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christmas holiday materials

Holiday decorations and accessories can be made of natural, semi-artificial and entirely synthetic materials. Here are some of the more common decorations you likely have around the house and what materials are used in their fabrication.

Artificial Christmas Trees

About 81% of US consumers’ Christmas trees are artificial, according to the American Christmas Tree Association. Modern artificial trees can be more fire-resistant, easier to use, and more cost-worthy.

The first artificial Christmas trees were made of wood or green-dyed goose feathers. In the 1950s, some trees were made from a flammable aluminized paper. Today, while some are still made of aluminum, most are polyvinyl chloride (PVC).


If you decorate your Christmas tree or mantle with tinsel, you know how enhancing and enjoyable it can be (before cleanup). The first tinsel, designed to mimic ice, was made from shredded silver and later aluminum-based materials.

Modern tinsel, like artificial Christmas trees, is usually made of polyvinyl chloride and coated with a metallic finish. Occasionally used is Mylar, a polyester film or plastic sheeting.

Christmas lights

The Christmas lights you string around your house are made up of two separate parts: the light bulbs and the material used to string them together. The strings are made of copper wire encased in more of that polyvinyl chloride.

The light bulbs are an assembly of plastic, glass, metallic contact wires, and a tungsten filament. (Fun Fact: Most Christmas lights catch fire from surrounding materials, as tungsten’s melting point (6,191F) is quite a bit above the temperature from the electrical current, about 3,000F to 5,400F.)


Ribbon around gifts can be made of several materials, including paper, plastic, and hemp. Ribbon that curls (when ran against the edge of a blade) is made of a crimped polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer.

Other types of smoother ribbon are fabricated from satin, polyester, nylon and more. This type of ribbon usually gives off a glossy finish that is silky to the touch.

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