A round up of vintage Christmas crafts (and “thank you” gifts for 2011)

Yes, I’m a STYROFOAM Wonk, which explains why I have a collection of vintage craft books all about creating with STYROFOAM Brand Foam. One of my books is 50 years old, from a time when our modern-day craft industry was brand new. It’s fun to page through the books to see what’s changed – and sometimes, what’s not. As Christmas is all about memories and tradition, I thought it was a good time to share a few of the books.

retro christmas craft book

This 1960 project book doesn't look very flashy, but it has 30 pages packed with 20 projects.

Christmas STYROFOAM Projects was published in 1960 by Quality Publications. It’s dedicated to craft pioneer Aleene Jackson, inventor of Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue. The dedication states “Without her flair for tasteful design, and her talent for turning ordinary materials into sparkling, professional looking gifts or decorations, this book on STYROFOAM would never have been written.” Does anyone remember Aleene’s Creative Living television program?

vintage snowman crafts

Snowman Jump Up from the vintage craft book Christmas STYROFOAM Projects.

Inside the booklet, among angels, tin soldiers, and a church choir, I found this snowman – the pipe seems pretty politically incorrect for today’s time, don’t you think? Does anyone still make smoking snowmen?

jack-in-the-box snowmen

The Jack-in-the-Box Snowman on the left is from 1960; Debra Quartermain's updated version on the right is from 2010.

I had to compare it to this sweet Jack-in-the-Box Snowman created 50 years later by designer Debra Quartermain. Same idea, very different outcome. For one, Debra’s version is covered in fleece, a plastic-based fabric that no one could have dreamed of in 1960!

vintage Christmas crafts

Today's festooning or garland is more closely cropped than the product used in this 1960s project book.

Next up, Christmas crafts made with “Festooning, Metallic Sequins and Spangles.” Festooning? I wasn’t sure what it was and so I googled it — it’s garland.

vintage Christmas Crafts

These foam shapes are no longer available, but festooning, or Christmas garlands, are still a classic for making Christmas crafts.

Festooning decorates the bases of the designs pictured above. While festooning is available today, the tree and snowman made from STYROFOAM Brand Foam aren’t carried by the large craft chains.

vintage craft books

There are so many possibilities for a Window Ball. What would you make out of it?

You’ll find more exotic shapes of STYROFOAM Brand Foam in the 1965 booklet 101 STYROFOAM and Trims Decorations. I’ve never seen a Window Ball, which is featured on the front cover.

vintage craft book

The STAK Tree shape is my favorite, and this 1974 project book has many creative uses for it.

Create a Wonderland with STAK Tree Shapes was published in 1974 and is all about one of my favorite shapes, the STAK Tree.  (Remember our Golden Noodle Christmas Topiary Tree made with a STAK Tree?)

Vintage Christmas crafts

STAK Tree Christmas crafts from 37 years ago!

The book includes a collection of Christmas projects, and really, some of them aren’t that different from what we might make today. The Ruffle Tree? I made an updated version in July, though mine is made with a cone and therefore, it’s not as full and fluffy. Santas are always timeless, and I think the red and green elf on the right is pretty cute.

Two ruffled trees

Then & now: The ruffle tree on the left is from 1974, and the two on the right are from 2011.

Do any of these crafts look familiar to you? Is there anything you would make today?

win a magazine

Three of our readers are winning a one year's subscription to Crafts 'n Things magazine.

Today’s post was really fun for me, and I’ve enjoyed sharing creative ideas with you this year. What I really love, however, is reading your comments and hearing from you. I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you and the feedback you provide. As a special “thank you” gift, I’m giving away three subscriptions to Crafts ‘n Things magazine to the Crafts ‘n Coffee readers who made the most comments this year – Katiria, Lisa M., and Patty S. Please contact me with your mailing address, and I’ll arrange for you to receive a one-year subscription to Crafts ‘n Things.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year. This is my last post for 2011, and I’ll see you in January!

Happy crafting!


This entry was posted in Christmas Crafts, Giveaways, Home Decor and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to A round up of vintage Christmas crafts (and “thank you” gifts for 2011)

  1. Cindy says:

    I love the the look of the vintage smoking snowman in the box. I think I might make one to add to my collection. I’m sure a lot of those old patterns could be modernized to fit current tastes. Especially since we now have so many resources available to us that we didn’t back then

    • Sharon says:

      I agree! And sometimes, I’m pleasantly surprised when I see this happening — I’ll see crafts that I made years ago suddenly popular again, but with a new twist. Happy crafting, Cindy. Sharon

  2. Sara T says:

    Hehehe these are cute and I do recall a couple of things. Still love the snowman best though. I remember making octopus dolls out of Styrofoam in the 60’s and 70’s. I make them with my kids now. Fun, cute and best of all easy for anyone to make, especially children. : Thank you for sharing your booklet. 🙂

  3. Katiria says:

    Those 60’s and 70’s intructions are wonderful. Thank you for inspiring me this year. I am so glad I stumbled on your website. I can’t WAIT to see what the new year brings. Happy New Year!

