Presents for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Fan in Your Life

I’ve recently been listening to Alison Arngrim read the “Little House” series on her facebook page. (Want to learn more? This is my interview with Alison.) I’ve been really surprised by the fans reactions. It seems like there are a lot of people who care about “Little House” books, TV, real life, etc. versions that apparently didn’t know that you can buy “Laura stuff.” They’re estatic that you can buy bonnets, tin cups, etc. I thought this might be a great time to make sure everyone realized some of the Laura basics that are available.

So you’re looking for an “eyes nearly popped right out of their head” present for the Laura Ingalls Wilder fan in your life? I’m going to assume that they don’t have a large Laura collection already. There are many more possibilities, but if you have no clue here are a few to get you started.

Homesites

The term Laura fans use for the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived is homesites. It’s sometimes used to mean the entire town for each place Laura lived, sometimes it is used to mean the exact museum. Each museum has a giftship. The museums are NOT regularly funded by the Wilder estate. The museums are NOT funded by their states. So the museums depend on their financial existance for admission fees and giftshop sales. If you want the museums to be there when you can visit them, support them now! Find links, phone numbers, etc. on this homesite list.

Collect at the Beginning

  • Sarah and Books 2
  • First up, do they have a complete set of the books yet? If not, a set of their own is a great place to start. The three most common editions currently available are:
  • hardback
  • full color illustration paperback
  • and pencil drawing illustration paperbacks. (Note that the full color illustrations do no have all the illustrations shown in the pencil illustration versions in the later books of the series.) They are also available on Kindle as ebooks. You can also find them as audiobooks on CD and as digital downloads as read by Tony winning actress Cherry Jones.

Books About Laura

Second, interest in Laura is wide spread enough to support many books about Laura and her life. Here are some suggestions.

  • Prairie Girl by William T. Anderson – an 80 page introduction to Laura’s life
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography by William T. Anderson – a 256 page version of Laura’s life without footnotes, written at a jr. high/high school level, but very approachable for adults as well
  • Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder by John E. Miller – the best scholarly biography on Laura, “choked with facts” and a treat for any devoted Laura fan
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill – more of a literary analysis than biography this biography from the South Dakota State Historical Society provides an in depth analysis of Laura’s writing
  • Pioneer Girl, Edited by Pamela Smith Hill – is an annotated version of the draft Laura wrote when she was first trying to get her story told. It’s in the first person and frankly it’s pretty obvious why everyone turned it down. Remember though it was written for an audience as a memoir – meaning it’s not necessarily 100% accurate.

Feel a Part of Her World

Third, there are books that help you feel more a part of Laura’s world. These are just the most basic for any collection. There are many other books that you might get depending on what part of Laura-dom you’re interested in.

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Country by William T. Anderson and Leslie Kelly – photographs of Laura Ingalls Wilder  homesites around the country
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook by Eugenia Garson – a collection of sheet music to songs in the “Little House” books with notations where they appear in the books
  • Little House Cookbook by Barbara Walker – a collection of historic recipes as made in the books

Things from the Books

Fourth, get them a replica of something out of the books.

Many young Laura fans start a Laura collection with a bonnet and/or apron. Although you might be able to make your own or from a local source the homesite gift shops also sell them.

Charlotte Doll – This one is from the De Smet Memorial Society.

In a very memorable scene in the first book of the series, Little House in the Big Woods, Laura gets her first rag doll for Christmas. In the books, she is called Charlotte. Every homesite gift shop sells their own version of ragdoll Charlotte. These versions look very different check out the homesite giftshops to see photos and pick the one you want.

Also, in that first book, Ma receives a china shepherdess figurine. In all of the rest of the books, a house truly becomes a home once Ma puts out the china shepherdess.

Independence Shepherdess – Photo courtesy of Little House on the Prairie Museum
China Replica
Mansfield Shepherdess – Photo courtesy of Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum

There are three replica versions of this figurine available for sale right now.
Walnut Grove, Minnesota’s looks the most like the version used on the TV show, but it is made of resin, not china. Currently they also sell versions at Independence and Mansfield.

Walnut Grove version of the china shepherdess

Ingalls Homestead tells me that their biggest seller is a tin cup. Laura and Mary each got a tin cup for Christmas the year they were in Independence, Kansas. Again you can get these at any homesite giftshop. They are close, but decorations differ. Look for photos in the homesite online stores.

