Christmas 1987 vs 2017: 30 Memories From 30 Years Ago

Carolyn HillChristmas

My kids love everything from the 80’s!  Recently they asked me what it was like to be an 80’s kid, and specifically what Christmas was like way back then. 😉 I’m so glad they asked because it has been a blast (and very inspiring) to take a trip down memory lane.

Christmas 1987 vs 2017: 30 Memories From 30 Years Ago:


1.We wore ugly Christmas sweaters before we knew they were ugly!


2. Some 80’s fashions are in style again, but thank goodness not the hairstyles!! My Mom always gave me a Tony perm before the holidays.

A freshly permed me in 1987!


3. We got all dressed up for Christmas Eve candle light services. Gunne Sax, black patent shoes and hose. We never, ever went to church without hose!! Now I don’t even own any and wouldn’t wear them for a hundred bucks!

My beautiful sister, Kathryn, all dressed up on Christmas Eve.

4. At church we reenacted the nativity. The Wise Men wore their Dads’ bath robes and Mary was draped in a white bed sheet. The angel had wings of tinsel and baby Jesus was a Cabbage Patch doll wrapped in a towel.  I have no pictures of those events because people didn’t take pics like we do today: no digital cameras, smart phones, or Instagram…we had to have our film developed. Lord only knows when we’d get around to that, and we had no idea if the shot even turned out or not! 

5. There were no hand held electronic devices. We actually survived without constantly looking down at a screen. LOL!

6. However, we did have Walkmans  (a popular Christmas gift for 80’s kids). In 1987 I had a mixed tape with The Bangles, Janet Jackson,  Heart, Whitney Houston,  Bon Jovi, Wham, Bryan Adams, Bananarama, and Debbie Gibson.  I felt to cool for school with my headphones on 😉

Debbie Gibson!


7. When we wanted to watch Christmas TV specials, we had to check the TV Guide to make sure we were home in time for Rudolph or Frosty; there was no “On Demand” or Netflix back in the day.

8. We didn’t even have a VCR. I remember my mom renting a VCR and a couple movies for a special Christmas treat!

9. There was no internet to search for toys, so we couldn’t wait to get the JCPenney catalog and circle our favorites with a red marker.

1987 JCPenney Catalog!


10. There was no skype, email or social media so we’d actually call our relatives to say “Merry Christmas!” My parents would hand me the phone and I’d have to make conversation whether I knew Aunt Ethel or not.  😉

11. Sending and receiving Christmas cards was a BIG deal but yet not such a big deal…no special photo shoots of the family or Shutterfly collages…just good ol’ Hallmark.


12. We were so low tech! We were actually thrilled when our parents drove us around neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights.


13. There was no Spotify, Pandora or ITunes so we sang carols around the piano.

Check out that side pony tail and prairie dress!


14. We would string popcorn and cranberries ourselves to hang on the tree.
15. We also made red and green chains out of construction paper for decor!
16. There were bags of messy tinsel that we’d just throw on the tree!


My husband Jerod Christmas 1987! Note the tinsel 😉

17. We decorated with lots of plastic and foil too!















18. Nobody (that I knew of) decorated for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I’m just sayin’!

19. One of the biggest differences from then to now is that we didn’t receive gifts randomly throughout the year (besides on our birthday) so it was THE ULTIMATE in excitement to wake up on Christmas morning and see if Santa thought we had been naughty or nice!

20.  Stocking stuffers were usually apples, oranges Brach’s caramels and candy canes! Totally so Little House on the Prairie. 😉

21. If you were a girl in the 80s, you might have gotten a blue, yellow or red Liz Claiborne triangle for Christmas. And the guys, totally Drakkar Noir.



22.  Receiving a bike was so rad because we actually used them…to go everywhere! If parents let their kids run around like that today, someone would call DFS!!

23. In 1987 the best selling toy was the pogo ball. I got one and jumped around on it for hours…down the street…down the stairs…up the stairs…you name it!

24. The Big Wheel was also super popular. In the 80’s we played outside almost nonstop–racing the neighborhood kids and getting all skinned up!

25. Helmets, knee pads, wrist guards, etc. were so not a thing!

26. Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, & Transformers all got started in the tubular 80’s and produced much desired toys on kids’ wish lists. They have all been recreated today, but the originals were the best!











27. Board games weren’t boring! On Christmas evening we’d play games for hours and hours…never quitting early…even on Monopoly.

28. Toys were the most exciting gifts to receive from Santa, but practical items were appreciated too: socks, pj’s, shoes, and Johnson’s No More Tangles–which was a life saver with permed hair and loads of Final Net gunk on my head!


29.  When Santa brought us a toy, we treated it like gold! It took a long time to grow bored of it!

My treasured Baby Alive Doll 🙂


30. Things were considerably less complicated. It was less technology and more interaction. It was awe and wonder of the simple things…and it was like totally awesome dude!!

As my kids and I thought about it, we decided to make a genuine effort to engage with people more: each other, extended family, friends and whoever God brings into our path.

To put down our devices and love on people!

To be satisfied with simple joys!

To stress less and chill more!

To think more about the Christmas Story and Jesus!


From our family to yours, we hope and pray you have a very Merry Christmas!!