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Decorating Tips for Your Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree

By Edited May 6, 2016 1 2

My favorite part of getting ready for Christmas is opening up the box my vintage aluminum Christmas tree resides in year-round and putting the tree together for display. Since aluminum Christmas trees already have a lot of sparkle appeal to them, they don't require a lot of decoration. All you really need is some fabulous lighting to make the reflections dance. If you do decide to decorate your vintage aluminum tree beyond just aiming a halogen color wheel at it, then here are a few Christmas decorating care tips to keep in mind.

Vintage decorations require a certain amount of delicate care when dealing with them and that goes for your vintage Christmas tree as well. The majority of the most popular trees were made in the Sixties, so in all likelihood you are dealing with branches and pieces that are 30 years of age or even older.

While the "Branches" are usually made of some kind of metal and are fairly sturdy, the tinsel is quite delicate, and the trunk that you insert the branches into is often made out of wood. On my tree, some of the holes that I need to put branches into are shredded so I need to be careful with how much weight I put on the branch in order to keep from damaging the tree trunk. This means no heavy ornaments.

aluminum christmas tree

Lighting your Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree

The most important issue to be aware of when decorating these trees is that you should not hang Christmas lights from them. They weren't designed to hold strands of lights, so I would avoid using any lighting directly on the tree. You want to avoid any kind of fire or electrical hazard, not to mention that most lighting is just going to prove to heavy to hang on the tree anyway.

The alternative to lights on the tree is a light near the true. In the 1960s, rotating color wheels were the the standard way to light up aluminum trees.

The wheels rotated through the colors red, green, yellow and white and because the aluminum tinsel was so reflective, it made the appearance of the tree change color each time the light rotated.

While vintage color wheels to go with your vintage tree are ideal, you can usually find contemporary color wheels at stores like Target, or even hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot.

Want a quick alternative to a color wheel? My aluminum Christmas tree sits on a mirror on top of a table (the tree is only 3 1/2 feet high), and then what I do is drape mini Christmas lights around the base of the tree. Between the lights and the mirror, it sets off a nice bit of colored sparkle glinting all over the tree.

What about Christmas Ornaments?

You won't have a problem decorating your vintage Christmas tree with ornaments. I like to use original vintage Shiny Brite ornaments, but you can use whatever kind of ornaments you have on hand, as long as they are not too heavy.

In addition to Shiny Brites, I sometimes use small plastic metallic colored ornaments that I bought at Target. They are lightweight and the metallic paint blends in nicely with the aluminum. So if you don't have time to track down some vintage ornaments to go with your Space Age tree, it should be easy enough to find contemporary Christmas ornaments that will look just as great.


Jul 11, 2010 9:35am
Thanks for this article! Looking forward to more!
Sep 29, 2010 4:08pm
Excellent article that was well written, and provided me with some great knowledge that I didn’t have before.
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