What a woman really wants for Christmas

Yesterday, Jeremy wrote about the song of the week, “Santa Baby.”  In the song, the Christmas list Eartha Kitt (and later singers) presents includes rings, a platinum mine, a yacht, a fur coat, a duplex and signed checks.

What does that stuff really cost?

The exercise of calculating the costs reminded me of one of Jeremy’s first posts  where he found a website that calculated the total cost of the items related to the 12 days of Christmas. (See Jeremy’s post on December 27, 2011–a million years ago!)

I started with the song lyric “with some decorations bought at Tiffany’s.”  Tiffany & Co. boasts sterling silver decorations from mini mittens ($35) and a mini crystal teddy bear ($30) to a hand-painted porcelain ball ($225).  Unless I conducted my search poorly, there’s nothing collectible for 2012–but I guess the simplicity and elegance is all I would need.  I like the sterling silver Paloma dove ($175).  Of all the material demands the singer makes, decorations bought at Tiffany’s (at least at Tiffany’s online) won’t thrill me.

How about a fur?  I think the exact line is “slip a sable under the tree, for me.”  I went to local furrier Mano Swartz in Baltimore.  Not a single mink had a price tag–just “request more information.”  Darn.  I know that female mink pelts are generally softer and, therefore, more valuable than male pelts.  General sources (responses to curious women like me, I guess) report that a coat might retail for anywhere from $7,000 to $27,000.

I could price a yacht.  I chose to look in Newport, R.I. for dealers because I figure that’s where our rich and famous go to play (at least they did 100 years ago).  A 60-foot 2012 yacht from Bluenose Yacht Sales costs. . .wait for it. . .I don’t know.  “Contact us about this boat” is the best I can do.  I’ve embedded a video in case you want to drool.

I wouldn’t even know how to go about pricing a duplex–suffice to say that it depends on the city, and I figure she might have had London or Paris in mind.  Roger would be happy with Santa Fe.  I think an “out-of-space convertible, light blue” in 1953 (the year of the song’s publication) in today’s dollars is around $250,000.  Actually, I searched “1953 light blue convertible” and the first price I got was $4.00 on eBay–that’s for the plastic replica.  I don’t think that’s what the lyricists had in mind.

She ends with a “ring–I don’t mean a phone.”  If we go to local jeweler, Smyth (where Maryland gets engaged), and look at their signature collection, the settings alone are around $3,000–forget the diamond.  In this case, the website advertises, “Please call or come in for pricing.”

This exercise in excess has taught me  if I have to ask, I can’t afford it.  Thankfully, I don’t want it, either.

Ornament trees with a vacation theme


Speaking of collecting, how about an entire tree with one theme? I admit that I have so many ornaments with personal history that I would struggle to keep it simple.

This tree, though, at a store in Garretson, South Dakota, is decorated with a wild bird theme, which I love because it is winter and Christmas.

I have been doing a lot of hiking and camping in the summer, and it would be fun to do a tree with an outdoor theme. I could include a big horn sheep ornament, a tent ornament, symbols of states we visited and more. I could even make picture ornaments of the trip!!

In fact, it would make souvenir shopping more interesting, too.

I have a friend who likes everything related to fishing, and their tree is full of conversation starters–and finding a gift for someone who is a collector is fun, too.

Collectible #2- Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments

The next Christmas collectible I would like to highlight is the perennial Hallmark Keepsake Ornament.  As I started my look into the world of the keepsake ornament I realized this was not the kind porcelain world of Hummel.  Keepsake ornaments are serious business for the masses.  The annual ornaments are available at any official Hallmark retailer as well as on-line.  So how did the madness begin?

Hallmark corporation started selling the keepsake ornaments in 1973.  The initial collection was 6 different ball ornaments and 12 yard figures.  Hallmark states on their corporate listing that there are 5 main reasons that people purchase ornaments.  There are: 1) to commemorate a milestone; 2) to recall a special memory; 3) to represent a child or grandchild; 4) to pass on as an heirloom; and 5) to express individuality.  Since that initial offering 39 years ago there have been over 3,000 different ornaments created and over 100 series of ornaments.  The oldest series is “Frosty Friends” and has been going since 1980.  There are ornaments for anyone and everyone.  There are those for special milestones- baby’s first Christmas, new home, new marriage, etc.  There are some for interests and hobbies- cooking, golfing, fishing, knitting, grilling- you name it.  There are those for movies, sports teams, animated characters and animals.  Some are interactive, moveable, include photos, have music, lights and more.  Some even link to the “magic cord” that makes them interact in light and sound creating a special show.  Each year sees new and different selections.  2011 had new ornaments featuring classics like Barbie, Spiderman, and Scooby Doo in addition to more unique ornaments like those for Kung Fu Panda 2, Harry Potter, and the Twilight series of movies.  Collectors of all types will be drawn to the Hallmark Keepsake collection.

