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60+ Old Fashioned Christmas Ideas: Decor, Food, Gifts & Traditions

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If you are looking to recreate an old fashioned Christmas, then this is the article for you! I love the nostalgia of Christmas. It is so special to bring back traditions and simple pleasures. So today, I’m sharing 60 old fashioned Christmas ideas. Here you’ll find everything from decorations and traditions to food and gift ideas.

Red barn in a snowy valley.

Create your own old-timey Christmas experience!

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The Queen of Christmas

Today as I talk about different ways to recreate an old fashioned Christmas, I’m also going to be giving you a tour of my mother’s home!

My mom has been the queen of Christmas for as long as I can remember. She starts listening to Christmas music in July (and never really stops). And her eyes never twinkle quite as much as when she’s giving the perfect gift or making a delicious meal to celebrate the big day.

As a child, she always made Christmas magical.

She even still puts up our 40 year old childhood stockings for our benefit; even though I’m sure she’d rather do something different.

Vintage stockings.

Much of what I love about Christmastime has been instilled in me by Mom and I hope I pass those things on to my children as well.

Enjoy touring her home decorated for Christmas with her favorite antique ornaments and vintage style home!

Christmas tree lit in another room.

Old Fashioned Christmas Traditions

Old fashioned Christmas traditions are so simple to incorporate into your celebrations.

Some of them will be well known, and others will be new to you. I’d love to know which traditions you incorporate into your day!

What is the oldest Christmas tradition?

While I’m sure many sources will tell you different answers, I’d argue the oldest Christmas tradition is the re-enactment of Christ’s birth, starting in 1200AD. Or, the reading of the Christmas story.

Christmas tree with nativity.

After all, that is the reason for our Christmas celebrations!

However, if you date back to Roman times, you’ll also find many of our normal Christmas traditions today began for various reasons beyond Christ’s birth, like the beginning of the winter solstice.

Decorating for Christmas with wreaths and greenery and having large feasts have been long-time traditions of camaraderie and various non-Christian related festivals as well.

Candle wreath for an old fashioned christmas.

What were old ways of celebrating Christmas?

Here are some of my favorite old fashioned Christmas traditions across the centuries.

Small Christmas tree with antique furniture.

Many of them are simple and free. Others will be a fun addition to your festivities.

  1. Christmas crackers: A surprise gift popped open at Christmas dinner.
  2. Make snow angels
  3. Sledding
  4. Build a snowman with coal eyes and a carrot nose
  5. Ice skating on a pond (or rink if you prefer)
  6. Horse drawn carriage ride
  7. Christmas caroling: Singing our way through the holidays since the 14th century to spread joy and love.
  8. Make your own candles. While this might have been out of necessity in the olden times, it would make such a fun tradition now!
  9. Play the vintage classics from Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams. Maybe even throw in some Lee Greenwood for good measure.
  10. Bring back the 12 Days of Christmas with a gift a day from Dec 25-January 6.
  11. Read the Christmas story from Luke 2 on Christmas morning
  12. Advent calendars: While this is still something we practice today, it has been a long standing tradition over the Christmas season. Make your own with this gorgeous reusable calendar year after year. Or, make it more of a countdown to Christmas with this stunning handmade piece.
  13. Burning of the Yule Log. If you don’t have a traditional fireplace, try this beautiful version and create your own!
  14. Dinner by candlelight. What was once simply the norm because of no electricity, can become a beautiful and cozy tradition to end your day of merriment.

Old Fashioned Christmas Food

Let’s be honest, food is an important element to holiday traditions. Try some of these old fashioned foods and drinks to make your Christmas special.

Kitchen decorated for an old fashioned Christmas.
  1. Yule log sponge cake
  2. Homemade candies (Don’t want to make your own? Try these.)
  3. Homemade chocolates
  4. Christmas goose
  5. Eggnog: popular since the 1700s, this comes out once a year to cement that Christmastime has arrived.
  6. Gingerbread: While the popular cookies began in the late 17th century, gingerbread houses became popular in the late 1800s.
  7. Christmas cookies for Santa. Don’t worry Big Guy, I’ve got you covered. This recipe is Santa’s favorite.
  8. Roasted chestnuts. Your choice on if it’s over an open fire.
  9. Hot cocoa and warm milk on Christmas eve
  10. Christmas punch: Celebrate with some flair with this recipe on Christmas morning.
  11. Make a fruitcake from scratch. Much more palatable than store bought.
  12. Homemade Wassail will warm you up in front of a cozy fire.
  13. Homemade Christmas breakfast is the best way to start the day. Even before you dig into gift-giving, take some time as a family and eat a warm meal together. It can be as simple as hot oatmeal or as elaborate as a full brunch! Try one of these delicious recipes.

Old Fashioned Christmas Gifts

Old fashioned Christmas gifts could be viewed from many different angles. First of all, how old fashioned are we thinking? 1900s? 1800s? Earlier?

Antique mirror with old fashioned Christmas gifts.

If you really go back a couple of centuries then Christmas gifts were largely handmade with little extravagance. They were also very singular. Nowadays, one person could receive dozens of gifts. Back in the day, one or two gifts was much more common.

