Tag Archives: Edwardian Christmas

What the Draper Sees at Christmas: 1903


(From the Red Letter.)

Christmas Eve: fine, bright, frosty weather; for a time hatred, malice, and uncharitableness seem to be dying away. Some purses are heavy. more are light, but the hearts of their owners seem alike touched by thoughts that bring all that is best in them to the surface.

Fathers, who perhaps in the ordinary way would seek employment at the public-house to-night, assist their wives with the shopping. Plum puddings are a recognised Christmas institution, but in many families new pinafores for the little girls are almost as much so.

“I want to see some pinafores,” says a customer. Then going to the shop door, she sings out, “Come in, Joe.”

Joe appears doubtfully but when the pinafores are produced his shyness wears off, and his interest is keen. Nellie’s eleven, Marjorie’s eight, Jane is three, and baby’s 9 months. “We want one for each of them.” says the mother. They look at several.

“I say, mother, wouldn’t Nell look fine in that?” says Joe.

“Too dear.” says the careful housewife.

“’Ow much?” asks Joe.

The price quoted, and the generous father declares it is not a ha’penny too much. The selection is completed, and away they go happy. A minute or two after Joe reappears alone–left his stick, he says. “I say, show me some haprons, quick, miss, to fit the missus.” He buys a good one, and, cramming it into his pocket, goes out flourishing his recovered stick, left for the purpose.

Later his wife will dodge in and purchase a tie for Joe, bright enough to dispel a fog of the “London particular” variety.

Such is the pleasant scene enacted again and again in many a fancy shop on Christmas Eve, telling of a fund of affection which seldom finds expression.

Bashful young men appear to buy gloves, fur necklets, or silk ties for their sweethearts. Many come for gloves with no idea of size. One blushing swain informed me that her waist was 23 inches, but didn’t know her size in gloves. A few years ago girls were fond of buying braces and tobacco pouches, which they would embroider with their own fair hands for their beloved ones, but these are not so greatly favoured now, mufflers and silk handkerchiefs having replaced them. And. indeed, generally in present giving there seems to have been a movement in favour of the useful as opposed to the purely ornamental.

One Christmas Eve incident to close with. I was once employed in a shop the proprietor of which his assistants generally spoke of as the “Curmudgeon”–a name his character apparently justified. Just as we were close upon closing time a poor woman in widow’s weeds who had been a good customer in happier times came in and asked for pinafores. There had been a great rush of business, and all the cheap ones of the size she required had been sold. Her eyes tilled with tears to think that her little one must be disappointed.

Just as she was going the “Curmudgeon” came forward with a pinafore, saying. “This has been badly inked. and if it is of any use you may have it for six-pence.” The widow went away happy. The “Curmudgeon” had deliberately inked one of the best pinafores, knowing that she would not accept a big reduction as a matter of charity.

I am persuaded that the half-sovereign he gave me that night was meant to close my lips about the incident, but I refused to be bribed, and his name is no longer the “Curmudgeon.”

Waikato [NZ] Times 24 December 1903: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is always pleased to hear of kindly and generous fathers and husbands and of Scrooge-like employers who show unexpected flashes of liberality in the Christmas season. One hopes that the missus was pleased with her apron and Joe was delighted with his brilliant cravat. The Curmudgeon receives a reverential tip of a figurative cap for his delicate handling of a situation that called for the nicest diplomacy.

A “movement in favour of the useful as opposed to the purely ornamental,” was certainly all to the good. Young men groaned under the weight of the fancy-work inflicted on them by industrious young ladies and longed for a misfit holiday gift exchange where one could trade six pairs of nicely embroidered slippers for a serviceable jacket or cap. Even better would be if the ladies would not send the fad du jour done up in tissue. Mrs Daffodil shudders as she remembers a certain “singing fish” that was all the rage one Christmas.


I would put forth a yearning prayer

That these, the loving ones, and fair,

Who keep unworthy me in view

As one for Christmas presents due.

Might each, though generously inclined.

