15 Easy DIYs to Give Your Christmas Tree Mid-Century-Modern Style

updated Dec 20, 2023
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pink tree with white tree skirt decorated with diamond shapes in various colors
Credit: Krys Melo

The holidays often evoke feelings of nostalgia, whether that’s through special recipes that have been handed down over generations or unique family traditions that have been years in the making. So why not lean all the way into that impulse and create a mid-century modern Christmas tree?

What’s that? You don’t have an aluminum tree, boxes of pristine vintage ornaments, and family heirlooms on hand? Not to worry. There are plenty of ways to bring the stylish spirit of 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s right into your living room without all those fancy accoutrements. After all, mid-century modern style is characterized by clean, aesthetically pleasing lines, bold color pairings, and mix-and-match textures, so it’s practically begging for the DIY treatment. From antique-inspired ornaments, to garlands, to no-sew felt skirts and even an atomic tree-topper, here are 15 easy, wallet-friendly ways to give your Christmas tree that MCM style you’re craving.

1. Twisted Paper Ornaments

Whether you have extra scrapbook paper lying around or want to turn magazine pages into a DIY project, with a bit of imagination provided by Carrie of Dream Green DIY, you can make adorable (and unbreakable!) decorations for your tree that have a little vintage flair.

Choose plastic ornaments in any shape, make paper twists, and hot glue the paper strings to the orbs. This project is also a fabulous way to upcycle unsightly ornaments and turn them into something you’ll be proud to hang on your Christmas tree.

Credit: Alice & Lois

2. Painted Pastel Ceramic Ornaments

For a minimalist touch with a splash of color, take a cue from twins Sara and Melissa, the bloggers behind Alice & Lois, and paint these simple holiday ornaments. What makes these perfectly MCM is the classic bulb shape, which you can purchase in a solid-colored ceramic. Then, use acrylic paint pens to personalize them. Either copy the simplistic design or branch out and decorate your Christmas ornaments with swirls, dots, or a monogram. Acrylic pens come in many hues, so you can match your existing holiday decor or make these mid-century modern cuties as gifts.

3. Retro Paper Candles

Don’t throw away your toilet paper and paper towel tubes until you see this craft from Smile Mercantile Craft Company. If you love the look of candles but don’t want to risk starting a fire, these adorable, kitschy faux candles are perfect. From the colorful bases to the tiny halos of fire, the creative details really make this project shine. Use glitter to add sparkle and dimension and coordinate with your holiday color scheme. Make these eye-catching decorations to add to your tree or use in your Christmas tablescape.

Credit: Oh Me Oh My

4. Paper Bulbs

Remi, the blogger behind OhMeOhMy!, has another creative and easy idea for leftover paper. Whether your stash is overflowing with cardstock, children’s construction paper, or stacks of magazines to recycle, cut them to make simple yet high-impact ornaments for your tree. Bonus: They’re a great family-friendly craft for all ages. Prepare your supplies, gather the family, and plan a crafting night to make these handmade holiday decorations.

Credit: PMQ for Two

5. Starburst Wreath

Think outside the tree and use your wall or front door to hang this gorgeous project by Ariel from PMQ for Two. Channel your inner child, and grab a few wooden sticks, plastic gemstones, and a foam ball to make this spacey MCM focal point. It’s amazing how much ingenuity goes into taking simple supplies and combining them to make something stunning. This has the ultimate wow factor to up the ante with your holiday decorations.

6. Flocked Velvet Ornaments

Love a flocked tree? These vintage-inspired flocked ornaments from Jenna from Jenna Sue Design Co. are for you. Making velvet ornaments is simple and fun, but it’s also messy, so be prepared to get your hands a little dirty. However, the big payoff is that you’ll have unique ornaments that add color and texture to your Christmas decor.

