You don’t have to go out to a store to get Christmas art.
Add Christmas ambiance just by pushing print. Free vintage Christmas art downloads are available right this second, and there are so many ways to use them.
Cami Packer tips us off to this incredible resource.
Find more ideas from Cami on Instagram, @camillajpacker.
5 Ideas for Downloadable Christmas Art
I’m drawn to vintage images all year, but never more than at Christmastime! It’s a time many of us feel sentimental and tied to the past, and for me, these images bring out all those nostalgic feelings of simplicity, family, and home. It’s so easy and inexpensive to add vintage Christmas charm to any corner of your home, your giving, and your celebrations this season. I love that these images are unique, and not something everyone else has in their homes. If you are drawn to old-fashioned images, the hardest part will be choosing which ones to print. There are so many beautiful ones that will add a vintage, festive feeling to your home!
Some of the art for these projects was downloaded for free on the public domain, (if something is on the public domain, it does not have a copyright and can be downloaded and used for free) and some were purchased for only a few dollars.
A few of my favorite places to find free vintage Christmas images:
- The Graphics Fairy
- Free Vintage Illustrations
- New York Public Library digital collection
- Library of Congress
- Public Domain Pictures
- Just googling “public domain vintage Christmas images”
- Etsy (not free but you can find some very inexpensive downloads)
1. Use Vintage art to make banners to add to garland, trees, shelves, or tablescapes
Victorian Christmas cards: I used Victorian-era Christmas card downloads from the public domain, printed them out, and used hot glue to attach them to a length of grosgrain ribbon. I love the rich colors of these Victorian images, and the reminder of the tradition of sending out Christmas cards to friends and family to greet them during the holidays.
Book cover banner: The images for this banner were downloaded from Etsy for around $3. They were the classic Christmas colors I was looking for for my boys’ room. Including printing, this banner was about $5 to make.
Paper chain: Paper chains are the classic Christmas decoration in every elementary school! I used the Little Golden book “Jingle Bells”, cut the pages into 1 inch strips, and glued to make a paper chain. I love the whimsical feeling it brings to a tree, garland, or table setting.
Music banner: Sheet music is usually plentiful at thrift stores, and there’s vintage sheet music for free download on the public domain. I like that this is a simple banner that doesn’t steal the show, but just adds a little detail. I made this music banner 12 years ago, and I’ve used it every year because it’s simple and classic enough to fit into any Christmas decor style.
**Bonus idea: if you love the look of the frame tv but don’t have the frame tv, search “vintage tv art” on the YouTube app. Most videos play for an hour with the art changing every 20 minutes or so. It turns a black rectangle tv into seasonal art!
2. Make fun, playful ornaments with retro images from children’s books and Christmas cards
I like to have a little children’s tree in my house, and these paper ornaments add the perfect touch! We all like to look at these ornaments on the tree. Some of these are free retro images I downloaded, and others were purchased in a big batch of digital images on Etsy for a couple dollars. Cut them out into the shape you want and attach with a loop of baker’s twine and tape.
3. Use images of old-fashioned post cards to share Christmas greetings as gift tags and place cards
A vintage tag tied on a little bag of treats or attached to a loaf of bread feels like a thoughtful, yet simple gift for neighbors and friends.
I think one of the best feelings in the world is sitting down to a table that has been set, and seeing a place card next to the plate with your name on it, that has been set just for you! Vintage postcards make beautiful, simple place cards that can add elegance and hospitality to the holiday table. I chose a simple image that’s classic Christmas.
4. Switch out regular art for Christmas or winter art for frames and walls
There are public domain images for basically any Christmas style and color scheme. It’s easy to switch out regular art for Christmas, and when Christmas is over, it’s easy to store these prints in a folder and save them for next year without using all your storage space. 🙂
I think the ultimate nostalgic Christmas art is Currier and Ives. There are several options to download from the Library of Congress.
Anytime I’m looking for just a little color for a shelf, vintage magazine covers are my favorite! My favorites are Good Housekeeping, and Farmer’s Wife…they have such cute covers that go well with any month.
Poster-size prints are an inexpensive way to create a focal point in a room and add to the feeling and style you’re wanting to create. (I’ll send a picture of the poster-sized print tomorrow…just waiting for it from the printers!
5. Don’t forget to use old pictures from your own family!
Nothing will help you feel that connection to the past at Christmas better than using your own family photos in your home. Look back at your parents’ and grandparents’ photos…there will most likely be a picture of a Christmas tree, or of the family around the Christmas dinner table, or of kids playing in the snow.
One of my favorite pictures from our family archives is of this window painting my husband’s grandma did many years ago. Someone thought to take a picture of it, I enlarged it and printed it out, and now it hangs in our house every year and our kids feel a connection to a great-grandmother they never got to meet.
Even if they’re not technically “vintage”, photos from Christmases past can bring that feeling of history and belonging we like to create at Christmastime.
I like to use pictures from each of my babies’ first Christmases as a gift tag on their main gift. Adding a photo to a gift is an easy touch that adds a layer of love and meaning to the gift.
To sum up, there are so many ways to bring warmth, history, and joy to the season with vintage art. I love that many of these images were created a century or more ago, yet they still give us that Christmas feeling of “home” today!
Cami Packer is a wife and mother of five. She loves thrifting, baking, and simple traditions with her family. She believes in the joy and influence of homemaking, and that ALL of us are homemakers regardless of age, gender, employment status, or family circumstance. Find Cami on Instagram @camillajpacker.