Tips for Late Christmas Cards

Sometimes Christmas sneaks up on me and the Christmas cards aren’t sent in a timely manner. Maybe it has happened to you too. Perhaps you’ve been ill or had to work extra hours at your job or had some other disruption to your plans.

Here are some ways to deal with tardy holiday cards.

late xmas cards

  • Facebook Greetings

    Just posting “Merry Christmas” on your Facebook status is a little lame. It’s better to compose a reasonable Christmas letter that’s newsy and send it using Facebook’s message capability.

  • E-Greeting Cards

    There are plenty of sites that have cards to send to your e-mail recipients who aren’t on Facebook. These cards are quite colorful, often sing and dance and let you add a thoughtful message. One company for free Christmas e-cards is Blue Mountain Cards. To find more, just Google “free Christmas ecards.”

  • Phone Calls

    Hopefully, you have unlimited long distance calling on your phone because this is the way you can reach all your offline friends. It takes time to ring them all up and have a good chat, but that’s what happens when you don’t work on your Christmas cards earlier.

  • Mail Out Christmas Cards After Christmas

    This is an alternative to the first three suggestions. Send the cards with a “Happy New Year” or “Best wishes for a great year” penned in after the Christmas greeting. Try to get them in the mail right after Christmas.

  • Skip Christmas Cards This Year

    You can get away with this if you are right in the middle of moving, getting a divorce, have been sick, or are coping with a major family upheaval. Next year, send your cards early and explain what happened.

(Originally posted on List My 5 by Virginia Allain)

Cindy’s Christmas Memories

Cindy Ross, our guest blogger for today, is Gail and Clyde Martin’s fourth child. She shares her Christmas memories with us.

As a child, it seemed to take forever for Christmas to arrive. I remember the anticipation while waiting to open gifts early that morning. 

It could be very cold if Dad hadn’t stoked the fire in the potbelly stove. So, if you arrived downstairs too soon, you’d be scampering back to that warm bed.

Our stockings hung along the staircase and you could almost peek into them from up above. We were lucky to get an apple or orange, ribbon candy, or a candy cane.

I loved the wooden bowl Mom placed on the table holding the English walnuts, cashew, Brazil nuts, almonds, pecans, and peanuts to be cracked open. The slender metal picks in the center of the bowl helped get the nutmeat out of the shell.

For fun, we played Fox and Geese in the snow, but only after we finished feeding and watering the rabbits and chickens.

rustic wooden nutbowl with cracker and picks

This is what the nutbowl looked like.

Comment from her older sister, Ginger: “Thanks, Sis, for writing this. I’d forgotten where we hung the stockings and about the bowl of nuts. Now, I remember how exotic those nuts seemed and how difficult it was to crack the hard shell of those Brazil nuts. There were hazelnuts too. Christmas was the only time we had those.

I hadn’t forgotten how cold it could be in that uninsulated Kansas farmhouse. We would huddle around that woodstove in the living room while hustling into our clothes. Upstairs there would be ice on the inside of the bedroom windows.”

Thrifty Gift Giving Ideas

This is a variation on an earlier post. Gail often reworked a topic for publishing in other places. This appeared on Squidoo’s website.  Some of these gifts are ones you can get ready the day before Christmas using what you have at home.

Giving Gifts without Spending Too Much

Seniors can find gift-giving occasions difficult when their budget won’t stretch to buy one more thing. Here are some gift ideas that won’t put a strain that Social Security income.

Most of these I’ve tried out myself and can assure you were well-received. A little imagination and a lot of love will make your gift the one they treasure. With six children, eight grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren, the Christmas and birthday gift giving was a challenge. Seniors living only on Social Security must apply creativity in their gift giving to keep it affordable.

Give a Family Treasure when you can’t afford to go shopping

Think about things you have stashed away unused. We no longer decorate a tree at Christmas, but we still have boxes and boxes of special ornaments. I can give one to each person on my gift list. I’ll gain some storage space and they’ll gain a family heirloom for their Christmas tree.

 

 Give the Gift of Memories

Grandparents’ memories make a precious gift

Write down a special memory of the day they were born or about something you did with them or their parent. Print it out or write it by hand on nice paper to give them. Slip it in a plastic sleeve to preserve it. If you write a new memory for their birthdays and Christmas, eventually they will have enough to fill a binder.

Here’s One of My Grandchildren’s Family History Books

That I compiled with my writing over the years

A family history notebook created by Gail Lee Martin for her son, Owen.

A family history notebook created by Gail Lee Martin for her son, Owen.

Vintage Books Make Great Gifts

from a senior citizen

Look on your bookshelf. Is there a book there that has special meaning to you? Write a note explaining what is meaningful to you about the book and give it to someone on your list.Old Vintage Books iPad Case speckcase They will enjoy reading it, knowing that you selected it especially for them.

