I am so excited to share this guest post with you today! The 90s were some of the best years for me, and I absolutely love reminiscing on that era.
1996 was a particularly awesome year for me. It was 4th grade, and I wanted an American Girl Doll more than anything. I asked Santa for it, and sure enough, that Christmas morning it was waiting under the tree 🙂
Now, let’s take a look at some more quintessential gifts for 1996.
Every year comes alongside its own unforgettable list of nostalgic items to reminisce over, and 1996 was no exception. In 1996, we were all about the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bulls. We jumped out of our seats to dance in groups every time someone played the Macarena. We couldn’t stop talking about the reelection of Bill Clinton, either.
However, nothing personifies what people were all about over the course of a given year quite like their Christmas lists. The following are some of the major must-haves that characterized Christmas 1996. How many do you remember buying for someone special or wishing for yourself?
1. Nintendo 64
In 1996, this was the gaming console to have, and it topped many a Christmas request list as a result. This system was among the first to bring 3D to the table when it came to gaming. It was also capable of supporting up to four controllers at one time, so it was perfect for folks who loved nothing more than gaming with friends.
The Nintendo 64 first launched with only two games available – Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 – but players couldn’t get enough of either one. They’d become even more excited when Mario Kart 64 was released the following year.
2. Foam ‘n Color Barbie
If you were a little girl in 1996 (or were the parent of one), then the chances are pretty good that you remember this addition to the super popular Barbie collection. This Barbie came with platinum blonde hair that could be easy colored via an included bottle of foam in your choice of yellow, blue, or pink.
Best of all, the wash-out foam could be used to color your own hair as well. Replacement bottles of foam were also sold, so it was easy to mix and match the three available colors.
3. Buzz Lightyear
When Toy Story first came out in November of 1995, it had people of all ages talking, and with good reason. It was the very first full-length computer animated feature film, as well as the first theatrical release from animation giant, Pixar.
Toy Story fever was still in full effect by Christmas of 1996. Buzz Lightyear, in particular, was especially popular, so it’s not surprising that action figures of the lovable spaceman were found underneath millions of trees worldwide on Christmas morning.
Image courtesy of Getty Images
When Tamagotchi first exploded onto the scene in November of 1996, these virtual pets quickly became one of the biggest toy trends of the entire decade. Each came housed in a keychain-sized mini-computer and invited users to feed, care for, and otherwise interact with the adorable digital creatures.
As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchi have been sold around the world. They were certainly present in their share of Christmas stockings back in 1996.
5. Chart-Topping Music
If you were heavily into your music in 1996 (and who wasn’t?), the chances are excellent that you asked for and received some of the year’s hottest CDs in your Christmas stocking that year. So did millions of like-minded individuals.
By Christmas of ’96, the world was happily rocking out to the likes of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, The Fugees’ The Score, and The Spice Girls’ Spice. Oasis’s What’s the Story Morning Glory and Kula Shaker’s K were on lots of radars as well.
6. All Things Lisa Frank
If you were a femininely inclined young person in the 1990s or happened to be the parent of one, the mere mention of Lisa Frank probably makes you nostalgic. The colorful artwork of Lisa Frank Incorporated featured rainbow-hued animals of all kinds, including but not limited to dolphins, panda bears, and unicorns.
They were also absolute musts in 1996. Every girl dreamed of finding a new Lisa Frank-themed lunchbox, toy, or set of stickers waiting for her on Christmas morning that year.
7. Beanie Babies
By Christmas 1996, Ty Beanie Babies had been around for several years. However, when McDonald’s included miniature versions of the loveable collectibles in their Happy Meals that year, they became even more popular.
If you were a collector of any age, you don’t need to be told how exciting it was (or would have been) to find the likes of Bongo the monkey, Stripes the tiger, Twigs the giraffe, or Congo the gorilla waiting for you on Christmas morning.
Image courtesy of Nokia
8. Early Mobile Phones
Granted, portable tech wasn’t the huge deal then, that it is today, but 1996 still found lots of people hoping they’d be lucky enough to be given a mobile phone for Christmas. They were heavy and unwieldy, as well as prohibitively expensive for many people. However, they did offer society at large an early glimpse of what technology might become someday.
If you were one of the lucky ones who received a cell phone for Christmas in ’96, it may even have been a Nokia 9000. It was, without a doubt, one of the most popular phones of the day.
9. Early Desktop Systems
Speaking of technology from yesteryear, desktop computers and the internet were still in the process of becoming everything that they are today. However, tech-minded people were already hoping Santa might hook them up with their first computers, as that was a big year for e-culture.
The likes of Google, Hotmail, and Internet Explorer were all born in 1996. Shopping staple Amazon.com came into existence the year before and was beginning to get noticed as well.
10. Tickle Me Elmo
What retrospective on popular Christmas gifts from 1996 would be complete without Tickle Me Elmo? Not only was this cuddly character the must-have gift of the year, but it’s still talked about as one of the most iconic Christmas gifts of all time.
Although Tickle Me Elmo came attached to a price point of $28.99, there are reports in existence of the toys selling for much, much more thanks to high demand and short supply. If you had one under your own Christmas tree that year, the chances are pretty good that you were the envy of your entire neighborhood.
Of course, these are just a few of the many gifts that set records and broke molds in 1996. What was your favorite? Which iconic offerings have we left out?
About the Author: Harry is the content manager over at Arcadia Publishing. While he spends most of his time being a bookworm, he enjoys anything outdoors especially if it involves the water.