The Victorians were really into Christmas, which isn’t really surprising because the Victorians were very religious, and Christmas is a religious festival. However, most Victorians didn’t have lots of money to spend on Christmas trimmings like people do today, instead they found inexpensive ways to decorate their homes. They would make garlands and wreaths from evergreens such as ivy and yew; sprigs of holly would be used because their bright scarlet berries would to add a splash of colour.
The Victorians also made Christmas decorations such as popcorn tinsel, which was popcorn threaded on to a piece of thread, in much the same way that children thread up pasta today.
Re-cycling bits of paper and card was common practise when making Christmas trimmings. Victorian homes would have been decorated with paper chains and paper lanterns, which were quick, cheap and easy to make.
How to make paper chains…
First you need to cut strips of paper. The longer and wider the strips, the chunkier your paper chain will be. To make paper chains to hang from the ceiling, use A4 sized paper, and cut the strips width ways across the paper. Make each strip about 4 cm wide.
Using different coloured sheets of paper you can make a lovely multicoloured chain. If you do not have coloured paper you could use white paper that you have scribbled on. The scribble will give it colour and make it more interesting.
Take one of the strips and curl it round so that the two ends meet and slightly overlap. Staple or selotape the ends together to hold the link shape you have created.
With the second strip of paper, push it through the first link and then curl the strip around so that the two ends of the strip slightly overlap. The first link should hang from the second link. Again staple or selotape into position.
Continue adding links to the last link created in this way until your paper chain is of a desired length.
They make great trimmings for hanging from ceilings and for decorating hallways.
Of course, you can use any type of paper to make a paper chain. Metallic paper is really festive. You could use old Christmas cards. Cut thin strips width ways across the picture of the Christmas card to create delicate paper chains to drape on the branches of a Christmas tree.
How to make paper lanterns…
You will need a rectangle of thin card or stiff paper. A4 size makes a nice sized lantern to hang from a ceiling or to sit on a mantelpiece.
Cut a thin strip, about 1.5cm wide across the paper width ways. Keep this strip to one side for later, it will become the lanterns handle.
With the rest of the sheet laying landscape, fold the top to meet the bottom edge, press the fold firmly. With scissors, make cuts along the folded edge. Open out the card and curve it round so that the two short sides meet and slightly overlap. Staple or selotape these two edges together.
Give your lantern a little squeeze so that it creates ‘< >’ shape.
Now take a piece of brightly coloured contrasting paper. It needs to be about the same height as the slightly squashed lantern. Roll up the paper into a tube and insert into the lantern. Allow the roll of paper to unravel to fit snugly inside the lantern, glue or staple into place. The slits cut into the lantern let some of the coloured paper peep through, it gives the lantern the appearance of being lit.
Using the thin strip of card that was cut from the lantern at the beginning, make a handle by stapling or selotaping either end of the strip to the top of the lantern on opposite sides.
Paper lanterns can be made to any size. You can make small ones to hang from the Christmas tree or to hang from the paper chains. You could make them from old Christmas cards.
Why not have a go at making some Victorian style Christmas decorations, you could make your house or your classroom look like it had gone back in time.
S. Roberts write for http://www.santaspostbag.co.uk/ a Christmas information website packed with Christmas makes and other informative articles. You can also order a free letter for your child from Santa http://www.santaspostbag.co.uk/your-letter-from-santa.php Visit Santa’s Postbag for more info…