Lincoln biographies on bookshelf

Books on Clyde and Gail’s bookshelf.

Everyone Loves Grandma and Grandpa’s Baking

Food gifts to give when you’re on a tight budget

Make up a batch of your popular candy or cookie recipe and package it up to give to the children and grandchildren. Just a small amount on a paper plate (dessert size) and covered with plastic wrap lets them know you were thinking of them.

Attach the recipe to the gift.

To make it extra special, put them on a plate or platter that has been in the family for many years. They get a family heirloom, some of your great cooking, and you gain some space in your overcrowded cupboard.

What Do You Collect?

 Look at your collections. Chances are you aren’t adding to the collection anymore. It may be just one more thing to dust.

We collected Norman Rockwell mugs for many years. If we give one to each family member, they will think of us each time they use it. We also collected Feather Bird Pictures. They used to cover the wall of my dining room but now sit in a box in the closet.

Another thing I collected was vintage aprons. I used these when giving a talk to homemaker groups or at nursing homes.  At some point, you may decide not to keep a certain collection anymore. Consider giving them as gifts to family members.

Even if you are not on a Social Security budget, you might want to try some of these ideas.

Give Me Some More Thrifty Ideas

for gift-giving on a Social Security budget

  •  1angelsbestkeptsecrets Mar 27, 2014 –  What wonderful ideas! I think the sentimentality and specialness of gifts like this would please most all family members.
  • karendd123 Nov 26, 2013  – These are really good ideas. They are thoughtful and economical. Growing flowers from seeds or cuttings can make good gifts too.
  • ewyorkdude Oct 14, 2013 – I can’t remember the last time I bought a greeting card. Homemade greeting cards make a much better impression than the store-bought kind. Most people tend to keep them longer. I will never be a professional artist (my work is more like Picasso on a bad day). But no matter how awkward my drawings are on my cards, people appreciate them.
  •  rinMellor Oct 11, 2013 – These are wonderful ideas. A few handwritten family recipes would be a real treat too.
    knowledgetoday Oct 08, 2013 – I think the greatest gift from grandma or grandpa to family members or friends is memories brought together in a creative way. And if creativity is not available giving a gift of what the other person has wanted for many years means much to the receiver.
  • MarcellaCarlton Oct 01, 2013 – I loved each idea! This is a great lens for those of us who are experiencing the pinch at any time.
  • Cercis Sep 30, 2013 – What a wonderful lens! I like the memory book idea the best. Another thought is to shop at a thrift store – either neighborhood or one of the more established ones – to pick up almost new items for pennies.
  • WhyCleanCounts Aug 05, 2012 – great ideas, good lens topic for anyone that needs to stick to a budget around the holidays.
    dpgibble Jul 06, 2012 – I was exploring Squidoo for ideas when your page caught my eye. Curious, I stopped and found a direct connection to vallain who was the first or one of the first visitors to my first lens. Since our family survives on disability income along with a dollar here and there that we hustle up, celebrating Christmas on a budget piques my interest. We picked wild grapes last year and made pint jars of jelly from them. This produced about two dozen gifts with cash out at less than $25. People really liked this gift!
  • Gail-Lee-Martin Jul 06, 2012 – Homemade gifts are the best, in my opinion.
  • LiteraryMind Mar 16, 2012 – Good idea. Meaningful gifts are more special than anything money can buy.
  • MiddleSister Feb 21, 2012 – I like the cookies idea.

Vintage Christmas Candy Figures

Many years ago, maybe as much as 50 years, I remember Christmas figures with candy in them. These plastic figures included a snowman, a Santa on skis, and a red horse with wheels.
vintage plastic snowman

Rosbro plastic snowman from the 1950s. A fun collectible.

They were fun to play with and pretty sturdy. Many are still around today. Often, the pipe breaks off the snowman and the reins of the horse are gone.

I happened to find some at yard sales and flea markets, some twenty years or so ago. They brought back childhood memories of 1950s Christmas times. Now, I use them in my Christmas decorating.

christmas vintage toys

Rosbro Santa on green skis, snowman with a pipe, and red horse on green wheels.

You can find them on eBay at prices of $10 to $40 depending on condition and demand. Having the box adds to the value. My Santa no longer has the lightbulb and cord.

These seasonal figures were made by the Rosbro Plastic Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island. The company also made hard plastic figures for Easter, Halloween, and other holidays.

vintage santa skis

Rosbro Santa with original box. 

(all photos by Virginia Allain)

Other Christmas figures Rosbro made were white reindeer, a Santa on a bicycle, and Santa with reindeer and a wagon. Follow the link if you’d like to read more about collecting Rosbro hard plastic Christmas figures.

Do you remember any of these from long ago?