The ornaments are some serious business.  There is a lot to keep track of to be a successful Hallmark collector.  First you should join one of the 500+ Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Clubs in the US and Canada.  There are 5 in Maryland alone.  For your $30.95 club fee you will receive 2 free membership ornaments, the opportunity to buy club only ornaments, exclusive online member only information and deals, the official catalog know as the “Dream Book”, and your exclusive membership card.  Get that membership card ready for the wide variety of special events at Hallmark stores from now ’til Christmas.  All are open to the public.  First up is Premiere weekend held July 14 & 15.  There there is a Debut weekend held October 6 & 7 and Open House weekend held November 2-4.  All of these events have coupons, limited quantity ornaments available, new series offerings, and weekend only special deals.

For 2012 there will be many great new changes and additions to the Keepsake line of products.  Most won’t be revealed until after Premiere weekend.  I know one HUGE new program is the new iPad application for the Dream Book coming later this year.  The premiere weekend ornaments have been announced.  The 9 ornaments feature Father Christmas, snow buddies, Mickey Mouse, kiddie cars, Rapunzel, Star Wars, Yosemite Sam, a Christmas pony, and a Winkie guard from the Wizard of Oz.  Get yourself ready and start your own wish list.  Check out the online Dream Book and mark your calendar to be there in July

Christmas at Camp David

President Obama is hosting the G-8 Summit at Camp David today.  Schools were closed, and the threat of protesters and the swarm of visitors to our area had all of the locals in a tizzy.  In the past, I’ve driven by the entrance to Camp David outside of Thurmont, and I think many of the locals and curious have, too.  A close friend lives near the retreat so I understand the beauty and peacefulness that attracts people to these mountains.

Camp David was originally named Hi-Catoctin and was established as a WPA project in in 1935. Then the ailing President Franklin D. Roosevelt selected it as a presidential retreat during WWII to escape the summer heat and stress, naming it the USS Shangri-La. His first official stay was in 1942.

Eisenhower re-named it Camp David after his grandson.  Plenty of modern-era presidents used Camp David for official business, including the famous Camp David summit in 1978, between Egyptial President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin initiated by Jimmy Carter.  Carter also loved fly fishing in the beautiful trout streams.  Reagan visited often.

Both Presidents Bush, though, found the retreat the idea place to spend Christmas, the younger George W. Bush spending a total of 12 Christmases at Camp David. Their Christmas Eve menu is published online, consisting of Texas favorite foods like enchiladas and tamales, rice and guacamole.

Camp David Christmas ornaments are available online from the White House gift shop and from the local Thurmont restaurant, The Cozy Inn.  These might be perfect gifts to remember the frenzy of this week!

A Titanic Christmas??

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of H.M.S. Titanic.  Over the last hundred years the event has created countless devotees of Titanic legend and lore.  Like the ship herself, Titanic merchandise and experiences are BIG business.  So what on earth could be the connection between a ship that sailed for a few days in April and Christmas?  More than you might expect!  If you are looking for a direct Christmas connection to the actual ship and her voyage there is only one that I could find.  There was a crew member who worked as a second class saloon steward named Mr. H. Christmas.  His was one of the many souls lost in the sinking and his body was never recovered/identified.

Looking past direct connections you can find a whole other Titanic Christmas connection.  There are two Titanic Museums that have been built in buildings looking like the ship.  One of them is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  There are events and special happenings at the museum all year long.  You can buy your own Titanic ornaments for your tree or you can buy a complete set-up to create a tree in the Edwardian style of the period.  The museum has special events in December to mark the holiday aboard the ship.  The sections of the museum that recreate various state rooms and sections of the ship, including the grand staircase, are all decorated for the season.  Check out the pictures on the Titanic Museum website.  It seems somewhat macabre to me that you can schedule a Christmas party on Titanic, including period dressed crew members delivering gifts to you.  I suppose it must be the opulence and grandeur of the time that draws people to it.  Be sure to watch the 2011 Christmas commercial.  As you can imagine the majority of the information from the museum right now is centered on the anniversary.  Keep checking back to the site to find details on Christmas 2012 happening at the Titanic is Pigeon Forge!

