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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, starting in 1940.

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Family cooking turkey

A look back in time

Christmas is full of traditions that we revisit every year. While we may have always 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.

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


These dapper young gents pose for a quick post-present pic back in 1941. Look at the height of that tree! Learn the reason why people put up Christmas trees every year.

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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. These are the recipes everyone should know how to make before they turn 35.

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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.

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Photo of deployed family member beside the Christmas presents
Carol Stirling


During World War II, 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! These are the Christmas stories about meeting Santa that will fill you with the holiday spirit.

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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! Here’s the surprising history behind your favorite Christmas Carols.

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Black and white photo of two women in front of a Christmas tree
Courtesy Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home


Polka dots abound! On dresses, scarves, and wrapping, this classic was all the rage in the 1940s.

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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. This is the history behind your favorite Christmas traditions.

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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! Here are some of the best family photos to bring joy to your holiday season.

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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! This is the reason why poinsettia’s are the official Christmas flower.

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Three girls with a new puppy
Courtesy Joyce Moody/Taste of Home


So many kids wish for a puppy at Christmas. These three sisters were lucky enough to get one! Already have a pooch at home? Here are a few secrets that your pets won’t tell you.

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I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus
Courtesy Barbara Larson/Reminisce


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! Don’t miss these rare photos of what life was really like in the 1950s.

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Two young kids decorating Christmas cookies
Courtesy Kay Schopp/Reminisce


When it comes to holiday traditions, we think decorating cookies comes pretty close to the top of that list. We like to spend our holidays baking up our favorite Christmas cookies.

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Mother with two sons in front of a decorated staircase


When it comes to holiday elegance, this woman has it covered, but we secretly love how her kiddos snuck in their signature cowboy style for this holiday photo op.

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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 our cutest Christmas tree snacks.

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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 a cowboy cookie or two.

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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 decorations.

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Mother holding up her baby to see the Christmas tree
Courtesy Sharon Koehne/Taste of Home


Baby’s first Christmas is always extra special. Look at the wonder in this little girl’s eyes! Don’t miss these vintage Christmas ads from the past 90 years.

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Father and children opening presents on Christmas Day
Reminisce Extra


No playing ball in the house! Well, it looks like this family made an exception (at least for one day).

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Family posing with matching leopard-print pjs


Matching pajamas on Christmas Day have long been a tradition. This 1960s family took the trend a step further than most, but we love the wild print!

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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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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 to get a flavorful and juicy bird.

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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 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. Be sure to check out these vintage Christmas decorations that might be worth money.

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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. If you’re looking to get crafty this Christmas, we have a few ideas for your table.

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


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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Baby calling below the Christmas tree


You’re never too young to celebrate! This little girl learns about the meaning of Christmas under the tree.

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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 treats like these.

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Family opening presents on Christmas Day
Courtesy Kimberly Kendigia/Reminisce


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.

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


Shoppers scope out the latest toys for the holiday season. Lots to see in this storefront! Boost the nostalgia with these vintage photos of Christmases past.

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


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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Baby laid out in front of the Christmas tree
Courtesy Kathy Stock/Taste of Home


Christmas can be a lot to take in! But this little guy looks like he’s just enjoying basking in the glow of that ultra-festive tree.

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Woman holding a baby in front of a Christmas tree
Courtesy Kathy Stock/Taste of Home


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

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Mother and three small children in front of the Christmas tree
Courtesy Kathy Stock/Taste of Home


We love warm Christmas memories like this one. They make us want to cozy up with a cup of cocoa under the tree.

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family Christmas dinner table pudding with custard


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 holiday desserts that are worth trying!

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Mother and her two kids posing next to Santa
Courtesy Elizabeth Bramkamp/Taste of Home


Sometimes Christmas gets the better of you. That’s OK!

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


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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Family photo on Christmas
Courtesy Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home


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

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Girl posing for a picture in a red Christmas dress
Courtesy Kathy Stock/Taste of Home


Someone’s feeling merry and bright! We bet she’s looking forward to all the tasty cookies to come.

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Young girl excitedly holds up Barbie she got for Christmas
Courtesy Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home


Be it 1983, 1993 or today, we’re pretty sure almost all little girls love unwrapping a Barbie on Christmas morning.

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Young boy holds up a camera he just unwrapped
Courtesy Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home


Christmas morning, we all enjoy unwrapping the latest gadgets and gizmos. Back in the mid-’80s, this camera was peak technology.

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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). This is the real reason why Christmas colors are red and green.

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Boy and a girl opening a sea of Christmas presents
Courtesy Kathy Stock/Taste of Home


We love unwrapping something sweet on Christmas morning, just like this little girl back in ’86.

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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 our top Christmas appetizer recipes.

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Mother, father and older sister presenting the family baby with a toy baby
Courtesy Sue Gronholz/Taste of Home


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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Smiling children all dressed in their Christmas best
Courtesy Jenni Pries/Taste of Home


Ribbons and bow ties galore! Festive holiday ensembles have been around for ages, and we love these sweet kiddos’ styles.

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


Even the tiniest tots have a wish list. In 1990, we bet this little girl was asking for a Little Tikes playhouse.

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Santa visiting a family on Christmas
Courtesy Kathy Stock/Taste of Home


Some kids are lucky enough to get a visit from Santa right at home. We bet if you leave a few eggnog filled 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
Courtesy Linda Grienke/Taste of Home


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 some make-ahead favorites so you can get a jump on your Christmas treats.

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Sweet child making cookies
Courtesy Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home


Even the littlest kids can get involved with holiday baking! Not sure which tasks are best for your littlest bakers? We’ve got a list of tasks appropriate for tiny tots all the way up to preteens. These are the best Christmas sweaters you can buy.

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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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Black and white photos of siblings in matching clothing
Courtest Katie Jankowski/Taste of Home


The ’90s were prime time for matching sibling Christmas outfits. These girlies got it right with their adorable lace and floral dresses.

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Woman with engagement ring, circa 1996
Courtesy Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home


Who doesn’t love a good Christmas morning surprise? Looks like this young woman got the gift on the top of her list: a proposal! For the rest of us, there’s always cinnamon rolls.

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Cute, smiling family in front of their Christmas tree
Courtesy Nicole Doster/Taste of Home


Patterns galore! We’re loving this adorable ’90s family. Check out these timeless holiday traditions you should consider adopting this year.

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Girl diligently pinching together the ends of jam-filled cookies for Santa
Courtesy Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home


If you ask us, it looks like this girl is whipping up some of our classic jam-filled cookies—just in time for Santa to come. These are the best Christmas cookies from every state.

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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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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!

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home