A separate inspiration find.

One year with handkerchiefs I’m showered.

The next by neckties overpowered:

Again more slippers than I’d need

Had I been born a centipede.

Another year, both maids and wives

Embower me in paper knives.

Then gloves came in, pair after pair

 Of every sort— from everywhere—

And smoking caps, whose sizes strange

From infants’ up to giants’ range!

Sweethearts, I pray you. list to me!

Whatever gift is said to be

The proper thing to send— the “fad”—

If you would make my poor heart glad

And cause my bosom joyous swells—

Don’t send it–please, send something else.

Feilding [NZ] Star 24 December 1901: p. 8

Of course, some gentlemen, driven to extremes by an excess of fancy-work might do as this man did:

For this man, who as a terrible fellow with the girls, no less than seven fair creatures manufactured pairs of slippers, all delicious things of embroidery, ribbons and velvet, and presented them to the lucky favorite at Christmas.

This was an embarrassment of riches, and the wretched man, having picked out the finest pair for his own use, quietly placed the remaining six pairs of slippers in the show window of a drygoods store downtown for sale. And they fetched fancy prices, I am told.

Pittsburg [PA] Dispatch 7 May 1890: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Sensible Christmas Gift: 1910

wrapped christmas gifts with holly

The Sensible Christmas Gift

Sophie Kerr Underwood

The question that has always puzzled me when I have heard people ardently discussing the subject of the sensible Christmas present is this: What is, really, a sensible Christmas present? One good soul will tell you that it is anything which is truly useful, such as a dozen tea-towels, a box of soap, a dust-cap, a cook-book, a gingham apron, a patent can-opener. But somehow, I can not happily put the Christmas giver so summarily into the Martha class.

Then there are good folk with floppy flowers in their hats and floppy sentiments in their heads who say rhapsodically that one should give only the beautiful, the aesthetic, to be truly sensible. “Give the poor factory girl a lovely rose,” they cry. “Give your cook an exquisite French print to wean her mind away from the sordidness of her work; give the little lad who sells your paper a beautifully bound book; give only beauty—beauty.”

Of course, that’s all very well, but I don’t want to give my cook an exquisite French print because she’d be furious and leave, and I would much rather have helpful hints as to what to give my best friends, Alice and Mary, and my cousins and my aunts, than suggestions for the boy who sells papers and the factory girls. I know very few newsboys and factory girls, not because I am snobbish, but because I have never had the chance to meet them. Some one else tells me “Give what you yourself want,” but that’s a poor rule. For instance, I would love to have a French edition of Beranger, and an armful of the poems and plays and stories of the modern Irish writers, but what would it avail if I give these to Aunt Julia, who reads nothing but lives of the saints? And can I give to Louise, who wears only mannish stocks—because they are most becoming to her—the frilly jabots which I dote upon, but which make her look dowdy? Nay, nay, I must seek fresh advice.

It seems as though there must be some people somewhere, who know how to choose Christmas gifts sensibly. Yet each year I hear post-holiday wails about the quantity of useless trash, mere dust-catchers, which has been exchanged under the guise of loving Christmas greetings, and to the great fatigue of the postman. I have seen my own mother, gentle soul that she is, look with undisguised wrath on a cushion-cover reeking with raw color and garnished with screaming cord and tassels, and wonder how in the world any one could dare to buy the thing, much less tie it up in a holly box and send it to her with “Merry Christmas” written on the donor’s card. And I have heard a-plenty of things like this: “Of course, I shall never use it, it’s quite impossible, but I can give it away next year.” And “That makes nine pincushions this year. I, who live in a hall room in a boarding house, have so much need of pincushions.” And “I am perfectly certain that is the centrepiece Mrs. Smith gave Mrs. Jones last year—and now Mrs. Jones sends it to me.” And, “That’s a perfectly beautiful veil-case, of course, but I never wear veils and she knows it.” And so on, and so on, and so on—you could each of you furnish a posy of such sayings, I am sure.

