Life in the 1950's

Tinsel: Life in the ’50s Just Got a Whole Lot Messier.

Alright so I wanted to change up my Christmas decor a bit this year, and I decided to do a ’50’s theme. (Of course.) After I got my AMAZING cards from RetroChristmasCardCompany.Com, and after I got a repro Bubble Light Candolier from Vermont Country Store, I still thought I needed more FIFTIES in my Christmas. I guess that’s just me. I’m never satisfied and I can never leave well enough alone. So I decided, against my own better judgement, to cover my already decorated tree with tinsel.

Let me explain. I have a 3 foot tall fake tree that I decorated in all white cat ornaments as a tribute to my Late Boy Jelly Bean. I’ve had the tree since the year Jelly Bean died, 2014.

Jelly Bean: 1995 – 2014

Jelly Bean’s tree came out magnificent, if I do say so myself, with the help of very many lovely white cat ornaments and some lights. At the end of the season, I don’t even take the ornaments off. I just put the whole tree in a stand-up box and store it. Then when Christmastime comes again, I take it out, re-arrange the ornaments so they hang straight, and plug in the lights. Simple enough.

A Tribute Tree to Jelly Bean the Cat.

But of course, I had to complicate things by wanting to do a different theme this year.  It’s kind of ironic when you think about it, because the 1950’s were a simple time; stress free and fun. Except when it came to decorating Christmas trees.

What I mean by that can be summed up in one word: tinsel. See, back in the day, tinsel was a new thing. It was as nifty as your favorite Number One Hit on a 45 rpm record. It was the happening fad for kids and grown-up folks alike. So, (and I am assuming, since I wasn’t there,) the aforementioned folks overlooked the fact that tinsel is tacky, messy and a pain in the ass to decorate with. Not to mention that it gets tracked all over the house something like that plastic Easter basket grass.

Even so, tinsel was a very important MUST HAVE when it comes to decorating 1950’s Christmas style. I figured this when I realized that every single Christmas photo from that era featured a tree drenched in tinsel. People did not run around half-naked in those days, and neither did their Christmas trees. Ergo, I had no choice: bring on the TINSEL!

“Tinsel is SO Fetch!”

So I went on eBay and began searching “vintage tinsel”. A lot of interesting listings came up. The actual tinsel back in the day was made from aluminum which contained lead, something they would never allow now. The old boxes were cardboard and featured simple drawings of a happy family. Later, tinsel came in a box with a plastic covering and a photo of a smiling kid that looked like she might live down the street from The Brady Bunch. Later still, tinsel came (and still does come) in a cheap-ass box with some cheap-ass plastic and a cheap-ass cut out of a tree on it, but at least we’re pretty sure that it doesn’t have lead in it anymore. Although, I will say after looking at many boxes of tinsel and its evolution through the years, it seems that rather early on it was made “fire retardant”. Needless to say, a good thing.


The tinsel I settled on was the cheapest I could find on eBay because I was in no mood to spend a lot of money on a bunch of shiny, stringy stuff that would get thrown out in a few weeks anyway. I kind of second-guessed my tinsel purchase when I realized how flimsy each strand was. I thought maybe I should have sprung for the higher-quality vintage stuff. But vintage or non, tinsel is a bitch to hang, make no mistake, so you gotta have patience with it no matter what.


When the tree was finally done and my back was killing me, I thought “Oh no, now I’ve really done it. It looks like a shiny silver version of Cousin It from The Addams Family.”

But once I put the lights on, I realized how shiny the tree was, how much light reflects off of it… I had not seen a tree with tinsel on it since I was a real little kid and it’s kinda nice. In a tacky sort of way… just like the 50’s!

So although it’s getting tracked everywhere and it will be a HUGE pain to clean up, I am over all happy that I used tinsel this year after all. I think it adds a bit of vintage sparkle to Jelly’s ole tree.

Nothing says Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree like good ole fashioned tinsel.

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