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A Vintage Christmas, 1916-1920


E. W. and Mary Virginia Marland moved into their new home at 1000 East Grand Avenue on December 16, 1916. E.W. had founded the Marland Oil Company earlier that year, which had tripled the population of Ponca City.  To celebrate, the Marlands hosted a large community-wide open house to commemorate their new home. Friends, family, and employees came to thank them and celebrate the festive season with food, drink, and good cheer.

Now, in commemoration of the Marland’s Grand Home turning 100 years old in 2016, the home is decorated in vintage style for Christmas.  Those touring or visiting the home will enjoy discovering the vintage details thoughtfully placed throughout the home.  Prior to decorating this year, Jayne Detten, Assistant Director of the Marland Mansion and Marland’s Grand Home, researched and gathered the following trends that may have influenced how the Marland’s decorated for Christmas during the 1916 to 1920 era.

Christmas during the Great War

The year 1916 was no time for extravagant living, even for the wealthy Marland family, as World War I was underway.  Nearly everything in society was centered on the war, including Christmas.

Trees and Decorations

Christmas trees were smaller and the spread was more frugal. Usually pine or cedar, the trees didn’t always have the lovely traditional shape that we know now.  In the city, trees were brought in on wagons and sold on the street.  Lighting the tree in the home was not yet a common practice. Christmas lights were available for a cost of about three dollars a box, which would have been equivalent to about eighty dollars today. The lights were made by General Electric’s “Edison Decorative Miniature Lamp Division.”  By 1916, stores were selling Christmas decoration items.  Most homes and trees were decorated with hand-made items.  Traditional tree decorations included stringed popcorn and cranberries, pine cones, red and green ropes, and homemade paper chains.  Snowflake cutouts and tinsel icicles were also used.  

Santa and Stockings

Santa was very popular in 1916 and was used to sell just about everything!  The Arts and Crafts movement had clearly influenced the era and was evident through illustrative advertisements including Santa Claus. Stockings usually contained a home-grown apple, an orange, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, candy canes, chocolate drops, raisins, and possibly a small toy or two.  However, stockings were not hung by the fireplace, as fireplaces were needed for heat not decoration. Socks or knee-length stockings were either laid on a chair or tied around a bedpost or doorknob. 

Toys and Gifts

Selected Christmas toys and gifts included the “Teddy Bear” named after President Teddy Roosevelt, rag and china dolls, checkers and chess games, tinker toys, yoyos, Lincoln Logs, dolls’ houses, little red wagons, rocking horses, trains, metal cast animals, puzzles, jump ropes, chalk boards, and crayons. The most popular gifts were the Raggedy Ann dolls and die-cast metal toys. Roller skates were also gaining popularity, along with wagons and bicycles, toy train sets, and baby dolls. Handmade items like socks, gloves, mittens, and scarves were the most common gifts and may have been the only gifts a family received.


A traditional Christmas dinner usually included roast chicken or beef rather than turkey or ham. Cakes, pies, cookies, and Jell-O, a newly invented food item, were also served. Beautiful Jell-O molds for the holidays were all the rage and very popular in the 1920s. Folks baked extra items during the holidays and shared desserts with family and neighbors. The wonderful fruitcakes were passed around and around. During prohibition, rum flavoring rather than the real thing was used for cakes and eggnogs!         


The production of Christmas cards was a profitable business for many stationery manufacturers, and the demand for cards increased during World War I.

Christmas after the War

When the war was over, the country became more prosperous and people were ready to celebrate.  The Marlands kept their home at 1000 East Grand Avenue until 1930. During the decade and a half prior to moving, the Marlands enjoyed many parties and gatherings in their home, which not only included Christmas, but fox hunting in the winter months as well.

Sources: Wikipedia,, and

Jan Rodd