Perforce I must turn to my own gifts. Here is the most prized one that I ever received. It is a square of perforated cardboard with a flower neatly sewed into it with bright yellow worsted. It was made at kindergarten by my own little nephew, my godchild, and he brought it home and announced to his mother that it was for me. It certainly isn’t beautiful and it certainly isn’t useful, but I don’t care, it is a sensible gift, and I’ll maintain it so against all the law and the prophets. Don’t you understand, those little chubby hands toiled patiently at it, working the tedious thread back and forth until the thing was done, and was, in his eyes, a very beautiful and wonderful piece of handiwork. And then—why, he wanted to give it to me, and so it is the gift of a dear, loving little child, and wholly priceless.

And her is a gift which is not sensible. It is a very handsome bowl of Benares brass and it was sent to me by Emily, who visited me last summer and was not a pleasant guest. She required a great deal of attention and entertainment and she told me that she made better mayonnaise than I did and that I looked my age. Both of which statements I know to be utterly untrue. Well, I think, if she didn’t want to be nice when she was staying with me, I would much rather not have an expensive gift from her. I don’t think it expresses honestly her feeling for me. I would much rather have a pleasant memory of Emily’s visit and a little Christmas card than to think of her unpleasantly and be perpetually reminded of her by this truly lovely gift. I shall take no pleasure from the bowl. I insist that it wasn’t sensible of her to give it.

Another Instance: Two Christmases ago I received a big box of candy from a very nice man. Now I never eat candy for it makes me very sick, but I knew that he didn’t know it. And I could see exactly the workings of his perfectly masculine mind. He said to himself, “I’d like to give her something. Let’s see, flowers, books, candy. I can’t send her flowers, for she’ll be away down in the country and they’d be ruined when they get there. There’s no use getting books for her, for she’s so fussy about books and I’d never be sure that she really liked them. But candy—every woman likes candy—I’ll send her a lot of it.” And so Christmas morning when I looked at a most lovely box of sweets and at the pencilled card that came with it, I liked them both very much, and I think it was a perfectly sensible present.

Now as I go on, it is beginning to be borne in on me that a sensible present is a present you want to give and one which you honestly think will be appreciated. The oh-anything-will-do-for-her present is not sensible. Better a two-cent card that you really want to send than a golden platter and a feeling that you had to give something handsome.

When I see the groups of scrambling women battling about the bargain-counters at Christmas-time, I always feel that there lies a good part of the general dissatisfaction with Christmas giving. Going home on the cars, I heard, “well, I’ve got all my relatives’ presents purchased, thank heaven, and to-morrow, I start in on Jim’s. I think grandma will like that scarf, don’t you, even if she never does wear anything but black? Of course, it’s pink, but it’s a lovely pink, and it was only ninety cents marked down from a dollar and a half, and I was so tired looking around I thought I might as well get it and have that off my mind.”

“Well, poor grandma,” thinks I!

“But you aren’t being helpful at all,” somebody complains. “It’s all very well to talk about other people and not being able to choose sensible gifts, but I notice you haven’t made a single suggestion that will help a tired and bewildered Christmas shopper with a list as long as her arm.

All right—listen. Here’s the way I look at the sensible present. First off, cards for everybody you just want to say Merry Christmas to, and buy them early because you have so much better chance to get pretty ones; silk stockings and really fine handkerchiefs for girls, for no girl ever had enough of either; books that you absolutely know he wants, for a man; money for servants, but put it in a pretty envelope and ask each member of your family for a list of the things he or she wants and stick to that list; and nothing, no, not so much as a Christmas post-card, to any one unless it is sent with hearty good-will.

Please remember, except for this last clause, I do to set up to be authority on the subject of sensible presents. I am seeking light on the subject earnestly and humbly. I have merely made this plan for myself because I am too busy a woman to fashion gifts with my own fingers, and my time is so closely occupied that I cannot afford to waste it in aimless shopping through over-full shops. And when I say that I wrap up and address—and sometimes put the stamps on—each gift as soon as I buy it and everything is always ready at last three days before Christmas, you’ll probably think I haven’t much holiday sentiment. But I can’t help that. I’ve had to work out my plan at Christmas giving to suit my own time and strength and this is what I would urge every woman who values her peace of mind to do.