However, the overarching theme of gift giving of Christmases past is that they were very heartfelt, intentional, and sometimes useful.

What are old fashioned Christmas gifts?

Gifts on a buffet.
  1. Citrus in the stockings. This tradition started of necessity as citrus was a luxury many couldn’t afford.
  2. Homemade gifts were most often exchanged due to affordability, but more-so, meaning. Take some extra time this year to create your own handmade gifts for your loved ones.
  3. Wrap in homemade wrapping paper. Often wrapping paper couldn’t be afforded, so people created their own with simple natural embellishments or small bows.
  4. Homemade bread or treats. Spend a day in the kitchen and prepare delicious treats for a variety of people.

Old Fashioned Christmas Movies

There is something so special about gathering the family with hot cocoa and a bowl of popcorn for a movie night. While this obviously wouldn’t have been the norm for an old fashioned Christmas, we can certainly enjoy some of the originals of our time.

Family room decorated for Christmas.

Here are the top traditional Christmas movies to enjoy!

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life
  2. White Christmas
  3. Miracle on 34th Street
  4. Charlie Brown Christmas
  5. The Original (1964) Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
  6. The Original (1966) How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  7. A Christmas Story
  8. The Original A Christmas Carol
  9. Frosty the Snowman (1969)
  10. More recently
    • Home Alone
    • Elf
    • The Santa Clause
    • The Polar Express

Where can I watch old fashioned Christmas movies?

While most movies can be found on streaming services, many cable channels also air the classics every year.

You can also search on YouTube to see if any older versions have been shared.

Old Fashioned Christmas Decorations

For me, the decorations are as much a part of the tradition as anything else.

Christmas decorations on top of a cabinet.

Decorating the house each year, pulling out the same ornaments for the tree, and hanging family stockings on the mantel are some of the best memories I have of Christmas.

Mantel decorated for Christmas.
Garland on a stair railing.
Peek into a dining room decorated for Christmas.

Here are some classic ways to decorate for Christmas, old fashioned style.

  1. Fresh greenery lays the foundation for all other Christmas decorations! If you’d rather go faux to use year after year, these are my favorite faux garlands and greenery.
  2. Place your nativity for all to enjoy. This is my daughter’s favorite Christmas tradition and she rearranges the figures all month long.
  3. Dried orange garlands. Bonus, these can stay up all winter as seen here.
  4. Vintage hand blown glass ornaments
  5. Pomanders: clove studded oranges add a wonderful scent to your Christmas experience.
  6. Homemade decorations
    • Popcorn garlands
    • Cranberry garland
  7. Hand knit stockings
  8. Embroidery hoop ornaments
  9. Decorate your windows and front door with greenery and wreaths
  10. Handmade paper snowflakes
  11. Christmas villages. These became popular in the 1970s, but we are going to call them classic enough to be considered old fashioned.
  12. Trains. Is there anything more nostalgic than setting up a train track under the Christmas tree? Perhaps it can encircle your Christmas village for added fun!
  13. Mistletoe. As if we need another reason to show love to our friends and family. This late 1700s English tradition has morphed over the years, but is still a fun and festive way to adorn a doorway.
60 Old Fashioned Christmas Ideas: Decor, Food, Gifts & Traditions

Old Fashioned Christmas Tree Ideas

Tinsel tree in a corner.
  1. First, you must begin by cutting down a real Christmas tree! Head out to your own land or visit a U-Cut farm and take your time picking the perfect (for you) tree.
  2. Tinsel trees are a stunning addition to an old fashioned Christmas. Whether you flock an evergreen with tinsel or decorate an entire silver tree, like my mom, the sparkle will only add to your ambiance! This tinsel garland makes adorning a tree much less messy.
  3. Flocked trees: In the 1800s, flour was used as flocking. Thankfully, we’ve upped our game.
  4. Candles on the tree. Thankfully, we now have options that aren’t fire hazards.
  5. Hide the Christmas pickle. Started in the late 1800s, the first child to find the hidden pickle gets a gift.
  6. Create an ornament tree where the ornaments are the tree on a wire form.
  7. Create a family memory tree.
Mini ornament tree.

More Christmas Inspiration

I hope you enjoyed taking a stroll back to Christmases past with these 60 old fashioned Christmas ideas!

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

60 Old Fashioned Christmas Ideas: Decor, Food, Gifts & Traditions

Leave me a comment with which ones you’ll be trying out with your family this year!

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Simple centerpiece on a Christmas table.

And enjoy more Christmas inspiration, from decor to entertaining!

~Sarah

5 Comments

  1. Your Mother’s home looks so cozy and comfortable. A place to set, relax, and enjoy the surroundings. You sure favor your Mother. Have a wonderful Christmas. Yours in Christ, Barbara

  2. Beautiful home! Love the decorations. That hutch with thee black and white collection is stunning… It stopped me in my tracks. Would love to know what they are!
    Thank you for sharing her beautiful home with us! <3

  3. Thank you for such a beautifully written blog. Your mom’s home is just spectacular! So warm, inviting, and Christmasy! Next year you are going to have a blast decorating your home!

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