The holidays are a time for reflecting on cherished memories. For some people, this means recalling special moments with loved ones and celebrating past accomplishments. For me, it means wallowing in all of the pop culture I liked when I was a kid. Remember the Claymation Christmas Celebration? Or the time you got that She-Ra action figure? Sure you do. And if the friends and family on your gift list this year are like the rest of the Internet (and me) in their nostalgia for times recently gone by, here are some gift ideas, sorted by type. Fire up the Betamaxmas and let’s do this!
Ye Olde Toys:
Toys pack a lot of nostalgia power, which makes them great gifts for the right person. This person may be a collector (but be sure to get a peek at her collection before you buy her ANOTHER Stretch Armstrong), a family member who remembers playing with you as a kid, or a parent friend you want to impress by giving a sweet gift to their kid (you must be okay with said kid actually taking the toy out of the box and playing with it). I bought my cousin’s baby a Fisher-Price record player last year and it went over like gangbusters. For a more sophisticated toy gift, you can never go wrong with a chic Lundby doll house. They’re wired for tiny electric lights and everything!
And of course, you can always go with a classic action figure. Have a niece, daughter, or friend who’s really into princesses this year? Blow her mind with the awesomeness that is Princess Leia in a sensible pantsuit. Liz Lemon would approve.
Arts & Crafts of Yesteryear
Nothing beats a fun activity during holiday downtime. Do a Punky Brewster puzzle while you’re watching reruns, or bust out some Colorforms to dazzle the kids on your list (don’t think Colorforms are dazzling anymore? then you haven’t seen the Michael Jackson set). Or what about bringing a Lite-Brite as a hostess gift? Your neighbor will love it. And for the nostalgic thirtysomething art lover in your life, you can’t go wrong with the hardcover Garbage Pail Kids collection. Yes, Stormy Heather is somewhat gruesome, but did you know she was designed by John Pound? The book comes with a set of stickers too.
For a real showstopper, consider this pyrographed image of Brooke Shields playing pinball in Tilt. Nostalgic art at its sexiest!
You can go two routes with nostalgic fashion/accessories: styles from the past, or present styles inspired by the past. For the former, there’s always a pair of Doc Martens, a velvet shift dress, or a set of neon t-shirt clips. Everyone is dressing like it’s the early ’90s right now, so that stuff is easy to find. For the latter, find a shirt or necklace inspired by your gift recipient’s favorite television show. Show her you care with this Brian Krakow cameo necklace (Catalano is so obvious), or dress your baby up in a Fresh Prince of Bel Air onesie. Or if you’d rather get your little one ready for Girl Meets World, there’s an I Heart Mr. Feeny onesie too.
Those Were the Snacks
Everyone loves to eat, and snacks make a great gift—especially for people you don’t know well or are hard to buy for. If you’re looking to please a sweet tooth this season, check out these decades candy boxes. Up to four pounds of nostalgia candy from the decade of your choice! Save me some Bubble Tape.
If you’re more of a DIY gifter, try making something from the Dead Celebrity Cookbook. Going to a New Year’s party? Wow the crowd with Bea Arthur’s Good Morning Mushroom Tomato Toast and Liberace’s Sticky Buns (then start a band called Liberace’s Sticky Buns)! And there’s a Christmas version with recipes like Dinah Shore’s Fruitcake—remind your guests how much Dinah Shore loved Christmas. Remember how she sang about it in Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special? Of course you do.
Books make great gifts, and books you remember from your misspent youth can make the greatest gifts of all. How about Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, or some select works by Judy Blume? If you can’t decide on a favorite author, you can always buy one of the Newbery Award box sets instead. Just don’t forget the Book It! buttons!
Everyone loves a good book. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Got any other wayback playback nostalgia-themed gift ideas? Share ‘em in the comments!