Posted by Ancestry Team on November 30, 2016 in Guest Bloggers, Holidays

Today you will be visited by three spirits of inspiration for holiday decorating and entertaining—from the past, present and future.

Take this journey from the gilded and glittered paper and tin of the classic Victorian age, to the present-day rustic and organic simplicity of farmhouse style, to what we imagine as a futuristic focus on geometric lines, stark contrast and artisanal, repurposed accents. Each era of celebrating centers around the core spirit of Christmas: togetherness, generosity and a little bit of sparkle. Make your holiday one for the ages by clicking on each spirit below, and get timeless tips for decorating, gift-giving and entertaining…and by gosh, impress us, everyone.

Christmas Past

Christmas in late 19th-century England was an extravagant and luxurious affair. Victorians embraced a flamboyant and ornate style in their homes and dress, and their holiday decor was no different. Gleaming golds, warm whites and delicate pinks were the color preferences of the day. Nature played a role in gift-giving and entertaining as well—paper and wooden trinkets and fruit made their way under the tree and onto the tablescapes.

Christmas tree past
christmas ornament


There is nothing quite the like the warm glow and the reflective shimmer of a glittered gold Victorian-inspired tree to spark the nostalgia of days gone by and the abundance of the holiday season. To bring the look and feel of a traditional Victorian Christmas into your home, focus on similar styles and a limited color palette to unify your design. Victorian trees were only subtly colorful, and they typically focused on light and delicate colors such as cream, pink and gold. Common Victorian Christmas motifs included angels, children and St. Nicholas, as well as creatures from the natural world, such as flowers, birds, deer and even peacocks. Ornate paper and tin ornaments adorned Christmas tree branches.

Victorians loved glitter and sparkle, and in the time before electric lights, candles were used to illuminate their homes and trees. Add replica candle clips to the tree, and of course, candles in the windows to immediately give a “Christmas Past” feel to your home. Make Victorian Folded-Paper Pinwheel Ornaments by following our DIY instructions below.

christmas ornament


Pomanders: Victorian gift-giving focused on sharing the abundance of the season. The use of Pomanders, or cloved oranges, underwent a revival in the late 19th century as citrus fruits, a traditional symbol of wealth and abundance, became more readily available. Often hung from the ceilings in bunches or stored in drawers and cabinets to scent linens, these wonderful aromatic balls are considered good luck, and still make a great hostess gift and look beautiful when displayed on a tree in a jar or bowl.

Christmas crackers: There is no traditional gift as typically Victorian as Christmas crackers. Originally designed as a way of exchanging love tokens, these little gifts were wrapped in fringed paper that was twisted on both ends and included a small firework that made them pop when pulled apart. Christmas crackers still delight children and adults alike, with small trinkets included inside, such as paper hats, small toys, puzzles and poems. However, most recipients take the most joy from the pop that comes with breaking them open.

christmas ornament


Tablescapes: There are few more opulent styles of tableware than the traditional Victorian designs. With gilded rims and intricate patterns, fine china was the spotlight of most Victorian tables. These pieces are only further highlighted with the addition of beautifully cut crystal, rich brocade fabrics and gorgeous lace. Focusing on rich colors of gold, cream and even pink, today’s modern tablescapes can take inspiration from these beautiful tables of the past and are sure to delight modern party-goers.

Fruit as centerpieces: Dried oranges, cranberries, nuts and even pomegranates were considered decadent treats in the 1800s. A large tray of fruit as a centerpiece conveyed to guests the wealth and abundance of the home, and certain fruits (such as pineapples) became the symbol of hospitality. Of course, the Victorians were all about opulence and sparkle, and they took fruit decor to the next level by sugaring or glittering it.

christmas ornament


Victorian ornaments


By Kim Six


  • 12″x12″ Scrapbook Paper
  • Paper Cutter
  • Scissors
  • Paper Clips
  • Victorian Buttons
  • Glitter

Christmas Present

The Christmas of today celebrates the organic elements, rustic simplicity, and natural colors and fibers reminiscent of a cozy and welcoming farmhouse. You can use these touches on everything from your tablescape to your tree to the gifts underneath it—beautiful yet inexpensive materials like twine, burlap, galvanized metals and even driftwood add a little farmhouse feel to Christmas, no matter where you live.