Stocking Up for Thanksgiving

Time to buy the turkey or ham and all the trimming for the holiday feast. I’m sure your list on the week before Thanksgiving includes cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and other traditional foods. The Publix Supermarket that I use was so busy today, there were no shopping carts in the cart area. My husband hunted around the parking lot and returned triumphantly with one.

retro-1950 shopping pixabay

Shopping for groceries in the 1950s

Much of our Thanksgiving meal was homegrown in my childhood years. We didn’t raise our own turkeys but the mashed potatoes and the green beans came from our bountiful garden. Gail Lee Martin would have shopped at the local IGA market for the cans of cranberry sauce. We always had the jellied kind that you served in slices. Now, I opt for the whole berry, but still from a can.

The pies were homemade with Gail rolling out the pie crust in the farmhouse kitchen. There would be pumpkin pie and whipped cream to go on it. Someone would assemble the 5-cup salad with the luxury of mandarin oranges, tiny marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple, and a sweet creamy sauce tying it all together. So the shopping list would include those.

Gail wrote about the Thanksgiving meals from her childhood. The 1930s holiday didn’t necessarily include a turkey. Read the details at We Gave Thanks Prairie Style. The description shows how times change but the family gathering was still special.  The desserts included a gooseberry pie made from berries they picked along the Cottonwood River. Sometimes pumpkin wasn’t available so a faux pumpkin pie was made with other ingredients.

Clyde and Gail Martin just finishing Thanksgiving dinner_Shanno

Thanksgiving in the 1970s – Clyde and Gail Martin.

What special dishes are you serving this Thanksgiving? I hope you don’t forget any of the special ingredients while shopping.

 

Last Minute Costume – Be a Gypsy

Finding the Perfect Gypsy Costume

InCharacter Costumes Women's Fortune Teller CostumeInCharacter Costumes Women’s Fortune Teller CostumeView Details

It’s been years since I dressed up for Halloween. That’s why I wanted to find the perfect costume. Nothing too skimpy, but I wanted it to be a bit flirtatious.

A gypsy costume appealed to me as I have fond memories of dressing in Mom’s ruffled skirt and decking myself out in her costume jewelry. My mother, Gail Lee Martin, put her creative flair into creating great Halloween costumes for her children each year. It’s something you can assemble yourself if you have a full skirt in your closet and lots of jewelry. You can also buy one if you aren’t feeling creative.

Being a gypsy for Halloween was popular in my childhood as you could assemble the outfit from things you had around the house. Add some of Mom’s red lipstick and some rouge and I felt I was the most glamorous gypsy ever.

Here I am with my best friend, a pair of gypsies ready to go trick-or-treating.

Here I am with my best friend, a pair of gypsies ready to go trick-or-treating. Virginia Martin on the left and my friend, also named Virginia. We both attended IXL School in Arkansas City, KS back in the 1950s.

Now I could be a grown-up gypsy with real gold bangles and a sexy off-the-shoulder blouse. I could even get a crystal ball and entertain all my friends by telling their fortune.

This costume filled the bill with the colorful layers just like a real gypsy would have. Since I have super-short hair, I’m going to add a wig with long curly hair to arrange artfully cascading across my bare shoulders.

Quality: Many of the gypsy costumes available were too bare or too flimsy, obviously made of sleazy inexpensive fabric. This one gets raves from those who bought it. They say it’s a much higher quality than you usually get in a Halloween outfit. I can see from the picture that I’m going to really like it.

Finding the Right Wig

 To my mind, a gypsy ought to have luxurious, long curling dark hair. You can opt for auburn but I wouldn’t go with blonde. Black or brunette is best.

Gypsy Black Wig Hat Scarf Kerchief Gold Coins Costume Accessory Fortune TellerGypsy Black Wig Hat Scarf Kerchief Gold Coins Costume Accessory Fortune TellerView DetailsRockabilly Wig in Black - Adult Std.Rockabilly Wig in Black – Adult Std.View DetailsSmiffy's Women's Long Wavy Auburn Wig with Faux Skin Parting, One Size, Superstar Wig, 5020570422878Smiffy’s Women’s Long Wavy Auburn Wig with Faux Skin Parting, One Size, Superstar Wig, 5020570422878View DetailsREECHO 20REECHO 20View Details

The Accessories Complete the Look

When I was little, we raided Mom’s jewelry box for dangling earrings, gold chains and pearls and bangles for our wrists. Chances are you have some gold chains and pendants that you could combine to feel like a gypsy.

If you don’t have the right “gypsy look” jewelry on hand, take a look at what I’ve found. These are so fabulous that you’ll keep them for wearing with other outfits through the year.

I searched Amazon for jewelry for belly dancers, gypsies, fortune tellers and these were my favorites.