  4. Brenda says:

    I have some old craft books and love them I make decorations with them all the time

  5. brenda says:

    Wow Aleene’s. She and Carol Duval started it all. Look where the industry is now. Great memories.

  6. ColleenB. says:

    I had just signed up to receive your newsletter about the first of the month and so glad that I had. I so enjoy coming here, getting new ideas and getting great inspirationIsn’t paging through them older books a world of fun but would never be able to buy them at that price now today.
    I do love them ruffled trees. I just may have to make a couple for Valentines Day which remeinds me, I need to be digging out my tree soon so that it gets decorated for Valentines. Down with the Christmas tree and up comes the Valentine tree of which I also use for Easter, etc. White Christmas tree but just change decorations according to the holidays. :}
    Love them snowmen in the pop-up box. Really cute
    Merry Christmas to one and All.

    • Sharon says:

      We’re glad you’ve joined us, Colleen. When you make your Ruffled Trees, please post a photo on our Facebook page @StyroCrafts — we’d love to see them. We’re planning crafts for Valentine’s Day and Easter, too, so we’ll have more seasonal inspiration in 2012. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Sharon

  7. Terri says:

    The red magazine with the Window Ball has the little people in it. Does the magazine show how to make them and what to use? Is it possible to share that page with us? I’d love to try the entire idea. Thanks for the fun and nostalgic walk through time : ) Happy Holidays!!

    • Sharon says:

      Hi, Terri. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Window Ball is made any more. However, you can use a spoon to scoop out a ball of STYROFOAM Brand Foam and make your window that way. You could then build a little scene inside, sort of like the sugar eggs with peep holes. I will e-mail you a can of the instructions, o.k.? Thank you for your comment, Terri. Happy New Year to you! Sharon

      • Terri says:

        I would so appreciate whatever you have related to the project. I can usually make things from looking at pics but I like to know basic supplies and process if the info is available . Thanks for giving me some “tips”, any idea/info is helpful. Have a wonderful Christmas, a very Happy New Year….stay safe : )

      • Sharon says:

        I e-mailed it to you, Terri. Enjoy!

  8. Sara T says:

    Wow, That snowman is just lovely. Many years ago I was out Xmas shopping with my Aunt and found a decoration very similar to the one you made. I really wanted it but she talked me out of it and I’ve regretted it ever since. The snowman looks very much like it, So guess what I’m going to be making. Thank you so much for this. YOU did a wonderful job on it! 🙂

    • Sharon says:

      What a fun idea, Sara, and I’m so glad we inspired you to DIY your own snowman. I hope you’ll share a photo of your snowman on our Facebook page @StyroCrafts. Happy holidays to you! Sharon

  9. Jennifer Tavernier says:

    Styrofoam Christmases past

    Laughing with Joy!
    I grew up with ALL of these booklets, and a mom who was always crafting and teaching us.
    What a lovely thing to find in my email, and timeless crafts! Thanks, Styrofoam and happy holidays to all!

    Jenny Tavernier

  10. What a fun blast from the past.

    • Sharon says:

      Thanks for stopping in, Lori. I agree with you — it’s very fun to time travel and see what crafts were made decades ago. See you next year! Sharon

  11. Jeannie says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the ornaments my older brothers made when I was really young were in the first book. Only one of them has survived all these years, I’ll post a pic of it on the FB page. The ones they had made w/plastic beads, sequins and straight pins used to really sparkle w/the tree lights.

  12. Lisa Malachinski says:

    WOW! What fun ideas. Love how old can become new again. Love them all.
    Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years.

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you, Lisa, and thank you for joining us this year. Don’t know if you noticed, but you’ve won a one-year subscription to Crafts ‘n Things! Please use the “Contact Us” form to send to me your mailing address. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

      • Lisa Malachinski says:

        Thanks Sharon! I emailed you.
        I’ve shared your site with lots of people since I found it.
        Love the site and all the great ideas. Can’t wait to try them.
        Next week I am going to make some of the ornaments and trees.
        My daughter will love making them.
        THanks again!

      • Sharon says:

        Thank you so much, Lisa! So glad you’ve found inspiration at Crafts ‘n Coffee! Do share your project photos on our Facebook page @StyroCrafts. We’d love to see what you and your daughter make. Sharon

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