Ready for vintage glitter? See you at the JoCo Museum this season


Yvonne Svenson delighted children before the pandemic at Vintage Christmas at the Johnson County Museum.

Courtesy photo

If you feel the need for a little vintage tinsel to start December, you’re in luck. The Retro Housewife’s Guide to Vintage Christmas will feature 1950s Christmas decor and traditions at the all-electric home at the Johnson County Museum.

This is part of a series that the museum started last November with frequent guest speaker Yvonne Svenson. All previous installments have been virtual, but this one will be exclusively in person at the museum on December 7 at 6 p.m.

“A lot of it comes from Miss Yvonne,” said Leah Palmer, education curator for the museum. “She is really passionate about this subject. She really lives it, and so she always wants to do more and share her knowledge with others.

The first program they did focused on 50s fashion, hitting everything from belts to brooches. Another took advantage of an exhibition of period furniture organized by the museum. The Christmas one will be the seventh in the series, Svenson said.

She loves the opportunity to share her fascination with the 1950s, as well as the rules of etiquette that are no longer necessarily known.

“People don’t really learn to dress anymore. I gave an example: (If) you wear more beautiful jewelry, a pin or brooch, you always wear it on the correct side. … When you go to shake someone’s hand… they glance at that and right at your face, ”Svenson said.

When it comes to vintage Christmas traditions, the 50s represented a huge change in the way people celebrated.

“Christmas decorations have taken a new path. For the first time, we had artificial trees. It was new; it was modern. We were back from the war and we had all this money we could spend on things for the first time in our lives, ”Svenson said. “I talk a lot about trees, lights. Everything was on top. It felt a bit like being in space. (This is) how kitsch really got into Christmas.

When it comes to kitsch, Palmer’s favorite item currently on display in the all-electric house is a Christmas cookie jar.

Just as she will describe in the show, Svenson celebrates vintage-style vacations at her own 50s ranch in Leawood, right down to cooking a ham with pineapple and cherries on it.

She encourages people to ask if they want to know more about the era or her own retro look.

“I always tell everyone that I am an open book. You can ask me about anything, as long as it’s rated G instead, ”she said.

In addition to the usual 1950s Christmas decor, the All-Electric House also hosts several vintage party outfits from a collection at Johnson County Community College’s Midwest Trust Center. Palmer hopes these pieces on mannequins around the house make it look like a holiday cocktail party is underway.

“I think people are logging on to that time, because it’s so full of nostalgia. But all that nostalgia is also sort of rooted in this pivotal time in history. … This is when holiday traditions and celebrations get really fun, ”said Palmer.

The museum pre-recorded previous programs and broadcast them via Facebook, followed by a live question-and-answer session with Svenson. Because the exhibition area is not very well received, they will not be able to share a live version of this Christmas program.

Palmer said they are considering more virtual programs for the future. The next retro in-person program will be Valentine’s Day themed.

The Retro Housewife’s Guide to Vintage Christmas will be on Tuesday, December 7 at 6 p.m. at the Johnson County Museum, 8788 Metcalf Ave. Tickets cost $ 6 and the museum requires participants to register in advance.

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