Christmas time is almost here! At Plantshed we’re beginning to welcome in the season by stocking up with dozens of varieties of poinsettias, hollies and of course Christmas trees! Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the most anticipated events of the season. Everyone has their own particular approach for how to best present their tree. Over the last 150 years, styles and trends have come and gone inspiring both awe and amusement. To help you decorate this year, we’ve put together over a century’s worth of inspiration.
The tradition started in the 1850’s when this engraving of the British Royal family enjoying Christmas circulated across America. From then on, everyone needed a decorated evergreen of their own to liven up the cold dreary days of winter.
Fun fact: The tiara and mustache were removed to make the image more relatable to the American audience.
The European Christmas tree was traditionally broad, short for tabletop display, and with ample space between branches for hanging ornaments. Germany encouraged the production of artificial trees with feathers dyed green to curtail deforestation. In the United States it became customary to seek a stately floor to ceiling tree, with fuller branching and good triangular form. Trees were decorated with white candy canes, wafers, gingerbread, chocolate, apples, dates, and pastries in the shapes of hearts, stars or flowers. Poked holes in tin boxes created flickering lanterns. Highly skilled artisans crafted figurines and ornaments out of ceramic, wood and glass. Electric lighting, baubles, imported silver tinsel, and a tree-topper such as the angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem were implemented into the traditional Christmas tree design.
Many sought cheaper alternatives for decorating during the Great Depression. The tradition of stringing ropes of popcorn and cranberries started during this time. Instead of baubles, children decorated their tree with crayon drawings and colorful candy wrappers.
In the 1950’s tinsel was all the rage! Tinsel, which was coated in lead at this time, was actually encouraged for health safety reasons. It was considered a safer alternative to incandescent Christmas lights which caused fires. Tinsel dangled from limbs like sparkly icicles, and lead was preferred over silver because it didn’t tarnish.
In the 1960’s, trees became even more shimmery, until there wasn’t any tree left! This was the age of the artificial Christmas tree. These “trees” were made with aluminum. They were cheap, reusable, easy to store, and suited the stream-lined style of the 1960’s. Fire-retardant flocking became popular on the west coast through Hollywood films. Flocking involves spraying tiny particles of fiber with a vacuum cleaner to give the appearance of a fluffy snow-covered branches.
In the 1980’s, real trees make a comeback! Along with big hair and puffy sleeves, this era was defined by fluffy tinsel garlands and bold wide ribbons. Homemade ornaments are incorporated in the design as matching becomes less important. Heirloom items with sentimental value, no matter how much the eyesore, were displayed proudly, and prominently on Christmas trees.
This decade saw the birth of Christmas tree designer as a profession. Department stores become serious about choosing specific theme’s and color schemes to display their unique style, and sophisticated taste. Cheap decorations become available in complete sets.
2000’s – Present
Tinsel garlands become phased out as newer technology advances the effects of Christmas tree lights. Wireless tree-lights are now available, and powered by a magnetic ring at the base of the tree. Tree lights can even be controlled by social media. One set will turn different colors depending on the hashtag - For example #comfort turns the lights red!
2016 National Christmas Tree
Christmas time lands around the time of year when days are shortest. Survival used to depend on the previous year’s harvest. Bringing in evergreen plants such as boughs of holly, Christmas fern, mistletoe, and conifers were a sign of good luck since these plants remained green and fresh when so many other plants for all intents and purposes, appeared dead.
Liven up your apartment with one of our beautiful Fraser Firs! Our trees were chosen for their blue-green hue, good needle-retention, fresh scent, fabulous form, and of course, strong limbs for holding up lots of decorations. Get ready to do Christmas right this year by pre-ordering your Fraser Fir today!