Avon Perfume Bottle

By Peggy Derrick

A large part of Christmas is exchanging gifts with family and friends. It can be a big deal for children when they first get to participate in the giving part of this ritual and buy or make presents for their parents.

I can remember standing in a Ben Franklin store when I was 7 years old with a sock filled with $5.00 worth of dimes that I had saved. That sock felt very heavy and full, and it must have been, because I succeeded in purchasing gifts for my mother, father, baby brother and teacher with that five bucks. Daddy got a key chain: I gave him key chains for years—I’m not really sure why I thought he had an endless need for key chains. I don’t remember what my 3 year old brother got, but my mom and teacher both got boxes of chocolate covered cherries.

But if I had known about perfume, and if I had had a connection with an Avon representative, I would certainly have lusted after a Christmas-themed perfume bottle like this one! It would have had the perfect alluring mix of gown-up exoticism and Holiday magic.

A quick and unscientific poll of LCHS interns has taught me that body care sets, such as from Bath and Body Works, are now very popular presents for mothers. Maybe that’s the contemporary version buying Mom perfume?

Avon was started in 1886 as the California Perfume Company, and began marketing under the Avon label in 1928. Right from the beginning their products were sold through sales representatives who sold directly to customers: the company founder, David McConnell, pioneered the business model that gives homemakers a way to run their own businesses from their homes. Many other businesses, such as Tupperware and Mary Kay Cosmetics went on to successfully use this business model. Being an Avon representative was a way for women to earn money from their homes, through their networks of friends and acquaintances, and Avon products are still sold this way.

They produced their first novelty containers in the 1960s, with bottles shaped like animals or objects. As best as we can tell, this Christmas tree bottle was made in the 1970s. They aren’t worth a lot of money, but are a fun collectible.

In any case, I just remembered I still need to go shopping for some important Moms in my life. And what about you: what are you getting your Mom for Christmas this year?

This article was originally featured in the La Crosse Tribune.