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Last Updated on August 1, 2022
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you close your eyes and think of Christmas back in the 90s? For me, it’s the Coca-Cola Christmas song and the excitement of finding Home Alone running on TV on Christmas Eve.
There is no doubt that things have changed over the years…
You had to do your holiday shopping in person (and plan ahead if you didn’t want to show up empty-handed), singers recorded Christmas songs (and actually made them a hit), and festive film favorites were actually a thing (since you couldn’t find some of those shows anywhere else all year-long!).
So, here is our list of favorite things that made Christmas in the 90s the absolute best!
And a terrific Spotify playlist to get you started on that nostalgic road with Mariah’s “O Holy Night” song:
- Fun Memories and Traditions
- TV Commercials and Christmas Specials
Fun Memories and Traditions
#1. Watching random old-cartoon Christmas specials on cable-tv
It was not an everyday occurrence that I was allowed to watch TV from my parent’s bed during my childhood…So on Christmas Day, it was worth the effort to wake up earlier than usual to catch all the Christmas specials!
Be it Rugrats or the Simpsons, specials would take over the usual programming and primetime slots would be occupied by oldie classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, or Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Thanks to Netflix and other streaign services, being tied up to a certain schedule to watch stuff on TV and checking a cable guide for your favorite series times are both a thing of the past. That said, this has also taken the magic out of being in the right place at the right time when your favorite Christmas special is showing!
You May Like: 23 of the Best 90s Cartoons we all Loved
#2. Untangling old-school Christmas lights
At home, decorating and unpacking the Christmas tree was quite the event.
The tradition dictated that every year, we would add one ornament to the tree or to the general decorations. This resulted in an overabundance of ornaments, tree lights, and stuff in general!
The excess of lights and ornaments might have been responsible for some issues…
Untangling the Christmas lights was quite a feat, reserved only for the most patient members of the family. It was difficult, especially when more than one line of lights ended up tangled together!
#3. Santa Claus Costuming
Thanks to my mom, I found out that my dad was coerced into dressing as Santa more than once when I was a child.
One time, he even climbed atop the rooftop and produced the famed “Ho, ho, ho!” as he rang a bell around! I guess it was easier to believe in Santa in a pre-internet era!
#4. Picking up holiday movies at Blockbuster
I cherished going to Blockbuster to rent movies as a child, particularly over Christmas, since the holiday movie marathon was one of my favorite moments of the year.
Of course, you had to either reserve the movies before the date or risk that none of your favorites were even there! Also, kids nowadays will never know how peeved everyone was if the VHS tape hadn’t been rewinded.
#5. Snuggling up to watch Home Alone
The first Home Alone movie was released in 1990, and it changed everything. We all wanted to be left alone in charge of our house after watching it.
Snuggling up to watch the VHS right around the holidays was one of my favorite activities of the season.
It might have given us unrealistic ideas of what we could create with random things at home, but it undoubtedly became one of the most enduring holiday classics ever.
#6. Getting your first home computer
Before the 90s, computers were hardly affordable for most people so when they became more modestly priced, many households hurried to get one. Receiving a C64, Atari or if you’re really lucky a Nintendo was an awesome surprise.
This is how many computers were miraculously found under the tree on Christmas morning. What a great present to receive from Santa!
In the later 90s I will never forget the noise the internet connection made when you got online, or how you had to wait for your mom to finally hang up to use the phone so your could jump online to wish you friends a happy Christmas.
#7. The Muppet Christmas Carol
I am far from a musical person, but the Muppet’s take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a classic that I even remember. Did you happen to watch it as a kid? Wasn’t Michael Caine an amazing Scrooge?
#8. Greatest Boybands Christmas Singles
The ’90s had a lot of bands, and they all had at least one Christmas single. NSYNC, Hanson, Celine Dion, Boyz II Men, No Doubt, the Spice Girls, the Backstreet Boys, and the Smashing Pumpkins (YES, that really happened) are only some of the bands that got in on the holiday fun.
Some were good, some great, and some downright memorable. Surprisingly, the best Christmas songs all came from boybands!
“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by NSYNC.
“Christmas Time” by the Backstreet Boys.
“Everybody Knows The Claus” by Hanson.
“This Gift” by 98 Degrees.
#9. Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”
Mariah Carey released her Christmas album in 1994 just in time for the Christmas season and her “All I Want for Christmas is You” single became one of the most popular Christmas songs ever. In 2019, it finally reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I still listen to it on Christmas Eve!
Watching holiday movies was one of the most common holiday activities for families during the 90s. We watched a ton of releases every week and I still remember and cherish each and every one of them.
My dad was quite a fan of Christmas action movies, the Die Hard and the Lethal Weapon movies in particular, whereas my mom was all about comedies, like Kindergarten Cop or Jingle All the Way.
Favorite movies might have varied according to gender and age, but we all agreed that it was time to settle and eat some popcorn when the VHS player was on.
#10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
The animation is on point and the music unforgettable. Plus, it really stands out from the rest of the holiday-themed movies on the list.
Tim Burton definitely created a classic with this one, the music is unforgettable and Jack Skellington is so lovable!
Is it considered a Halloween or a Christmas film? Truth be told, it has a bit of both, wrapped up in a delightful gothic aesthetic.
