Christmas Past

The fascinating stories behind your favorite Christmas traditions

Cardboard fireplaces: A love letter

image of a cardboard fireplace

What could be more cozy and Christmassy than cuddling up by the fireplace, enjoying the warmth and flickering glow of the fire? From a decorated hearth to a place for roasting chestnuts and burning yule logs, to an entryway for a certain jolly old elf, the fireplace is inseparable from the imagery of Christmas.

But what if you live in an apartment or other space without a fireplace? Well, someone solved that problem at least as early as the 1940s with the cardboard fireplace. These imitation fireplaces usually came with an electric light that sat behind a cardboard flame. The heat from the light spun a foil fan that cast a (sorta) realistic flame effect.

They’re no match for the real thing, but they don’t need to be. They’ve got a kitschy vibe all their own that makes them festive and nostalgia-inducing in their own right, as these Instagrammers know:

Beautifully retro and ready for the big day

A post shared by Misty (@mistysnow8) on

Merry and mod

A post shared by Keisha Bilberry (@pinup_keisha) on

Keeping cozy

Some of them even came with a chimney!

The mantles are usually just strong enough to hold a couple of light items like Christmas cards…

A post shared by Meraki & Light (@meraki_light) on

…or stockings

A post shared by Kitty (@kitcoff) on

Putting them together is a bit of a process

A post shared by Kimberly Kenward (@kenwardk) on

But the good news is that they pack up flat for easy storage

A post shared by Jen (@52chevydoll) on

And dang, they’re just gorgeous

A post shared by mrstevers (@mrstevers) on

I mean…just LOOK at it

A post shared by Kirsten Kay (@kkayx13) on

They’re a thing of retro beauty

Guess who this one belongs to…OK, it’s ME!

(You are following me on Instagram, right?)

Do you have to scour eBay to find one? Heck, no…make your own!

In fact, here’s how

How about you?

Do you have a cardboard fireplace? Did you ever? Share your pics on social media. They just may end up here on Christmas Past.

Join the chorus!

With hundreds of five-star reviews, it's no wonder that Christmas Past is one of the top Christmas podcasts ever! Rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts, and Iโ€™ll send you a Christmas Past sticker and a handwritten Christmas card to say thanks. Contact me for details.

Celebrate all year round

Keep the Christmas spirit alive throughout the year with monthly updates. Christmas Past's email newsletter is free, non-spammy and full of Christmas news, tips, and musings, all handcrafted by yours truly, Brian Earl. And don't forget to follow Christmas Past on social media.

Follow Christmas Past