Friday, December 11, 2009

Santa’s elves shop at thrift stores too

In the December 6th post, Little Pie’s three sweet wishes, I wrote of our experience taking our youngest daughter to meet up with Santa. At eight years old, Little Pie is a solid believer. You may recall, our family has a standing agreement that we wish for three items, anything more might appear greedy and greedy children are not good children. For at least a week out, Little Pie had her list on the straight and narrow: 1) a monocular, “like the sea captains of old used;” 2) a big plush tiger to cuddle; and 3) money from around the world. We were set and I had all my plans in order.

The monocular above I ordered from Ebay. I found a wooden box at the thrift store for $1 and had reindeer moss for filler to spare. In the previous post, I mentioned my elfish notions on North Pole gift presentation. Simplicity is critical. If you need help to think like an elf to make the magic, I recommend and elf’s diet which is mainly cupcakes and coffee. During the holidays I figure eating sweet helps make you sweet and the coffee, well, to stay awake. Achieving a full belief system of magic requires a lot of skill so best to be alert.

I could not afford the full sliding brass monocular as typical with what we think Captain Ahab might have used. But, this monocular is old. It’s not from 1891, but old enough. I love how my daughter asked for something vintage and has a notion that Santa also gives vintage or shall we say “reused” items. Yes Virginia, Santa is indeed green and cares very much about the state of our planet and is saddened by waste.

I’ve often found old objects carry more magic and evoke more curiosity. Ever noticed how when children draw bathtubs, they are often claw foot tubs? Yet, most homes do not have a claw foot tub. Ours does and if you like the luxury of a hot bath, you should ask for an old iron claw foot tub for the holidays, if your stacked with money get a copper one.

The plush tiger. I found him at Goodwill for $4. He is in like new condition and passed a cuddle test. A quick wash, not in our claw foot, put him right and ready to meet Little Pie on Christmas morning. Many of the plush toys at thrift stores are in excellent condition. The average American child receives more plush toys than they ever could play with and it’s off to the thrift store they go. I clipped off the tiger’s tags. As mentioned in the prior post, the North Pole is a free enterprise. So when possible, get rid of the tags, boxes or anything else that might even hint that this toy is not from the North.

The money from around the world. Wait! Little Pie pulled a shell game on me and at the last moment. While on his lap, she switched strategies to an EGYPTAIN COSTUME!

What? Once home with Little Pie asleep, I raced down stairs and dove into the Net. Most everything there was that barely-threaded, flammable fabric stuff. Sigh. Santa wouldn’t give that! I was in a pickle because I do not sew. Really. I have about 30 Girl Scout patches to sew on two uniforms. I am years behind. I have two girlfriends who are amazing designers but they have daughters of their own and asking them for an Egyptian costume would not be cool in December. Maybe in June but not December.

I did what I always do and took my snake eyes to the Goodwill at Archer and Broadway in Denver. There, I found the ultra cool necklace and two little red cases. Feeling good I jumped over Broadway and went into Boss Unlimited, a well organized vintage store. I found a simple cotton vintage slip in good condition. I figure Piper is thinking ancient Egypt so this dress has to have an old feel to it. Great! I’ll sew some kind of hieroglyphic on this slip. It’s hot in Egypt and the images portrayed are always in a simple white dress.

Finally I drove over to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where I found the gold headdress and a few scarabs to sew onto the slip. I figure that is enough to make my Little Pie feel like an ancient African queen. As little girls, didn’t we all dream of being Cleopatra? I printed off a few “tags” to help the little suit cases look like they’ve been traveling and passed through customs because this costume was coming from Egypt.

Thankfully I carefully checked out the gold wig. It had a “Made in China” sticker in a hidden spot. Good thing I found it. An Egyptian wig made in China? Indeed! I’ve always wondered what factory workers in China must think about as they whip out oddly shaped erasers, plastic blow horns and other senseless stuff. What would you think about another culture if you sat in a factory for 8-10 hours a day making paddleballs for them?

So there it is. A little girl who is asking Santa for antiquated items. Children are fascinated by the past. I refer to real items from the past. Conventional retail would have you think otherwise because they don’t sell old things. But when a child is suspended from the mass advertising, amazing things happen.

If you are a new visitor to this blog, be certain to scroll back up and pull up the Thrift Catalog slide show featuring over 230 items from thrift stores to give you an idea of what could be waiting for you.

Now, I have to find me a few good cupcakes. Being an elf isn't so easy.


Maureen said...

What a cool little kidlet you have! Love it!

Ivy said...

What great finds! You have a special little girl and it sounds like she has a very clever mama.

Allison said...

Reading your blog has really gotten me into thrifting (thanks!) and your posts about your daughter's Christmas wishes are really inspiring. : )

Miss Penny said...

I love your blog! I'm a blog rookie, having just started my own very recently. Mine is also about the wonderful world of thrifting! I recently posted one about the elusive "thrift gift" urging people to shop @ thrift stores instead of @ the massive retail chains for Christmas. Then I read about your awesome daughters Christmas wish list and had to put a link to it on my blog. What a good and smart kid! And what a creative and smart mom! Nice job!

Bee Balm Gal said...

You are my inspiration! For Christmas this year, my young granddaughter will be getting a glammed-up Box o' Dress-ups: scarves, boas, glittery dresses, vintage ladies white gloves, tiny purses, assorted hats, all bought for 50 cents or a dollar at charity thrift shops. After gentle washing and airing, they are clean and ready for imaginative play.

Daisy said...

I like the elf diet; cookies and coffee always get me in the mood!

Mimi said...

Oh, to be child in your house! I am very impressed with your eight year old, she is far ahead of her time. I wonder who will have had more fun, you putting her gifts together or her when she opens them? Thanks for sharing all your thrifty tips. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

Babs said...

Quick question re tiger: how did you clean it? I often see plush toys that look good, but am unsure if cleaning them will ruin them.

This Thrifted Life said...

Absolutely love everything about this! Your creativity amazes me, and great job on finding such beautiful, unique items that our daughter will cherish.

Shopping Golightly said...


Just toss the plush toy in the washer on regular cycle. They are pretty sturdy. I fluff them and let them air dry.

Although Little Pie and I gave her favorite plush toy a bath in the sink. Little Pie felt more comfortable about that. [Wink.]

amanda o said...

these gifts are amazing and beautiful! i hope i can get my little one on the vintage train!

Mandi said...

Sweet gifts! Have a lovely Christmas!

Emma said...

Such a cute idea! I love how you put the egyptian costume in a cool old suitcase :)