Create a Victorian-Inspired Tree

Decorating Ideas for an 
Old Fashioned Christmas

With our decades of experience and a passion for Victorian Christmas trimmings, here are our tips and ideas for creating your own 19th-century styled holiday tree.

Selecting the Right Tree

First you need to decide on the tree that fits your personality and life-style.  You'll need branches with wide open spaces between them for hanging ornaments of different sizes and shapes. Table-sized feather trees, like the 44" beauty pictured here, allows enough flexibility to create spaces for all types of ornament.  This particular tree is of our very own design, handsomely handcrafted by master feather tree-maker, Dennis Bauer, in the traditional German style, with a sturdy wooden base and soft feathers dyed in custom colors for a beautiful antique look.  Living trees are also a great choice for capturing the Victorian Spirit.  Remember, a tree only Charlie Brown could love might just might be a perfect choice for old-fashioned charm. 

Garland, Tinsel, Lighting and More

Hang lots of vintage tinsel garland and vintage glass beads from branch to branch in graceful loops. Also use vintage lead tinsel "rain" icicles to add more sparkle and gleam under your tree lights. This look frames the ornaments and adds Victorian glamour. Selection of lighting is a matter of personal preference.  The parlor tree pictured here is has a lovely cloth-wrapped early mid-century light string with wooden dowell beads (for tightening against a branch).  We added  frosted white lights that most resembled the glow of candles. We put antique toys, dolls, Santas, and games under the tree, just like they would have in Victorian times.

Choose Ornaments that Create a Victorian Look

If you still have your grandmother's vintage heirloom ornaments, they will find a happy home on your Victorian-inspired tree. Avoid matching sets - the more variety the better!  Use different sizes and types, from home-crafted paper cones and "scrap" and tinsel ornaments, to old spheres, indented ornaments, glass icicles, and ornaments with embossed designs.  Especially popular choices (but more expensive to purchase) are German-made figural glass ornaments in different shapes such as birds, musical instruments, Santas, and more.  Your tree will look imaginative and intriguing with a variety of ornaments all on the same tree.  This is why our passion at Dresden Star is to make of ornaments in different categories, to include Glass, Paper, Candy Containers, and Cotton. SEE OUR CATEGORIES. Older ornaments, and/or ornaments made with old materials, have soft mellow colors and a patina from age that blend best with an old-fashioned looking tree.  


Collecting Glass Ornaments

Above are examples of antique figural glass ornaments. These are widely available at flea markets, thrift stores and antique malls, especially between November and Feburary. Look for birds, pinecones, musical instruments, houses, baskets, pretty embossed patterns, and ornaments that still have their original crinkle-wire. You can pay anywhere between $5-$50 depending on condition and size. Dresden Star ornaments, like our little glass cuckoo clock nestled between the swags of garland, capture the Victorian Spirit, as they are decorated with adorable little antique die-cut papers and gorgeous antique and vintage trims. SEE OUR GLASS ORNAMENTS.

Scouting for Tinsel and Beaded Garland

While you are looking for your Vintage-Chic Christmas decor, don't forget to keep your eyes open for other necessary nostalgic tree trimmings!  Hanging a rich assortment of tinsel and glass beaded garland in graceful loops between your branches is really a Victorian must. After you hang your ornaments, add some vintage leaded tinsel for more Victorian glamour. Vintage garland and tinsel are available, especially during the winter months at thrift shops, flea markets, and antique malls.  Yes, you CAN purchase on-line, but you generally pay more and you're missing half the fun!

Home-Crafted Paper Ornaments

Below we have included before and after pictures of some of the fabulous original home-crafted ornaments that inspired some of our creations.  These are good examples of paper decorations made by middle-class Victorian families as a parlor pasttime under the glow of gas and kerosene lighting.  People used supplies they had on-hand, as well as the antique German chromolithograph "scraps", as they were called.  Santas were given cotton coats; ladies were adorned with golden skirts and Dresden paper wings to crown the top of the tree.  Some of our favorite original ornaments are paper-dolls, with jointed arms and legs, imaginatively dressed a century ago with whatever was found around the home.  Dresden Star Ornaments are inspired by these authentic home-made creations, as seen below. "Dancing Ballerina" was created with an antique jointed ballerina paper doll, vintage Dennison sunshine yellow crepe paper, vintage milliner's netting, antique lace and rare black Dresden paper trim.  The Cotton Santa (below ballerinas) is a work-in-progress based on a original 15" tall Victorian Santa ornament! CHECK OUT THE FINISHED SANTA HERE! It is so exciting to find some of the original papers that were used to create these imaginative decorations and re-create them in our own unique way! SEE OUR PAPER ORNAMENTS.