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Cool Things - Aluminum Christmas Tree

Aluminum Christmas tree

Keeping up with the Joneses in the 1950s and 1960s required purchasing an aluminum Christmas tree.

Perfectly suited to the era's streamlined home decor, these popular trees usually were decorated with solid color ornaments (blue being a favorite color). A spotlight or "color wheel" flooded the reflective tree in rotating tones of red, green, blue, and gold. Sometimes the tree itself was placed on a revolving stand, creating the perfect centerpiece for a '50s picture window.

America's earliest artificial trees, made of dyed feathers, first appeared in the mid-1800s. Crepe paper and visca (a rayon fiber) replaced feathers after World War II. By the 1960s, fiberglass, vinyl and aluminum were popular materials, but they fell out of favor the following decade when preferences turned to natural looking trees. Christmas tree styles have continued to evolve with the fashions of each period.

Bertha Havel of Russell donated this Christmas tree, ornaments, and color wheel to the museum in 1992. Click on the image of the tree at left to see a larger version.

"Whether you decorate with blue or red balls . . . or use the tree without ornaments - this exquisite tree is sure to be the talk of your neighborhood. High luster aluminum gives a dazzling brilliance. Shimmering silvery branches are swirled and tapered to a handsome realistic fullness. It's really durable . . needles are glued and mechanically locked on. Fireproof . . you can use it year after year."--Sears 1963 Christmas Book

Listen to the Aluminum Christmas Tree podcast Play Audio Tour

Entry: Cool Things - Aluminum Christmas Tree

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2000

Date Modified: December 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.