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Tree Trimming with Vintage Toys

Tree Trimming with Vintage Toys
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I enjoy trimming a Christmas tree with our usual hodgepodge collection of ornaments but I also love themed trees.  Themed trees are based on a color, a style (i.e. Victorian), or another common thread (a cowboy/cowgirl theme, the 50’s, a tropical theme, etc.). Once every few years I like to decorate a themed tree in addition to our traditional tree.  If you choose to do the same, it is helpful to choose a smaller tree for the themed tree– this makes it easier to find space for it and to fill the tree with decorations. Themed trees can be placed in guest rooms, hallways, entry spaces, and other areas that need a holiday touch. This year I chose to decorate a tree with the theme vintage toys, which strikes a nostalgic note.  If you don’t already have some toys from childhood to add to your tree, no worries– there are some inexpensive shortcuts you can take to add retro-looking toys to your tree.

Nostalgic toys decorate this themed tree
Nostalgic toys decorate this themed tree

Here are possible toys you can add to your own tree trimmed with nostalgic toys:

  • Fisher Price people
  • Wind up toys
  • Gum ball machine prizes
  • Small die cast cars and vehicles
  • Puzzle pieces from a child’s puzzle
  • Small Play-Doh containers
  • Green Army soldiers and other plastic figurines
  • Playing cards
  • Jacks
  • Alphabet blocks and wooden toys
  • Small candy boxes (i.e. Junior Mints)

    Examples of toys you can add to a nostalgic toy themed tree
    Photo/Art by Bonnie Thomas
    Examples of toys you can add to a nostalgic toy themed tree

If you need to recreate the nostalgia theme then you can buy some of these items from a toy store or a dollar store.

Materials for Tree Trimming with Vintage Toys

  • A collection of retro style toys
  • String or ribbon
  • Eye hook screws
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle and thread (if using small plush toys)

Directions to Attach Vintage Toys to Tree

  1. Fisher Price people and other peg-style people can be placed on the end of a wire tree branch by turning the end of the branch upward and placing the figurine on the upturned branch.  If you are using a real tree you will need to attach an eye hook screw to the top of the figurine’s head (only if the figurine is the older wooden style, not plastic). Tie string or ribbon through the eye hook and hang the figurine on a tree branch.
  2. Many wind up toys can be tucked into a sheltered spot in the tree.

    Some toys are tucked into the branches, some are hung with ribbon
    Photo/Art by Bonnie Thomas
    Some toys are tucked into the branches, some are hung with ribbon
  3. Some gum ball machine prizes and other small trinkets may have a space to tie a ribbon through to hang it on the tree.  If not, see if there are spaces in the tree that will hold the trinket in place.
  4. Many die cast vehicles have open windows which you can tie a ribbon through.
  5. You can purchase a set of mini Play-Doh packs at a toy store.  Remove the Play-Doh from the containers, poke 2 holes in the cover, attach a string through the holes, and put the lid back on the container.  Now the containers are ready to hang on the tree.
  6. Many of the green army soldiers (and other small plastic figurines) have spaces to attach a string or ribbon.  You can also place a figurine directly onto a branch by pushing the branch through any of these spaces.
  7. Punch a hole through playing cards and then attach a ribbon through the hole.
  8. Wrap string around jacks and then create a loop with the string for hanging.
  9. Wooden blocks and toys can be turned into ornaments by screwing an eye hook into them. Attach ribbon through the eye hook to hang them on the tree.
  10. To use small candy boxes remove the candy then poke 2 holes in the top of the box.  Pull a ribbon or string through the holes and tie a loop.
  11. If using any small plush items, thread a needle through the top or center of the toy and tie a loop for hanging.
  12. Puzzle pieces can be turned into ornaments by poking or drilling a hole through the piece and then tying a ribbon through the hole.
A tree decorated with nostalgic toys
Photo/Art by Bonnie Thomas
A tree decorated with nostalgic toys

There are obviously many more toys you can use and many methods for adding toys to your tree.  Regardless of the toys you use and how you hang them, your tree will bring a smile to those who get to see it!

Bonnie Thomas


Bonnie Thomas


Bonnie Thomas shares her ideas and instructions for simple Yankee crafts. Bonnie Thomas works full time as a child and family therapist in Southern Maine and is also an established artist and author. She has published two books via Jessica Kingsley Publishing, titled Creative Coping Skills for Children: Emotional Support Through Arts and Crafts Activities and Creative Expression Activities for Teens: Exploring Identity Through Art, Craft and Journaling. Don't miss her latest book, How to Get Kids Offline, Outdoors, and Connecting With Nature
Updated Monday, December 2nd, 2013
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