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The Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving was formed in 1912 as a protest against the exploitation of working women by their bosses. Manhattan, NY department store clerks (almost exclusively women) were all pressured into giving extravagant gifts to their male supervisors, an unwritten rule of the times. The group was also opposed to what they called Christmas-related materialism. SPUGs were not against Christmas but they were opposed to what it had become, an overly commercial holiday built around the giving of mostly useless gifts.

Donald Gardner was a second grade music teacher

The Smithtown Elementary School’s Christmas Pageant of 1944 was coming up. Gardner was talking with the second graders and their teacher about what songs they could sing for their portion of the program. After a while, the 7- and 8-year-old children stopped talking about songs and started talking about the gifts they hoped Santa would bring them for Christmas.

As they talked, Gardner noticed that almost all of the kids answered with a lisp

When the teacher said something funny and all 22 kids laughed, Gardner saw that 16 of them were missing their front teeth. This gave him an idea for a song, so he went home and wrote the music and lyrics in 30 minutes. The second-graders sang it at the school’s Christmas pageant that year and for years to come. 

Hoping to make some money from the song, Gardner sent it to a New York music publisher who told him it would never be a hit

That was that until 1948, when Spike Jones recorded All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth. The single sold nearly two million copies, making Billboard’s Top 10 list in 1948 and again in 1949, when it hit #1.

Here are links to four different versions of All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.

Spike Jones & His City Slickers. If you’ve never heard his music, you’re in for a surprise.

Nat King Cole Silky-smooth piano bar style.

Jimmy Buffett. This one is for Parrotheads.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. If you’re a fan of original American art forms, you’ll like this very different version.

Bonus: More than three out of four Americans want Christmas gifts they can use

The top three gifts people want to get are:

  • Money
  • Gift cards
  • Clothing

The top three unwanted gifts people returned are:

  • Clothing
  • Household items
  • Cosmetics


Have a safe and happy holiday week and we’ll meet back here next year. 

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