope and the vintage products and ideas we put together in this guide.
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How do you make an old fashioned Christmas?
Maybe I’ve watched too many old Christmas movies, like White Christmas, but when I want to recreate a mood or a time period, I think about scenes in a movie. On a film set, you need scene backdrops, props, and a showstopper to help bring down the house on this magical journey to an old fashioned Christmas.
My journey starts in childhood. In my imagination, I replay old memories, look through family photos, and consult with cousins for details I can’t remember. I use those happy childhood scenes and build on them with my personal tastes and new traditions.
Where will your journey begin? We hope you discover the answer in this guide to an old fashioned Christmas. On that note, let’s “roll camera” and get started creating a merry little vintage Christmas.
Set the scene for an old fashioned Christmas
Transform your home or a room with old fashioned Christmas decor, ornaments, candy, gifts, and movies from your grandparents’ days. Vintage style is in and so are reproductions of old fashioned Christmas products. In the ultimate guide to an old fashioned Christmas, we will take you on a tour of some of the best options.
Take the vintage Christmas show on the road
All across the USA, so many towns have pulled out all the stops to bring you a magical Christmas season. It’s literally like they are setting the scene for their very own Christmas production. Visit these towns and it’s like stepping on to the set of a Hallmark movie or old fashioned Christmas movie.
In this guide, I’ve recommended three of my favorite places to spend the holiday season.
What do we need for an old fashioned Christmas?
The truest answer is that we just need love for others. That’s what my grandparents were about – seeing to the needs of others. They could both do so much with so little. It’s exactly those little things that I remember so well.
I also like to recreate scenes of my Johnson family Christmas by adding vintage decorations and ornaments to my contemporary Christmas decorations.
Favorite old fashioned Christmas decorations
An old fashioned Christmas often meant homemade decorations and much-loved family items handed down through the generations.
No matter what some of your children may tell you, vintage Christmas is trending. Your generational Christmas items are treasures, and you just go ahead and keep using them!
For those of you who need to recreate a vintage Christmas scene, reproduction and vintage items are readily available. Here are some of my favorites.
Old fashioned Christmas ornaments
I don’t remember much about our Christmas trees growing up, other than the needles would fall off and I had to climb under the tree to add water to the little tree stand. Ours had a red pan with green legs – much like this one: Jack Post steel leg tree stand.
The Christmas trees I remember most were at my grandparent’s house. Grandpa Holly always waited until the last minute to get his from the Safeway parking lot across the street from the house. He was no procrastinator, either. The waiting was on purpose.
He always came home with the saddest looking tree. It was often a scrawny one with limbs missing and a crooked trunk. I don’t know how we kept those trees alive. When one of the grandchildren asked him why he picked out that tree, as we asked every year, Grandpa would reply, “I don’t want any tree to feel left out or that it wasn’t loved by someone.”
We all made sure the sad little tree was adorned in love. Each year, with great care, grandma would get out her precious ornaments reminding us how fragile they were. Not that these ornaments were expensive, they weren’t. But they were easy to break, as each of us eventually discovered the hard way.
We carefully wrapped the tree in lights – those branches did seem ever so fragile. Next, the older children placed the breakable glass ornaments on the tree with care. The younger ones hung the wooden and homemade ornaments. Then everyone was allowed to throw on the tinsel!
Do you still use tinsel on your Christmas tree? Let me know in the Comment Section below.
Favorite old fashioned Christmas ornaments
My favorite old fashioned Christmas ornaments come from the family-run Kurt Adler company, now in its third generation. At the end of WWII, Adler left the army where he had been in the procurement department.
He brought those skills to an entrepreneurial venture in the export business. By the 1950s, Adler was importing products as well. He imported ornaments from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Italy. Adler eventually began to develop his own line of ornaments.
“We believe that a holiday ornament holds sentimental value and is the pathway to vivid memories. An ornament allows these memories to be reflected upon year after year, and inspires people to relive that memory.”Kurt Adler Company
Nowadays, most of my vintage style Christmas ornaments come from Old World Christmas, a company started in 1979 by Tim and Beth Merck, a couple who share a love of all things Christmas.
The Mercks brought back the 1800s-era art of mouth-blown fine glass ornaments. The Old World Christmas collection spans more than 1400 proprietary designs.
“Molten glass is mouth-blown into finely carved molds made exclusively for Old World Christmas, before a hot solution of liquid silver is poured inside,” according to the company. “The ornaments are then hand-painted and glittered in a series of labor-intensive steps to achieve the beautiful creations.”
Click on any of the images below to check on prices and availability or visit the Old World Christmas store on Amazon. There are dozens and dozens to choose from.
Old fashioned Christmas candy
My grandparents placed old fashioned Christmas candy in a sawtooth carnival glass candy dish on top of their old console television set, on which they watched The Lawrence Welk Show and Hee Haw every week. Ebay is a great place to find vintage carnival glass.
I haven’t been able to find one like they had, but it looks something like this candy dish, only not footed. As for the old fashioned Christmas candy, it was the hard multi-colored pieces of candy. I think I’ve found most of the types of candy, which include the following:
- Ribbon Candy – big ribbons and baby ribbons
- Red raspberries – hard on the outside and chewy in the middle
- Cut rock candy – in the middle of each were little images of things like a Christmas tree
- Pillows and straws – striped hard candy that usually came in a mix
I think Grandpa may have kept the candy on the TV in plain sight so he could keep track of how much of it we were eating.
