Everything You Need for a Mid-Century Modern Christmas

OK, Thanksgiving is over. It’s time to put up the tree and start playing Christmas music now!

My house is fully decked out for a mid-century modern Christmas, and experts say decorating early makes people happy, so no judging.

From the aluminum tree to the felt stockings and tinsel wreath, here’s everything you need to decorate for a very mid-century Christmas.

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The Tree: Aluminum With a Color Wheel

First, I need to ask you a controversial question: do you prefer a real or artificial tree? As a child, I insisted on a real tree every year, no exceptions.

Then I moved out and had to deal with the pine tree hassle myself. Hard pass.

I love how easy it is to retrieve my lightweight artificial tree from storage and pop it together in minutes. No sap, no spiders, and it’s perfectly symmetrical year after year.

Mid-century modern aluminum Christmas tree with retro bulbs

Video: See how to assemble an aluminum tree

Plus, if you’re an early decorator it’s a simple decision. It has to be artificial if it’s going to last until New Year’s. Luckily the aluminum tree is basically a requirement for a mid-century modern Christmas.

I found my tree on eBay. You might want to check there or your local antique shop to find a vintage one. And if that doesn’t work, try one of these new aluminum or tinsel tree options.

Find Your Mid-Century Modern Christmas Tree

Aluminum tree
Silver tinsel tree
Retro pink tinsel tree

How to Decorate Your Aluminum Christmas Tree

When you first make the switch from pine to aluminum, you might wonder how in the world to decorate this tree. It doesn’t hold lights in any attractive sort of way.

The sparse, modern shape calls for a simpler decorating style than that of the pine tree.

What to do? Start with a color wheel. This will turn your tree from silver and bare into a 1960s rainbow dream.

Decorate an aluminum Christmas tree with colorful bulbs and light it up with a color wheel

From there, you can add one or two ornaments per branch. It helps to use wire hooks, so you can hang them at different points along each branch.

Some years I stick to a color scheme, like red and green or wintery blue. Other years I go for the full color spectrum, like with these candy-colored Shiny Brite ornaments.

Read More: Decorating the tree with Shiny Brites

Spend a fun day searching your local antique shops, or get the basic tree decorations online. Look for a color wheel, retro ornaments and a mid-century modern tree skirt.

Glitter starburst ornaments
Retro Lucy Christmas ornament
Retro Santa ornaments
Turquoise ball ornaments
Color wheel

If you can’t find a Christmas tree skirt that you love, go the DIY route. This felt tree skirt is easy to make with a sew or no-sew option.

Complete Your Retro Christmas With This DIY Tree Skirt

Read More: How to make a felt tree skirt with Sputniks

The Stockings: Retro Felt and Lit Up

The stockings represent drama, anticipation, and a little mischief if you’re doing them right. Start hiding treats in the stockings before the big day, and include some surprises from Santa.

Sometimes I also like to give coal candy to whichever family member has wronged me the worst that year.

Cat sitting next to retro Christmas stockings

To get the mid-century stocking style, go for red felt. You can turn it into a family project. Let everyone customize their stocking with the Christmas stencils in this easy DIY Christmas stocking tutorial.

Once your stockings are ready, evenly space them out on the mantle or banister. Write or print a name tag for each stocking and tie them together with a pretty curled ribbon.

Cute cat and mid-century Christmas stockings

Read More: How to make retro felt Christmas stockings

Complete the look with a string of lights and garland—anything from retro popcorn to classic pine to shiny tinsel. If there’s no outlet nearby, a battery-powered string light is your friend.

And it’s not really a mid-century Christmas unless you stuff those stockings with some of Grandma’s old-fashioned hard candy.

String lights
Silver garland
Mod wool felt garland
Old-fashioned Christmas candy
Coal Christmas candy

The Front Door: Adorned With a Tinsel Wreath

I wasn’t sure what kinds of wreaths were common in the 1960s, so I turned to an expert: my mother-in-law. She said many people had the timeless holly berry wreaths, as well as rag tie wreaths.

She also mentioned computer punch card wreaths. (Apparently computer punch cards existed.)

Back in the ‘60s, my father-in-law had leftover punch cards piling up from his college classes. And people all across the country were dealing with this surplus of punch cards, so a trend was born.

They folded the cards and attached them to a wreath form in a circle pattern like this. A little bit of red spray paint turned a few dozen punch cards into a giant poinsettia for the door.

But I don’t have any punch cards, so I opted for a mod tinsel wreath to match my tree.

Adorn the front door with a tinsel wreath

Read More: How to make a DIY tinsel wreath

This is a quick and easy wreath to make.

Pick up several packs of tinsel garland, glue it around a wreath form, and tie up your wreath with a festive ribbon.

You could also make a DIY Sputnik card wreath, or pick up a modern ornament wreath.

Silver tinsel wreath
Retro Santa wreath
Red ball ornament wreath

More Mid-Century Christmas Decor

You might want to add a few more accessories. Bubble lights would look magical nestled in garland on the mantle.

Add a ceramic Christmas tree to a side table and spruce up your throw pillows with retro covers. Even your desk or coffee table can be festive with a tiny 4-inch tree!

Teeny tiny tinsel tree
Bubble lights
Porcelain Christmas tree
Mid-century Christmas book
Retro Christmas reindeer pillow

Mid-Century Modern Christmas

Find more decorating ideas for a very mid-century Christmas with vintage style ornaments, a retro tree skirt and a mod “pinkmas” celebration.


7 thoughts on “Everything You Need for a Mid-Century Modern Christmas”

  1. Tara ..you have got it down to a T for decorating mid century! Growing up we had an aluminum tree with pink balls. Prenty and I made the computer punch card wreath with all those computer punch cards..I think we may have made one for his brothers family also..it was sooo long ago. lol. We were thrilled when we stopped in Sacramento old town on our way home from Oregon 2 years ago. They have this wonderful Christmas store with every kind of Christmas thing you could imagine or want. (Talk about whimsy!!) We found the bubble lites like we had when our boys were young..we had to get them and now this is the 3rd year we are enjoying them! Your mid century Christmas is totally like stepping back into the 60’s! (Also love charlie with the tree!)


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