7. Shaken Paint Ornaments

A complimentary color scheme is one of the touchpoints of mid-century modern design, but you don’t have to have matching ornaments to make it happen — just take a page out of the DIY Sisters’ book. Instagrammers Liz and Sam purchased a slew of glass ornaments from Michaels, unscrewed the tops, poured a small amount of craft paint inside, and shook. The result is a rainbow of mess-free globes that you could replicate in any shades you like. For max MCM vibes, try sticking to five or so hues in the same color range, such as burnt oranges, avocado greens, and mustard yellows.

8. Acrylic Paint Pen Decorated Globes

If you don’t happen to have a ton of leftover paints lying around, however, just reach for an acrylic pen. Instagrammer Corinne Caputo favors the Molotow One4All Acrylic Paint Marker, which she used to decorate her plain glass ornaments with a dusting of white snowflakes. When nestled between the branches, the simple markings are reminiscent of delicately etched glass, with no hunting in antique shops required.

9. Oversized Wood Bead Garland

There’s nothing like a good garland to pull a decorating scheme together, and the lovely folks at Inspired By Charm have come up with a gorgeous DIY option that involves stringing a variety of differently-sized wooden beads along a leather cord. The only tools you’ll need are a set of pliers, some sandpaper, and a drill to make the holes, and a stunning garland won’t be far behind. From there, you can choose to leave the natural wood intact, or introduce painted or stained beads for surprising pops of color.

Credit: Krys Melo

10. No-Sew Geometric Christmas Tree Skirt

To bring that mid-century spirit from the boughs of your Christmas tree down to its foot, look no further than this tree skirt from blogger Krys Melo. At her blog Melodrama, she explains how to make it with just a few different shades of felt, snipped into the diamond and rhombus shapes that the 1950s and ’60s made so popular. The best part? The skirt requires absolutely zero sewing, relying on fabric glue instead, so it’s well within reach for even first-time DIYers.

Credit: Oh Oh Deco

11. Folded Felt Christmas Ornaments

Speaking of felt, even if you don’t have quite enough for the tree skirt without making a run to the fabric store, you can still repurpose smaller scraps into these inventive ornaments from Oh Oh Deco. All six patterns are available for download and require only a needle and thread, ribbon or twine, and some large sewing clips, and fold out into eye-catching mid-century silhouettes like bells, teardrops, and the signature onion shape.

12. Repurposed Golden Toy Ornaments

If you have a child who’s outgrown some of their smaller toys, it’s time to break them out of storage, because A Beautiful Mess has found a new use for them. They collected all of the plastic animals they could get their hands on, spray painted them gold, and then screwed in some simple hooks so they could be hung from the tree by ribbons. Voila — you suddenly have a matching set of cute, kitschy ornaments with a vintage feel.

13. Atomic Tree Topper

When it comes to topping your mid-century modern Christmas tree, there’s no reason you need to settle for just a star. Instead, follow the lead of blogger Julie from Jewels at Home, who crafted an ingenious DIY atomic topper with bamboo skewers, beads, and a styrofoam ball. The futuristic result oozes MCM charm, and looks plucked directly out of a “Mad Men” episode.

14. Kid-Friendly Leather Bulbs

Just when it seemed like there was no way to improve on the sleek bulb shape so popular in mid-century designs, blogger Delia of Delia Creates goes ahead and reimagines the classic silhouette in leather. Using two-toned scraps left over from a belt-making project, she fashioned a set of ornaments that walks the perfect line between classic and fresh, and included a tutorial so you can make your own at home. Even better? These ornaments are kid-friendly—you’ll never have to worry about one of them getting knocked off the tree and shattering on the ground.

15. Printable Paper Ornaments

Of course, not everyone has a trove of leather scraps, but you can probably get your hands on some colorful paper. Especially if you print out some of the printable designs by Jane at The House That Lars Built, which the blogger decorates with jingle bells and tassels. Feeling ambitious? Print out a bunch of the patterned heart ornaments from artist and blogger Valentina Grillo Vicioso, and string them together to form a funky retro garland.