What Christmas Looked Like the Year You Were Born

We wish you a very vintage Christmas! Take a look back at 60 years of holiday trends.

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Family cooking turkey

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

It’s full of traditions that we revisit every year. While we may have always baked Christmas cookies, wrapped gifts and trimmed the tree, the holiday looks a whole lot different now than it did decades ago! See how the holidays have changed through the decades.

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Vintage image of woman posing in front of Christmas tree


A glittering, tinseled tree, sparkling lights and stunning Christmas garb? This elegant young woman shows us how the holidays should be done—all the way back in 1940. And look at all those presents under the tree…here’s our ultimate foodie gift guide.

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Black and white photo of two men standing in front of a christmas tree
Taste of Home / Lisa Kaminski


These dapper young gents pose for a quick post-present pic back in 1941. Look at the height of that tree!

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Black and white photo of a young girl beside a dollhouse


You know that feeling when you get exactly what you asked Santa for? We think this little girl captures it perfectly. Get on the nice list with these Santa-inspired treats.

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Black and white photo of two kids spelling out "Merry Christmas" with cookies


That beater looks a little old-fashioned to us today, but kids in 1943 still loved making Christmas cookies. Get your little ones involved and try out some of our favorite Christmas cutout cookies.

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Photo of deployed family member beside the Christmas presents
Carol Stirling


During WWII, folks kept photos of deployed family and friends close by during the holiday season.

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Two girls smiling and riding their new red tricycle


With WWII over, folks really had something to celebrate back in 1945. These girls look pretty pleased with their shiny red tricycle, too!

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Black and white photo of two children reading a book together


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas was published all the way back in 1823, meaning that this poem was already a Christmas classic when these little guys started to learn it here in 1946. Psst! These holiday reindeer cookies are the perfect pairing.

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H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images


Get ready for the holidays with all your gifts and a pretty wreath for the door like this kiddo back in the ’40s. Need some wreath inspo? We’ve got you covered with these DIY Christmas wreath ideas.

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Girl and a boy sitting among opened presents under a Christmas tree
Taste of Home


We’re loving that super-flocked tree! This tree tradition really came into its own in the 1950s, but this 1948 family was ahead of the trend. Be ahead of the curve this year with these fun alternative Christmas trees.

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Black and white photo of girls lined up for a photo in front of their Christmas tree with stockings in hand
Reminisce Extra


Anyone with sisters can relate to this photo! Matching robes, matching headbands and matching stockings—looks like a Christmas card photo op if we ever saw one!

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Man wearing a festive apron adding ornaments to a Christmas tree


Around the holidays, everyone gets into that festive spirit. We love that this gentleman opted for a poinsettia-patterned apron! Get into the spirit with our most festive Christmas recipes.

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Kenneth Kwilosz/Reminisce


Got everything ready for your Christmas dinner spread? We think this family would have served up a few of these vintage Christmas dishes.

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I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus
Barbara Larson


The Christmas classic “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was released in 1952. This family was right on trend with their holiday card that year!

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Two young kids decorating Christmas cookies
Kay Schopp


When it comes to holiday traditions, we think decorating Christmas cookies comes pretty close to the top of that list.

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Patricia Russell/Reminisce


Hosting a coffee klatch or cookie exchange this year? Here’s hoping it’s just as fun and festive as this meet-up in 1954. And be sure to check out our cookie exchange tips and most in-demand cookie recipes.

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Family posing in front of the Christmas tree loaded into their truck


Finding the perfect fresh-cut tree has always been a challenge, but it looks like these folks did well for themselves (even if the tree doesn’t quite fit inside). When you’re back from the tree farm, try stirring up some of these cute Christmas tree recipes.

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Boy riding a toy horse beside the Christmas tree
Reminisce Extra


Ride ’em, cowboy! We bet after a long day out on the range, this buckaroo would like a tall glass of milk and some cowboy cookies.

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Man reclining in a chair beside a Christmas tree


Too much tinsel? Never! We love this tree’s over-the-top Christmas decorations.

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Mother holding up her baby to see the Christmas tree
Sharon Koehne


Baby’s first Christmas is always extra special. Look at the wonder in this little girl’s eyes!

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John Hafer/Reminisce


Are your turkey tools ready for the holidays? Be sure to bring out your finest serving trays and carving knives like this family did. And brush up on how to carve a turkey, too!