The Sensible Christmas gift must be sensibly selected and sensibly given. It isn’t a gift of policy or obligation, but of affection. It taxeth not unduly the purse, the time or the eyesight of the giver, nor the taste and patience of the recipient. It may be beautiful or useful, both or neither. It brings its welcome with it. It is not laid away and passed on to someone else next year. It says “Merry Christmas” to you sincerely, because it can truly make your Christmas merry with kind thought and loving memories. Oh, dear, all this sounds so nice! Why doesn’t some good fairy give us a magic wand so that, as we choose our gifts, we might be sure to understand which are the truly sensible and which are the utterly foolish and vain.

Woman’s Home Companion, Vol. 37, 1910: p. 65

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil heartily seconds the notion of considering carefully which presents are truly sensible or utterly foolish and vain. If any of Mrs Daffodil’s mistresses had so much as considered an exquisite French print as an acceptable gift, she would have given immediate notice or poisoned her bouillon.  Such aesthetic-minded women have no business employing servants and should be reported to the authorities for abuse.

Previous posts have dwelt on the evils of fancy-work , Reginald on Christmas presents, and the special kind of hell that is the holiday bazaar.

Mrs Daffodil has added “magic wand” to her gift list. Most useful.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


The Book-Keeper’s Christmas: 1903

A Real Christmas Story

In a large New York business institution says the December World’s Work, there was an employee whose Christmas gift had the saving grace of individual consideration. He was a book-keeper, nearly 40 years in harness, and he had been overlooked in former years of fatness in Wall street, except for a customary and unvarying $10 gold piece. Several days before Christmas last year, the office became agitated with rumors of an unprecedented flood of good fortune. The old book-keeper tried to keep calm, but his hopes ran riot, and the day before Christmas found him in a nervous flurry. He saw his fellow employees called into the cashier’s office one by one, each returning with a sealed envelope. The bookkeeper waited for his summons, but it came not. Even the office-boys emerged, biting new gold pieces to test them, and the roll was complete an hour before the book-keeper summoned courage to send in an inquiry whether a mistake had been made in the case of Mr. Blank, and whether an envelope had been overlooked. The answer was:

“There is no envelope for Mr. Blank, but the president wishes to see him for a moment.”

The book-keeper saw only one interpretation. This meant his discharge for failing efficiency. He fairly tottered into the sanctum, a pitiful figure of panic and fear.

“Sit down, Mr. Blank,” said the president. “I have omitted your name in the list of Christmas rewards for faithful service, and I regret that the bank will have to find another man to fill your position after tomorrow. Compose yourself, sir, tears are undignified in this office. You should know better after being here for so long a term of service. Don’t go—I have a few words more to say before you leave. The directors have decided to retire you on full pay for the rest of your life, and the year’s salary will be paid to you in advance. This does not establish a ruinous precedent, for employees with 38 years of faithful service to their credit are not sprinkled very plentifully through Wall street.”

Our Paper, Volume 19, Massachusetts Reformatory (Concord, Mass.), 1902

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: If employees with 38 years of faithful service are not very plentiful, neither are employers who retire said employees on full pay ad infinitum.  Still, Mrs Daffodil suspects that the callous way in which the good news was communicated to Mr Blank was calculated to bring on shock and, with a bit of luck, heart-failure. Then the bank would have had a clear conscience at its charitable effort without having to pay out much more, perhaps, than funeral expenses.  The office boys were right to bite their gold-pieces. A firm who would spring such a surprise on an honoured employee is not to  be trusted.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Autobiography of A Christmas Gift: 1908

Autobiography of A Christmas Gift.

I am a Christmas gift. In fact, I have always been one. My age is now nineteen, though I may look older. I was made by the dainty hands of Miss Susanna Silkes, who at that time was just the age I am now. Guess her age at present? She is still Miss Susanna, and she still owns me.

