Christmas during the 1940s was, obviously, much different than the previous decade. Traditions changed throughout the decade as circumstances changed. World War II and, especially, the attack on Pearl Harbor had a great effect on how families celebrated Christmas in the United States.
The United States government instituted the draft in 1940. More and more men were now being sent into battle and more and more women were picking up their slack by getting jobs outside of the home. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the first two years of the decade were filled with worry.
1942 is a different story. Based on the prior years, merchants thought that this would be another low-key year, when, in fact, people had money to spend. The war created jobs that had been hard to come by during the years of the depression and people now had more money than ever. While there were war shortages and rationings, people did buy up what was available.
People decorated their homes to make them cozy and festive. While real Christmas trees became exorbitantly expensive due to their scarcity (most of the men who farmed the trees were off fighting), artificial trees made of plastic were more affordable. Prior to the war, most of the fancy glass ornaments were made in Germany or Japan. After war broke out, many packed these ornaments away or outright destroyed them and bought American made ornaments or made their own decorations. The company Shiny Brite made brightly colored glass ornaments that became quite popular. Bubble lights also became popular during this time. People placed electric candles in their windows and colored cellophane wreaths on their doors.