Steampunk Christmas Decorating Ideas
Steampunk mixes vintage 19th-century hardware with elegant Victorian fabrics and ornamentation. The look is classy, industrial and funky all at the same time. Find tips on how to incorporate this style into your holiday decor.
By: Jen Carreiro
What is Steampunk?
It originated in science-fiction literature that dates back to the 1960s, however the term was not coined until the 1980s. The look is influenced by steam-powered machinery, alternative history stories and a unique combination of the Wild West and the British Victorian eras. Sound a little odd? Think of the movies like Sky Captain, World of Tomorrow or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and try to envision their clothing and technologies. A future meets the past sort of style. This interesting movement once only had a cult-type following, but it is now starting to break into mainstream fashion and art.
How to Easily Achieve This Look
Start by developing a color and texture scheme for your decor plans. We decided on metals of all kind, gold, bronze, silver and everything in between, combined with multiple shades of dark reds. We also wanted to include fabrics like burlap, yarn and velvet. Having your ideas outlined before you begin will help you keep a consistent theme throughout your decorations. Keep in mind that the steampunk style is heavily influenced by the British Victorian era. Use metals of all kinds, gears, clocks, found items and steam technologies. The wilder, the better.
A steampunk Christmas tree would not be complete without a Victorian-style top hat. The inexpensive mini top hat was meant to be used as part of a Halloween costume, but we embellished it to fit this theme. The hat was painted with metallic stripes, a chain was added around the top as well as a centerpiece made of gears, metals and evergreens.
Steampunk-style ornaments can be incredibly fun to DIY because they can be made of almost anything you have lying around. We made hanging picture frames using jewelry chains and scrapbooking accessories. If you can, use pictures from your family archives.
Include steampunk elements on what's under the tree too. Use items like black plastic chain, key-pattern ribbon, yarn, evergreen twigs and plain brown paper. Don’t forget the most important detail of all, the steampunk goggles gift topper.
Many fabric stores are carrying beautifully embellished burlap patterns like this metallic key print. We copied the pattern of an existing tree shirt and added ruffled ribbon to finish off the edge. If you can’t find the fabric, you can always recreate this look with paint and stencils.
To make this wreath, we started with a Styrofoam wreath form and tightly wrapped it with thick burgundy yarn. We then added a large bow embellished with evergreen twigs, little gear charms and a few strands of jewelry chain. In the middle of the bow is a set of clock hands, a quintessential detail for the steampunk style. A lighting chain from the hardware store was used to hang the wreath from the door.
From the metallic gold garland, to the antlers and DIY galvanized candlesticks, this mantel is filled with items that you just want to touch.
Many craft stores are now selling metal sheets that can be used with a die-cut machine. We punched large pennant flags out of those metal sheets and painted letters to spell “JOY”. Velvet ribbon was used to tie the flags together and jewelry chain was added for a little embellishment. To carry more of the deep velvet color, the banner ribbon is long enough to wrap all the way around the mantel.
This adorable Santa art print was purchased from Janne IIvonen. Search websites like Etsy.com and Society6.com to find one-of-a-kind prints that will fit your steampunk style. As long as you stick to your color and texture, your mantel will come together perfectly.
We used 1/2" galvanized steel pipe nipples in 6”, 8” and 10” heights and 1/2” floor flanges to build these industrial-style candlesticks. Once built, they were spray painted in a metallic hammered finish. You might have to cut the base of your candles a bit so that they fit securely into the pipe opening.
There is nothing quite like making, sending and receiving beautiful holiday cards. In keeping with the steampunk spirit, we scrapbooked a couple designs that should get your creative gears moving. Tip: You can easily display cards that you receive on your bunting banner using small clothespins.
For these heavy-metal stockings, we simply embellished inexpensive store bought stockings. We started by spray painting the entire inside and outside of the stockings with gold metallic paint. Some of the original pattern showed through which was great. Using fabric glue, we added eyelash yarn to the edges of the stockings. The chain is actually lighting chain from the hardware store; each length was hand sewn in place.
Odds and Ends Under Glass
Clear glass ornaments were filled with found objects and embellished on the outside with different lengths of chain.
No regular garland will do on a steampunk Christmas tree. Since this theme is so heavily influenced by technology, we created a garland made of gears. Steampunk style has been making its way into jewelry crafting, so it is easy to find lots of different gears at the bigger craft stores. Use an open jump ring to link each gear together. Styrofoam balls painted in a metallic color were adorned with gears to provide an almost space-age look.