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Handmade Christmas decorations in Victorian and Edwardian times

By the webmaster’s mother, 1906-2002

The paper for paper chains

We children would make paper chains for decorating our homes. Our parents bought us sheets of coloured paper which we cut into strips.

paper chains

Children making Christmas preparations by gluing strips of coloured paper into linked rings to make paper chains.

There were of course no special children's scissors. If we cut ourselves it was just considered to be our own fault.

Much later, ready cut strips could be bought in shops.

The glue for the paper chains

Gloy glue paste

By the mid 1940s it was common to use a glue paste called Gloy which came in a glass bottle with its own brush in its cork stopper.

We made our own glue with equal parts of flour and water, stirred to a uniform consistency. No cooking was required. Then we glued the ends of a strip together, linking them round another strip to make the chain.

How the paper chains were hung in rooms

There was no sticky tape. The paper chains were hung across the room by securing them to the picture rails with drawing pins, pinned into the horizontal top parts of the picture rails. This meant that the paper chains were above head level and that the holes from the drawing pins were invisible from room level after the paper chains were taken down.

There was always the temptation to attach the paper chains centrally where there was a central gas lamp, but this was dangerous because the heat for the flame could set the paper alight. An alternative was to loop them round the walls.

Christmas trees and tree decorations

Large organisations had Christmas trees - real ones. There were no imitations.

Possibly elaborate decorations for these trees were bought, but they were probably mainly handmade by older children or artistically inclined adults.

early 1900s school christmas tree

The school hall of Silver Street School, no doubt decorated by the children. Photo courtesy of Simon Benbow. Tap/click for a larger image.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

Page based on the recollections and notes of the webmaster's mother (1906-2002) with additional research and editorial work by the webmaster

Text and images are copyright

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