Laura’s faithful companion through the first half of the series is her faithful bulldog Jack. Most of the homesites have at least one (and in some cases many) stuffed versions of her faithful friend for you to cuddle with.

A final touch of the books might be a recording of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s voice. Laura Ingalls Wilder Speaks is a CD with the only known recording of Laura’s voice and Pa’s real fiddle playing music. Laura reads a thank-you letter to school children in California as an older woman, but it’s our Laura’s voice. There are a number of Laura music CDs brought out by different artists and groups. This is the only one with Pa’s real fiddle so that you can really hear it. Of all the Laura music CDs I own my other favorite is a Tribute to Charles “Pa” Ingalls. It also features Pa’s real fiddle accompanied by, apparently, the world’s first bluegrass symphony orchestra. Other fans prefer other recordings see them listed in the online stores.

Fifth, a gift that keeps on giving. If your Laura fan isn’t a member in the organizations that support Laura yet, each homesite has its own fan membership and the group that offers gift memberships. (Most of the time I was growing up my mother bought me one life membership in a different Laura organization each year for Christmas.)

Jack in a tank

Sources

While you can get many of these Laura based presents from multiple sources (unless otherwise noted), we urge you when possible to shop at Laura homesite museums. These museums dedicated to Laura get no regular backing from her estate and rely on admissions, donations, and gift shop sales to stay open for us to visit and preserve Laura’s legacy. Find links to their websites, phone numbers, etc. on this homesite list.

An earlier version of this post appeared on Beyond Little House.

More Suggestions

Every year at Christmas time I put together a post of new things the homesites are offering. Check out my previous posts. Most of the presents that I suggested in 2011 2012 , 2013 , 2014 , 2015 , 2016,  2017,  2018 , and 2019 are still available so take a look at previous shopping posts for more ideas.

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 ,     LinkedIn ,     SlideShare,   and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Annual Christmas Shopping Guide 2015

We’re running a little late this year, but there’s still time to get that perfect gift for your Laura fan under the tree before Christmas. 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.

Mary Ingalls Ball
Mary Ingalls Glass Ornament

This is the fifth year I’ve put together a shopping guide. Check the first post for basic gift ideas. So read that first and instead in this post look for new items, other ideas and then 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.

I do have to apologize because prepping for a big trip I didn’t take as much time as I like reaching out to all the sites and making sure I have their last ship dates. If I didn’t get a shipping date, call them and ask. 🙂

Most of the presents that I suggested in 2011 , 2012 , 2013 and 2014 are still available so take a look at past year’s posts for more ideas.

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!

After a banner year last year where they sold out within 2 months, the multi-site Laura Ingalls Wilder calendars returned again this year. They were determined not to run out again and they definitely made their goal. Spring Valley is having a closing out sale of theirs for $5 a piece which is the cheapest I’ve found, but most homesites have them available. It makes a great stocking stuffer. I bought 3.

Spring Valley may be a small site, but they tend to look for different and local buys so giftshop always has interesting things you won’t find other place. This is the spot where I got my favorite Almanzo doll that you may have seen in my other posts. Has your Laura fan started your collection of site specific glass ball ornaments? It’s a set, but you can only get that site’s ball at that individual site. You need Spring Valley’s to complete your Laura fan’s collection.

The Mary Ingalls Society at the Iowa School for the Blind and Sight Saving School has joined the ranks of mail order this year. They are selling a lovely glass ball ornament and calendars. These calendars are not the multisite ones available elsewhere, these are twelve months of lovely photos of the ISBSSS.

With one of the largest gift shops, Walnut Grove continues to work with authors and publishers to offer signed copies for Little House fans who can’t get to a book signing. Their big seller right now is autographed copies of Melissa Gilbert’s My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours. Ask them about other titles. They also focus on local handcrafted items. Don’t forget their doll clothes including the cutest American Girl style doll coat on the planet. 

Another large giftshop is at the Memorial Society in De Smet. Find two new books there this year De Smet Images of America is a collection of old photos of De Smet drawn from collections around the community. Many images are available only in this title. Check out an exciting, well researched publication Laura Ingalls Wilder and Education in Kingsbury County by Nancy Cleveland.

Most exciting is the exclusive set of porcelain ornaments De Smet has been released one a year. This year the ornament is based on Little Town on the Prairie. Previous releases of By the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter are still available. Read more about them.

