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A look at Christmas tree tech from the 1940s through today

Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum
If you celebrate the holiday, your family will soon be putting up the Christmas tree. Whether it’s a real tree or an artificial one (there are arguments on both sides) it’s an enduring symbol of the season for many of us. Christmas trees have evolved over the years — let’s take a look at some of the most popular retro features of O Tannebaum.

The 1940s: Musical Christmas Trees

This tree is from Wish Book Web’s 1947 Sears catalog. This little tree played “Silent Night,” and MeTV says “It was made from flame resistant … grass-like rayon.” That’s perhaps the only time someone called rayon “grass-like.”

 The 1950s/1960s: Make it a metal Christmas

We’re not talking about a Metallica Christmas album here. MeTV quotes a 1937 issue of Popular Science as saying “Something new and outstanding in the way of Christmas-tree decoration can be had by using an ordinary insect gun to spray aluminum paint on the tree.” These aluminum trees were commercially available by the 1950s, and this 1960s Reynolds ad plugs the beauty and convenience (the 1950s were all about convenience) of aluminum. And remember, Lucy was all over this trend. “Get the biggest aluminum tree you can find Charlie Brown, maybe painted pink!”

The 1960s — Spin the wheel to win!

You have your shiny aluminum tree, but let’s make that baby really pop. That’s where a rotating color wheel came in, like this one. MeTV said this turned your tree into a “a veritable discotheque,” — an apt description. Stayin’ Alive on Christmas Eve.


The 1960s: Flock it!

To give your fake tree a fake snow look, you could get a tree with fake snow, AKA flock. Or spray it on yourself with one of those newfangled space-age aerosol cans. Cover the branches with this goop to simulate a real olde-fashioned look. Maybe spray some pine scent on there, too. Hey, they didn’t know the pitfalls of aerosols back then!

The 1960s: How about one for the backyard?

Remember when we mentioned the convenience factor? It was alive and well in the 1960s as well. Here’s good old Dad mowing the backyard on his modern riding mower with his beautiful family and two car garage in the background. From the look of his outfit, a quick nine holes awaits. And what’s standing tall in the backyard? A glittering modern Christmas tree, of course. You can plant an artificial tree anywhere! Just run some lights from the patio and you’re all set. Season’s Greetings from Simplicity!

Present day

Two words: Fiber. Optics. Perhaps if you don’t want to spring for one of these behemoths, some nice fiber optic lights, available on Amazon, will do.


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