Skip to main content

Vintage Handcrafted Christmas Decorations

Civil War and Victorian Era Ornaments

The Ohio Village, a 19th Century working town occupying its own visitors' complex next to the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus OH, celebrates all the national holidays with a historical style. During the Christmas Season, the village embraces itself with the cloak of oldtime joy and winter wonder.

A Christmas tree placed as a centerpiece in the Colonel Crawford Inn in Ohio Village is a tree of antiquity and fond remembrance. A living tree, it has been decorated with ornaments that depict lighted candles, ribbons, clusters of pecans and walnuts, popcorn balls, apples, oranges, and sugared candies.

On Christmas Morning, children in the 1800s and early 1900s of rural Ohio were overjoyed to receive a stocking full of an apple, an orange, nuts to crack, several pieces of sugar-covered hard candy, and perhaps some dates and cookies or a muffin. Between the Christmas Day meals, they made their stocking goodies last all day. They also did their farm chores that day and perhaps gave the horses, cattle, goats, and fowl an extra measure of food. A Horse would benefit from an extra apple left over after filling stockings.

Animal Ornaments

A favorite activity on a farming Christmas Eve in the 1800s was telling the tale of how, if a child was very quiet and hid in the barn that night, he or she would hear the farm animals speak at midnight on Christmas Morning. It is the only day of the year that the animals speak and it is to proclaim the birth of the Christ Child. You may see some oldtime Christmas trees on display, decorated with carved farm animals, and perhaps this is the reason.

Christmas animals display.

Christmas animals display.

Christmas As It Was

My father's lineage all lived the better part of a century each and he and most of his siblings were born two generations before World War II. They were born into the world of Ohio Village. It was the Reconstruction Era farm, the Saturday farmer's market in the town square, the one-room schoolhouse, and the Christmas stocking.


Dickens of a Christmas - Ohio Village is decorated inside and out as a Victorian village in winter. Activities include, decoration making, caroling, cooking demos of traditional dishes and samples, along with additional Victorian traditions out of Dickens' tales. Fridays and Saturdays in December 6-9 PM; Sunday afternoons.)

If you cannot visit the village, then enjoy Jim Carey's 3D version of A Christmas Carolor Patrick Stewart's one man production fo the same. Each one is a holiday in itself.

Dickens of a Dinner- A formal dining experience on certain weekend evenings in December before Dickens of a Christmas. Call 800-686-1541. If you should be alone at the Christmas Season, this is heartwarming and memorable. Don't hesitate to attend by yourself and make new friends.

The hilarious Christmas Dinner with Lord and Lady Snobgrass. In 2010, this event is held on December 16. This is a gala English holiday dinner thrown in the "colonies" during the 1850s by a pair of opinionated Brits. Festive and fun with Victorian opinions and decorations and traditional foods.

Visit the Ohio Village pages for additional Christmas festivities.

Ohio Village Living Museum


The Little Nursery

I have only two photos of myself from childhood: a high school photo and a Polaroid of a 4-month-old infant under a bubble light beneath the Christmas Tree. Bubble lights were always my favorite and new bubble lights began to appear in the marketplace again a few years ago. In school, we made contruction paper chains of red and green rings pasted or glued together and we strung them completely around the classroom high on the walls.

After Thanksgiving, every class would choose a day to walk together one block away to the nursery and select a Christmas tree for their classroom. It smelled like a pine forest inside the small greenhouse building and onthe lot - a scent that is a favorite today. The little nursery expanded and now runs a holiday shuttle bus around the north side of town to bring people to shop for Christmas decorations and enjoy some related events.


Elementary school children made ornaments for their trees each year, and took them home during Christmas Break. Additional paper chains were joined by popcorn we threaded together as garlands and origami paper stars covered in glitter glue. I've recently seen some of these paper stars in antique shops and a plastic version for sale in upscale department stores. I prefer the paper.

We children were also each asked to bring a purchased ornament for the classroom tree, if we were able to do so. My favorite was a deep blue sphere on which winter scenes were painted in sparkling white glitter paint. It was beautiful.

Scroll to Continue

In the 21st Century, Peanuts and Sesame Street ornaments are already vintage, so the old farming Christmas of the Civill War, the Victorian Era, and the mid-20th Century are even more memorable.

American Made and Imported Ornaments and Gifts

Chinese-Made Christmas Lights Are Made by Slaves

  • Christmas Lights From Hell
    Many people of the 21st century create their own Christmas traditions and one of mine is to no longer purchase Christmas Lights made by Christian Slaves. It is simply too disturbing...

© 2010 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 22, 2016:

@C McNairy Wight - I remember them still in the 1960s and 1970s. They were always nicer than the first metallic Christmas Trees on the market that lost their shine so quickly and became a dull grey! Your family was very artistic about your icicle hanging!

Carol McNairy Wight from Provo, Utah on November 22, 2016:

Thanks for your well researched article. My memory of our tree was the icicles my Mom painstakingly put on the tree , one by one. They were the metallic kind used in the 40's and 50's. The tree literally shimmered after we spent a day or two covering every single bough.

Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on November 26, 2010:

I love anything Victorian...I really enjoyed reading and the pictures...Blessings

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on November 05, 2010:

Beautiful! High quality great pics. Think I recall some of these "vintage" era ornaments. Thank you for sharing.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 04, 2010:

I have wrote a hub about my Christmas' memories and I think those were really celebrated. Thankyoufor your wonderful hub and decoration.

Real Christmas Tree on November 03, 2010:

Interesting topic! When I was reading your hub, it made me wonder how exciting they celebrate their Christmas holidays way back then...not much decorations and machines but they're very crafty and innovative. Thanks for sharing!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on November 02, 2010:

Wonderful Christmas history and images

Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on November 02, 2010:

Beautiful hub. Thank you.

purpleangel47 from Baltimore, Maryland on November 02, 2010:

I love this hub Patty! I've always believed that Christmas should mean so much more than the commercialized concept it has become. I don't have any antique, old world ornaments, but when my three daughters were little I used to decorate our tree with every ornament they made in school. Many of them I still have. I wanted them to know the meaning of celebration and giving when it comes from creativity, rather than your wallet. Thank you for sharing :)

carrie450 from Winnipeg, Canada on November 02, 2010:

Nice hub Patty. Reminded me of Christmas long ago. I'll try out some of the other links you have here.

blunt-expressions from Whitewood on November 01, 2010:

Making your own decorations is fun, and they look soo cute too!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 01, 2010:

Bubble lights and Austrian ornaments sound like great decorations to me! - and good memories. Thanks for posting!

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on November 01, 2010:

this is beautiful Patty. I still use some hand made vintage ornaments on my tree, they were made in Austria and are very old. I think they were some of their first ornaments my parents bought when they had their first tree. I also remember as a child having bubble lights on the tree. You are getting me in the mood!! thanks for sharing such a beautiful hub.

Related Articles