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Young girl unwrapping a doll for Christmas


Every kid wakes up on Christmas morning hoping to unwrap that wow gift. Looks like this little lady in her adorable holiday dress got that most-wanted present.

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Older woman sitting beside a Christmas tree


In the ’50s and ’60s, aluminum and metallic trees were all the rage. With mid-century style coming back in a big way, we can’t help but be jealous of this woman’s picture-perfect tree!

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Bettmann/Getty Images


Photos of busy shops like this definitely make us grateful that online shopping is possible these days! However, we do miss those department store candy counters and lunch menus.

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Family cooking turkey


During the holidays, the kitchen always seems like the busiest room in the house. Looks like it was the same all the way back in 1963. And don’t think we’re not eyeing up that perfectly golden turkey! We’re sure Grandma followed a few of our tips for a flavorful and juicy turkey.

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Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images


These coworkers posed while exchanging gifts at the Ilinois Federal Savings and Loan back in the ’60s. Setting up a Secret Santa exchange in your office? Here are a few snacks anyone will love.

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Kids posing in front of Christmas tree and opened presents


Everything about this Christmas snap has us feeling all kinds of nostalgic. That perfectly decorated tree, the wonderfully ’60s toys plus that old tube TV all scream vintage Christmas to us. It has us wanting to mix up one of these delicious vintage Christmas desserts, too.

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Fallen Christmas tree beside two cats


As long as there have been Christmas trees, there have been cats to knock them over. We can definitely relate to the dismayed pet owner who snapped this pic. If you need a cat-friendly tree, consider this.

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Classroom of kids working on crafts


Weeks before Christmas, these little elves got to work making holiday crafts in their classroom. Feeling crafty? Try these winter DIYs.

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Woman standing in front of a decked out, live Christmas tree
Taste of Home / Lisa Kaminski


When it comes to Christmas trees, you may as well go big and bright! In the ’60s, many families opted for the charm of live spruces.

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Grandma cutting a slice of pie for her grandchild


Having patience during the holidays can be hard! This little girl waits her turn for a slice of delicious pumpkin pie.

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Boys holding stockings over fireplace


St. Nick hadn’t visited these boys yet, but we hope he filled their stockings with some tasty Christmas treats.

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Family opening presents on Christmas Day


The ’70s brought along some pretty outrageous color combinations. Can you spot the lime green carpeting under this Christmas Day haul?

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Boy dragging a tree he chopped down


Cutting your own tree was hard work (and still is!). We give this kiddo props for doing it with a smile on his face. One you get that tree in the house, learn how to keep it fresher for longer.

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Shoppers Look In Store Window Display For Evening News's Toy For A Sick Child Campaign 1973.
Shutterstock / Tony Weaver/ANL/REX


Shoppers scope out the latest toys for the holiday season. Lots to see in this storefront!

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Young boy, Thomas Pietriangeli opening his Christmas presents Father and son opening Christmas presents
Shutterstock / John Selby/REX


Some things don’t change from year to year. Kiddos still love superheroes, just like this little boy enjoying his Batman mask back in 1974.

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ClassicStock/Getty Images


Who doesn’t like to show off their most-wanted gift? While we’re not asking for fire trucks these days, we definitely have some items on our wishlist. Bakers especially will want to add these gifts to their list.

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Woman holding a baby in front of a Christmas tree


This snapshot is pure ’70s perfection. We wouldn’t mind recapturing this vibe (hair included)! Check out our vintage recipes from the ’70s worth trying today.

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Mary Carmichael/Reminisce


Even back in the ’70s adult children were still relegated to the kids’ table. It happens! Here are some tips on how to make this year’s kids’ table more fun.

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family Christmas dinner table pudding with custard
Shutterstock / REX


There’s nothing like finishing off Christmas dinner with a tasty and festive dessert. Looks like this family is opting for a sticky toffee pudding, but we’ve got a long list of other traditional Christmas desserts that are worth trying!

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Mother and her two kids posing next to Santa
Photo: Elizabeth Bramkamp


Sometimes Christmas gets the better of you. That’s OK! Nothing like a few peppermint treats to cool you down.

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Man coming in through the front door with a present in hand
Photo: Taste of Home / Lisa Kaminski


As long as gift exchanges have been around, so has last-minute shopping! This man brings in his holiday haul on Christmas Eve 1980.

