02 December 2011

2nd December: Victorian Christmas Presents Galore

Day 2 of my Blog Advent Calender is all about  Victorian Presents. But before you all become excited, I'm not talking about lovely scented perfumes and bubble bath. We actually have to thank the Victorians for a lot. They transformed Father Christmas into symbols of holiday generosity ie. the fact that we can sit on his knee and ask him for the guy we fancy to kiss us under the mistletoe, oh and that perfume we have been eyeing up. At the moment there is a serious amount of shopping going on. Loads of people have already started their Christmas shopping, going out in the cold to buy some great bargains. Lucking I'm a bit of a hermit sitting in a nice warm house with a hot chocolate, in my pyjamas watching Sex and the City, whilst trying to find that Cd my Grandma keeps talking about but has no idea what it is called.

The next four weeks are going to be extremely busy and it is expected that we will spend £17 billion on gifts. Not each though, we are not all Tamara Ecclestone sadly. We haven't always been rushing to the shops for presents though. In the Victorian times people planned Christmas presents months in advance. Rushing to the shops on Christmas Eve, sadly wasn't an option. Family members spent a lot of time designing personal gifts for each other. Daughters often spent time helping their mothers do sewing and needlework to make gifts, no partying on a Friday night for them then. They apparently spent long happy hours together designing, planning and creating special gifts. Yeh, right. A lot of patterns were printed and advice was to be found in books and papers. Cassell's Household Guide was a good one to find good patterns in. You could buy gifts from the shops but homemade gifts were a lot more popular and appealing, although ready-made gifts became more popular as time went on.

Gift ideas ranged from the practical to the ornamental. Food gifts include jams,jellies and preserves made in the summer and homemade candy such as peanut brittle or fudge. Lots of Fudge and Mummy Second Rose Jam for me please Mrs Victorian. Let me tell you about the range of gifts that were given and where you can find a 21st century equivalent to give to a loved one. Don't worry I won't expect you to buy them tea strainers and an umbrella. Just call me Father Christmas.

Large tomato pincushion
Tomato Pincushion £1.95
Lace Crochet Scarf
Accessorize Lace Crochet Scarf £16
They gave their mothers mainly things to do with sewing such as a lined sewing basket,a strawberry or tomato pincushion which they could knit, sew or crochet, lacy needle cases, a silver thimble and a pair of sewing scissors. They also gave them other practical things such as an apron which they would make, stationery, a tea ball or strainer. They could also spoil her with girly things such as jewellery, a magazine subscription, handkerchiefs, a scarf that they could make, combs or  
                                                   a nice watch case.

Lambertz Chocolate Cookies 1kg Tin
1kg of Chocolate Cookies-what more could you want? £15.99
There are lots of things people made for their Dad's, including a scarf, a crochet or knitted tie, embroidered suspenders, slippers or embroidered bed slippers or you could give him food such as homemade cookies. What man doesn't like food? Other presents given were cigar cases, umbrellas and a monogrammed tobacco pouch.
Image 1 of ASOS Fair Isle Knitted Scarf
Asos Fair Isle Knitted Scarf £13.50
Contrast Bow and Stripe Capped Gloves
Bow and Stripe Gloves-£12
Things could be made for sisters too including a wardrobe of crochet and lace dresses for a doll, a lace or crochet blanket, a tiny wax doll in a nutshell cradle, a homemade bed quilt, a scarf and gloves. They could also give them a sewing and a painting set, a music book, hair ribbons and drawing pencils.

Nurtured by Nature Bud Lace Blanket - Marshmellow
Marshmallow Lace Blanket-£35
Fabric Bow Spot Alice
Fabric Bow Hairband-£3.50
Pretty Patchwork Scarf

Desktop Table Pool
Desktop Table Pool £15.99

Wind Up Racing Ducks
Wind Up Racing Ducks-£8.99
Men are always hard to buy for, particularly brothers in my experience. In the Victorian times they could make a scarf and a pair of gloves, it seems you can give them to anyone. Popular presents were stamp albums, carved and painted toy animals, homemade toy animals, a model train, toy pistol, wind up soldiers, marbles, building blocks and a shoeshine kit.
Heart Nosed Teddy-The Bear Factory
Cath Kidston Knitting Bag-£25
Bath and Body
Yardley Bath and Body Rang
 of Bath Products-£3.50-£5.95
We all know Grandma's like smelly things, so they made Pomander's which were filled with aromatic substances that they hung in their wardrobes to make the clothes smell nice and to ward off moths. A sachet of rosebuds, also to make clothes smell nice, doilies, a homemade knitting bag and book marks. A picture frame and a small bag could also be made, either knitted, fabric or crochet.

Gifts were put under the tree and if parents were rich there was one for each child. These could be a wind up dancing bear, an early form of Scrabble, Penny whistles, pull toys, stuffed animals and wooden toys. So the gifts weren't all that bad but blimey I have no idea how they managed without eBay and Amazon.

Second Hand Rose


  1. cool blog it really made me look forward to christmas :)
    btw I just followed u :)

  2. Hi, I gave you a blog award. Hope you post about it too.Check it out here -- http://chitraasfashiondiary.blogspot.com/2011/12/blog-awards.html

  3. i think these are gonna be cool gifts. ;)
    and those gloves are soo cute! :D

    <3, Mimi
    $100 Shopbop Gift Card Giveaway

  4. hello, I have been reading your blog for a while now, and I really enjoy reading your posts! I have a relatively new blog which I try to post regualry on. I would apreciate it so much if you had a minute to check it out!

    Thankyou xxx


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