Some of my favorite Christmas candies, though, were chocolate fudge and grandma’s divinity, which apparently is a southern speciality. Even as a child, I knew she made the best divinity in town. Women used to lobby my mom to help them convince Zula Mae to teach them how to make it.
Do you make divinity at Christmastime? Let us know in the Comment section at the end of this story.
Old fashioned Christmas gifts
When we think about old fashioned Christmas gifts, a few things probably make all of our lists. For example, in my day, it was certainly the fruitcake. Although my dad is not a fan of the densely made cake, I’m happy to see fruitcake making a comeback. Here are other ideas, some of which my family is still giving today!
- Fruit baskets
- Assorted nuts
- Cheese and meat boxes
- Gourmet food baskets
- A tin of chocolates. I get my parents a gift box of Godiva chocolates every Christmas. Now they request one each!
- A tin of Christmas cookies
- My dad’s personal favorite to receive: Gourmet popcorn
History of Advent
More Christmas stories to enjoy
The hustle and bustle of Christmas time makes it difficult to slow down and focus on customs that make us think more deeply about the reason for the season. Learning about the history of Advent can lead us to old and new ways to observe the season.
Where can I spend an old fashioned Christmas?
Just like the scenes in a classic holiday film, these American towns and villages can whisk you away with old fashioned Christmas charm and joy.
Woodstock Vermont Christmas
The snowy, picturesque town of Woodstock perfectly matches my vision of an old fashioned Christmas. Woodstock, whose economy is largely driven by tourism, is the definition of a quintessential New England town. As a visitor to Woodstock, you will never doubt that your presence is valued!
My first venture into this adorable Americana village was with my daughter-in-love, Sarah. The two of us can never get enough quaintness – cue the American history, covered bridges, New England countryside, and streets lined with colonial homes, delightful shops, and a delectable assortment of restaurants.
The small but dazzling shire town has much to offer us at Christmastime, and it’s all brimming with holiday cheer, harkening us back to simpler times.
The pandemic has forced some changes to holiday events, but Christmastime happenings are still planned in Woodstock. Check the official town website for the holiday schedule.
One thing we do know, anytime in Woodstock is magical!
“Woodstock transforms into the holiday wonderland of your dreams, complete with sleigh bells during wagon rides throughout the town and holiday decorations at Billings Farm that harken back to historic 19th century charm,” according to the town’s information on the Wassail events.
Christmas lights in Branson, Missouri
Anytime is the most wonderful time of the year in Branson, but during Christmas, the stars seem to shine brighter in this cozy Ozark town. Known as America’s Christmas tree city, Branson is ablaze with lights.
Follow the Christmas Tree City lights tour to view more than 700 lighted trees and several unique trees that are more than 20 feet tall. If you want the original light show, take the drive though the 160 acres Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights, featuring millions of colorful Christmas lights as well as themed and active displays.
Branson’s Lights of Joy is heralded as the premiere Christmas light display. They say drivers can expect bigger, better, and brighter. Promised Land Zoo has a 25-foot-tree made of Christmas lights as the star of their Let There be Lights drive-thru display.
If you want lights galore, head to Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas because organizers say it’s brighter than ever! That seems appropriate for the nation’s Best Theme Park Holiday Event, according to USA Today.
“Silver Dollar City has a total of 6.5 million lights throughout the park, including 1.5 million in the Christmas In Midtown Light Spectacular,” according to the convention and visitors bureau. “The festival presents ‘Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade’ led by the most famous reindeer of all, with musical lighted floats and dozens of costumed characters, plus two original musical productions: It’s A Wonderful Life and A Dickens’ Christmas Carol.”
Christmas in the Rockies
Let me set the scene for how I embraced my first getaway to the snowy wonder of a Rocky Mountain ski resort. The beauty of the mountains took my breath away. Literally.
When people tell you it might be more difficult to breathe at higher elevations, believe them! If ever I can endorse a product that I used – over and over again – it’s Supplemental Oxygen to Go. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I think I went through an entire pack. I clutched onto these canisters like they were my long, lost childhood teddy bear.
But, don’t let that deter you from the winter wonderland Christmas that is waiting for you in Vail, Colorado. My time with family there really was like the set of an old fashioned Christmas movie.
My time in Vail was filled with showstoppers, like the exquisite Haute Chocolate experience at Four Seasons resort in Vail. In a production fit for royalty, the hot chocolate, made with Valrhona chocolate from France, arrives at your table in a special French hot chocolate pot carried on a silver platter.
Next, the server pours it into a cup topped with chocolate lace and homemade marshmallow. I would travel to Vail for the Haute Chocolate experience alone!
But there is so much more to this mountain resort. Unbelievable vistas, quaint shopping villages, historical sites, beautiful lodge homes to rent, and that snow!
That’s a wrap! But I’d love to hear about your ultimate Old Fashioned Christmas!
Thanks for reading the Old Fashioned Guide! We hope you have found it helpful. In summary, this is what we have from each category, continue reading below, but you can also save the printable guide to use later.
- 15-inch lighted ceramic Christmas tree
- Vintage pillow covers
- Winter holiday dinnerware set by Johnson Brothers
- 3-piece set of Jill Ankrom vintage holiday wall art
- Early years collection of Kurt Adler’s glass ornaments
- Glass egg ornaments by Kurt Adler
- Kurt Adler’s miniature glass ornaments with matching tree topper
- Kurt Adler’s Early Years oval glass ornaments