Conversation

10 reasons why Christmas was so much better in the 70s and 80s

Christmas is now a commercial juggernaut. The countdown begins before we’ve even cleared away the Halloween decorations. There are big budget TV adverts persuading us to buy the must have toys before they sell out. There are articles about how to create the perfect theme for your house. As well as stockings and presents there are now Christmas Eve boxes, Elf on the Shelf and expensive advent calendars with toys inside. It’s exhausting and the cost is eye watering. As kids Christmas was a much simpler affair.

Here are 10 reasons why Christmas was so much better in the 70s and 80s. If only we could wind back time.

1. Opening the cardboard doors of the advent calendar was so exciting

Cardboard advent calendars were all that existed and it was such a thrill to open the tiny doors and see what festive image was hiding behind. It was a bit disappointing when it was a candle or a robin but it made your day when it was a reindeer or an angel. As for the larger door for number 24, it was beyond thrilling to open (even though we knew it would always be a nativity scene). Sharing excited tales of what image you uncovered was the talk of the playground. It was simple but it was enough.

2. Stockings were our dad’s old tennis socks

Remember the thrill of hanging up your stockings at the end of your bed? They weren’t fancy personalised ginormous stockings but just our dad’s longest socks – often his tennis socks. But it was so exciting. The thrill of them being filled with little gifts while you slept was so captivating. And when we woke up to find them filled with a satsuma, a walnut and a pencil we were beyond happy.

3. There was no theme – it was just tinsel

Nowadays magazines and social media feeds are full of festive themes for you to recreate. Are you going for a Scandi theme this year or a blue and white icicle theme? Back then Christmas decorations were all about sprinkling some garish tinsel and throwing lametta on the tree. It was all about the glitter and the sparkle. The more garish, the better.

4. The build up to Christmas began in December

The excitement and anticipation began mid December with local lights being switched on and shops changing their window displays. It was so lovely to walk down the high street and see all the twinkling lights and it was just the right time to tease our anticipation and excitement as we counted down how many sleeps there were to go until Father Christmas came.

5. Christmas telly was so special

You spent hours circling your festive faves in the bumper edition of the Radio Times and looked forward to the special Christmas films that you could only see at this time of the year. It was always the Wizard of Oz and Star Wars but you looked forward to them anyway. And the Christmas specials were always so good.

6. The excitement of the Christmas Number One

You spent the other 51 weeks of the year dutifully pressing the play and record buttons down every Sunday evening to record the charts on a cassette but the real excitement was wondering what record would be number one on Christmas day. You rushed to Our Price to buy the tape of your favourite festive single and waited with bated breath to see if it would hit the top spot. It was such a build up and such a big event.

7. Christmas food

Quality Streets, Matchmakers and Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Turkey and pigs in blankets. An overflowing bowl of satsumas. A large bowl of nuts that only Grandad ate, which would gather dust through January. Christmas food was special and was never eaten any other time of the year.

8. It was always snowy

OK so this one might be our memories playing tricks on us but we remember Christmas always being snowy or at least frosty. Sledging, snowmen and snowball fights all seemed to be guaranteed as part of our childhood Christmas.

9. The toys were better

Each Christmas the must have toys were amazing. BMX bikes, the Sindy House, Cabbage Patch kids and Mr Frosty. Just brilliant. And if your parents couldn’t get the must have toy, then Blue Peter showed them how to make it out of sticky backed plastic and empty washing up bottles.

10. The wrapping paper was kitsch

There was something charming about the thin Christmas giftwrap in retro designs or the super shiny colours of the wrapping paper. Back then we didn’t care that all the gifts under the tree were wrapped up in the cheapest and cheerful Xmas wrap for us to peel off in seconds. Our parents had to yell from the couch ‘Who was that one from?’ to write lists for the thank you letters later.