Do you decorate for the holidays?
So did “smart homemakers” in 1948. I know this, because I happened across the December 1948 issue of Mademoiselle’s Living Magazine, which is, explicitly, the magazine for smart young homemakers.
I love home magazines, and this one, from the late 1940s, did not disappoint.
Deck The House
I applaud the spirit of making your own holiday decorations. Of course, I do. Paying for decorations that are made under questionable circumstances, out of less-than-ideal materials is not my idea of a good time. We can attribute this to several things, the most likely culprit being reading simplicity classics like, Unplug the Christmas Machine, and Hundred Dollar Holiday, much, much too young. Throw in being Mennonite during my formative years, and kind of a design snob, well, I am not the target audience for inflatable lawn ornaments. If you are, and they bring you joy, more power to you.
These DIY crafty Christmas decorations have several things going for them:
- They’re made out of simple materials, that you may even have already
- A lot of the materials are compostable or recyclable
- None of them would take long to make
- They’re pretty cute
- Only one is terrifying. For vintage crafts, that’s a pretty good ratio.
Let’s look, shall we?
1. A Cookie Cutter Wreath
I think this could be quite fun, if you happen to have cookie cutters to spare. Attaching the cookie cutters to the wreath is just a matter of cutting some pretty twine, and tying them on. A quick perusal of Pinterest shows that this idea remains popular.
2. Great Big Cardboard Angel
Okay. That angel’s little face is adorable. This kind of instruction cracks me up, though. “Cut Christmas angel from cardboard,” it says, like that’s something everyone knows how to do. (Actually, that’s kind of a feature of vintage craft and recipe directions. They assume a much broader skill base than many of us moderns have). Luckily, there are easy printable templates all over the Internet for just this kind of thing.
3. Doilies and Bells
Do you have more Christmas ornaments than you can fit on your tree? If you have a large, decorative mirror (my grandma sure did!), this might be worth a try. The ever-useful paper doily would protect the mirror from getting scratched by the clusters of bells and ornaments. Clever!
4. Door Decoration
This one, I am not so crazy about. How do you attach toy trees to a door? Wouldn’t they need to be flat? Don’t the baubles bang around when you open or close the door? Maybe this would work if you had, say, a patio door you didn’t use during the winter, and cut some toy trees in half, which sounds, frankly, like a pain in the neck.
5. Paper Chain
Done and done! I love paper chains. Kids can make them, they’re super-cheap, I already have paper, there’s really no losing here.
5. Starry Windows
I think this is terribly, terribly sweet. I would absolutely do it, if my windows weren’t next to radiators, and thus, prone to condensation. It’s like paper snowflakes, but even prettier.
That John Kelly, noted New York Florist, is full of ideas. The holly chandelier appears to me, although Mr. Kelly has given me no ideas for how to make one. Am I supposed to make one? Am I supposed to wire a chandelier into a bunch of holly?Am I covering my existing chandelier? Are electrified floral arrangements something the average smart young homemaker knew how to do in 1948? I have a lot of questions.
The doormat is cute. However, I think I’d find an already green one, rather than dying it myself, because that seems, as the kids say, “Extra.” I’d probably leave the pine off, too, as I think it would just get stepped on.
7. Ruin Christmas
Oh no, no, no. I think not.
I would like to remind you that masks don’t have eyes. All the red paper hats in the world will not make up for the empty sockets greeting your guests. Also, in the 1940s, Santa masks looked like this:
Do not hang a soulless, eyeless, creepy Santa mask on your door. Definitely don’t hang two of them.