Yule Log- Spring Break Update- 265 Days to Go!

Wanted to let everyone know that we haven’t dropped out of sight, just a little Spring break.  I lost track of the days and forgot that Sunday needed a post from me consider that our April Fools’ Day prank- no new post!  SURPRISE!

For our weekly podcast our plan was to use some new technology that would allow Natalie and I to do our recording from remote sites.  Timing and some technical challenges didn’t cooperate to let that happen.  Today also marked our 100th day of the Yule Log and we hoped to share some great thoughts and Christmas ideas with you all.  You will just have to wait until next week to hear more about the joys of our Christmas preparation and thinking during Easter time.

As mentioned on Saturday, I am visiting the Walt Disney World Resort this week.  Today I had the chance to stop in one of the many Christmas shops located on the property- this one in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom.  You name it and there is a Disney version of it for Christmas.  There are tree skirts, chocolates, dolls, train sets, collectibles, advent calendars, and even ornaments.  Something for every style- simple, fancy, traditional, modern and even a Victorian collection to go with Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  Santa hat with mouse ears?  Yup.  Random Disney characters dressed as elves?  That too.  Are you looking for a hand stitched and detailed tree skirt?  It’s there.  Tomorrow I will have a chance to compare the offerings for Christmas by Disney that can be found in the World Showcase at Epcot Center.

Thanks for sticking with us through our little break!


Official White House Ornaments

First White House Ornament- 1981

Each year since 1981 the White House Historical Association has produced and sold the official White House Christmas Ornaments.  The ornament program was created to help raise funds for the association and its work for preservation and education of White House History.  The 1981 ornament was a simple brass ornament modeled after weather vanes from the colonial period.  President and Mrs. Reagan began the tradition of hanging the ornament on the tree in the Blue Room at the White House.  The ornaments initially were simple designs made of brass.  Over the years the ornaments grew more elaborate, adding color and more intricate patterns and details.  All come in an official WHHA box and include a small booklet with the history connected to the theme of that year’s ornament.  The ornaments have become must-have items for many collectors.

2011 White House Ornament

The 2011 ornament celebrates the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.  Christmas was a very important holiday for the Roosevelt family.  The President and First Lady insisted the day be focused on family and official business was put aside for the day.  The family celebrations included family meals for breakfast and dinner with great sweets and even ice cream for the children.  The family always included a carriage or sleigh ride as part of their Christmas day activities.  The children found stockings full of treats and larger gifts waiting for them when they awoke.  What was different for the Roosevelt family was the lack of a Christmas tree.  The President did not have any tress in the WHite House due to his strong conservationist beliefs.  The children enjoyed the tree at a nearby aunt’s home most years.  His son Archie did rebel a little and put up his own secret tree in his closet one year.  Read more about the Roosevelts at the 2011 Ornament Page.  The White House ornaments could make the perfect annual gift for someone on your list.  You can still purchase a 2011 ornament for your very own for $17.95.  If you want to catch-up, all 31 ornaments are available as a set for just $359.95.

Miracle: A Sale on 34th Street

The Christmas Spirit shop is located at 3400 Coastal Highway in Ocean City, and a sister store is in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  Aptly named the “Miracle on 34th Street,” Lacey and I stopped there on Saturday afternoon for a small holiday adventure.  The sign out front advertised 25% off everything, so that gave me plenty of license to explore in the name of a “good deal.”

I imagine that in the summer, the two-story store, lit by thousands of tree lights, is a welcome refuge from the summer heat.  In our leisurely tour, Lacey and I found a tree full of garden-themed ornaments (Roger’s favorite) and a beautiful pink one featuring dance and ballet items.

Lacey liked the tree decorated with an assortment of blue, teal and purple ornaments, especially the blue peacocks (with long peacock feather tails) clipped to the branches.

I selected a couple of gifts (can’t be revealed here–surprise) to tuck away until next year.  I asked how long the sale would continue, and the store manager responded that it would last until the new shipment of 2012 ornaments arrives—any time in the next few weeks!  Christmas feels like it’s just around the corner.

P.S.  Can anyone offer a foolproof plan for storing next year’s gifts?  I always forget my perfect places until it’s December 26.