Christmas is about families and friends, giving and sharing and having fun. It is also about enjoying with great food and drink. Now, as a vegetarian household we don’t have a turkey to stuff so the focus is on stuffing ourselves silly!

Well it started on Christmas Eve when our good friends brought around the best home-made ginger bread house ever! This year I have noticed an abundance of do-it-yourself kits for these yummy houses but this one is a total one off.

It arrived as a surprise for our children. Their eyes were filled with joy.

Quickly Herbie broke off the chimney which was an icing covered mini roll. I broke off the roof.

Within less than an hour it was pretty much demolished.

The next day it was almost gone! We also left some out for Santa (who also ate it all up!) He had a real vintage offering this year: port in a 60s fruit shot glass, Rudolph had water in orange 70s melamine and all on a 60s tray!

Then  for the drink. Back in October I blogged about making homemade blackberry vodka from foraged fruit. Check out Home-grown, hand-made, vintage Christmas blog for the recipe.

Last week we sieved the berries and bottled the booze.

We drank some on Christmas Day evening sitting by the fire. The drink warmed us far more than the flames!!


Christmas treasure

I blogged some time back about my Aunty Joan and her wonderful things that I now have to treasure. (Check out the blog Treasured) Well, today we re-found the best item that was given to me last year.

Before I share it with you, here’s a vintage lovely I have blogged about before.

I have picked holly and berries from the garden today for a table decoration. We are lucky enough to have 3 different types of holly bush in our new home. I have made a display in the large blue bubble vase that was hers. It sits pride of place on the Arkana table.

The real treasure is this very old metal candle holder. Light 4 candles and when the heat rises the chime bells ring and the cherubs spin. I noticed last night in Kirsty’s Homemade Christmas programme she features one at the ad break…it chimes beautifully. I am so lucky to have one and the fact that it was my Great Aunts and Uncles is even more magical.

I know nothing about them, I have infact never seen one before last year…and now Kirstie Allsop has one. If anyone else has one please let me know!

Deck the halls!

Gosh is it really nearly Christmas? Well, the festive issue of Vintage Life magazine has arrived with our latest article in.

For some ideas on how to decorate your home this Christmas, here is “Deck the halls“.

A vintage Christmas calls for vintage decorations. Add hand made touches with family tradition, to make it all the more special.

In the 1950s the tree was real with delicate glass baubles hanging next to candy, ribbons and candles. The 1960s brought a love affair with artificial trees, especially silver ones covered in cosmic shaped baubles. The 1970s look was anything goes…pile it all on..never mind if you can’t even see the tree!

Whatever your style, here are some ideas to recreate these looks, with a few of our own personal touches added. Why not go back to your own family traditional look or maybe start making your own traditions for your grandchildren to enjoy in years to come.

The Vintage Look

Keep precious glass baubles away from little fingers by hanging them from your vintage lights. They will look beautiful above the dinner table, catching the light as they move. Hang perfectly with clear fish wire or go for the craft look with silver ribbon.

Set the table with vintage crystal to create a sparkling Christmas dinner. A bowl of matching vintage baubles makes the perfect centre piece. Scatter crystal charms all over, add silver, candles and cake tazzas to finish the look.

Don’t forget to add the finishing touches with vintage silver napkin rings and crisp white linen. Everyone in our family had their own individual hand-picked silver napkin ring replacing the need for place names. This eclectic look will add character to your table.

Surprise the postman with bright paper garlands and bells adorning your hallway. Why not make your own by simply sewing a running stitch through lengths of coloured crepe paper.

Hand made touches

Create a soft, pretty effect by adding flowers to the tree. Silk cream and pink roses dipped in silver glitter will shimmer behind your vintage baubles.

Make your own crackers with personalised gifts inside. Or add sparkly vintage jewels to the outside to complement your table setting. Think brooches for the girls, cuff links for the boys. Maybe wrap the outside of the cracker in vintage wallpaper or fabric for a clashing patterned look.

Hand picked holly with red berries make an easy-to-make centre piece. Display in a vintage vase or jug and sit on a mantelpiece. Hang cards from vintage pegs on brown string to finish the look.

Create your new traditions.

Celebrate your childhood with your own children by displaying handmade treasures collected over the years. My handmade pink fairy from the 1970s sits alongside my children’s recent masterpieces to create that 70s eclectic look.

How many of you remember the Blue Peter coat hanger decoration made in the late 70s? This one is still going strong and greets all visitors young and old.

My grandma lovingly wrapped small gifts and hang them on the tree. Each present had a riddle describing the person the gift was for…we sat around guessing, appreciating the time and love that had been put into it. Year after year my riddle was: Who married Henry 3 times? Katherine of course!

Didn’t we do well?

Today’s job is to pack Christmas away, but before I do….here’s some of the vintage lovelies we received.

