Let The Madness Begin!!!!

December 1, 2014

By Tab Byrum

Here we are, the Monday after Thanksgiving which this year also happens to be December 1st, so as of today there are 24 days until Christmas or if you have children and Santa Claus is coming to your house then there are 23 days ’til “D Day”. On this day I am probably on a ladder at a client’s house decorating a tree, a fireplace mantel, a staircase or a front door, but honestly,  I LOVE Christmas!!!!


I love all the craziness and hub bub that goes into making Christmas happen and most of all I LOVE all the design elements that go into making Christmas look the way it does.  If I had to pick one style to always decorate in it would probably be retro and/or vintage, NOT Victorian lacy vintage but the vintage look that came out of the depression era of the 1930’s through the 40’s and I also like the look of decorations, both old and new, from the 50’s and 60’s, you know Mid-Century (of the last century).

There are a series of books that focus on Christmases of the past by author Susan Waggoner that I want to share with you as we begin looking at all things design in the month of December.  


It’s A Wonderful Christmas
The Best Of The Holidays 1940-1965



This first book by Susan Waggoner focuses on the 25 years from 1940 to 1965, with chapters focusing on Tree and Trimmings, Deck The Halls, The Great Paper Chase (focusing on cards, paper and ribbon) and A Thoroughly Modern Santa (looking at the evolution of the Jolly Old Elf).  This book is a fun read especially if you were child at all during these 25 years or have an affection for that time period.  Much of the decorations my grandparents and great grandparents used when I was a kid in the 70’s and 80’s were from this time, that’s probably why I love them so much. 


Under The Tree
The Toys And Treats That Made Christmas Special 1930-1970




The second book is Under The Tree, The Toys And Treats That Made Christmas Special, 1930-1970.  This book focuses on what we are all hoping is under the tree on Christmas morning, whether it was a Shirley Temple doll in the 30’s or something with wheels like roller skates or model trains, Under The Tree looks at all of them.  There’s a chapter on games like table top billiards or board games from Monopoly to Chinese Checkers, and everything a little girl will need to set up housekeeping in the chapter titled Just Like Mom and Dad.   I really enjoyed the last chapter Twenty Classic Stocking Stuffers, this is a great read for all ages. 


Christmas Memories
Gifts, Activities, Fads and Fancies 1920-1960



In this third book Susan Waggoner looks at Christmas by the decade giving us a glimpse at how the yuletide holiday was celebrated by our grandparents and their parents and grandparents.  Their are photos of Christmas trees and people dressed in their Christmas frocks ready to celebrate.


Waggoner looks at advertising and magazines to show us how families celebrated during the bleak depression of the 30’s and made do during the rationing of the 40’s and WWII and into the fabulous 50’s and the look of Christmas from then that so many of us still love today. This book ends with the 1960’s and how that decade saw everything change from the color of Christmas trees to the toys that were under them.  Christmas Memories is a very informative and fun read. 


Have Yourself A Very Vintage Christmas 
Crafts, Decorating Tips and Recipes 1920-1960



This fourth book is a lot of fun and filled with memories and activities, a great way to introduce both kids and adults to how things were done almost 100 years ago to get that certain look of the time.  Waggoner has Style Files where she tells you what was hot in the decade as far as decorations and then lets you in on the secrets of making some of the decorations.  She also tells you what’s involved To Make a Tree for each of the four decades discussed in the book.  Chapter 5 is all about homemade sweet treats with several recipes for Christmas candy, I love this since my mom has always been the candy maker in our family, a skill I’ve tried to start learning the last couple of years.  The end of the book is made up of an Art Portfolio showcasing images of Christmas from the 20’s through the 60’s.  I really enjoyed this book and will get a lot of use out of it in the years to come. 


So there you have it, 4 books to get you on your way to a very Retro and Vintage Christmas, if that’s what you like. Check back all month as I’ll continue to share news and events with you from the Design world as well as lots of things to make all your holidays merry.  Remember as we begin the craziest month of the year to take deep breaths, keep smiling and in the words of my mother, “never let ’em see you cry”.  Enjoy!!!

All book images are courtesy of Amazon.
All retro images are as follows: 1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5

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