The holiday season isn’t just starting earlier each year, it’s getting bigger, flashier and more commercialized. If you’re with Charlie Brown in thinking you’ve lost the true meaning of the season amid all the hustle and bustle, it might be time to “unplug” this holiday with some old-fashioned Christmas traditions.
Old-school tree trimmings
According to History.com, Christmas trees have been around long before there were electric light strands and fancy plastic ornaments to decorate them. While it’s a fire hazard to bedeck your tree with real candles like original tree-trimmers used, there are plenty of Christmas crafts you can make at home to use as ornaments.
With just a needle, thread, popcorn and raw cranberries, you can create a colorful, natural garland for your tree. This can be a harder craft than it looks, though, as the popcorn kernels might split and fall off if you’re not careful. For a less-fragile garland, consider threading the contents of your button drawer on a string.
Ornaments can be handcrafted simply by spray painting pinecones or unshelled walnuts silver and gold to hang on the tree, or you can create some colorful ornaments with felt crafts. You might even simply tie red ribbons around bunches of cinnamon sticks for some aromatic ornaments or decorate your tree with popcorn balls for an edible tree that everyone will help you “undecorate.”
To really make your child’s eyes light up, take inspiration from the Christmas stories in the beloved Little House on the Prairie book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Every Christmas they attended services at their church that had a Christmas tree decorated with the gifts themselves hanging from the boughs. For an old-fashioned Christmas that’s more 1950s than 1850s, trim your tree with hand-blown glass ornaments and beaded chains, like those in this ornament collection from Urban Outfitter.
Now that the tree’s got an old-timey look, it’s time to inject a little nostalgia into your holiday menu. History.com has the first eggnog being served in Jamestown, Virginia, way back in 1607, so you can keep this rum-laced nog grog around for your old-fashioned Christmas party.
Popcorn balls have been a favorite holiday treat for centuries, and you can add an extra old-fashioned touch by using a popcorn maker instead of microwave bags. Make other dessert options old-timey by skipping the store-bought pie and cookies to make them yourself with recipes from Grandma’s cookbook. And that goes for the pie crust, too. While the process can be tricky to get the right consistency, pie crust actually has a very simple recipe.
The Little House book series also has its share of authentic recipes perfect for the holiday season. Try baking up a batch of these Heart-Shaped Christmas Cakes or have some fun with the family making Snow Candy.
Vintage Christmas traditions & activities
From Yule logs to mistletoe, one quick internet search and you’ll have dozens of Christmas traditions and activities from around the world to incorporate into your old-fashioned Christmas. Put together a book of vintage Christmas hymns and carols and take your family wassailing around the neighborhood. If you’re more literary than musical, gather the clan for a reading of a Christmas classic like the Nativity, O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi or take a week to read aloud a few chapters a night of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.
If you just can’t escape having a little bit of technology in your old-fashioned Christmas (or if your kids are demanding it), consent to watching a few classic Christmas films together as a family. But skip those recent remakes and expose your kids to great films like It’s a Wonderful Life, the original Miracle on 34th Street starring a young Natalie Wood or the widely proclaimed best version of A Christmas Carol, the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim. Those with younger kids can share this classic Dickens Christmas tale with The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) which was lauded for sticking so closely to the original by using Dickens’ own dialog.