Vintage Engraved Coin Bib Necklace (Antique Gold)Vintage Engraved Coin Bib Necklace (Antique Gold)View DetailsMystic Fortune Teller Dangling Gypsy Costume NecklaceMystic Fortune Teller Dangling Gypsy Costume NecklaceView DetailsGypsy Coin Necklace Costume AccessoryGypsy Coin Necklace Costume AccessoryView Details

Shoes or Boots?: I haven’t decided on the footwear to go with it yet. This one shows it with boots, but I’m thinking slim slippers like dancers wear or sandals that lace up the leg might work for me.

Madden Women's Toe Ring SandalMadden Women’s Toe Ring SandalView DetailsWomen's Pom Pom Gypsy Lace Up Strappy Flat SandalsWomen’s Pom Pom Gypsy Lace Up Strappy Flat SandalsView DetailsFuntasma Women's Gypsy Ankle-Strap Sandal,GoldFuntasma Women’s Gypsy Ankle-Strap Sandal,GoldView DetailsBoho Coin Rhinestone Gypsy Boot Bracelet Bling Chain Artisan Personalized Jewelry Handmade in USABoho Coin Rhinestone Gypsy Boot Bracelet Bling Chain Artisan Personalized Jewelry Handmade in USAView DetailsMinishion Women's Dance ShoesMinishion Women’s Dance ShoesView Details

Gypsy costumes have been popular for generations. My mother had a photo from 1930 that showed her parents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee, in their homemade gypsy costumes. Ruth was a good seamstress and likely she sewed these up on her Singer sewing machine.

They wore their costumes to a Halloween party in Teterville, Kansas.

Mother and Daddy The Gypsies

My grandparents, Ruth and Clarence McGhee, dressed as gypsies for a community Halloween event.

Halloween in the Good Old Days

Back in the 1920s and 1930s when Gail Lee McGhee was growing up, Halloween was celebrated in a simpler way than today. Since she lived in an oil field camp in the Flint Hills of Kansas, there was no door-to-door trick or treating. A community Halloween party was held at the Teterville School with adults and children wearing costumes.

Gail wrote about her clown costume that her mother made for her and her sister and about the fright she had when she saw her mother and father in gypsy costumes. The party games included bobbing for apples. You can read her story of that 1930 Halloween on the Our Echo website.

Bats and Girl Halloween CardBats and Girl Halloween CardView DetailsVintage Little Witch and Black Cat Halloween CardVintage Little Witch and Black Cat Halloween CardView DetailsGhost Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Child PostcardGhost Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Child PostcardView DetailsJack O Lantern Pumpkin Ghost Child PostcardJack O Lantern Pumpkin Ghost Child PostcardView DetailsHalloween Retro Vintage Children's Costume Party PostcardHalloween Retro Vintage Children’s Costume Party PostcardView Details

Decorations from the time included carved pumpkins and black cats. There was none of the zombies and gory costumes that are seen today.

Retro Black Cats Can Be Scary or Cute

Many people collect vintage Halloween items. They make great decorations for a Halloween party or for the Halloween season. They show up on eBay and if you’re the lucky bidder, you can decorate with Halloween cats too.

The designs have been reproduced on tote bags and t-shirts as well. I’ve collected a sampling of the best here for your review.

Vintage Halloween CardVintage Halloween CardView DetailsHalloween Greetings Card Cat with PumpkinHalloween Greetings Card Cat with PumpkinView DetailsSalem Witch & Black Cat CardSalem Witch & Black Cat CardView DetailsBoy Wizard Halloween Costume CardBoy Wizard Halloween Costume CardView DetailsMoon and Girl in Halloween Costume CardMoon and Girl in Halloween Costume CardView DetailsA Jolly Halloween, CardA Jolly Halloween, CardView DetailsOld Paper Invitation PumpkinOld Paper Invitation PumpkinView Details

A Collector’s Guide to Vintage Halloween Items

There are many Halloween collectibles dating back to the early days of the 1900s. Besides black cats, I’m partial to the sturdy cardboard jack-o-lanterns. Once in awhile you’ll find some of these at an estate sale or maybe in your grandmother’s attic. Check out the background on these and the value with these books.

Halloween Collectables : A Price GuideHalloween Collectables : A Price GuideView DetailsVintage Halloween Collectibles -Third EditionVintage Halloween Collectibles -Third EditionView DetailsHalloween in America: A Collector's Guide With Prices (Schiffer Book for Collectors)Halloween in America: A Collector’s Guide With Prices (Schiffer Book for Collectors)View DetailsTimeless Halloween Collectibles: 1920 to 1949, a Halloween Reference Book from the Beistle Company Archive with Price Guide (Schiffer Book for Collectors)Timeless Halloween Collectibles: 1920 to 1949, a Halloween Reference Book from the Beistle Company Archive with Price Guide (Schiffer Book for Collectors)View Details