Tinsel wasn't the shiny plastic stuff we get these days. Tinsel was originally made from extruded strands of silver. At first the silver was hammered, so that it was thin and then cut into thin strips. Because silver tarnishes quickly, other shiny metals were substituted. Before the 16th century, tinsel was used for adorning sculptures rather than Christmas trees. It was added to Christmas trees to enhance the flickering of the candles on the trees.
By the early 20th century, manufacturing advances allowed cheap aluminum-based tinsel. France at that time was the world leader in its manufacture.
During the 1950's, tinsel and tinsel garlands were so popular that they frequently were used more than Christmas lights, as tinsel was much less of a fire hazard than lights were for the then new and popular aluminum Christmas trees, which were made from flammable aluminized paper. Of course, "not so real" Christmas trees have become very popular these days in all sizes and colours and of course much safer to use.
Most tinsel nowadays is made with fairly ordinary plastics. At Festive Productions, a family-owned firm in Wales, tinsel is made from polyvinyl chloride. Plastic tinsel gets its shiny finish from metallization, which is performed by heating and evaporating a metal such as aluminum under a vacuum and condensing it onto the plastic to leave a thin coating. Lets face it folks, the tinsel of today is so light, it floats in the slightest breeze. The inventor of tinsel to this day is still unknown.
So.....are you ready to tinsel up?