A Victorian-themed Christmas tree is easy to achieve by creating a multitude of ornaments patterned after those made during the period. Metallic balls and other ornaments were not in existence yet, so the Victorians decorated with things they made from paper, paint, ribbon, fabric and other household items. Trees were a new idea during this period in England so they used whatever they had and embellished to make the tree festive.
Dresden ornaments were a popular store-bought ornament from Germany made during the Victorian era. They were made of embossed and foil covered paper trimmed with tinsel, lace, ribbon and fabric. Some families used paper dolls as a base to make their own Dresdens. They would cut out paper dolls that were popular during that time or cut pictures from popular magazines of the days such as Godey’s or Peterson’s. They embellished them by adding ribbon, gold and silver trim and other enhancements. Make modern versions by cutting figures from magazines or catalogs, backing them with heavy paper and using fabric cut and glued for dresses embellished with glued trim, ribbon or lace.
Other Paper Ornaments
Cone-shaped cornucopias were a favorite ornament tied to a bough with ribbon and filled with sweets. Make a modern version by curling colored paper, paper doilies or wallpaper squares into a cone and stapling it shut. Enhance the open edge with glued lace or other trim. Make holes at two sides of the opening and insert ribbon to tie and hang on the tree filled with candy and small trinkets. Take a rectangle of patterned wallpaper and fold it accordion style into a fan. Secure the gathered side by punching a hole at the base, inserting ribbon and tying adding glued flowers to make it look pretty. Hang from the tree or insert in between the branches. Thread paper stars or hearts on ribbon to use as garland.
Victorians hung fresh and dried fruit to the branches of their Christmas trees. Wrap them in colored cellophane and hang on the tree. They baked small cakes and affixed them as ornaments. Bake sugar cookies with a hole at the top -- use a drinking straw to punch the hole before baking -- threaded with ribbon. Decorate, wrap in plastic wrap and hang from the tree. Strings of popcorn sometimes enhanced with cranberries was a custom begun during the Victorian era. Set the string outside after the holidays as a treat for birds.
Paint walnuts with gold and silver metallic paint to look like gilded nuts of the Victorian era. Attach a ribbon loop with hot glue to hang them from the tree. Paint the edges or the whole pine cone in gold, silver or white and attach with a ribbon wrapped around the cone.
Small toys were often hung from the tree while the ones whose weight would not be supported were placed at the bottom. Use old Christmas cards to make ornaments by backing them with lace or eyelet trim. Victorians wired dried flowers onto branches. Enhance a tree with realistic artificial flowers by wiring or placing them in between the branches.
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