For him…some more Taunton Vale to add to the collection. His love of orange means our kitchen is filled with bright, zesty retro treasures….from 70s Tupperware storage, to 60s CathrineHolm enamel cookware, to funky orange Taunton Vale flower storage jars. We even have a (modern) orange Smeg fridge!

He also had a diary filled with images of 1950s pin-ups. I love this…I love the styling, the clothes, the fact they are not skinny!

For our little girl………a 70s Fisher Price Jack in the Box….a new addition to our vintage toy collection. I, in fact, had this when I was a child and I thought it was rather scary. Kitty however thinks it is hilarious!

For our little boy, a 70s game of Kerplunk. I love the box with the groovy kids faces…Herbie, so far just wants to play with the marbles!

They also received some hand knitted jumpers from their Great Nanna B. This cardi is so cute and a one off!

For me…..I received an array of vintage nighties, slips and a cute bed jacket. Ruffles, embroidery, lace, pretty pastels and bright limes…GORGEOUS! (I don’t quite look like the pin-up in Adam’s calender though, but I’m working on it!)

Lastly, I received this lovely folding 3 tier cake stand/table. I LOVE IT!!! I am going to put it in the bathroom with trinkets on each shelf. It is in such great condition with the pictures having no fading at all. I will also use it as a prop at the upcoming Vintage Wedding fairs.

With that…it is all over and my focus is now on wonderful  spring trends and buying new stock. Watch this space!

A look to the past

Firstly, Happy New Year from Your Vintage Life! We thank you for the support over the last year and look forward to hearing from you in the year ahead……

But, before we move into the future and all the exciting things planned for 2011, we want to share some of our Christmas vintage and retro trimmings that we have enjoyed over this festive season. So, with only a few days left until we box up the decs, here’s a quick look to the past……

As we have 2 small children we decided to hang our vintage glass baubles from the light fittings.

This was done in the January issue of Homes and Antiques magazine which inspired us to do the same. Red and gold glass ornaments hang from our 1960’s orange glass chandelier at different lengths. I love the glitter flowers on the large red bauble.

We hang pretty coloured baubles from our 1950’s light…indendations, bells and cosmic shapes were all on show.

Holly picked from our neighbour’s garden were thrown together in our West German ceramic pots and in my Grandma’s Poole Pottery.

We had 2 trees this year…one in pretty pinks and crystal, the other in retro baubles from my Great Aunt’s collection. The top of the tree is a kitsch barbie influenced fairy, complete with mohair wig and organza dress.

Candles were everywhere, in Deco Seaforth plastic candle holders, crystal tea light holders and our fab funky orange and red lotus flower holders (although not much of the candles left now!)

Now..not for the faint hearted amongst you…we come to our hall. It is awash with bright 1950s/60s paper garlands. We picked up a box of unused garlands last year in perfect condition which we hung with no self control, as well as brightly coloured folding balls. You should have seen the postman’s face when we opened the door to him!

Lastly, we decorated our dining table in red and crystal. A bon bon dish filled with red and silver glass baubles, silver edged glass coasters and old bow napkin rings sit on our red runner.

The most important and loved item is a candle holder with cherubs above.

When the candles are lit the cherubs move around gently tapping the chime bells creating a lovely sound. This belonged to my Great Aunt & Uncle…they enjoyed it every year and my family will continue to do so in the future.

The past brings us fantastically delicate and unique decorations enjoyed by our families for years…..but for now it will be packed into the loft until next year.

Happy New Year x

Get Scrapping!

We are currently packing up our house as we are moving. As stressful as it is, we found some respite this week when we found my old scrapbook from the 1970s. As mentioned in our Christmas article “Have yourself a Merry Vintage Christmas” in Vintage Life Nostalgia magazine, children in times gone by used to paste their cards into a scrapbook and show everyone on Christmas Eve.

And I’m so very glad we did as we have saved a fabulous collection of retro cards from every occasion.

The colours are really vibrant and the characters are so kitsch.

I love this little girl with her large eyes and  innocence. This was actually the back of a card with the front being a little boy.

Or maybe it is actually an angel..playing a tuba? All the children in these old cards had rather large heads with often oversized hats!

There were of course religious cards too. However, these were still really bright and vibrant reminding me of stained glass windows in church, with the sun shining through.

This one depicts the Nativity. The lambs are so sweet, very stylised, very 60s. Children from around the world coming together, in a retro way! Still their heads are very large!

Many of the cards have animals on, still with large eyes! Often animals that have nothing to do with Christmas: cats, dogs and mice! Here we have a dog and a mouse decorating a tree with bells and baubles. The background is a shocking pink…again not a colour assosiated with Christmas!

A mouse sits on a giant lump of cheese to look at the Christmas candle….again the bright pink appears in a bow around the cheese.  Then we have yet another mouse, with hug ears looking at a bird treee decoration. It has that doe eyes and a paw up at the mouth at the wonder of what it sees!

