We wish you a merry Christmas with these delightful homemade Victorian Christmas decorations courtesy of Victoriana Magazine.
In the Victorian era, Christmas ornaments were often homemade. Gilded and silver nuts, popcorn garland, orange basket ornaments – these were just a few of the most popular decorations.
Want to make your own homemade Victorian Christmas decorations? Gather up your supplies, here’s how.
Orange Baskets with Candied Orange Slices
In the 19th century, many of the most popular Christmas decorations were made with fruit and candy. Citrus-colored items were especially popular because they stood out against the dark green branches of fir trees. Such ornaments were often hung with small pieces of ribbon or twine.
Supplies: oranges, tape, knife, pins, ribbon, candies, treats.
- Wrap smalls pieces of tape or thick rubber band around your orange as a cutting guide. Remember, we’re making a basket.
- Next stick pins on either side of the orange to mark where the handle will begin and end.
- Then, with a small knife, carefully cut out the handle, making sure it’s the same width from end to end.
- Next, cut the rind along the edge of your guide. Carefully remove the skin, in pieces if necessary, so you don’t tear your basket.
- Work the inner orange slices free from the remaining rind. If the fruit is tough, you can always cut it out so your basket doesn’t break.
- Wrap a small ribbon around the basket handle to reinforces it so it doesn’t tear.
- Finish with a bow on top and fill with fruit, candies, and trinkets.
Gilded walnuts were another very popular Christmas decoration in the Victorian era. They’re beautiful to look at and especially delightful as they can be cracked open to reveal a hidden surprise. These ornaments were often tied with little red ribbons and hung on the upper quarter of the tree until New Year’s Day.
Supplies: walnuts, gold leaf, red ribbon, glue, paper, and straight pins.
- Crack the nuts in half and remove the inner contents. Try using English walnuts as they typically split apart evenly.
- Inside the empty shell, place a small item of some kind. Try a note, small trinket, piece of candy or the like. A fun idea is to cut two hearts of red paper and fasten them together with a dart pin and a piece of white paper. This suggests the person who opens it will find love sooner than later.
- After you’ve placed all your trinkets glue the halves together. When dry, carefully place a tack at the end from where the stem grew.
- Then, gild the entire nut, including the tack. Let dry completely.
- Tie a ribbon to the tack and hang on your tree. Red ribbon looks particularly festive this time of year.
Prune Chimney Sweep
The prune chimney sweep was a well-liked Christmas ornament for his funny broom and pointed hat. The concept came from Germany and was later favored in Victorian England. This jolly little chimney sweep also carries a little red bag filled with goodies. He is made almost entirely of prunes.
Supplies: 13 prunes per chimney sweep, strong dark thread, needle, red paper, green paper, toothpick, broom bristles or straw.
- String prunes together with a coarse needle and thread. If he’s too limber when assembled, simply run a dowel of some kind through his head and torso.
- Next, make him a green paper hat in the shape of a cone.
- Draw a face on a fresh piece of paper and use a few pieces of ribbon, paper or scraps of fabric to make him a little red bag. You can fasten this across his shoulders with a small pin.
- Fill his bag with sweets, treats or trinkets.
- Make his broom using toothpicks and pieces of straw.
There you have it. 3 Traditional Victorian Christmas decorations to enjoy with your friends and family. At The Queen Victoria, we invite all passers-through and guests to Cape May to enjoy our Victorian trees. It brings us great joy to share these traditional customs. We also invite you to learn more about Cape May’s holiday events.
For more Victorian decoration ideas, visit Victoriana Magazine.