Annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Shopping Guide 2017

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 seventh year I’ve put together a 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 your favorite Laura fan is planning a trip to Walnut Grove this year, consider buying them pageant tickets. The tickets are available for 2018 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. 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.)

De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt 3
De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt

Most of the presents that I suggested in 2011 2012 , 2013 , 2014 , 2015 , and 2016 are still available so take a look at previous shopping 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!

What’s Not Available

I’m going to take a minute first and tell you some things that you aren’t able to get because there was expectation you would be able to get them. For the past 3 years the homesites have worked together to create a calendar with photos from all the sites. Unfortunately when I checked with the De Smet Memorial Society who makes them up, they’ve given up on doing one for 2018, but look for the 2019 one sometime this spring.

Also, this fall I was shocked when I checked with all the homesites and discovered in the last year we’ve gone from 3 versions of the china shepherdess replicas available to 0. Hopefully, at least 1 version will be available sometime next year (a couple of the homesites have a new version in the works), but for now your only choice is keeping an eye out for one second hand.

150th Birthday Items

150th Magnet – Photo Courtesy of Mansfield

With this being the 150th anniversary of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birth, check out some of the unique things offered for the anniversary. There are special limited edition t-shirts from both De Smet and Walnut Grove. (Walnut Grove had a double reason to celebrate with the 40th anniversary of their pageant.) De Smet also came out with an updated and expanded 60th anniversary edition of The Ingalls Family of De Smet. There is a special china ornament from De Smet featuring a bust of an older Laura wearing her red velvet dress. Mansfield has created a special limited edition magnet from Mansfield with a middle-aged Laura’s image and a 150th anniversary slogan.

40th Anniversary of Walnut Grove Pageant T-Shirt
40th Anniversary of Walnut Grove Pageant T-Shirt

HarperCollins

HarperCollins released a new edition of the first 3 books in the series. This edition is hardback, features matching covers, no illustrations, and an introductory essay by a famous person; Laura Bush, Little House in the Big Woods; Ree Drummond, Farmer Boy; and Patricia MacLachlan, Little House on the Prairie. I’m saving them to buy at one of my next homesite visits so I haven’t seen them myself, but the reviewer at Horn Book Magazine is pretty scathing about them urging people to buy the standard Garth Williams illustrated version instead.

Happily in honor of Laura’s birthday, HarperCollins released the audiobooks, as recorded by Cherry Jones, as digital downloads for the first time. Slowly throughout the year they’ve been re-releasing 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, are 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.

Quilt Discovery – Doves in the Window

One of the things I’m most excited about is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Wedding Quilt by Linda Halpin. Halpin has braved the untamed jungle that is quilt pattern names and makes a strong case that this is the pattern Laura calls “Doves in the Window” thought to be the one Laura made for her Wedding Quilt. It includes instructions for making the quilt pattern pictured here. Linda Halpin is also the author of Quilting with Laura: Patterns Inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie Series. Check out her interviews on the Trundlebed Tales podcasts about Doves in the Window and on quilts in the 19th century in general. You can get the pattern directly from her website, from Burr Oak (who has the original square that kicked off her search), and possibly from other homesites – ask.

While we are talking about crafts The Little House Coloring Book, a publication that takes into account the surge in adult coloring has been a big hit. It’s based on Garth Williams illustrations at any of the giftshops. There is also a great coloring book based on illustrations by Cheryl Harness is available at most homesites. See some sample pages.

South Dakota Historical Society Press

You’ll remember that when the SDHSP released Pioneer Girl in November 2014 a frenzy broke out as underestimated demand meant that even pre-published purchased copies from Amazon were months late and it found a long term spot on the bestseller list. With such intense interest, it’s no wonder that they’re planning on following up with a three volume set of scholarship about Pioneer Girl. The first volume was released this last April, Pioneer Girl Perspectives. It is be available from either the South Dakota State Historical Society or any of the homesites.