Oh, yes. Miss Susanna gave me away. Perhaps I should explain that I am twins, being a pair of knit slippers. Miss Susanna, it was understood, had benevolent designs upon the young pastor of her church, so she knit me and sent me to the reverend youth.

Next Christmas, the preacher, who had received five other pairs, sent me to his sister. You see, knit slippers are guaranteed to fit any feet as well as any other feet. So the preacher’s sister was not at all offended.

The next Christmas she sent me to her old college chum, Mrs. De Brown, who was a member of her brother’s congregation. Next Christmas Mrs. De B. sent me to her pastor. The pastor grinned when he saw me again and remarked something like “Cast your bread upon the waters and it will return to you after many days.”

The next Christmas the pastor sent me to his old college chum, who was sweet on Miss Susanna. There was every prospect of a match, since Miss Susanna had despaired of winning the preacher, who was known to be engaged to another lady. But—the very next Christmas the preacher’s college chum sent me to Miss Susanna with a perfumed note praising her dainty little feet. This broke off the match, of course.

Well, next Christmas Miss Susanna mailed me to a friend of hers clear across the continent. Miss Susanna’s address on the corner of the box in which I was mailed got rubbed off en route, and her friend didn’t know who sent me.

So the very next Christmas I returned to Miss Susanna. Oh, I was hard to lose! I was not made to wear; I was made to circulate. I am a good thing and so everybody passes me along.

Oh, so you recognize me now? Yes, I spent a year with you. Well, time slips, and I must be going. This is Christmas eve, you know.

T. Sapp, Jr.

Daily Herald [Biloxi, MS] 21 December 1908: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The making of slippers was a well-worn Christmas ritual for the ladies of the parish. Slippers in daintily designed or even beaded Berlin wool-work were perhaps the more usual format, but no matter the method of production, they were all equally despised by their beleaguered recipients.

Some might think it a pity that Miss Susanna did not swallow her pride–after all, the old college chum did not have an inkling about the slippers’ origins and did, after all, praise her dainty feet, although she seems to have taken it in the spirit of mockery. How much human happiness turns on these miscommunications! Miss Susanna did not consider that she could have spent a useful life knitting slippers for the Deserving Poor of the parish, kept comfortably in yarn by her devoted clerical husband.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Surprising Ways to Wrap Presents: 1906



Suppose instead of doing up your Christmas parcels in the regulation white tissue paper and red ribbon this year, you have a little fun with your friends and get up a series of surprise packages.

The exterior of the package must give no hint of the interior. Last year a jolly little lady who is devoted to the family Christmas tree received a book she had been longing for during the past six months, but so dainty and pretty was the package in which it was enclosed that she uttered a cry of delight when it was given to her, tho she had no idea it contained her wished-for book. The package consisted of an oblong box, just the length of the book, and about twice as high. This was nearly covered with bright holly, red crepe paper, put on with photograph paste, and the cover was treated in exactly the same way.

But the beauty of the box consisted of a little Christmas tree mounted on the top of the cover. This was made of a tiny branch of spruce (any evergreen could be used instead) pushed thru a little hole in the center of the cover, the end then split with a pen-knife and the two portions fastened securely with a needle and stout thread.

The little tree was then decorated with stars, crescents and diamonds cut out of tissue paper. These Christmas tree boxes can be easily made to contain any kind of presents and give great delight both to children and grown people.

An amusing Christmas package is three or four handkerchiefs done up in the mottled brown paper that comes from hardware stores and some butcher shops, and made to resemble a string of link sausages. 

Handkerchiefs can also be wrapped to look like the snapping crackers that are used at children’s parties by rolling them in oblong bits of tissue paper fringed at both ends. 

Of a man’s four-in-hand tie you can make a doll-baby by giving it a face drawn on note paper, putting on a bonnet of white tissue or crepe paper and making a dress of the same convenient material. 

