Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Novel Decorations for the Christmas Tree, December 20, 1908

       Less than $2, property expended, will decorate the Christmas tree beautifully in a novel fashion and give no end of pleasure. 
       The chief thing to consider is the color and effect. The materials employed are really secondary. There will, of course, be a cobwebby mass of loose silver tinsel coiled in and out and over the tree in a bewildering labyrinth and strings of popcorn, holly berries and cranberries. Tradition demands their use in connection with the novel ornaments. 
       Small and inexpensive souvenirs of Japanese lanterns and opened parasols will give a unique touch of Oriental color to the Christmas tree. From every available tip tiny bells, hearts, stars, guitars, banjos and papier mache animals, such as rabbits, donkeys and reindeers, should be suspended.
       If desired the animals may be of cake, as moulds are made especially for this purpose. The stars and hearts may be cut from bristol board and given a coat of glue, then dipped in mica or metallic flock.
A children's Christmas party 100 years ago.
       Small red and green apples may be used to good advantage for decorative purposes by sticking them with tiny crepe paper flags. They should be suspended from the boughs by braids of red, white and blue paper.
       Walnuts, hickory nuts, peanuts, pine cones, etc., will help the decorative scheme also if they are gilded. The best thing to accomplish this result is smalt, which is kept by paint dealers, and comes in gold, silver and all the metallic shades.
      First, dissolve a cake of glue in boiling water, place a tack in the end of the nut or object to be immersed, dip in the liquid glue, roll in the smalt and dry. Later, when ready to suspend from the tree, attach bright red ribbon to the gilded track and hang in some of the places that look bare.
       Another novelty which will please the children is to take the shells of the walnut, split so they will be intact, remove the meats, gild or silver the empty shells, then place a tiny doll, candy or motto inside and tie with bright-colored baby ribbon.
       It is almost impossible to have too many objects for trimmings, as the tree is like a yawning chasm--hard to fill.
       Little Chinese dolls, dangling by their queues, and Japanese lads and lassies, peering furtively out from among green boughs, will create a great deal of amusement for the Occidental boys and girls whose eyes are eagerly fixed on the tree. Milkmaids, Jack Horners, Brownies (these are fairies, folks), gnomes and fairies will also be an attraction and they may serve as bonbon receptacles as well. (bonbons are candies)
      To make a milkmaid, for instance, use bristle board and shape in an oblong round box. Fit a bit of pasteboard for a bottom and make a cover likewise. Fill with candies and nuts. Then take an ordinary bisque doll, which may be purchased at any 10-cent store, break off the legs and glue the body to the box. Next proceed to dress the little doll in a diaphanous crepe paper gown of some dainty color.
       One of the latest novelties for these doll bonbon boxes is to dress them in evening gowns, en train and decollete, adding a picture hat, a wrap and boa in some contrasting  shade. Black accessories are very fashionable for these tiny dolls. Another pretty idea is to make tiny closed parasols of crepe paper, glued to a toothpick and fasten in the hand of the little milady-a simple matter, as a trial will convince. Plumes for the hats are made by slashing a strip of folded paper, curling the fringe over a toothpick and plaiting on the hat. Muffs, too, are beautifully fashioned out of paper, with a bunch of tiny violets added for trimming.
       A useful gift which will help to make the tree look pretty is the twine doll, dressed handsomely in crepe papers-pink and black, red and yellow, yellow and black or blue and black, with hat to match and white paper petticoats. Quite a good-sized doll will be needed for this novelty, at least a fourteen-inch one. Break the legs off close to the body and glue the body to a twine receptacle in which is a ball of twine. The costume will, of course, need to be voluminous.
       Little pixies can be made to peer out of unexpected nooks and the tree. (mischievous spirits or elves) They, too, are made of small bisque dolls about six inches long, fastened on an oval piece of cardboard three inches in diameter for a standard. This cardboard should be covered with crepe paper, which may conceal several layers of felt or chamois skin for a pen wiper. Lavender and white paper with plenty of gilding will give a beautiful effect. 
       Shaving balls made of tissue papers in dainty colors and immense fluffy balls to which are fastened loops of paper ribbon with bows are useful gifts and unique for tree trimmings.
       Electric light shades made in the shape of an enormous cabbage rose, yellow for instance, with two buds dangling and an abundance of green leaves against the wire frame, will serve as lovely Christmas tree decorations.
1904 postcard.
       Still another cleaver idea for the tree which will be used as trimming first and gifts second, are hatpin holders, which are made of empty talcum powder boxes. Remove the top and stretch a piece of tarletan across it. Fasten securely, then "dress" the box in crepe paper, making a double frill at the top. to trim make a pond lily or rose with a bud, leaving the long stem to wind gracefully around the box. Fasten the blossom securely in front and the useful ornament is finished. Women who are forced to stab hatpins in cushions or leave them loosely in their dresser drawer because of no better place to put them will appreciate such a gift, trifling at it is.
       There was a time when ugly chains were made of paper and looped on the trees. Nowadays, instead of the barbarity, beautiful tissue and crepe papers are fashioned into garlands, fans, parasols, horns and such gifts as are described in the foregoing.
