Country Lore: Lessons from ’73: Vibrant Holidays that Save Energy

Homemade holiday decorations save money and energy.
By Arlene Shovald
December 2008/January 2009

Be creative and save energy: Dress your holiday tree with homemade decorations instead of lights.
LOWELLA YOUNGELL


Content Tools

Related Content

Recycle Your Christmas Tree!

A Life Cycle Assessment from Ellipsos, a sustainable development strategy firm, suggests that natura...

What Are Your Holiday Traditions?

The holidays are upon us. What traditions do you faithfully observe each year?  

Natural Home and Michelle Obama Love Decoupage Ornaments

Natural Home and the Obamas are in sync on fun, waste-reducing holiday projects. Find out more about...

Decorating on Thaksgiving Day

Use simple, free materials, such as leaves and fruit, to decorate your Thanksgiving table.

In the winter of 1973, Americans were urged to turn down the heat, turn off the lights and conserve energy. That presented a challenge to those accustomed to decorating lavishly with lights for the holidays.

The challenge was best met by the schoolchildren of America. While adults wondered how they could possibly decorate without lights, the children did what they had always done — decorated with construction paper, garland and paints.

Paper chains were used for more than decorating a tree. In one case they actually were the tree. A sixth grade class in Stambaugh, Mich., made a frame for a tree using a floor lamp as the base, with a metal rod welded to the top and an umbrella frame welded on top of that. Each of the kids made a 9-foot green paper chain, which was attached to the top of the frame and taped to the floor, forming a tree trimmed with paper ornaments.

The challenge of decorating without electricity took Americans back to a simpler time. Windows became “stained glass” as youngsters and adults drew holiday designs on the glass with tempera paint. Soft candlelight was “in” again. Doors and interior walls were decorated in tissue and construction paper. Candy canes and paper chains trimmed trees, and old-fashioned “icicles” were back in style. Red plastic tablecloths were taped on exterior walls and bordered in tinsel, with paper letters spelling out greetings.

Some folks borrowed from a Southwest tradition and decorated with festive luminaries, anchoring candles in sand in the bottom of paper bags.

In 1973, it seemed America had seen the last of the brightly lit holidays, but by Christmas of 1974, for whatever reason, the energy shortage had become a thing of the past, and once again America was aglow with Christmas lights.

Maybe it’s time to bring back the vibe of early ’70s decorations.

Arlene Shovald
Salida, Colorado







Post a comment below.

 

James_4
12/28/2008 12:52:53 PM
There is NOT a problem with importation of fuel for the creation of electricity in this country. We produce more than 50% of our electricity with domestically mined coal, 20% with domestically mined uranium for nuclear, the rest is made using domestically produced natural gas, hydraulic (think TVA and the dams of the west)with a minuscule fraction coming from oil. Why are we concerned with conservation of electricity only after the price of imported oil goes up? We should be conserving electricity for the reasons of CO2, lack of grid capacity (Most will never understand the concept of the grid which powers our electrical needs), and the fact that labor costs are the driving factor of alternative energy sources, not the cost of sunlight, wind, or even uranium. Compact florescent bulbs are a mercury source worse than any coal plant will ever be, and ALL CFLs are made in a communistic, slave labor country. Free trade should be done with people giving freedom.








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.