By the time the 1980s came to an end I was 11 years old and I have some wonderful memories of toys, presents and TV from the Christmas days and holidays of my childhood. So, I thought I would share some of my top 80s Christmas presents and memories in a nostalgic look back at a simpler time for anyone of a similar age. Let’s take a look at my 80s Christmas Memories.
1. 80s Christmas Decorations
Foil decorations hanging from the ceiling of our living room is a really vivid image that I will never forget. These were a staple for many a home throughout the 1980s and they were shiny and colourful (and possibly flammable). We had them for many years and each December they would come out of storage to brighten up our home.
2. Proper Tins of Chocolates
The tins of chocolates you can buy today are not the beasts that they once were. You could use a tin of Roses or Quality Street as foot stool back in the 80s. Nowadays they are just tiny descendants of what we got in the 80s. These tins would last for ages and were a gift worth giving. Proper big metal tins full of sweet delights. I miss those huge metal tins of Quality Street!
3. Castle Grayskull
This is the first ‘Big’ Christmas present that I can remember getting. I loved the Masters of the Universe cartoon and toy line, I had He Man, Battle Cat and other characters too but Castle Grayskull really made my He Man collection something else. I will never forget ripping open that wrapping paper and seeing that wonderful artwork of the Castle on the box. This is a play set that I would love to own again and display it.
It was a great playset too and Snake Mountain would be added the following Christmas too so that Skeletor and pals had their own lair too.
Did you get to put together your Scalextric or did your Dad take over the proceedings and fully test the set prior to you getting your first go. Toys might be for the kids but sometimes they get the adults attention too and nothing was more powerful than a brand new Scalextric set. I got the Pole Position set back in 1988 which was a nice big set and came in a huge box.
The boxes for toys were sometimes just as exciting to see and hold as the actual toy inside!
5. The Argos Catalogue
Many a Christmas wish list or letter to Father Christmas was created using the Argos Catalogue. I would flick straight to the back to see what toys and games I liked the look of. Star Wars toys, Board Games, M.A.S.K toys and Masters of the Universe would all feature throughout the 1980s.
I can also remember looking at Casio keyboards too. I did get one for Christmas but I could never play it properly (apart from a small part of AXEL F and chopsticks).
6. Star Wars Toys
My favourite toys of all time. I associate Star Wars toys more with my Birthdays as a kid but I can clearly remember my Nan getting me the Jabba the Hutt Playset for Christmas and setting it up on our dining room table. In fact, I’m sure my mum has a photo of this somewhere.
Of course Jabba had to make way for the Turkey later on in the afternoon.
7. 1980s Computer Games
Two 80s Christmases featured computer games. 1986 when we got our first home computer the Acorn Electron and 1989 when I finally got the Commodore 64 that I had wanted for so many years. The 1980s were ruled by the home micro computers in the UK so I am sure there are plenty of memories out there of Commodore 64, ZX Spectrums and possibly Amstrads too (among others).
8. The TV Times and Radio Times
Who remembers when you had to buy both the TV Times and Radio Times to get all the listings for all the UK terrestrial TV Channels? My mum would buy both every week from the local newsagents but the Christmas editions were a special occasion where bumper issues were released to cover the holiday period. They would list all the movies and Christmas specials that were the must see programmes for my family. I still buy a Christmas edition of the Radio Times every year prior to the holidays.
9. The Snowman
This comes on every year on Channel 4 at some point over Christmas, but this festive classic was first shown on Boxing Day in 1982 and is an 80s Christmas classic. The original opening had an introduction featuring Raymond Briggs but the David Bowie opening (made for an American audience) is probably the most famous of the various opening introductions.
I Still watch this with my kids every year (we have the DVD which also has the David Bowie introduction).
10. TV Movie Premieres
I can remember Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Ghostbusters all coming on the TV over Christmas. Of course, there was the Christmas Day Afternoon premiere that would usually feature on BBC1 for the family to watch after Christmas Lunch. Throughout the holidays though I would always watch and record on VHS tapes lots of films and they were always a big part of Christmas for me back in the 80s.
11. James Bond
There was always James Bond films on TV at Christmas. I’m sure they were usually on ITV? As a kid I loved watching James Bond films (in fact I still do) and they were always a big part of my 80s Christmas proceedings.
12. The Beano Book
Every year on Christmas Day afternoon my Nan would give me the new Beano Book annual. Every year I looked forward to getting the Beano Book and reading it in bed at night. If I was really lucky, I would get the Dandy annual too but the Beano was always my favourite.
13. School Nativity Plays
Dressing up in some old sheets with tin foil crowns and stars was something we all had to get through in the build up to the Christmas holidays. Nowadays it frustrates me that my kids never get to do a proper Nativity play like I had to do every year, surely every child should.
I do remember the one year though were somehow I actually made the choir and didn’t need a silly costume and just had to turn up in my school uniform and sing. That was a great year!
14. 80s Christmas Singles
Band Aid, Shakin’ Stevens and Cliff Richard were all Christmas No 1 in the UK singles charts throughout the 1980s. But there were so many great Christmas singles released throughout the decade. Wham, The Pogues and Chris Rea just to name a few released classic Christmas songs still played on the radio throughout December today. Surely the 80s produced the best Christmas Singles didn’t they?
15. 80s Christmas TV Specials
Only Fools and Horses and The Two Ronnies were always personal highlights of Christmas TV for me in the 1980s. My mum looked forward to the big soap stories that would come to head in EastEnders and Coronation Street on Christmas day. Top of the Pops was always a highlight too looking at the hits from the past year.
I never enjoyed the Noel Edmonds shows that used to come on Christmas Day as they were always a bit too soppy for my liking, but I had new toys to distract me anyway. Don’t forget the Queen’s Speech in the afternoon either.
16. Now That’s What I Call Music – Cassette Compilations
Christmas always seemed to be the time of year where I would get the latest Now That’s What I Call Music compilation on cassette. Sometimes I got the Hits compilation too (remember that one?). I always enjoyed receiving these as they could replaced my badly recorded version where I had taped songs of the top 40 countdown on a Sunday afternoon.
17. Bowls of Nuts
I only ever remember having bowls of mixed nuts in our house at Christmas. Normally they would require a nutcracker and I don’t think I ever went near them, but they always seemed to be around at Christmas back in the day.
So how do my 80s Christmas Memories compare to yours. Let me know on one of my social media pages.
Keep it festive, 80s Christmas style. If you want some more Christmas content take a look at my article: Retro Gaming Christmas Memories.