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December 31, 2013

Foiled Again! – New Year’s Eve Decor by Alcoa

By Eartha Kitsch


I love interesting old craft books and some of my favorites are those put out by Alcoa, one of the world’s largest producers of Aluminum. During the decades, they’ve published quite a few holiday decoration books that are well, quite obviously meant to hawk aluminum foil. Trust me when I say that there are no bounds to what they suggest that one can do with aluminum foil. Wallpaper an entire basement to make it feel like a spaceship? Why the heck not?! Is your chandelier simply not dazzling enough? Then coat it with aluminum foil! Cha-Ching!

Since today is New Year’s Eve, I thought that it might be fun to bring you some of their New Year’s themed ideas. First up from “Alcoa’s Book of Decorations” published in 1959, you’ll find the perfect New Year’s tablescape:


Merged Photo

 Wow! Just look at those hors d’oeuvre topiaries! And of course, the whackadoodle animals. Here are some of the foil critters up close:


This little guy is said to be a pig but I imagine that you can also fool your guests into thinking that he’s a hedgehog or porcupine if you suddenly realize that Helen down the block already dazzled with an hors d’oeuvre pig at her New Year’s Eve party last year.


Scan 1

This fella was made with a grapefruit. Just cut a slice off to use for the head and attach to the remaining grapefruit, all covered in foil. His ears are lemon slices and he has meatballs for eyes.


Next up: Foil Swan


This beautiful bird is made simply from covering a large bowl in foil and then making a neck and head by covering a small plastic ball. Add feathers and a crown and you’ve got a New Year’s swan!


And who can forget about this little guy, the….um, I don’t know…. Puffer fish? Unfortunately he goes without a mention so he’s open to interpretation. I guess he’s kind of a bit player since foil wasn’t involved!



Now we’re going to switch over to another one of Alcoa’s books. This one is entitled  “401 Party and Holiday Ideas from Alcoa” and was published in 1971.  Here is Alcoa’s idea of a fun party for the seventies:


Scan 3

Okay, so let me explain. In this party idea, Alcoa suggests finding a bunch of large cardboard boxes (maybe your neighbors all got appliances for Christmas?) and making tables out of them and covering them with wallpaper, gift wrap or foil. In this scenario, they showed a bit more restraint with the foil than in the 1959 version.




Besides covering trays in foil and dangling some foil flower shaped lamps from the ceiling, there are only the sparse foil clocks to bring the aluminum razzle-dazzle. In this book, Alcoa divided their focus by including party recipes that can be made by using the convenience of Alcoa foil like stuffed tomatoes. Oh, and this guy:


Scan 5

Happy New Year, Mister Fish….you poor dear.

Notice how the host has whimsically placed a party noisemaker near his mouth as if he almost got to enjoy the festivities. Heck, call me old fashioned but I say that if you’re going to go all out and make an entire striped bass act as your party centerpiece, take the final step and put the noisemaker in his mouth. Why stop halfway? Maybe a wee little party hat perched jauntily upon his head?


You also can’t go wrong with a pretzel tree flower bush thingie:



And once again, a pig. This time made from a lemon:

Scan 4


So there you have it, folks! – some great ideas for your New Year’s Eve parties! I completely understand if you don’t want to dash to the store and buy cases of aluminum foil with today being New Year’s Eve and all but let’s call this fair warning: Start clipping those coupons and get that foil saved up for next year! And hey, if you plan far enough ahead, you can go ahead and cover your basement walls with foil and have the party there! Mind: blown.

We ladies here at No Pattern Required wish you all a very safe and fun New Year’s Eve!  We wholeheartedly hope that 2014 will be your best year yet!




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14 Responses to Foiled Again! – New Year’s Eve Decor by Alcoa

  1. Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

    December 31, 2013 at 10:11 am

    What a crackup! And it brought back a memory I’ve spent years trying to squelch.

    In the mid 60s I saw an ad (probably from Alcoa) in a teen magazine (probably Seventeen) about how you could make a dress from aluminum foil…and I thought it was really cool and tried to do it. You stuck foil to cloth using double sided tape, then cut out your pattern and sewed it. I got through the taping and cutting part, but never succeeded with the sewing. Which is no doubt just as well. Then, as now, I did not have a figure that would be enhanced by being swathed in aluminum foil!

    • Eartha Kitsch Reply

      December 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Ha! That’s wild! i bet that dress would have wrinkled like mad when you sat down! 🙂 And I can also picture other teenagers making “baked potato” jokes that you might have never lived down. It’s probably for the best. 🙂

  2. Carrie Reply

    December 31, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Too funny Eartha! Though I am confused as to why the lemon piglet has to have a penny in his mouth. 😉

    • Eartha Kitsch Reply

      December 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks Carrie! 🙂 The only thing that I can figure is that it’s for good luck? I think a tiny little pipe would be cuter.

  3. Sara In AZ Reply

    December 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Oh my gosh – this book is AWSOME!!!! I remember as a kid being absolutely fascinated by aluminum foil and I wanted to cover everything in it……I can only imagine that if I had found this book as a youngster I probably would have tried to at least sell my Mom on the virtues of covering the kitchen table in it! 🙂

    • Eartha Kitsch Reply

      December 31, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Ha! Well, it’s never too late. If I remember correctly, you HAVE been decorating your Mom’s apartment. Keep it flowing….with a foil table!

  4. dkzody Reply

    December 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Can you imagine the people who came up with these photo shoots? The fun and hilarity they must have had in designing and putting this all together. Photography was much different then than now with the digital ease. Photos had to be taken, processed, and printed, before anyone could approve these layouts. Then there was the matter of color separation and stripping the negatives to send to the printing press. Thanks for the walk down memory lane in publishing as well as food prep.

    • Eartha Kitsch Reply

      December 31, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Definitely! Digital photography has changed a whole LOT. And can you imagine that poor fish by the end of the shoot? As someone who has done food photography before, I definitely know that you get a teeny window where the food looks perfect.

  5. Maureen Reply

    December 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I LOVE the swan and the pig-I actually have some Meyers lemons-maybe I will give that a shot tomorrow. I feel I am currently too deep into my bottle of champagne to try tonight 🙂

    Happy New Year, NPR! Thanks for all the fun over the last year!

    • Eartha Kitsch Reply

      January 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      I hope that you did make a little lemon pig! 🙂 Thank you for joining us in the fun! 🙂

  6. tammyCA Reply

    January 1, 2014 at 1:41 am

    I’m laughing at this..love that “meatballs for eyes” porkypine guy..all of them really, too funny. They sure had a sense of humor for entertaining. If I had a party I’d want to make all of these!

    • Eartha Kitsch Reply

      January 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      Isn’t he wild?? I’d totally make one too. He’s too absurd not to live on through the 21st century.

  7. rae Reply

    January 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    i’m not going to lie, i LOVE that swan! and the lemon piglet too!
    i’ve got a weakness for these kinds of books too. i have a great one about crafts to do with bleach bottles! they are very very chic, as you can imagine.

  8. Andrea Reply

    January 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Damn, that is some creative uses for tin foil!

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