Do you still follow these vintage Christmas traditions from the 1950s and 1960s?

It was the era of aerosol snow, bubbling lights and styrofoam balls. What retro holiday decorations do you love?

Christmas traditions have changed significantly over the centuries, which isn't such a bad thing, as that means we no longer have to put a boar's head on the table and eat pies made of mutton and raisins. Even within our lifetimes, popular practices of the yuletide season have come and gone.

Decorations from our childhood may no longer be trendy, but adhering to those traditions is what connects us to our family and our past. That's part of the fun of watching Christmas episodes of classic television shows — seeing how the holiday was celebrated in the mid-century. So as the calendar page again turns to December, let's take a look at Christmas traditions that were all the rage in the youth of Boomers. 

How many do you still use? Did we miss anything?

Images: Thinkstock

1. Aluminum Christmas trees


Initially sold in 1955 by the warm and cozy sounding Modern Coatings, Inc. of Chicago, these metallic faux-firs did not require strings of lights. No, who needed lights when the entire tree would shift in a kaleidoscope of color thanks to a spinning red-blue-green wheel and spotlight? Interestingly, the popularity of the real little evergreen in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered in 1965, is crediting with killing off this trend.

2. Bubble lights


First introduced to the U.S. market in 1946, these percolating baubles brought the look of Las Vegas neon and Wurlizer jukeboxes to the Christmas tree. The tricky part was keeping them upright, so that the magic of physics could make the delicate gizmos work. 

3. Train sets around the tree


The sales at the Lionel Corporation peaked in 1953, which can be considered the heyday of choo-choo fever. Letting a little locomotive circle the base of the tree brought a touch of the department store window to your living room. Nothing dazzles children quite like mechanical decorations.

4. Flocking the tree with spray-on snow


Flocked trees were those sprayed liberally with cans of fake snow. Aerosol snow — thanks, chemistry! Patents for the spray-on snow were filed in 1953, and Christmas trees were soon covered with the stuff like people putting hairspray on beehive hairdos.

5. Stringing popcorn on the tree


We miss the notion of an edible Christmas tree. And what goes better with television than a handful of popcorn? Though we recommend leaving the butter off your Tannenbaum.

6. Matching footie pajamas


The 1950s saw the advent of the modern footie pajamas, or blanket sleeper as some call it, with the synthetic fabric, no-slip soles and zip-up front. Our parents would sew our names on the breast, though thankfully they left off the bunny ears.

7. Satin and styrofoam ornament balls


As you have noticed, the major post-war trend was synthetic materials. It was the age of plastic and styrofoam, and that carried over to our Christmas trees. The glass bulbs of the past were replaced by these far lighter balls coated in thin, shimmering threads. Colored spheres sufficed back then, as the variety of ornate pop culture ornaments had yet to arrive. Check out some of the best TV-themed ornaments for 2015.

8. Tinsel


Actually, tinsel dates back to the '10s — the 1610s! In the olden days, however, real silver was used. During the space age, well, lead was the most popular option for giving these shiny icicles weight. That was banned in 1972, and tinsel usage began to wane. Check out more fun facts about tinsel.

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camppig 18 months ago
My Grandma has bubble lights. I truly enjoyed them growing up. I would love to have them again for our tree.
cheryl1725 18 months ago
No tinsel. Dogs & cats eat it & it gets caught in the intestines & they could die.
Michael 18 months ago
We still have an aluminum tree. I'd say sixty years old, it was always there. Every year,a bit more tinsel breaks off. A few branches are very bare.

That scene in Charlie Brown Christmas, I didn't get it till the internet age. I thought those were an inverted cone of aluminum. Linus knocks one. It was only in recent years that I realized the cartoon was a stylized representation of what might better be called a tinsel tree.

Nowadays, yiu can get artificial trees that look way more like the real thing.
BenSobeleone Michael 18 months ago
That's cool! We get a real tree at our house at Christmas time. My Godmother (cousin) had an aluminum tree at their house. They had the rotating color lighted wheel for their tree. Looked good.
caleb53 42 months ago
Makes me want to weep. 😥
idkwut2use 42 months ago
We have one bubble nightlight. Our old artificial tree was flocked with fake snow. :3 Used to use tinsel, but only higher than dogs could reach in case they tried to eat any. Some of my mom’s childhood ornaments are the yarn-covered kind, which is our least rid of some when the material started pulling off and bunching up. And we have soooo many tracks from an old train set in the bottoms of decoration tubs that weren’t used often. It remember them being very annoying to set up. Now they’re a base to put things on top of. I miss our ride-on train though. 8-D
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