8 Ways to Give Your Christmas Tree the Vintage Touch

A retro looking photo of a girl next to Christmas tree.

Christmas trees these days are so fancy, with all their brightly colored lights, fiber optics, and plastic ornaments. Perhaps old school is more your style and you'd like to decorate your Christmas tree to match. To gussy up your tree the vintage way, try a few of these decorating ideas. Bring it back to a time when people used to make their tree decorations by hand, cherish the memories, and use them year after year.

Popcorn Strands

String popcorn on a needle and thread to create a classic holiday garland. Don't cut the end of the thread until you are finished with your strand, as you will need long pieces of string knotted at the ends to make strands long enough to wrap around the tree. String the needle through the middle of each piece of popcorn, being careful not to crumble or break the individual pieces. Over time, the popcorn will harden and become stale, making it less fragile. Drape it around the tree, much like tinsel or Christmas lights.

Cranberry Garland

Decorate the tree with strands of cranberries in the same way as the strands of popcorn--by wrapping them around the tree. Cranberries take a bit of work compared to popcorn since they're a little harder to get the needle through. One pound of cranberries will make a strand of cranberries about 5 feet long. Cranberries can be strung with popcorn for an alternating red and white effect.

Wide Ribbon

Trim the tree with ribbon, wrapping it around the tree like garland. Turn the ribbon every now and again to create a spiral with the ribbon rather than lying it flat. Choose wide ribbon that has festive colors or has a woodsy, rustic feel to it. Otherwise, make large bows with the ribbon, then tie them to the tree like large ornaments.


Before Christmas lights, many people decorated their Christmas trees with tinsel to reflect the light and create the illusion of a “glow.” Tinsel comes in a wide variety of colors and while it may be messy, it can be fun to pull apart and place all over the tree. It's best to use tinsel on a living tree and not a fake one, as removing tinsel from a tree can be time consuming and difficult. This way, you can dispose of the tree after the holidays with the tinsel still on it.

Candy Canes

Candy canes have been used to decorate Christmas trees for decades. Add a box of these to your tree, hanging them among the branches. Not only will they add a splash of red color to your tree, they are a tasty treat that will be easily accessible all month long. Add a few candy canes, or more if you wish to make them a highlighted characteristic of your tree.

Pine Cones

Set pine cones on tree branches or tie strings around the tips to hang them like ornaments. Pine cones create a rustic, country look for any Christmas tree and can be decorated with glitter, paint, or pieces of ribbon if you’d like to make them a little fancier. Otherwise, add them singly or place a few together to create a realistic, clustered look.

Fake Flowers

Place assorted fake flowers in the tree branches, with the flowers sticking out like ornaments. Choose bigger blooms that will naturally secure themselves to the branches and create a dramatic effect. Fake flowers are good for filling in bare areas of the tree.

Handmade Ornaments

Create old fashioned ornaments out of paper, cloth, popsicle sticks, buttons, and more. Any small knickknack or toy that has a vintage touch will make a great addition to a retro tree. Even old photographs can add a vintage look—use a hole punch and a ribbon to turn them into ornaments.