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Remember When? … Totally!

Take a journey down memory lane as we explore some of the most sought-after gifts of the decades. 

You’ve made your holiday wish list and checked it twice. This year, most adult lists likely include Apple watches or anything with smart technology, and kids are still asking for L.O.L. Surprise items or a Nintendo Switch

Holiday wish lists have changed quite a bit through the years. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular holiday gifts of the past several decades and see how they compare.

Groovy Gifts to Give

The ‘70s were a time for entertainment and technology. Holiday buzz centered on up-and-coming products that were fun and made life convenient. 

Atari 2600: This system revolutionized the world of gaming and had a good 15-year run. It kept kids of this era occupied with games like Combat, Space Invaders and Pac-Man. An Atari came complete with the console, two joysticks, two paddle controllers and a game to get you started, making it one of the most exciting gifts to open on Christmas morning. 

VCR: The video cassette recorder was the original way to record TV shows that you couldn’t watch live. While they were first produced 20 years prior, VCRs became popular in the U.S. during the late ‘70s when Sony and JVC created Betamax and VHS tapes respectively, making recording easy and affordable. 

Polaroid Camera:What better way to document those special moments through the year than with a Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera? The one-step instant camera was the first of its kind. Users simply had to snap a photo and wait about a minute for it to develop on its own. Once unwrapped, the rest of the holiday was likely spent taking photos of family and maybe even that holiday dinner spread. 

Choice Items for Under the Tree

The ‘80s were a mixed bag of gifts. Lists included everything from items that made you look cool to the most popular toys (think Rubik’s Cube and Care Bears) of the decade. 

Swatch Watch: Color and patterns were all the rage in ‘80s fashion, and it was no more apparent than on a Swatch Watch. The fun of these casual time pieces was in their vibrant colors, which could be matched to any outfit. That also meant that you couldn’t have just one. 

Camcorder: The introduction of the camcorder made video recording mainstream. While the large size of the first few models weren’t ideal, they allowed individuals to record important moments that they could look back on many years later. Camcorders were popular gifts in 1982 because they were released just before the holiday season. 

Cabbage Patch Kids: These cute stuffed dolls with the plastic chubby cheeks and yarn hair were the most sought-after toy of the 1983 holiday season. Each one of the dolls was just a little bit different, which increased the appeal to adopt one of these cuties from the cabbage patch. 

What Every Kid Wanted in the ‘90s

This decade was all about the fun toys — ones that parents had to line up early and fight massive crowds to get. Little faces lit up on Christmas morning if they were lucky enough to get one of these popular presents. 

Nintendo 64: This gaming console was one of the must-have gifts of 1996, and it was even named “Machine of the Year” by Time Magazine due to its speed and impressive graphics. If a Nintendo 64 was under the tree, the rest of Christmas Day was likely spent playing with Mario and the gang. 

Tickle Me Elmo: Who could forget the Tickle Me Elmo craze of 1996? The little red monster laughed and vibrated each time it received a hug. After being featured on Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show, Elmo became the “it” toy of the holiday season, leaving parents scrambling to get their hands on one.  

Beanie Babies: With so many options to choose from, Beanie Babies made for a perfect stocking stuffer in the ‘90s. From a variety of bears and other animals to specialty selections that could pull in some extra cash for you now, such as the Princess Diana bear from 1997, most kids of this decade were extremely excited if Santa gifted them with new Beanie Babies.   

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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