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ClassicStock/Getty Images


There are definitely two schools of thought when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree: tinsel or no tinsel. We say the more sparkle and shine the better! This gal from 1981 obviously would agree.

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Family photo on Christmas
Photo: Taste of Home / Lisa Kaminski


The holidays are all about the ones you love. Spending time with family has been (and will always be!) a tradition in our book.

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Denver Post/Getty Images


When it came to Christmas wrapping, you could count on your department store’s gift-wrapping department back in the 1980s. If you want to learn how to wrap as well as one of these pros, check out our guide. And when all else fails, grab a gift bag and some tissue paper.

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Francois LE DIASCORN/Getty Images


One thing we may not be nostalgic for is being a part of our school or church Christmas pageants. Remembering your lines? Making sure that halo is on just right? It’s a lot of stress—definitely deserving of some treats afterward, like these Christmas cakes.

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Mr. and Mrs. Claus sitting next to one another
Reminisce Extra


Fashions come and go but the classic Claus ensembles are forever (and they look great on this 1980s couple).

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Boy and a girl opening a sea of Christmas presents


We love unwrapping something sweet on Christmas morning, just like this little girl back in ’86. Give your loved ones a sweet treat this holiday season with these amazing food gifts.

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Dinner table being presented to all the guests at a Christmas party
Taste of Home


One of the best parts of the Christmas season? The food! This spread looks amazing! If you’re looking to duplicate this casual, fun style yourself, explore these festive Christmas appetizers.

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Mother, father and older sister presenting the family baby with a toy baby
Photo: Sue Gronholz


In the ’80s Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage. This little girl was lucky enough to have Santa bring her one!

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Young child sitting on Santa's lap
Photo: Taste of Home / Lisa Kaminski


Even the tiniest tots have a wish list. In 1989, we bet this little girl was asking for a Little Tikes playhouse.

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Woman standing proud next to her huge gingerbread creation
Taste of Home


This woman has taken her love of gingerbread to the next level! We love her enthusiasm, and we’re positive she’s made a few of our gingerbread houses over the years, too.

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Santa visiting a family on Christmas
Courtesy of Kathy Stock


Some kids are lucky enough to get a visit from Santa right at home. We bet if you leave a few eggnog treats by the fireplace, Santa might opt to stay awhile.

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Mother and daughter get ready to bake together in their festive aprons
Photo: Linda Grienke


Donning festive aprons, this mother-daughter duo is ready to bake! Need a few Christmas cookie ideas for the current holiday season? We’ve got make-ahead Christmas cookies so you can get a jump on your holiday treats.

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Sweet child making cookies
Taste of Home / Lisa Kaminski


Even the littlest kids can get involved with holiday baking! Not sure which tasks are best for your littlest bakers? Check out our Cooking with Kids guide for a list of tasks appropriate for tiny tots all the way up to preteens.

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Esther Samson Ukaria/Reminisce


No matter the year, wearing your Christmas best has always been a tradition. We appreciate that this family went full-on glam for the holidays—no ugly sweaters to be found (except maybe on the cookie tray).

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Spencer Weiner/Getty Images


Some families like to do things a little differently around the holidays, like this California family unwrapping gifts on the beach. If you want to stick to tradition, make these classic Christmas recipes.

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Al Seib/Getty Images


Christmas card overload at USPS! Still have some Christmas cards laying around from years past? Put them to use with these upcycled crafts.

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Rick Loomis/Getty Images


Mrs. Claus deserves some recognition during the holidays too! These girls line up to chat with the woman who’s really in charge.

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Christmas decorations and turkey dinner


When it comes to Christmas, some folks love to go all out. We admire this couple’s Christmas spirit!

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Star Tribune/Getty Images


Christmastime brings out the nostalgia in all of us. We’re always wanting to bring back a few retro decorations to make the holiday feel festive. Back in ’99, this little girl was admiring a ceramic tree, and today we’re still going crazy for this retro tree trend.

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Man and woman hugging over a photo book of Christmas memories
Taste of Home


Finally, after reviewing 60 years of Christmas traditions, we come to the new millennium. And this couple here captures that nostalgic Christmas spirit perfectly: cozied up by the tree and paging through albums of Christmases past. Cheers to memories new and old—and Merry Christmas!

Don’t miss our vintage Christmas dishes worth trying today.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.