Christmas decorations in Victorian and Edwardian times
Christmas decorations in homes used to be hand-made in the past. This page explains how from firsthand experience. It describes the paper and the glue and much more, and includes decorations for Christmas trees.
By the webmaster's mother (1906-2002) from firsthand observations and recollections
The paper for paper chains
In my childhood in the early 1900s, children would make paper chains for decorating our homes. We enjoyed doing it, and never considered bought Christmas decorations.
Our parents bought us sheets of coloured paper which we cut into strips.
There were of course no special children's scissors. If we cut ourselves it was just considered to be our own fault.
Only much later, ready cut strips could be bought in shops., but the chains themselves were still handmade in my childhood.
The glue for the paper chains
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.