Whether you are looking for the perfect present for the Laura Ingalls Wilder fan in your life or just what you want to know what to put on your Christmas want list, check out these suggestions.
This is the eighth year I’ve put together a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan shopping guide. Check the first post for basic gift ideas. Read that first and use this post to look for new items, other ideas, and a list of which Laura homesites are offering Christmas mail order and the cut off dates for shipping by Christmas this year. Trundlebed Tales encourages you to do at least a little Christmas shopping from the Laura homesites because they are all local museums, highly dependent on admissions and gift shop revenue to stay open and preserve the homesites for Laura fans, so do your part. If you are buying from Amazon, make sure you go into Amazon Smile and they’ll donate part of cost to your selected charity – select a Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite.
If your favorite Laura fan is planning a trip to Walnut Grove this year, consider buying them pageant tickets. Next year they are having a cast reunion in honor of the 45th anniversary of the NBC Little House on the Prairie TV show. The tickets are available for 2019 already and the earlier you buy tickets the better seats you can get. They mail them so you can get the tickets to go under the tree. You don’t have to buy pageant tickets to attend other reunion events, but the pageant will include a question and answer session with all of the attendees. Buy them either online or by phone if you want their advice for which seat. The phone goes into a business so you can always find someone there during business hours. (Note: I don’t advise pre-buying for the other pageants because differences in how their systems work.)
And don’t forget you can also get your Laura fan gift memberships to the museums or a donation in your Laura fan’s name! Most of the presents that I suggested in 2011 , 2012 , 2013 , 2014 , 2015 , 2016, and 2017 are still available so take a look at previous shopping posts for more ideas.
Welcome Back to Favorites
UPDATED December 11 2018: Somehow I missed that Walnut Grove also has a china shepherdess again. I’ve updated the text and added their photo.
Last year I pointed out a couple of favorite things that weren’t available then. I’m pleased to tell you that both things are back. Last year the multi-site calendar didn’t make the cut off for Christmas. They didn’t get it out in the spring like they hoped, but it’s out now. The De Smet Memorial Society puts them together with photos from the 5 sites that work together. I haven’t seen it yet – it wasn’t out for my fall trips – but I’ll be putting in an
The other big return is a china shepherdess replica. I was shocked when all three of the homesites that were selling different versions had stopped due to separate production issues. This year three sites have each introduced their own new version of the shepherdess. They cost about the same. Check them out on both the Independence and Mansfield’s websites.
After rolling out several new editions last year, HarperCollins only has one new release this holiday season. They’ve rolled out a new edition of the Little House Cookbook. The new edition is hardback and replaces the hardback version that has been available since 1979. Its design follows the new edition of a trio of books in the series released last year with an introductory essay by a famous woman. The design of the text is different and the Garth Williams illustrations have been replaced by full color photographs that are lovely, but I’m fairly confident they weren’t done by a historic cook. A lot of focus is put on these photographs that are either full page or 2 pages. The book is printed on half-chalked paper (which is in vogue for all kinds of books right now for some reason) which is traditionally used to give a better surface for photographs. The photos are lovely. I should warn you that the use of chalked paper also makes the book much heavier than you’d expect. The paperback version will continue to follow the design established in 1979 by the original hardback edition and themed to the gingham covers version of the books which came out in the early 1990s.
Last year HarperCollins released the audiobooks, as recorded by Cherry Jones, as digital downloads for the first time. Slowly throughout 2017 they re-released the simplified chapter books, such as The Adventures of Laura and Jack or the most appropriate Christmas Stories, with brand new covers. Six of the simplified picturebooks, illustrated by Renee Graef, were newly collected and published as one volume. It’s called a Little House Picture Book Treasury. Finally, they also put out The Little House Book of Wisdom, a collection of quotes from the series.
When Friendly Films and their Little House on the Prairie TV show started authorizing products again one of the first things licensed was a set of dolls and accesories for a Laura doll. They have everything from a covered wagon to all the minature equipment you need to fill it up. You can outfit your doll in a typical pioneer dress or in one based on Laura’s good dress from the TV show. This fall they rolled out a second doll so now you can purchase both Laura and Mary.
