In the 1950s and ‘60s, Christmas Clubs were nearly as much a part of the holidays as Santa’s elves or the partridge in his pear tree.
What was a Christmas Club? Basically, a mini savings account that could be opened in the summer and withdrawn around the holidays. Virtually every bank offered one. The Milford Cabinet reported in December 1954 that the Souhegan National Bank paid out $103,000 in more than 1,100 Christmas Club checks. How much you got back depended on how much you put in. You could deposit as little as a quarter a week for a modest 12-dollar yuletide check or put in ten dollars weekly and have a $500 jolly holiday. “Dollars don’t grow on Christmas trees, but watch them grow in a Christmas Club,” one bank advertised.
But why not just put the money under a mattress or in your piggy bank? The Souhegan National Bank had an answer for that: “Once upon a time there was a man who didn’t need a Christmas Club. Each week he put his money in a piggy bank and when Christmas rolled around — there was his money.” But for everyone else, the bank explained, the Christmas Club “encourages us to save regularly.” The Wilton National Bank also stressed fiscal responsibility: “Mr. and Mrs. (Budget) Wise will be able to remember everyone on their list without straining their budget. Think ahead to next Christmas. Will you have the cash for a gift-shopping spree?”
By the 1970s, the concept was largely “Christmas Past.” Although as late as 1978, one local bank was trying to keep the Christmas Club alive with drawings for microwave ovens and black & white TVs, it seemed modern consumers were no longer saving every quarter — they were just breaking out the charge card.
Milford Cooperative Bank still offered Christmas Clubs in 1969.