When Agecroft Hall was moved to Richmond in the 1920s, it was coming to America at a time of great change. The Christmas season was no different! Some of the traditions we still recognize for the holiday began during this decade. For example, Calvin Coolidge had the first national Christmas tree in 1923. A huge 60 foot lit tree was unveiled during a holiday ceremony.
The types of gifts that people were giving changed too. Prior to this, people often exchanged smaller personalized gifts. But more and more people started to see Christmas gift giving time as an opportunity to give and receive more practical gifts. Popular items included house decorating items like rugs or chairs. Ads also suggest that time saving appliances like washing machines would make a lovely gift.
Children's toys also were more likely to be mass produced- 1920s children could ask for die-cast metal toys and yo-yos.
One item that would not have been available, as either a gift or as part of the holiday party scene, would have been alcohol. The Volsted Act had been passed, and in case anyone thought they could get around the law at holiday time, the government sent notices to be printed in national magazines on Christmas Eve reminding the public that "the use of fermented wines for sacramental purposes during religious services is forbidden". We don't think this would have affected the Williams' personally, as they did not drink alcohol for religious reasons, but it may have affected their parties.
One final interesting note about Christmas decorations: post World War I, hand blown glass decorations became very popular. Many of these were imported from Germany. As you will see in another one of our posts, the coming of the next World War would again affect the type of decorations that Americans would want on their tree.
Photo credit: Saturday Evening Post