Collecting Articles and Features

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Collectibles

45 years since its release Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas remains one of the most beloved holiday specials. Originally airing in 1977 in Canada and 1978 in the US, the special is based on the 1971 children’s book of the same name by Russell Hoban and pictures by Lillian Hoban. Directed by Jim Henson the story follows a poor otter family living in a small town and the lengths they go to make their dreams come true. Being a Jim Henson production the Muppets make an appearance including being narrated by none other than Kermit the Frog.

Emmet Otters Jug-Band Christmas book by Russell Hoban and pictures by Lillian Hoban
Emmet Otters Jug-Band Christmas book by Russell Hoban and pictures by Lillian Hoban. This 1971  first edition sold for $155 on ebay, December 2018.

We take a look at the show, the story, the original book and some of the Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Collectibles created.

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas 45th Anniversary Figure Set
Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas 45th Anniversary Figure Set. This set is released by Plastic Meatball and is being made to order. It features Emmet with toolbox and Ma with washtub. It is priced at $60.

The Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Plot

Kermit the Frog narrates the story of Emmet Otter, but he is soon interrupted by the River Bottom Gang – a group of unruly hoodlums consisting of Chuck Stoat, Fred Lizard, Howard Snake, “Pop-Eyed” Catfish and Stanley Weasel. They mock Kermit and rudely snatch away his scarf, before the scene shifts back to Emmet and his widowed Ma in Frogtown Hollow.

7 X 9 B & W ABC Promo Photo For Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas
7 X 9 B & W ABC Promo Photo For Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. Sold for $61 on ebay, JUne 2019.

Ma and Emmet have a hard time making ends meet, as they both work, but barely get by with the small amount of money that Ma earns from washing clothes and Emmet receives after doing odd jobs around their community. Despite the poverty, Ma and Emmet have a loving relationship and are determined to make their lives better. One day, they overhear the news of a talent show taking place in nearby town of Otter Lake with a grand prize of fifty dollars. With Fifty Dollars, Ma and Emmet could finally make ends meet and buy each other presents. Emmet and Ma decide to enter the talent show independently but in order to be able to perform Emmet has to use Ma’s washtub and Ma has to sell Emmet’s tools to buy material for a dress.

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas Figurines
Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas Resin Figurines set. Sold for $20 on ebay, November 2022.

They both compete at the talent but not to spoil the whole story we won’t tell you if they win or not. Being a Christmas Special things probabky turn out for the best in the end.

The Music and Songs

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas features music and songs written by Paul Williams—an Academy Award-winning songwriter who had previously written for such iconic films as The Muppet Movie and Bugsy Malone. The songs featured in this beloved holiday special are an essential piece of its charm. From the toe-tapping opening number Our World to the plaintive finale When the River Meets the Sea each song perfectly captures the emotion of its scene while weaving together the narrative through cleverly written lyrics. Other popular songs from the show include Brothers and Bar-B-Que.

The soundtrack music for the show was not actually released on CD and LP until November 2018 by Varese Sarabande Records.

Music From Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Paul Williams
Music From Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas by Paul Williams

No matter how hard life can be, there’s always hope if you keep believing in yourself and never give up on your dreams—even when it seems like all hope is lost. This message of hope in Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas resonates with viewers young and old alike, making Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas an enduring classic that will live on for generations to come. A movie has been planned which will open the story of Emmet and Ma to a new generation and hopefully will involve the release of more collectibles and merchandise.

Muppets Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas Home Video VHS Tape
Muppets Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas Home Video VHS Tape. Sold for $31 on ebay, December 2011.

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Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on ebay