A walking stick will make the most comical paper doggy the eye of man ever chanced to light upon. First, twist some heavy wire around the stick near each end, and turn the extremities up for paws. Put another piece of wire on the bottom of the cane for the tail, and cover the whole with brown crepe paper, using the handle for the head and supply eyes of white pins stuck in the paper and long dropping ears, and behold, you have a veritable German dachshund. 

Small articles can be done up to look like snowballs in cotton batting, with just a sprinkling of silver dust, or they can be concealed beneath the leaves of paper roses, put in paper pies or hidden in tiny boxes. Inclosed in half a dozen others; put in papier mache apples, oranges, Christmas turkeys, etc., of which the shops are full. 

Dozens of other ways in which presents can be disguised are sure to suggest themselves to any one who gives the subject a few moments’ thought.

Do not be afraid that the parcels will look silly.  Remember that Christmas, above all other times of the year, should be a season of merriment and if your little gift causes the recipient to laugh it has fulfilled its object.

Novel Ways to Give Money.

There are occasions when it is best to give money instead of articles; even then there may be a pleasant mystery about receiving it. One son who always remembers his mother by the coin of the realm, has very original methods of doing it. Once the greenbacks were folded in narrow strips, sewed on a fan, which, when opened, disclosed the peculiar manner of construction. A bow of gay holly ribbon was tied to the handle and a little note accompanying the fan box “hoped that she would enjoy a few weeks in southern lands wafted there by the fan.” Last year he wove his banknotes into a pretty conventional pattern, bordering it with red and green ribbon, thereby making a small mat. He sent it with the tag of a well-known rug dealer’s attached and “hoped that the design on the inclosed rug would soften the pathway of life.”

A father who was obliged to be away from home on Christmas sent word to his wife to hide twelve silver dollars throughout the house, and every time the clock struck beginning at 8 in the morning until 8 at night his little 10-year-old daughter was to hunt for another gift from father. He could not buy the presents, but she was to make her own selections. In this way the mother said the interest in the day was keen until  bedtime and the father was by no means forgotten. Putting money in small coins in pill boxes is a good stunt, with a physician’s prescription blank filled out to “take one daily until gone.”

The Minneapolis [MN] Journal 16 December 1906: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The most delightfully novel method of presenting a Christmas gift that has ever come to Mrs Daffodil’s notice was created by the manager of a large American department store for a gentleman who wanted a special present for his mistress. The manager selected a large Waterford crystal vase and in it arranged several cashmere sweaters, in delicious shades of caramel and chocolate, topping the “sundae” with a confection in creamy white to represent whipped cream. He then added a ruby brooch in the form of a cherry. The final bill was a lavish one, but the recipient was most appreciative.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, holiday tips, and historical anecdotes.

A Christmas Fairy Centrepiece: 1910

A Christmas fairy doll

A Christmas fairy doll

A Christmas Fairy

In the center of a room place a large round table covered with a green cloth scattered all over with small boughs of evergreen frosted with tinsel. Suspended from the chandelier and hanging just far enough apart to admit a little light from above have garlands sparkling with frost, with the ends fastened to the sides of the table, three-quarters of the way around it. The effect will be that of a tent. The other quarter should be left open, so that one may look inside and see an immense cornucopia covered with silver paper, with its opening toward the front. As though emerging from it, the Christmas fairy (a wax doll), sparkling in robes of white and silver, should be poised. A frosted wreath should crown her golden curls, and in her hand she should hold a long silver wand. The cornucopia should seem to be emptying itself into the glittering train for the good fairy. Aberdeen [SC] American 20 December 1910: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The tradition of fairy dolls topping Christmas trees is a late-19th century one. Mrs Daffodil has always wondered why they are fairies and not angels. Mrs Daffodil recommends a charming book called The Fairy Doll by Rumer Godden, chronicler of dolls-who-come-alive. According to her family, young Elizabeth is clumsy and stupid. Elizabeth’s mysterious great-grandmother puts the unhappy child under the protection of the Christmas tree Fairy Doll, who brings out the wonderful talents Elizabeth never knew she possessed.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