Little House on the Prairie Museum Jam
Little House on the Prairie Museum Jam

Independence is taking a bit of different tack this year and is keeping their gift shop open through a sister shop which is staffed all winter. The Red Buffalo is 11 – 5 open Monday thru Saturday for month of December,
Phone: 620.725.4022 E-Mail: redbuffalo@att.net. Check out their Little House on the Prairie Museum label jams and fruit butters for a homemade touch. They also have a lovely site specific ornament.

Check out new fabric licensed by Little House on the Prairie of Family Friendly Films for crafts and sewing projects.

Walnut Grove MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Phone 1-800-528-7280

Last Day for Priority Mail – December 18, 2015

They’ve had trouble updating their website lately. If you don’t see something on their website, call and check.

De Smet SD

Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, Click on  The Gift Shop

Phone 1-800-880-3383

Last Day for Priority Mail – December 15, 2015

Ingalls Homestead

Phone: 1-800-776-3594

Loftus Store

Phone: 605-854-3773 (Ignore the toll free number on the site, it’s no long valid)

Mansfield MO

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum

Phone 1-877-924-7126 (Toll free)

Malone NY

Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Farm

farm@alamanzowilderfarm.com

Malone said for their set up, online ordering has a quicker response during the off season.  If you’d rather order by phone or have a question e-mail them and they’ll either e-mail a response or call you, so please include your phone number. They didn’t respond with a date this year, so it’s up to you.

Spring Valley MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum (Store not online, but they are one of the glass ball ornament sites)

wilderinspringvalley@hotmail.com

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 – December 10, 2015

Burr Oak IA

Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum

Phone (563) 735-5916

The best way for people to shop during the winter is through the website gift shop and then pay through Paypal. They can email the museum with questions. They are no longer accepting checks for orders because of some bad check incidents.

Pepin WI

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Off season ordering is only online, through e-mail. Contact them through their contact form.
Last Day for Priority – Not giving a last day, it’s up to the customer.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving 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. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Annual Christmas Shopping Guide 2014

We’re running a little late this year, but there’s still time to get that perfect gift for your Laura fan under the tree before Christmas. 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 fifth year I’ve put together a shopping guide. Check the first post for basic gift ideas. So read that first and instead in this post look for new items, other ideas and then 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.

Most of the presents that I suggested in 2011 and 2012  and 2013 are still available so take a look at past year’s posts for more ideas.

 

 

The big Laura release of the year is Pioneer Girl, an annotated published version of Laura’s autobiography, written as a precursor to the “Little House” books. Laura fans self-define themselves and be aware this won’t be appreciated by all “Laura fans.” Scope out whether they’ve read Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder by John E. Miller or anything by William Anderson and that they haven’t already gotten a copy before you buy. My brother is getting me mine for Christmas. While Amazon is still not shipping ordered copies most of the homesites mentioned when I called that they have copies available.

If they didn’t get it last year, then you’ll definitely want to get the new last year Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Walnut Grove by William T. Anderson. A new book from Bill is always big news and this one ties together all sorts of new information together about Walnut Grove in addition with classic photos that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s available at many of the homesites. Also, from William Anderson they’ve republished Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Book & Audio CD). It was originally published in the mid-1990s when it was released with an cassette tape. Look for a full report soon. So far I’ve only seen it on Christian Book Distributors, an online retailer (they have great prices, but will continue to e-mail you if you buy from them once). Hopefully it will expand to more sources soon.

The Ingalls Homestead is offering free shipping on hardcover sets and all other orders over $150 made before 10 am Dec 18.  These will be shipping UPS Ground.  They are continuing to sell their sets of books in a wooden crate. They report several people have been picking up Pioneer girl with the hardback set as a group present and to take advantage of the free shipping.

The Loftus Store, while not technically a homesite, was mentioned in the books and is a can’t miss stop for Laura fans in De Smet. They always have some unique Laura items. Nothing new from this year, but last year they reported that they brought back some nice pieces that haven’t been available for awhile. A linen wall hanging (an original from the 1980s, long has been on display at the Loftus Store and much asked about) has been reproduced with the same design as a poster. Also, the first in a series of pewter plates that were originally sold by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in the 1970s ($40 plus $10 shipping) was released last year. They intend to eventually reproduce the entire series, but want to sell most of the current issue before they move on to the rest, so help buy them out and we’ll get the next one. 🙂 A final brand new last year item was an accurate paper model pattern of Pa’s store. The Loftus Store is also one of my favorite places to shop for Laura T-shirts with the tie-dye girls fit top being the closest I’ve found to truly hot weather gear in any homesite town.