This one is my favourite. It reminds me of the designs on old sweet & biscuit tins. It was  in fact drawn by a 12 year old girl for Oxfam, organised by the Young Observer magazine. It is called Snowballing.

I think i will make it into cards this year to send to my dearest. Bring back the scrapbook I say….I wonder what we will say about 2010 cards in years to come. My book was large with groovy 70s kids on the front!

So come on everybody….get scrapping and make this year’s cards, memories of the future!

Have yourself a Merry Vintage Christmas!

We know, we know.. it’s still November but here at Your Vintage Life we can’t wait ’till Christmas. We wanted to share our latest article for Vintage Life Nostalgia magazine to start to get you in the festive spirit….(and remember we have great pressies available on the site!)

Have yourself a Merry Vintage Christmas…

…by adorning your home with 1950s decorations, throwing a vintage Christmas Eve party and creating a traditional Christmas Day!

Christmas in years gone by, was more about family than today’s commercialism. Mother saved all year in saving schemes to ensure everyone could come together with peace and happiness. And every year was the same.

The dusty box of decorations came out of the loft to reveal a blast of colour, with glass baubles and strings of garlands. The tree was covered in balls and icicles reminiscent of the atomic shapes that were appearing on fabrics. The balls had indentations with crushed insides, stripes like the rings of Saturn and cigar shaped icicles which brought a modern feel. The tree was real, as artificial tinsel trees were not the fashion until the 1960s. Cards, candles, wired tinsel and coloured lights were thrown on top creating a haphazard, joyful vision. Under the tree amongst the presents, was a pile of pine needles mixed with broken glass; bauble casualties occurred on a daily basis! It wasn’t until the 1970s that plastic, durable baubles became the norm. A Barbie influenced fairy sat on the top with canary yellow hair and an organza skirt.

Multi coloured paper garlands zigzagged across ceilings with folded out paper bells hanging from the centre. Making paper chains was a family event with everyone participating. Strips of coloured crepe paper were stuck together with a running stitch sewn down the middle to create a twisted rainbow effect. There was one rule: the more the better!

The house was decorated often as late as Christmas Eve. Due to lack of transport, families spent the evening walking from house to house delivering cards and presents. This was party time when parents had a festive drink and children stayed up late, drinking lemonade. The drinks cabinet was stocked up and party snacks were laid out: men drank sherry, ladies drank Gin, Cherry Brandy or cocktails with a glace cherry on top. These were always served in the best glasses: frosted shot glasses for sherry (the schooner didn’t really take off until the 1960s) and branded champagne flutes for your Cherry B, Snowball or Babycham. Bar accessories were on display with fruit ice buckets, soda syphons and glass cocktail shakers.

Candy coloured “Little Forks” were used for nibbles. Meat was the main party food: cocktail sausages, tinned ham and scotch eggs were the favourites. The centre piece on the table was a hedgehog; a potato wrapped in foil with cheese and pineapple chunks on cocktail sticks sticking out. Entertainment came in the form of a sing-a-long and flicking through last year’s Christmas card scrapbook. Everyone enjoyed themselves but was always home before midnight….before Santa arrived!

Christmas morning, children woke up to a pillow case full of toys. A must was the year’s annual laid on top, perfect for excited eyes to read while waiting for parents to wake after the festivities of the night before.

As it is today, the dinner was the main event. The table was set, using only the best china which hadn’t been used since Easter. Candles were lit in the traditional central Christmas log. This was homemade; father would find a log, drill a hole in the middle and place candles in it.

He would stand at the head of the table carving the turkey on a huge ceramic platter. Seasonal vegetables were served in matching tureens. Mother added Bicarbonate of Soda to the sprouts to keep them green…everything had to be just so. Homemade crackers were pulled. Beer was drunk as wine didn’t become popular until the 1970s. Everyone dressed up in their best clothes. The meal ended with a Christmas pudding which had been made in November. All the family stirred the mixture in large mixing bowls, made a wish and hoped they would get the lucky sixpence.

After dinner, the family gathered around the wireless to listen to the Queen’s speech. Instead of flaking out on the sofa, everyone played board games. Pin the tail on the donkey, Lotto and the Christmas jigsaw were favourites. Cards were also played, using buttons for money when bets were placed.

Eventually, after turkey salad, cake and a glass of port at the table, the day drew to a close.

All this can be created today. Learn from the ghost of Christmas past and create a simpler festivity, holding family values high and celebrating a fun, bright look. Keep your eyes peeled all year for vintage decorations and pile them high on the tree. Dress your 1950s cocktail bar, make some old fashioned cocktails and invite people over on Christmas Eve. Wear your favourite vintage clothes. And turn off the television, play games and have a sing-a-long with the people you love!

Merry Christmas!