In honor of Laura’s 150th birthday and the release of Pioneer Girl Perspectives the South Dakota Historical Society Press  held a conference in April. If you couldn’t go they have released a set of DVDs of the conference. I’m grateful that they did so we have a record of the sessions and I think that any serious scholar or anyone who wanted to go to the conference and didn’t get to will want a copy. However, be forewarned that the sound quality is bad. Basically they set up a camera and let it roll using the ambient sound in the room.

Some Homesite Highlights

Pepin didn’t report anything new, but my favorite thing is a green and white throw. It has images from the books including the Pepin replica cabin, Pa’s fiddle, and a bonnet. I won mine in the Laura Days essay contest, but you can buy and love one.

Little House on the Prairie Ornament – Photo courtesy of Little House on the Prairie Museum

If you haven’t checked out the Little House on the Prairie Museum online store yet, poke around. They have a wide variety of possible presents including tote bags, candles, and coffee. I haven’t gotten one yet, but they have a variety of styles of shirts with their logo including tanks which are hard to find in Laura shirts. The most Kansas thing is a poster that I NEED a copy of called “The Yellow Brick Road” with a covered wagon following a path of yellow flowers across the prairie. Besides Laura, Kansas also claims a connection with Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum (“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”) hence the yellow “brick” road. They have a set of china Christmas tree ornaments each with a colorized image from the Helen Sewell books, one per book.

I’ve heard Walnut Grove called the homesite with the best gift shop and it is a very nice facility with a bunch of options. Although the grounds close for the season, the gift shop/visitor center is open all year. They have more things available than shown on their website so if you are looking for something in particular or want something you don’t see on the website, call them and talk. Aprons, bonnets, and dresses continue to be popular and they have a great selection. They also have a lot of the Queen’s Treasures collection of dolls and accessories. To have a memory of Walnut Grove on your tree check out their wood ornament.

Besides the quilt pattern I mentioned above, Burr Oak has Laura t-shirts featuring the hotel in bright primary colors to make a splash in your Laura shirt. They are the place to get The Iowa Story: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life in Burr Oak, Iowa by William T. Anderson. They also keep a stock of Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant which knowing Rylant’s other work should be much, much better than it is and takes a stab at fictionalizing the time missing out of the series when they lived in Burr Oak. (Spoiler: Pa suddenly starts calling Mary Pumpkin Pie — yep.)

The Memorial Society in De Smet has several new items this year. Besides the new edition of The Ingalls Family of De Smet and the t-shirt, I mentioned above, they have an exclusive cookie cutter shaped like the Surveyor’s House. In addition to the new china ornament with the older Laura in red velvet (which I just HAD to buy back in July), they have a complete set of the ornaments each one featuring a colorized Garth Williams’s illustrations from each book in the series. The older Laura one isn’t showing on their website, but give them a call.

Covered Wagon Ornament
Ornament Photo courtesy of The Ingalls Homestead

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. They have free shipping for all orders over $25 this year through December 13. They also have rolled out digital gift cards for the first time. Use them online or over the phone for onsite purchases. Associate the Homestead with the covered wagon rides? They have a beautiful ornament of a covered wagon. (Yep, I got one of these on this last trip too.) 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.

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.

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.

Doll Clothes from Spring Valley

Besides the 150th magnet, Mansfield has several other cool magnets look at all of them. They have a couple of unique things that feature the Rocky Ridge farmhouse including a snow globe and a frame. They have also have boxed sets of the hardbacks in wooden boxes.

In Malone/Burke, New York, they’ve also redone their website. Check out the Mason Jar style mug with Almanzo’s name, their selection of mugs, and cachet hand painted envelopes. If your Laura fan doesn’t yet have the DVD documentary Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura. It was produced by Dean Butler (Almanzo on the TV show) and is either a great keepsake or a tour if you haven’t been to the farmstead. They also have a lovely print called “Coming Home” with the Wilder farmhouse and a sleigh. I have a copy.

