"". Tell Us About....Celebration | Is This Mutton?

Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

Search This Blog

Thursday 21 December 2023

Tell Us About....Celebration

 1970s Christmas tree baubles.

Dear friends. Our final Tell Us About prompt for 2023 is in the hands of Debbie from Deb's World and it's Celebration.  

Let's get in my time machine and go back to the 60s and 70s for a typical birthday and Christmas celebration. 

The Birthday Hedgehog

Parties always featured a "hedgehog" made of a potato with spikes formed by cocktail sausages on sticks. Another variation was half a grapefruit speared by cheese and pineapple on sticks. 

We didn't invite the whole class in those days. Just our friends.  There were no magicians or children's entertainers (unless someone's dad was a show-off). Parents didn't attend, they were glad to get a couple of hours' peace. 

It was rare for kids to bring a present. When they left, they might be given a Lucky Bag. This was a paper bag bought in the corner shop containing cheap sweets and a plastic toy. Or my mum would sprinkle sweets down the stairs for us to pick up.

We'd shriek with excitement playing Pass the Parcel. Chairs were lined up and you ran round them until the music stopped,  and then you had to be sitting on a chair or you were "out" (dad would remove a chair each round). Whoever was left won the parcel.

In addition to the hedgehog, there was jelly with orange segments, anointed by Dream Topping sprinkled with hundreds and thousands in a nod to the birthday.

The pièce de résistance was a cake BOUGHT from Goodbody's Bakers. It had pink or blue icing and your name piped on it. The height of sophistication, we thought. 

A 1960s Christmas 

Our Christmas tree came from Freeman's and was very tall. In later years, the top bit was given to my grandparents.  The fairy at the top had a dirty off white crepe paper dress. The fairy lights had big coloured bulbs. If one failed, the rest wouldn't work. 

On Christmas Eve we always had sausage rolls with baked beans for tea. On Christmas Day, breakfast was Cadburys chocolate biscuits. 

Presents, in a pillow case, would be waiting at the end of the bed. I liked an arty gift and was variously given Etch a Sketch, Spiromatic and Spirofoil. When I was 12 I hit the jackpot with a Lilliput toy typewriter.  We never asked for big presents.  We knew our parents couldn't afford it. 

The sideboard would groan with bowls of nuts (with nutcrackers), Eat Me dates (no-one liked them), Newbery Fruits, After Eights, Famous Names Chocolate Liqueurs, a present from dad's employers, and a box of chocolates, which might be Milk Tray or Mackintosh's Week End. One year it was Quality Street and I hated that - too many toffees. 

The chocolates were doled out after lunch when we played games such as Movie Maker or Cluedo.  Certain chocolates found it hard to find an admirer:  Montelimar for one, while there would be a battle to get hold of the Hazelnut Whirl from Milk Tray. 

My grandparents were always there on Christmas Day, arriving in dapper hats and a cloud of April Violets (Grandma). Grandma insisted on a game of cards, something horrendous like Newmarket.  I could never remember the rules. She liked to play for money.  Just a few coppers before you question my upbringing. Below:  Christmas circa 1982: left to right, my brother Andrew, my mum, me  (orange hat), Grandma, Grandad.

While we played games, my dad was watching TV, usually Billy Smart's Circus, and telling us to keep  the noise down.

Lunch at 1pm was a roast capon (a big chicken) and the usual trimmings.  Christmas was the only time we had fizzy pop, Corona, which was delivered by a special lorry. We also had crackers and vied to be the last one still wearing the hat at the end of the day. 

I don't recall any alcohol during lunch for the adults, but they usually had a cheeky schooner of Harvey's Bristol Cream (sherry) in the morning, and a Drambuie or Snowball after lunch. 

Tea appeared at 5pm and involved "emergency chairs" around the table and an orange check seersucker tablecloth. The spread included chicken sandwiches, sausage rolls, meat patties, cream slices (all made by Mum) and a gateau with "icing" made of Dream Topping.  Inevitably the peach segments would slowly slide off.  The gateau is to the right in this picture, which also highlights a typical 60s/70s tea set. 

A 1970s Christmas tea spread from the childhood of blogger Gail Hanlon, Is This Mutton

Mum always made a Christmas cake too, and one of the china cake decorations for many years was a penguin. I was never convinced it had any festive relevance,  but because I'm a stickler for tradition, there would be trouble if it didn't appear. 

After tea the grandparents were hastily driven home so that dad could have a drink or two while we watched the Christmas blockbusters: a pantomime featuring stars of BBC light entertainment, and Morecambe and Wise. 

Surprisingly,  religion didn't figure, except for the school Nativity play. My elder brother and I went to Sunday School each week but our parents didn't go to church very often. 

I don't have very many photos because these were the days before smartphones.  We had a camera that used Magicubes (disposable flash) in the 70s, which meant more photos. But in the 60s, dad was using b&w film with no flash. 

Now Let's See How My Friends Got On 

Debbie from Deb's World, who came up with this month's prompt, doesn't have grand parties or drink to excess, so it's not the party lifestyle she's seeking, it's the joy of celebrating with friends and family, and being in the moment that counts. Debbie looks back at some big celebrations and shares the moments of joy with her readers. 

Sue from Women Living Well After 50 loves a celebration especially during the Festive Season,  spending time with family and friends.  For Celebration prompt Sue is taking a different angle and looks at areas in our life that we could celebrate more.

Suzy from The Grey Brunette shares a glimpse of her world, where celebrations are all about finding joy in everyday moments, from cozy holidays with family to milestone adventures, highlighting the beauty found in life's simplicity.

If there’s one thing Mary Katherine and her crew know how to do, it’s celebrate.  Read about some epic celebrations. 

Marsha from Marsha in the Middle recounts the years leading up to and including her daughter's wedding...a week before Christmas!  

Leslie from Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After is sharing celebrations past and present, and the special moments she hopes to celebrate in the very near future. 

Penny from Frugal Fashion Shopper also remembers Christmases past and present, and ends with a big shout-out to all low-paid workers in those essential jobs and the many volunteers who give their time to run so many things. Let’s celebrate those wonderful people, she says. 

Hope you enjoyed our Celebrations. How do you remember your childhood celebrations? Did anything spark a memory? Let us know in the comments.

You May Also Enjoy

Tell Us About Scent

Tell Us About Imagination

Tell Us About Time 


These are the sites I link with.


Subscribe to receive 1 email a week with the latest Mutton posts, fashion, beauty and books. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

1 comment

  1. Oh nice memories Gail. Sounds like one of my Christmases. Thanks for hosting x Jacqui.


Blog Design Created by pipdig