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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 turkeyReminisce

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Reminisce

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 treeReminisce

1940

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 treeTaste of Home / Lisa Kaminski

1941

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 dollhouseReminisce

1942

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 cookiesReminisce

1943

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 presentsCarol Stirling

1944

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 tricycleReminisce

1945

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 togetherParker

1946

‘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

1947

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 treeTaste of Home

1948

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 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 handReminisce Extra

1949

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 treeReminisce

1950

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

1951

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 ClausBarbara Larson

1952

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 cookiesKay Schopp

1953

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

1954

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 truckReminisce

1955

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 treeReminisce Extra

1956

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 treeReminisce

1957

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 treeSharon Koehne

1958

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

1959

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 ChristmasReminisce

1960

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 treeReminisce

1961

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

1962

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 turkeyReminisce

1963

Reminisce

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

1964

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 presentsReminisce

1965

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 catsReminisce

1966

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. Then be sure to check out our safety tips for pets during the holidays.

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Classroom of kids working on craftsReminisce

1967

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 treeTaste of Home / Lisa Kaminski

1968

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 grandchildReminisce

1969

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 fireplaceReminisce

1970

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 DayKendigia_2HaS

1971

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 downReminisce

1972

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

1973

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 presentsShutterstock / John Selby/REX

1974

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

1975

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 treeKathyStock

1976

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

1977

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 custardShutterstock / REX

1978

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 SantaElizabeth Bramkamp

1979

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 handTaste of Home / Lisa Kaminski

1980

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

1981

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 ChristmasTaste of Home / Lisa Kaminski

1982

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

1983

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

1984

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 anotherReminisce Extra

1985

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 presentsKathyStock

1986

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 partyTaste of Home

1987

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 babySue Gronholz

1988

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 lapTaste of Home / Lisa Kaminski

1989

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 creationTaste of Home

1990

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 ChristmasCourtesy of Kathy Stock

1991

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 apronsLinda Grienke

1992

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 cookiesTaste of Home / Lisa Kaminski

1993

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

1994

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

1995

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

1996

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

1997

Mrs. Claus deserves some recognition during the holidays too! These girls line up to chat with the woman who’s really in charge. This has us thinking we should whip up some Mrs. Claus cookie pops.

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Christmas decorations and turkey dinnerShutterstock / KEITH WHITMORE/REX

1998

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

1999

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 memoriesTaste of Home

2000

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!

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.

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