Christmas present
christmas ornament


Bring the textures and styles of today’s farmhouse-themed decor to your Christmas tree this year. Replace a standard tree skirt with an over-sized basket or galvanized bucket to hold the tree. Decorate with simple white lights, layer in polka-dotted burlap ribbon, add galvanized “Merry Christmas” ornaments and top it all off with a twine star.

And who says you should have only one tree? Table-top trees add an extra layer of decor throughout the home. Use all-wooden trees with white lights or bare-branched decorative pine trees on various surfaces. Add white paper snowflakes to window sills and bookshelves, and use real balsam garland to adorn mantelpieces and staircases. Make Burlap Ornament Balls by following our DIY instructions below.

christmas ornament


Celebrating the joys of Christmas Present comes in all shapes and sizes under the tree. Looking for a few creative ways to decorate your Christmas gifts? Here are a few suggestions that will make the packaging as much of a treasure as what’s inside.

1Write the words of a favorite Christmas carol on burlap ribbon and tie it onto a present wrapped with faux wood paper from the hobby section of the craft store.

2Paint simple wood pieces with chalkboard paint and create your own chalk board tags.

3Make a Christmas tree for the front of your package with an evergreen sprig and a wood slice for the tree trunk.

4Create a boxwood wreath tag by placing boxwood clippings in a glass to form them into a circle. Tie off the ends with wire and add to a present with a brightly colored ribbon.

As for what’s in the packages? Keep in mind that the earthy feel of Christmas Present is all about natural gifts—from wooden toys to organic beauty products to wool sweaters.

christmas ornament


Entertaining for today’s farmhouse style is as easy as shopping the yard. Bring a little outdoors in with creative place card tags made from wood slices or a tiny sprig of evergreen tied onto a monogrammed napkin with baker’s twine. Choose a simple and classic design for the dishes on the Christmas table. Layer white dishes on a grapevine wreath charger, and add vintage silver and glassware for a little sparkle and shine.

One fun and easy project for the farmhouse table is stamped spoon napkin rings. Using silver stamping equipment, stamp a Christmas message onto a vintage silverplate spoon and then bend it to create a napkin ring shape. Slide it onto a napkin, and finish the place-setting with glittered leaves or twigs from the yard.

christmas ornament


Victorian ornaments


By KariAnne Wood


  • 14 Small Styrofoam Balls
  • Twine
  • Modpodge
  • Burlap
  • Glue

1Cut out tiny pieces of burlap and modpodge them onto a styrofoam ball, until the entire ball is covered with burlap. Add a final layer of modpodge to seal the burlap. Let dry. Repeat the process for the additional balls in the chain.

2Cut 6″ lengths of twine and glue them to either side of the balls, creating a garland. Let dry.

3Drape over the branches of the tree to add a texture-rich farmhouse style to your tree.

Christmas Future

Christmas in the future offers the promise for a better tomorrow and limitless possibilities. However, a futuristic approach can sometimes seem cold and impersonal. To keep your modernistic Christmas celebrations in good spirits, incorporate bold shapes, unique textures, fresh colors and quality materials in your decorations. A modern Christmas is minimal and elevated, yet still retains that personal touch that transforms holidays into long-lasting memories. It may be hard to imagine exactly what the future holds, but you can always count on the joys of Christmas to bring families together.

Christmas tree future
christmas ornament


Over-embellished Christmas trees are clunky, messy and a tad excessive. In the future, less is definitely more! Paring down holiday decorations to just the essentials means that the details take center stage.

An artificial pre-lit white Christmas tree is not only a more convenient and cost-effective option, but it makes a perfect backdrop for handmade rose-gold geometric ornaments. The mix of cork, wood, copper and rubber material with metallic spray paint adds layers of personality and character unmatched by glass ornaments. Introducing vibrant pops of dark tones ensures that wherever you look, you will always see something that catches your eye. Make Rose-Gold Geometric Shape Ornaments by following our DIY instructions below.

christmas ornament


The generosity of the holiday season is centered around the practice of gift-giving, but in the future, the wish to share extends to experiences as well. Think of giving things to do instead of just “things.” Giving to charity in the name of loved ones is another gift idea that matches the hopefulness of the future.