 

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.

Independence KS

Little House on the Prairie Museum
Online Store

Last Day for Priority Mail – They didn’t give me a date, use your own judgment.

Walnut Grove MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
Online Store
Phone 1-800-528-7280
Last Day for Priority Mail – December 18, 2017

De Smet SD

Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society
Online Store
Phone 1-800-880-3383
Last Day for Priority Mail – December 18, 2017

Ingalls Homestead
Online Store
Phone: 1-800-776-3594

Last Day for Priority – December 20, 2017

Loftus Store Online
Phone: 605-854-3773 Call to order

Last Day for Priority – Didn’t give a date use your own judgment

Mansfield MO

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum
Online Store
Phone 1-877-924-7126 (Toll free)
Last Day for Priority – December 19, 2017

Malone NY

Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Farm
Online Store
farm@almanzowilderfarm.com

Last Day for Priority – Didn’t give a date

Spring Valley MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum (Store not online)
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 – Didn’t give a date

Burr Oak IA

Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum
Online Store
Last Day for Priority – Didn’t give a date

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.

Pepin WI

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
Online Store
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 18, 2017

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.

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T-Shirt of the Month September 2017

When I post my video diaries I always get comments about my Laura clothes. No, not my period dresses, but my Laura Ingalls Wilder t-shirts that I wear for travel and Laura trips. I thought everyone might enjoy a closer look at them. So enjoy our new monthly series where we look at a Laura shirt each month.

Clothes are one of those things that I once kept as a firm line not to cross as part of my efforts to restrict my Laura collection to a reasonable size. That totally failed when I discovered how great it is to have a Laura t-shirt on when traveling. It really makes it feel like your trip has already started once you get in your car.

Shirt of the Month

Here is this month’s t-shirt:

De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt 1
De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt Front

Back of the t-shirt

De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt 2
De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt Back

This time’s shirt is part of a limited edition from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, South Dakota. This shirt is just offered this year as part of the celebration of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 150th birthday. There was also a special limited edition shirt at Walnut Grove this year. These are always a fun addition to a t-shirt collection.

Close up of cake

De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt 3
De Smet 150th Anniversary T-Shirt 3

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

My Trip to De Smet 2017 Day 2 Part 2 July 14

We continue on during Day 2.

Next was the joint presentation by Bill Anderson and Nancy Koupal. A technical error meant I got to pinch hit and introduce them. They were reading letters from Bill’s book Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Then they answered questions. Both Bill and Nancy have been interviewed this year. Nancy told my favorite homesite story both on the podcast and that day.

Nancy Koupal and William T. Anderson

Bill pointed out how the story he was telling took place in that very school, right there and pointed across the road. It really renewed my thrill at being RIGHT THERE.

After that there was a break for lunch and then Paul introduced Dean and Alison again.

Dean once again spoke. It was based on questions from the audience and while there was some reputation from this morning, there were also different questions. Dean reports even his wife has said, “If only I could meet a man like Almanzo.”

The crowd once again spilled out of the tent.

This time it was Dean’s turn to go first and Alison followed. One of the most interesting things Alison shares about is the French people’s obsession with the Little House on the Prairie TV show. The interest is so great that Alison has learned enough French that she can do a version of her one-woman show in French. She talks about how “chopping wood like Charles Ingalls” is a phrase used for working hard and how falling down in wildflowers like Baby Carrie is a thing in France.

Follow on for more posts.

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.

Laura Ingalls Wilder 2016 Season Ends and Christmas Events

Sarah on Ingalls Homestead in April
Sarah on Ingalls Homestead in April

October usually is about the end of the main Laura Ingalls Wilder season for the year. If you plan a Laura trip during or after October, make sure you call ahead. They may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see. On the plus side you get autumn foliage and then snow photos. I called around to find out when the Laura museums were officially closing for the year. Find contact information for the homesites/museums here:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/laura-links/

As a heads up the weather this fall has been unusually mild across the Midwest as a whole, but one big snow storm has already cut across the upper Midwest reaching De Smet, Walnut Grove, and points east. The weather forecast is still calling for a cold and snowy winter once it does arrive so account for that possibility in your plans if you are planning a winter trip.