Some Homesite Highlights
Pepin rolled out several new things this year. One of the most exciting to fans of the “Little House” picture books is that Pepin now is selling high quality prints of Renee Graef’s illustrations. There are several and appear in different sizes. Another cool thing is that they are now selling private label honey and maple syrup.
It’s nice to be able to have options other than the standard t-shirt for Laura fan clothes. Walnut Grove has just rolled out long-sleeve t-shirts which is a new option and some new sweatshirts. Next year you want to check in with Walnut Grove around July. They’ll have new things for the reunion and even if you can’t go you can buy some fun swag! Be on the ball though because last time they sold out of reunion shirts early.
If you read Laura Lore, you’ll have heard that the long time maker of Charlotte dolls for the De Smet Memorial Society retired. Her niece has picked up her needle and is now once again making Charlotte dolls using De Smet’s original pattern. If you have one by the aunt (or 2 or 3), then it’s time to get a new version.
Also, if you’re familiar with the series of china ornaments they’ve made (one per book plus one for Rocky Ridge and an older Laura), they’ve introduced another ornament with a younger
portrait of Laura to fit more with the De Smet time period of Laura’s life.
Mansfield still has some really cool items left from the anniversary. I especially like their anniversary magnet. They have a new design for the “I Love Laura” pin and a few new products featuring a line drawing of Rocky Ridge farmhouse.
Harvey Dunn, nephew by marriage of Grace Ingalls and internationally known artist and illustrator, is best known for his connection with Manchester, the next town west of De Smet. The South Dakota Art Museum houses the largest collection of Dunn’s work. (It’s well worth your effort to stop in Brookings on your way to or from De Smet.) They have just released a reprint of Where Your Heart Is: The Story of Harvey Dunn, Artist. This current edition is available exclusively from the South Dakota Art Museum store.
The Ingalls Homestead, who developed the idea of wood crates to create a box set for the hardcover books, also has a wide range of products and some great news about shipping. Associate the Homestead with the covered wagon rides? They have a beautiful ornament of a covered wagon. Remember how excited Laura was about her Santa Christmas presents she got from Mr. Edwards? At the Homestead you can order tin cups with two sticks of peppermint, the heart shaped cakes and even a penny! A unique gift is squares of Ingalls Homestead homemade soap. They also have a wide selection non-Laura books of prairie/pioneer related subjects.
Spring Valley is a smaller site, but they work on having unique things in their giftshop. One area they have a big selection in is the American Girl aka 18 inch size doll clothes. They are locally made and not mass produced. Colors may vary.
While we’re talking about “18-inch dolls” aka “American Girl Doll Size”, Thimbles and Acorns has been printing dress patterns for specific dresses. There are publications of various lengths and with patterns around various themes. Most of the homesite giftshops have them now.
Malone has rolled out a new way to shop this year. You can buy items in a Facebook shop. Their new item is a collectable fundraising ornament. Their local rotary every year picks a different charity to create an ornament as a fundraiser. This year’s features a photo of the farmhouse.
I recommend contacting the sites by e-mail or online store instead of by phone, except where noted. Even places that have been easiest to contact by phone in the past I’ve had trouble calling, but most responded quickly by e-mail.
Walnut Grove MN
De Smet SD
Loftus Store Online
Phone: 605-854-3773 Call to order
Last Day for Priority – Didn’t give a date use your own judgment
Spring Valley MN
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum (Store not online)
Recommends using e-mail to order for Christmas, but you may want to include your phone number in the e-mail so they can get back to you with questions quickly.
Last Day for Priority – Didn’t give a date
Burr Oak IA
The best way for people to shop during the winter is through the website gift shop and then pay through Paypal. You can email the museum with questions. They are no longer accepting checks for orders because of some bad check incidents.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
Best to order online, but can also reach by phone 715-513-6383, or by sending a letter. Neither museum nor gift shop is open during the winter.
Last Day for Priority – December 10, 2018
UPDATED December 11 2018: As I mentioned above I had to add about the Walnut Grove shepherdess and I caught a typo and fixed it.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.