A German Lady Invents the Beaded Christmas Tree: 1848-1908

A modern miniature beaded Christmas tree from a course taught by Buttercup Beads. http://www.buttercupbeads.com/holidayclassprojects.html

A delightful modern miniature beaded Christmas tree from a course taught by Buttercup Beads. http://www.buttercupbeads.com/holidayclassprojects.html

One cannot imagine the bustle at the Hall as Mrs Daffodil supervises the trimming of the Hall Christmas tree. The man who takes care of the electrical apparatus was down with la grippe. Then something went wrong with the flex for the lighted Christmas fairy and a star had to be substituted. It is not a bad star in its own way, but Mrs Daffodil feels that the holidays are no time to tamper with tradition. Then the hampers of ornaments, packed in raffia and cotton wool must all be unpacked by the more careful-handed staff. The Master likes his tree as richly encrusted as the bejewelled corsages of her Ladyship, so it is all no end of trouble. Mrs Daffodil will feel relieved when the last strand of tinsel is artistically placed and she can retire to her rooms with a nice cup of cocoa. One endeavours to give satisfaction, but sometimes one longs for Christmas on a smaller scale. The (alas, unnamed) lady inventor below is an inspiration.


Novelty Invented by German Woman Approved by Kaiser.

If nature’s supply of Christmas trees gives out, as some people have feared it might, there will still be Christmas trees as long as a German woman in this city remains alive. Out of green beads, wire and tiny waxen ornaments she constructs miniatures trees which have been thought pretty enough to grace the court of Ludwig of Bavaria in his time and to amuse the children of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. That was when the inventor was living in her native country. Since coming to America she has made them for various well known people

One of the advantages of these trees, she says, is that they are almost indestructible. They may be bent, crushed, packed into small compass, and when they are wanted again it is only necessary to straighten the branches out into the original shape.

When the inventor was a girl, fifty-five or sixty years ago, in Munich, she went to one of those schools where German girls are taught to do, as her daughter says, “everything mit the hands.” It was having to make wreaths out of beads [One suspects that these were the beaded memorial wreaths such as those which still adorn European cemeteries today.] that suggested to her the notion of making bead Christmas trees. She set to work and fashioned innumerable tiny loops of green beads, each at the end of a long slender wire. She bound the loops together in threes, making trefoils, and the trefoils into branches and the branches into a tapering trunk, the trunk being formed of nothing at all but the individual wires massed together. Then she trimmed the tree with candles and those tiny waxen figures which the Germans are adepts at making and fixed it in a pot of sand and melted wax. Her parents were quite proud of it. Her father, who was director of the Hofgarten in Munich, showed it to his royal master, and King Ludwig immediately ordered one for the Christmas festivities at court.

After coming to this country she sent one to President Roosevelt and was grieved and surprised to find that he could not accept it.

“I expect he thinks he gets some dynamite,” said the daughter. New York Tribune.

Little Falls [MN] Herald 11 December 1908: p. 15

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Ludwig of Bavaria mentioned was King Ludwig I [1786-1868], who was deposed in 1848, in part because of his relationship with the notorious Lola Montez. He was the grandfather of the equally notorious Ludwig II, “The Swan King.” The Kaiser, of course, needs no introduction.  President Theodore Roosevelt would probably have been charmed to accept the beaded tree, but strikes, anarchists’ campaigns, and the assassination of President McKinley, in 1901, elevating Mr Roosevelt to the Presidency, had led to heightened security at the White House. 

The illustration preceding the article shows a similar type of miniature beaded tree, which is still popular today.  Mrs Daffodil thinks that they sound delightful, especially if kept under a glass bell to eliminate the need for dusting. They also make a nice change from the Hall’s usual tree where the staff are kept picking pine needles out of the Axminster for months after the holidays.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a garland of fashion hints, fads and fancies, vintage methods of decorating for the holidays, and historical anecdotes.