Pepin, WI – Closed for the season Oct. 26, 2016. They aren’t participating in the town’s Christmas event this year.

Independence, KS – They closed for the season in October.

Walnut Grove, MN – Museum grounds closed for the season November 1, 2016, but their Gift Shop/Visitor Center will remain open during November and December 23, 2016 from 10 am – 4 pm, Monday – Saturday. After Christmas it will be open Monday –  Friday, same hours, until March 1, 2016. If you’re looking for winter homesite photos, they have snow already.

Burr Oak, IA – Closed mid-October 2016. Beginning in September they have reduced hours. In October they are open Thurs.-Sat. 10 am-4 pm and Sunday noon-4 pm. They will have their annual fundraising event Dec. 12th. If you’d like to attend contact the museum. Best bet is to e-mail them because they are not in the office every day.

De Smet, SD –
Memorial Society – open all year with slightly reduced hours during winter, MondayFriday 9 am -4 pm.  They suggest tour times at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. They will be closed from Dec. 24, 2016 to Jan. 2, 2017.
Hours Chart

Ingalls Homestead – Open depending on the weather through October and then closed at the end of October. Office remains open for making reservations, etc. Call and leave a message if they don’t pick up. Scheduled activities only take place through September 30th. People are welcome to walk around even after they are closed for the year. Look for maps in plastic holders beside visitor center/gift shop doors.

Mansfield, MO – Season ends November 15, 2016. Winter hours are November 16 – December 15 by appointment only (call ahead). Bookstore 10 am -2 pm.
Christmas at Laura’s
Chistmas Tradition here on Rocky Ridge Farm. Free admission to the historic home featuring vintage decorations. Tunes on Pa’s fiddle. Bring YOUR camera or cell phone for pictures with Santa by Laura’s fireplace. Normally photos aren’t allowed inside the house so this is a rare treat. Tastings from Laura’s own recipes. Laura’s Christmas is scheduled for December 3, 2016 from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. Weather Permitting. (NOTE*) If the parade is canceled for bad weather Laura’s Christmas will be canceled as well. Come celebrate Christmas with us in a most special way!

Malone, NY – Closed October 2, 2016 Can arrange tours by appointment if volunteers available . Minimum admission is $25 for three or less. Four or more admitted at regular price. Arrange by e-mailing farm@almanzowilderfarm.com Re-opens for Christmas With Almanzo event (1 Day) December 3, 2016 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. “For this event admissions free. Come and enjoy readings from Farmer Boy Christmas chapter in the parlor of the house at 11:30 and 1:00. (Adults must accompany and remain with child.) Enjoy cookies, mulled cider, Christmas carols, and children’s activities. Come visit our gift store for last minute shopping with complimentary gift wrapping for purchased items. “Happy Christmas!””

Spring Valley, MN – They closed for the season at the end of October, but they reopen for Christmas teas. Teas will be held on Dec. 3-4, 2016 at 12:30 each day. Cost is $12 for the lunch. It is a full lunch set in a Victorian home that was built in 1888. Reservations required for the teas. Contact the museum at wilderinspringvalley@hotmail.com

Keystone, SD – Closed September 15, 2016.

Vinton, IA – Pat Barr passed along this information: “Our hours are the same year round – 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. – Monday through Friday. A group larger than five should contact me – all others are welcome to drop in.  My phone number is:  319-472-5221, Extension 1110.  My e-mail is:  pbarr@iowa-braille.k12.ia.us ” The biennial membership meeting is December 1 at 7:00 p.m.

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.