A look at Sunset’s past coverage of seasonal projects.

Sunset Holiday Covers

The 1950s and ’60s were a very groovy period in Sunset history when it came to forward-thinking on DIY decorating. The editors had a way of finding a uniquely Western angle on the holidays and celebrating it on the cover of the December issue.  Whether the ideas stood the test of time is in the eye of the beholder. Here’s a look at our past coverage of seasonal projects, along with the editors’ thinking behind their ever enthusiastic coverage of holidays in the West.


Sunset December 1951 Cover


We begin a decades-long fascination with putting miniature potted living trees all through the house. “When it comes to Christmas trees, we Westerners are fortunate,” the editors wrote. “We live in a green world of firs, pines, cypresses, redwoods and cedars, spruces, and hemlocks. So why limit yourself this year to just one Christmas tree? Why not decorate a small tree for every room in the house?”


Sunset December 1952 Cover


We publish a step-by-step guide to building an elaborate gingerbread house and explore its Scandinavian immigrant roots in the West. “This year we visited Norwegian kitchens in Seattle and talked to Swedish and Danish cooks in California. Some of their Christmas handiwork appears on our cover. This is the Scandinavian way to a child’s heart. A gingerbread house does take patience, but the children’s faces when the roof is finally in place make the long project worthwhile.”


Sunset December 1953 Cover


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In keeping with this maximalist mid-century cover featuring not one but two trees, we suggest some very Mad Men decanters as the ultimate hostess gift. What passed for a child’s gift back then wouldn’t fly today. “For a child,” the editors wrote, “use one of the large-sized beer glasses for a goldfish bowl. Some bright and variegated marbles will add color.”


Sunset December 1955 Cover


We embrace the piñata as a Western holiday tradition and return to it repeatedly in the coming years. “In this country we hang presents from the branches of our Christmas trees—as though, for one season of the year, the good things of life like popcorn balls and peppermint sticks literally grow on trees. In Mexico they have a little different way of expressing the same idea… The breaking of the piñata is the climax and high point of each night in Las Posadas.”


Sunset December 1963 Cover


Three words: Bonsai. Christmas. Tree.


Sunset December 1966 Cover


We advocated for a tree entirely made of yarn for the first and only time in our 125-year history. “Color is the focus here—bright swirls of multicolored yarn mounting up to a puff of yarn strands at the top of the tree. This yarn tree stands just a yard high, including the paint-can base. The three triangles that form the sides measure 31 by 17 inches. The opening at the bottom is closed by a 17-inch equilateral triangle. To make the tree, you’ll need cardboard, a gallon paint can, covering material (we used paper laid on with vegetable glue in a papier-mâché technique, then painted it with white enamel), six or eight bright colored yarns, a little wire, and some fancy fringe.”