9 Great Christmas Traditions from Thomas Edison and his Family

While Thomas Edison’s favorite holiday was 4th of July, his wife’s favorite holiday was definitely Christmas. From decorations to parties to private family time, Mina Edison would pull out all the stops to make the holiday really feel special. Keep reading to see how she did just that:

1) An Elaborate, Multi-Course Christmas Dinner

Thomas Edison’s Christmas Dinner Menu from 1891

In 1891, the Edison’s Christmas meal included: Oysters, cosomme, hard-shell crab, good applesauce, potato croquettes, mushroom patties, cucumber salad, ice cream, plum pudding, mince pie, cheese, nuts, raisins, candy and fruit.

2) A Wholesome and Dry Family Celebration

As a staunch Methodist, Mina did not favor the consumption of alcohol. While they did serve some drinks at more formal events, the Edison family didn’t partake.

3) Sharing the Christmas Spirit with Everyone

Edison’s daughter, Madeleine said that “The dining room table used to sit about thirty. There was quite a lot of family…plus a lot of strays that Mother used to pull in, people who didn’t have a place to go.”

4) Changing up the Christmas Decorations Every Year

Holiday decor was Mina Edison’s fortay…from a heavily decorated tree with ornaments and lights to intricate floral designs. In 1915 alone, she ordered 40 wreaths to place around the house.

5) The Christmas Tree in the Den was Always the Main Event

The den Christmas Tree at Thomas Edison’s Glenmont Estate, decorated just as Mina would have done in her lifetime.

Although the decorations changed every year, one thing did remain the same – The grand Christmas Tree in the den. Edison’s son, Theodore, said, “The tree used to be right in the middle, and then all the people would come. Christmas was quite a day here. After dinner, they would all come out here and sit around the tree and distribute presents, you know.”

6) Decorating with Poinsettias from Mina Edison’s Greenhouse

Mina Edison’s passions came together for Christmas pretty seamlessly – Her love for hosting parties and her love for gardening. She’d grow dozens of poinsettias in her greenhouse at Glenmont and then use them all around the house as decorations and favors for guests.

7) Toys for the Edison Children from FAO Shwartz

An original receipt from FAO Shwartz, listing what the Edison children would get for Christmas

What is Christmas without toys for the kids? Balls, racquets, rag dolls and suitcases were just some of the gifts on the Edisons’ wish list.

8) The Edisons Started Christmas Day with Music

The Edison kids would start every Christmas by playing Christmas music on the phonograph in the Second Floor Hall…and then singing carols outside of their parents’ bedroom!

9) Opening Stockings all in Edison’s Bed

Thomas Edison’s mantel and pastel stockings…often filled with Florida oranges!

The most heart-warming Edison tradition of them happened on Christmas morning, before sharing the day with any guests. All of the children would climb into Mina and Thomas Edison’s bed with their pastel-colored stockings to open them together. Often, they would find fresh Florida oranges along with small toys, but it didn’t really matter what was inside. Theodore recalled, “I think by father got very little out of it, because he couldn’t hear our carols and having all those kids climbing all over the place and looking at those presents didn’t mean much to him. But it was wonderful for us.” Sounds pretty wonderful to us!


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