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The post-war manufacturing boom that sparked the mid-century modern movement in home and furniture design in the ‘50s and ‘60s was a major turning point for the holiday décor industry as well. New materials and production technologies allowed manufacturers to mass produce dazzling decorations much more cost-effectively, and those savings were passed along to retailers. Consequently, homes across the country were more brightly decorated around the holidays than ever before.

Today, original mid-century modern decorations are harder to find, especially at an affordable price. Unfortunately, many of these original decorations were created from lighter, more fragile materials and were not built to last. Luckily, finding new holiday decor inspired by vintage holiday decor is relatively easy – and there is a wide range of options available. With the variety of mid-century modern-inspired holiday decorations on the market, it’s not difficult to find items that complement your home’s design aesthetic while still achieving a nostalgic ‘50s and ‘60s holiday vibe.

Aluminum Christmas Trees

The first holiday decor piece that comes to mind for many people when they think about mid-century modern and the holidays is the iconic aluminum Christmas tree! After WWII, aluminum’s popularity in design skyrocketed as it was lightweight, easy to work with, and most importantly, cheap! In 1959, an executive at the Aluminum Specialty Company out of Manitowoc, Wisconsin spotted a store window featuring a metal Christmas tree and was inspired to recreate it with aluminum.

The aluminum tree was a hit as the public immediately fell in love with these unique, shiny trees. Less expensive than other fake trees they were also easy to assemble and could be simply stored in the off-season. The aluminum tree’s straight, methodically placed branches presented the perfect balance of geometric clean lines while also presenting the illusion of nature – key mid-century modern elements. While silver remained the most popular color, these trees came in a host of metallic hues.

With these shining, modern trees, most people skipped stringing lights on the branches. They opted instead for a spinning color light wheel, a device that projected light onto the tree – and the tree’s shiny tinsel branches reflected the back the various colors from the light wheel. Others chose to illuminate the tree with a single, solitary spotlight.

Finding an original aluminum Christmas tree today is a real feat, but there are a variety of affordably priced reproductions to choose from – in just about any color desired! Fun fact: we may well have Charlie Brown to thank for the demise of the original aluminum Christmas tree. In a famous Charlie Brown television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas – a show that first aired in 1965 – Charlie Brown and Linus shop for a Christmas tree, ultimately turning down all the aluminum ones for a puny, yet endearing, natural tree. That television moment triggered a similar sentiment in the hearts (and buying dispositions) of tree buyers everywhere.

Glass Ornaments

Before WWII, ornate German-made glass ornaments were highly desirable, but price-prohibitive, since they had to travel quite a long way to make it to stores in America. With the outbreak of the war against Germany, manufacturers in the United States set about producing their own glass ornaments. By the time the ‘50s came along most everyone in the U.S had easy and affordable access to American replicas of the German designs. The popularity of the American-made glass ornaments soared as most everyone now began decking out their Christmas trees with them.

As for ornament style choices, most who owned silver trees would adorn them with a wide range of glass ornaments in a multitude of bright colors. On the other hand, those with more colorful trees would decorate them with a monochromatic assortment of ornaments.


As for Christmas stockings during the mid-century era, the leading options on store shelves were made of felt, usually in the traditional red and white – or sometimes in metallic silver or gold to match the home’s tree. Finding felt stockings today can be a bit more difficult, but creating custom felt stockings at home does make an excellent DIY project for the whole family. Just purchase a couple of yards of felt in colors you prefer, plug in the hot glue gun, and let the crafting begin!

Home Décor

A general tip for mid-century modern holiday home decorating, start by following the same principles that mid-century modern design is built upon! Start with either a bright color palette of 4-5 colors or go monochromatic, perhaps silver or gold, and begin collecting unique, geometric and organic objects. Try to mix and match materials, such as pairing metal pieces with some greenery or wood. Keep your space balanced and your decorations minimalistic for a clean, yet inviting feel!

At the end of the day, the approach you take in decorating your home in mid-century modern holiday style should be guided by your own preferences. Whether you go completely retro, stick to the more modern elements, or find a middle ground between the two, the choicer is all up to you!