      One of the prettiest suggestions for distributing the smaller gifts is to have them imbedded in artificial oranges. This may be done with either muslin or paper, and though many of the articles will not fit the receptacles they can be made to do so by a little padding with cotton or tissue paper. Orange-colored crepe paper makes the most realistic oranges. They are not only pleasing to the children as novelties, but add greatly to the appearance of the tree itself. They should be suspended by orange satin ribbon or by braided lengths of crepe paper, which is more effective, to carry out the idea. When nestling among the dark green boughs of the tree they look exceedingly pretty and suggestive.
      Some of the small packages may be converted into snowballs by wrapping the gifts in cotton batting and sprinkling with tinsel powder. If there are lights on the tree, the glittering snowballs will be the chief attraction to the animated little people.
       A "Domino Tree" may be easily trimmed as follows: Make a layer cake. baking in a shallow tin. When the cake is cold, it should be cut into oblong pieces the shape and size of dominoes. A tin cutter can be purchased, or the tinner can make one. Dip the tiny cakes in a boiled icing, using toothpick "spears" to accomplish this result. When the icing is cold make the domino lines and dots with melted chocolate, using a toothpick for the purpose. Each domino may be tied separately to a tiny twig with red baby ribbon, or the cakes may be strung in loops. Several hundred of these goodies scattered about the tree will give a dazzling effect and please the little folks immensely.
Santa delivers oranges and other fruits during the 1800s.
He carries a plum pudding in his front sack.
       Snowball cakes may be made by baking cup cakes which should be trimmed into shape, then iced generously several times and rolled in desiccated cocoanut. A toothpick spear may be thrust in each one to suspend it.
       Attractive ornaments can be fashioned for the tree out of candies. For instance, make some glace with half a cup of water, one-fourth teaspoonful of cream of tartar and a half pound of loaf sugar. Boil until it thickens in cold water. Dip into this fresh rose or violet petals. Spread the glace thin in a pan and score it into butterflies' wings. Cut marshmallows into thin stripe for the bodice and press the wings into them. Next proceed to cover the white body with streaks and flecks of chocolate, dotting the wings with tinted fondant.
       Other oddities in the shapes of dolls may be made of chocolate creams. Take one bonbon for the head and two more for the body. Each one should be speared by a toothpick. Pinch one side of the chocolate cream until it looks something like a nose. Cut out a piece on either side for eyes; make another slash for the mouth, then with a toothpick make imitation hair on the "Topsy." Dress in a crisp red paper gown, with a black sash, and suspend from the tree with black baby ribbon.
       Artificial snow on the topmost branches of the tree will add to its wintry appearance. To make, dip bits of cotton into glue, then sprinkle with mica to imitate the sparkle.
       The illumination of the tree is an important problem, for by the indiscreet use of candles many a joyous Christmas has been turned into one of mourning. Tiny Japanese lanterns are much safer then unshielded candles and the give a prettier effect. The small square lanterns with colored mica sides are also safe, for they have a sponge in the bottom that may be saturated with  kerosene. (acckkkk. I just read this while typing!!!! Sorry, it made me jump.) When the wick is lighted it burns brightly and lasts longer then ordinary wax candles. (Don't even think about trying it.)
       A pretty little ceremony may be participated in by the children before and after the distribution of the gifts. When everything is in readiness the little people (if still alive) are invited into the room and told to sing their welcome to Santa Claus, for, of course, the patron saint is expected. In the midst of the lively song. "Santa Claus Is Coming," good old Saint Nicholas appears on the scene, snow besprinkled and jolly, with a pack on his back and to the music of sleigh bells. The children salute him with "All hall! Good Santa Claus on this merry Christmas Eve."
      Santa Claus responds cheerily and the distribution of the gifts proceeds. At the close of this part of the program Saint Nicholas says "Good night" to his subjects. At this signal the little people rush forward and surround the tree under which he stands. All Joining hands, they sing, "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," and circle about the tree. After several lively Christmas songs they remain quiet about Saint Nicholas and sing their good night song, to which he responds with many bows of appreciation.

       Wow, well now that was quite an article! It's been slightly edited, spelling corrected. A few mistakes in grammer have been tweeked, but for the most part, it's in tack. If you have any questions about the vocabulary and such ask it below. Because I know that some of my readers are looking for descriptions about antique Christmas decorations, I thought it would be fun to include some detailed articles on my family's Christmas blog this year.
Related Ornament Links: to make: surprise balls * Snowball Box * How to make 20 different paper flowers * DIY Chinese New Year Lantern Types: you would need to make these in a miniature variety for a Christmas tre. There are many additional video at youtube to demonstrate the techniques **
Related Sugarplum Links: Look Up Domino Petit Fours: Domino Cakes: Domino Effect * Domino petit fours photo * double-dipped dominoes * Who Stole Me Pot O Gold? Domino cookies * Chocolate Domino Cookies * The Old Fashioned Way: Bon Bons  * Old fashioned candy ***  

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