Opt out of purchasing busy pre-printed gift wrap and pick up a roll of neutral brown masking paper instead. Customize each recipient’s gift wrap with unique hand-drawn typography, stamped design or a small emblem. These simple personal touches help translate your sentiment through a story you can share while still maintaining a modernized feel.

christmas ornament


Clean, modern lines and eye-catching colors translate well to tablescapes, food, and festivities, but the future also brings unconventional ways to celebrate the Christmas spirit. Simple glassware becomes a multi-use vessel to serve brightly-hued macaroons for each dinner guest, and the classic red and green holiday combination is re-imagined into a delicious merry drink. While the feeling of Christmas remains true, the light-hearted and minimalist delivery is very cutting-edge.

christmas ornament


Victorian ornaments


By Mateo Londono


  • 1/4″ 2 x 4 Sanded Plywood Sheet
  • Roll of Cork Sheeting
  • (2) Plastidip Black Rubber Coating Spray
  • (2) Metallic Copper Spray Paint
  • 100 ft 24-Gauge Hobby Copper Wire
  • Jigsaw with Wood Saw Blade
  • Orbital Sander and Sanding Sheets
  • Drill and 1/4″ Forstner Bit
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Painters Tape
  • Pencil and Paper

1Fold a sheet of paper lengthwise and use a straight-edge to trace half a diamond shape along the fold. Cut out the diamond shape from the paper while folded and trace it onto your plywood unfolded.

2With your jigsaw, cut out the diamond shape from the plywood. At the top of the diamond cut-out, drill a 1/4″ hole using a Forstner bit. Sand all of the edges and sides with a 220-grit (or higher) sanding sheet. Wipe off any excess dust.

3Trace the top and bottom of one side of the diamond-shaped wood cut-out onto a piece of cork sheeting. To create the illusion of a shadow, draw a line that extends the angle from the top of the diamond to the center and from the center to the bottom. Be sure to use a straight-edge to maintain sharp, even lines. Cut out the shadow shape from the cork sheet.

4Place painters tape over half of the cork cut-out and paint the exposed section with the Plastidip black rubber coating cut-out with the metallic copper spray paint and let dry.

5Apply hot glue along the edge of the painted diamond cut-out and stick on the cork shadow piece. Carefully push along the edges of the cork cut-out so that it securely bonds with the wood. Apply more hot glue along the seam on the back of the ornament for additional support.

6After the glue has dried, wrap the hobby wire along the sides of the pre-drilled hole to create a hanger for the finished ornament. Repeat the process as many times as needed.


  1. Janice

    I’d forgotten about the oranges! I remember that my mother used to put the cloves in them. If one wanted to do a kind of retro Christmas, check attic for old-style glass ornaments. I don’t know if you can buy the large colored lights that were popular in the 50s or not – but they would be fun if in working order. And tinsel – lol.

  2. sara danison

    We have all done all the above many times, many places,with many places in my family. This year every one is married,far off, no children or expecting any for years. This circumstance brought us to reflect upon how we wished to observe and begin new traditions while we are not constrained by shopping and decorating. Each unit of the surname , all adults are discovering and then sharing new experiences, which we think will bond all family over the next few years and be in place when the babies arrive. We are documenting stories, taking photos of treasured items before they are lost in time. So, we all will be celebrating on an on-going basis, not the next few weeks. Good Will to All.

  3. Many thanks for sharing this wonderful post here.I think its a relevant post for all people.In my point of view compared current x’mas celebration with old days ,we use more luxurious items and events in today’s celebration.Again i would like to say thank you for the awesome posts.

  4. Ruth Fischer-Meyer

    No matter whether decorating for Past, present, or future, a combination of the 3 would be unique in a Home to make it a comfortable place to celebrate the Holidays, for a change. People who come to visit will love the uniqueness of the three different parts of the Christmas season.

  5. Excessive to hear the conversation around the academic study of metal. In many ways it justifies the earnestness of its thoughtful study as it heaves up so many subjects

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