Elegant white tree and fireplace with red armchairs.

Traditional Christmas Decorations

Mar 06, 2024

As the holiday season begins, it's a magical time when our homes sparkle with traditional Christmas decorations, and the scent of freshly baked cookies fills the air. 

In this article, with this historical backdrop in mind, we will explore various types of traditional Christmas decorations – from traditional home decor to the classic ornaments for the Christmas tree. Read on, to find out more!

What are Traditional Christmas Decorations? 

First of all, let's talk a bit about the origins of these traditions to understand their significance. The history of Christmas in America dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, when immigrants from various European countries brought their traditions and customs, creating a rich tapestry of celebrations. Among these customs were decorating a Christmas tree, writing Christmas cards, giving gifts, and eating Christmas dinners. Christmas was officially established as a federal holiday at the end of the 19th century – on June 26, 1870.

Over the years, traditional Christmas decorations have played an important role in creating a festive atmosphere in December and have become part of this wonderful Christmas time. 

The main Christmas colors, creating the traditional Christmas spirit, are green, red, and white:

  • Green represents the Christmas tree, which is a central symbol of the holiday season. 
  • Red symbolizes the warmth, love, and joy that Christmas brings us.
  • White represents snow and symbolizes the peace that the Christmas holidays bring.
Collage of four cozy Christmas-decorated living rooms.

Traditional Home Christmas Decor

First and most important ones are traditional home Christmas decorations that have been bringing the Christmas spirit into homes for years, allowing us to create a cozy and warm atmosphere. These include decorations, such as figurines, snow globes, and nutcrackers.


In the past, figurines were mostly made of wood; however, today, they are made from a variety of materials, including luxurious crystal, ceramic, and plastic. Among the most traditional and spiritually significant are nativity scene figures, which create a spiritual environment. For those seeking options not tied to religious themes, consider choosing reindeer, snowmen, or elves.


Nativity scene with figures and twinkling lights.


Many modern figurines depict Santa Claus, popularized by Coca-Cola's marketing campaign. Santa first appeared in newspaper ads in 1931. These ads were part of Coca-Cola's strategy to boost soda consumption during the cooler month of December, as opposed to just the summer months. The image of Santa Claus quickly captured the public's affection. However, the true figure rooted in Christian tradition is St. Nicholas, who is primarily celebrated in Europe.

Snow Globes

The snow globe was invented by Austrian inventor Erwin Perzy, a Viennese craftsman, at the end of the 19th century. Its original purpose was for medical purposes, trying to improve brightness. In doing so, he also got the idea for today's snow globe. He applied for a patent and opened the first shop for Snow globes. Today  you will find snow globes designed as simple round balls or as more elaborate designs with scenes inside, such as winter landscapes or miniature nativity scenes.

Three kids in Santa hats admiring a snow globe.


Nutcracker figurines traditionally represent soldiers, kings, or knights wearing traditional clothing and weapons. Initially made from wood, these decorative items originated in Europe and were brought to America by German immigrants. Originally, they were used both as Christmas decorations and as tools to open nuts. Their popularity grew a lot in the 20th century because of the famous "Nutcracker" ballet. Now, you can find nutcrackers in many colors, sizes, and designs. Big nutcrackers are often placed in living rooms but can also be seen on staircases and in kitchens. Smaller nutcracker figures, on the other hand, are commonly hung on the Christmas tree.

Collection of nutcracker dolls against a red backdrop.

Kitchen Decorations 

The kitchen should not be overlooked during the holidays. It presents the perfect opportunity to replace everyday kitchen essentials with Christmas-themed decorations. Traditional Christmas colors of white, red, and green are the colors you will seek to incorporate into kitchen decor – from dish towels and potholders to cookie jars and serving platters. Your kitchen will remain a functional space for holiday cooking and baking, while also adding a touch of holiday spirit to every corner.

Christmas decor on a kitchen counter by a window.

Indoor Lights

Christmas indoor lights add warmth, charm, and a festive atmosphere to our living spaces. This tradition stems from the candles that once adorned Christmas trees, symbolizing the light Christ brought into the world. With the advent of electricity in the 20th century, electric lights began to illuminate Christmas trees. 

Traditional home Christmas decor infuses our homes with the magic of Christmas. With a variety of traditional ornaments and decorations, it has been bringing joy to our homes for decades. 


Lit Christmas tree with stockings by a stone fireplace.

Traditional Christmas Tree Decor

The Christmas tree, serving as the centerpiece in the house for Christmas, is usually placed in the living room or in the area where we spend the most time with our family. 

Ornaments, often in traditional colors of white, green, and red, include designs like balls, bells, stars, angels, and figurines. Christmas bells, in particular, occupy a special role in holiday traditions and decor. Their jingle adds a celebratory sound to the Christmas tree and symbolizes good tidings in Christianity.

Some ornaments are especially the finest, made with time-honored techniques such as can be found at Old World Christmas. Others, such as those from Christopher Radko or Kurt Adler, are noted for their unique designs.

We should not forget that the final step in decorating a Christmas tree is adding a topper, a tradition rich in Christian symbolism.  An angel topper reminds us of Gabriel, the angel who told the shepherds about Jesus' birth, symbolizing the sharing of good news. On the other hand, a star topper represents the Star of Bethlehem, guiding the Wise Men to Jesus, symbolizing hope and guidance.

Lit Christmas tree with stockings by a stone fireplace.

Traditional Christmas Door Decorations

Traditional Christmas door decorations create warm greetings for neighborhood passers-by and for you every time you come back home.

Wreaths are the most enduring symbol of Christmas door decoration, mostly made of spruce branches, which signify loyalty, or cedar branches, which are a symbol of eternal life. The wreaths are traditionally decorated with red ornaments such as berries, balls, and red bows. 

Very popular is also hanging mistletoe in doorways with roots in Norse mythology and later adopted into Christmas traditions. It was believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.

Outdoor decorations such as artificial Christmas trees are usually placed in front of doors and around the house or on balconies. We can also install outdoor lighting and string lights around the balconies and the house. 

Festive wreath and Christmas decorations on a front door.

Traditional Christmas Decor for Table Top

Creating a beautiful Christmas dining area begins with traditional decor elements for your tabletop. Start by choosing a red tablecloth adorned with classic Christmas motifs, such as deer, snowmen, greenery, and red berries.

Festive table setting with candles and a red tablecloth.

At the heart of your tabletop decor should be the Advent wreath at least four weeks before Christmas. An Advent wreath, as tradition says, has four candles, each representing one of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, symbolizing the preparation for the holiday.

To Sum Up …

Christmas is a special time for families to come together and celebrate. There are so many Christmas decorations everywhere you look, but it's wise to select traditional ones that can stay with generations for years. Hopefully, this article has helped you find your favorites. 

Family enjoying a Christmas meal and taking a selfie.

Wishing you a merry Christmas decorating!