Instead of knee-hugger elves: Annalee Dolls for my Christmas ornament wreaths — from Home Goods, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx

annalee-dolls-2I am always on the lookout for vintage or reproduction Christmas weebits to jazz up my annual production of Christmas ornament wreaths. Poking around Home Goods last week, I spotted these little Annalee Dolls — around $7 each — and thought they would be great substitutes for knee-hugger elves. Vintage knee-hugger elves in good shape can be really hard to find, expensive too… and the reproductions I’ve seen at Michael’s are, as I recall, too big and don’t look all that vintage. Many of the Annalee’s seemed sized just right… there are a variety of designs… they are posable… and there are cute little animals, too. In addition, Annalee Dolls’ vintage props are authentic: This company has been in business since 1934!

My take-home stash. So far.

My take-home stash. So far. You can click on photos on this blog, and the photos should enlarge on your screen up to 1,000 pixels wide so that you can see more detail.

The history of Annalee Dolls, from their website:

Annalee Thorndike and husband, Chip, lived on a chicken farm in Meredith, New Hampshire. After the chicken farm failed in the early 1950s, Annalee was forced to get serious about her childhood hobby of doll making with a dash of Yankee influence.

Young Annalee Thorndike, photo used courtesy Annalee Dolls

Young Annalee Thorndike, photo used courtesy Annalee Dolls

The old chicken coop became a design room. Chip became a salesman. Annalee became a doll maker.


Thorndike family, photo used courtesy Annalee Dolls

She fashioned her creations directly from the activities of her two sons—skiing, swimming, and other activities children do best. There is no doubt that this is why Annalee designed more than one mischievous, whimsical face for each of her doll creations.


annalee-doll-3At both Home Goods and Marshalls, I found a varied selection of designs and sizes of Annalee Dolls.

If you’re doing wreaths, go for the small guys, I’d say. And get out to these stores ASAP. No telling if these Annalees will be restocked, or if once they are gone, they are gone. Try T.J. Maxx, too. All three companies have the same corporate ownership and when it comes to Christmas decor, tend to carry some of the same items, according to my experience.


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  1. says

    Pam – what a sweet stash you got! I’m sure they’ll look adorable once all vignetted out for the holidays. I’m assuming that the addition of the vintage ruler in the top photo was yours? I saw it and realized I am way overdue for a visit to Wellsboro, PA myself so I appreciate the reminder!

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        For many years I have collected Annalee Christmas dolls (and Thanksgiving, and Halloween, and even Easter!), and the ones at T. J. Maxx, Marshall’s and Home Goods are the real deal. They are just last year’s models. You can spot a real Annalee doll by the fact that the faces are all hand-painted, so if you get two elves that are otherwise identical, the individual faces will be unique. Sort of like studying the faces of identical twins in your family.

        One thing I’ve noticed after seeing the pictures of young Annalee is that she had a mischievous elfin face herself, and the dolls look like her!

  2. Lynne says

    Sorry, I should clarify that….I can see the new ones have the name on the price tag, but older ones that one would find at an estate or garage sale?

  3. Jay says

    Oh Pam, I took note of your ruler; a nice reminder of several days spent in Wellsboro in August, (still has its hometown department store and movie house) it was a jumping off point for a day in Corning.
    I can recall when the department stores had extensive displays of the Anna Lee dolls at Christmas, some of the figures could be quite large; just like the dolls found in the toy departments.
    Looking forward to seeing what you do with your stash.

  4. Erika Tugas says

    Hobby Lobby has pretty convincing repro knee-hugger elves. Affordable too – I think they are around $4 a piece.

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      I was just going to send along that link–thank you, Another Mary.

      The smaller elves–that would be appropriate for wreath wee-bits–come to about $10 each.

  5. Lynne says

    Pam…I just checked at the thrift store I volunteer at. We have 5 ANNALEE figures from the early 60s. $4.75 each. Go on sale Oct. 27. Still have to check on the knee huggers….

  6. Gracie Manasco says

    My Christmas stocking when I was little was Annalee…. Red stocking with a white mouse head sticking out of the toe and his tail sticking out of the heel! Still have it…. And I’m almost 52!

  7. Amy says

    This is amazing! I grew up just minutes from Meredith, and spent most of my summers on Lake Winnepesaukee so this is the best kind of blast from the past 🙂 I wonder if I’ll find them here in Seattle!

  8. Chicago Char says

    Another resource for Annalee could be Tuesday Morning. They had Annalee ornaments too my last shopping visit. It is also a buy it when you see it store but Tuesday’s is a favorite.

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