#11. Home Alone
This is arguably one of the best Christmas movies of the 90s. It is a movie best enjoyed as a family, filled with humor, heartwarming moments, and a lot of crazy adventures.
It brings up lots of warm memories for me, of watching it as a family over Christmas dinner.
#12. Jack Frost
Michael Keaton will forever be my favorite Batman, but before that, he was also my favorite Jack Frost.
Long before the animated Jack Frost existed, he was a father that wanted to spend one last time with his kid before he passed away and got to do so in the shape of a snowman.
Watch this with a tissue box on hand. It has a deep, serious side to it that is guaranteed to bring on the waterworks!
#13. Jingle All The Way
Howard Langston (Arnold) is a parent that tries to get his son a Turbo Man doll to redeem himself but out of bad luck ends up having to do all sorts of crazy things to get the prized doll.
This is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s funniest films to date and it exemplifies the toy craze that parents went through during the 90s to perfection!
TV Commercials and Christmas Specials
TV Commercials are responsible for some of our most iconic culture icons. Such is the case of Coca-Cola and Santa Claus, which they basically created. They are also responsible for the Coca-Cola polar bears of the 90s that were first used in 1993 in one of the most memorable Christmas ads of all time.
However, Coca-Cola is not the only one that came up with amazing tv commercials during the 90s. Hershey’s got their own super popular ad for Hershey’s Kisses which you will instantly recognize as soon as the music starts playing, and Campbel’s Soup created their snowman ad that is as memorable as they get.
#14. The Coca-cola Christmas train is coming to town
#15. The Coca-Cola polar bear commercials
#16. Hershey’s Christmas Commercial
#17. Campbell’s Soup
#18. Tickle Me Elmo
The must-have Christmas toy of the 90s is without a doubt Tickle me Elmo. It is esteemed that one million dolls were shipped by Tyco (the company behind the toy) right before the holiday of 1996 and they completely sold out.
Plus, there was no ordering online, physical shopping had to be done, with parents elbowing each other to part the crowds and get to the shelves in time before the last interactive Elmo’s were taken.
#19. Game Boy
The Nintendo Gameboy was released at the beginning of the 90s and it became instantly popular. The games were basic compared to what kids are used to by now but at the moment they were all the rage and one of the top selling gifts during the Christmas season.
Soon after, it evolved into new improved versions like the Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light, and Game Boy Color, among others.
Talboys didn’t exist before Kevin McCallister used a Talkboy to defend his home at Home Alone 2. He changed his voice and tricked a hotel clerk into giving him a room with it, sparking such a craze that the Talkboy toy was created.
#21. Beanie Babies
Stuffed animals were the gift everyone under the age of ten wanted. However, Bean Babies in particular, made everyone’s Christmas list back in the 90s.
I am not even sure why they were so popular, but the craze was so intense that adults trampled each other just to score a rare model. Apparently, some people collected all the models hoping that they would become priced collector’s items… Sadly, that didn’t happen.
The 90s had a few iconic toys that will be remembered forever.
Such is the case of Furby, the speaking toy that brought parents to their knees and created such an upheaval that actually getting one at their most popular moment was a feat.
Parents even got in fistfights over Furbies back in 1996-98. I wasn’t lucky to get a Furby back in the day but I still find them absolutely adorable! Think I should get one for old time’s sake?
Time to confess, how many Tamagotchi did you kill in your time?
I have no idea what I did wrong, but I have a couple of Tamagotchi skeletons hidden somewhere! I can say, with a hand upon my heart, I have no idea what happened. What I do remember is the desolation of that lonely, pitiful and sad last “Bye”.
#24. Boom Boxes
During the 90s, boomboxes were the thing to have. Angsty preteens wanted nothing more than to blast their music wherever they went.
Today’s Airpods simply don’t convey the despair of listening to Nirvana and Alanis Morrissette in quite the same way.
#25. Gift cards
There was a time when gifting Gift Cards was actually the fashionable thing to do and not a last-minute gift. So long Blockbuster, you will be sorely missed.
Still, your legacy lives on in the shape of Gift Cards! Who would have thought so?
I wasn’t particularly good at sports in general, but even I begged my parents for a pair. If I remember correctly, it only took a couple of ugly falls for me to forgo the idea of being a cool skater.
The fact that rollerblades are a huge hit right now does not make them less of a nostalgic 90s Christmas wishlist item!
#27. Ugly Christmas Sweaters
We all had that one ugly scratchy wooly sweater. It was probably oversized, in shades of red, white, or green, of questionable taste, crammed with Christmas-inspired motifs and maybe a little 3d add-on like a reindeer pompom nose.
Remember the Bridget Jones Diary movie? The ugly Christmas sweater was the undisputed ruler of Christmas Eve at home for uncool characters, just like ourselves.
It was also the kind of sweater your grandma would knit, with garish decorations that echoed the winter season and a little too big so they would fit their grandchildren for a little bit longer.
Looking back, it feels so nostalgic and such a great 90s Christmas aesthetic example…It was a little awkward, sweetly endearing, and impossible to match!
#28. Oversized Flannel Shirts
There is no item of clothing that says 90s as much as the oversized flannel shirts. You saw it on Reality Bites, on Singles and even on Clueless and we all wanted to have one! If it ended up under your Christmas tree, it was a definite score!
What were you favorite 90s Christmas memories? Let me know in the comments.