Today many people regard tinsel as those pre-made garlands that you can wrap around banisters or trees or even wear like a feather boa to a Christmas party. But, if you grew up in a certain era then you know that tinsel meant something entirely different in the old days.

1950s family at Christmas
Via: Les Anderson/Unsplash

Back then tinsel came in long strands- individual pieces that had to very strategically placed on the tree. The effect is much different than a sparkly garland as it makes the tree look like it’s dripping in icicles and fairy dust. But, only if it’s done “right”.

Now, ask most people who were kids during this era and many will tell you the same thing: their parents usually had a very specific way of applying the tinsel to the tree. Many parents on the frugal side would reuse the tinsel from year to year, but this had some ill effects. The tinsel was easily broken and kinked which meant that it usually only ever looked good straight out the package.

1950s family at Christmas
Via: Smithsonian Institute

Another frugal application style was that each strand of tinsel had to be placed on the tree one at a time. In case you thought this was just a thing in your family, take heart. It was clearly shown in the 1967 Christmas episode of Bewitched titled, “Humbug Not to Be Spoken Here”.

After he complains that she won’t hand him enough tinsel, Samantha says to Darren that applying the tinsel individually “gives the tree that delicate, lacy look”.

You’d seldom hear something like today. Instead trees are often meant to be festive or themed, but not lacy. My how times have changed!

Take a look at a clip from the episode where they decorate the tree – one piece of tinsel at a time!

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