While previous ornaments are still available including the great glass ball ornaments (you can only get that site’s ornament through that site – e.g. you just can get Spring Valley’s ornament from the Spring Valley giftshop, you can only get the Pepin ornament in the Pepin gift shop, etc.). Do you have yours? Also, specifically check with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet. They have put out their first two porcelain ornaments. Each has 22 karat gold edging and a full color illustration taken from Garth Williams’s work. You can get them gift boxed.

Walnut Grove, which is another glass ball ornament site, hasn’t created a special Christmas specials page this year, but is still offering these specials from this fall. Walnut Grove points out their signed Miss Beadle Tote Bag $37.50 and that in addition to their continuing offer to get Alison Arngrim to sign her book (personalized), you can also get My Prairie Cookbook signed by Melissa Gilbert.

One of the most expensive pieces in my personal collection is the replica of Laura’s engagement ring that I posted about. Laura’s engagement ring is still getting a lot of reaction from people when I wear it if they haven’t heard of it before.  You can still get yours for Christmas and be the one flashing the ring at the next Laura event you attend, but the sooner you order the better. Find it in Walnut Grove’s online store Souvenir section, click and then scroll down. And if you’re looking for a treat for your special Laura dog, get some of the Jack’s Treats. I can’t say enough about how much my dog Blue loves these treats. He insists I add some to every Walnut Grove order. (I would insert a photo of Blue eating said treats but he eats them so fast I’ve yet to get a photo where you can see more than a blur.) They also have some great new sweatshirt designs.

This year the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet has taken my unofficial title of cutest Jack available. In fact, I bought one for my collection this summer and when my niece and nephew insisted that I get one for each of them for Christmas, despite the fact that they each got a Jack last year. You’ll love it too.

De Smet Jack 2014
De Smet Jack 2014

The Almanzo Wilder Farm in Malone/Burke says “The shop is stocked with books for all ages, including, of course, Farmer Boy and the “Little House” series, history books about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Wilder family, coloring books, cookbooks, music, and DVDs. We still have old-fashioned bonnets and straw hats, mugs, postcards, note cards, small toys, and more so save time for shopping. Be sure to check out our online store http://www.almanzowilderfarm.com

After trying multiple times on different days to get in touch with Mansfield I’ve given up. You might have better luck try contacting them at the information below.

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!

Walnut Grove MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Phone 1-800-528-7280

Last Day for Priority Mail – December 19, 2014

Check out their specials from this fall.

De Smet SD

Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, Click on  The Gift Shop

Phone 1-800-880-3383

Last Day for Priority Mail – December 17, 2014

Ingalls Homestead

Phone: 1-800-776-3594

Last Day for Priority Mail – before noon on December 20, 2014, call if questions

They have a specials page.

Loftus Store

Phone: 605-854-3773 (Ignore the toll free number on the site, it’s no long valid)

Last Day for Priority Mail – December 15, 2014

Mansfield MO

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum

Phone 1-877-924-7126 (Toll free)

This is their information from last year, but again I’ve tried their main number between 10 and 2 multiple days, good luck. “You can order online or by phone, but call if you have questions or want something you aren’t seeing online. Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am – 2 pm are best, but you should be able to reach someone from 10 am – 2pm Monday through Friday. Orders will be shipped Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.”

Malone NY

Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Farm

farm@alamanzowilderfarm.com

Malone said for their set up, online ordering has a quicker response during the off season.  If you’d rather order by phone or have a question e-mail them and they’ll either e-mail a response or call you, so please include your phone number. They didn’t respond with a date this year, so it’s up to you.

Spring Valley MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum (Store not online, but they are one of the glass ball ornament sites)

wilderinspringvalley@hotmail.com

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. If you remember from last year they did get a new credit card machine, so you can pay by credit card again.

Last Day for Priority – December 15, 2014

Burr Oak IA

Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum

Phone (563) 735-5916

The best way for people to shop during the winter is through the website gift shop and then pay through Paypal. They can email the museum with questions. They are no longer accepting checks for orders because of some bad check incidents.

Last Day for Priority – December 10, 2014

Pepin WI

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Off season ordering is only online, through e-mail. Contact them through their contact form.
Last Day for Priority – Not giving a last day, it’s up to the customer

Sarah S. Uthoff 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.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.