But with huge lines, rabid shoppers, and not particularly budget-friendly prices, it can all seem like too much of a hassle.
As an adult, these toy crazes might seem silly and overwhelming, but we were all kids once — and there was probably a time when you begged and wheedled and maybe even did chores in the hopes of scoring the hottest new toy — like a mint-condition 1959 Barbie doll.
In an effort to explore toy crazes of Christmas past, we delved into history to find the biggest toy fads of each decade.
Maybe you had a few of these toys yourself. Maybe you still feel bitter about the toys you never received. Maybe you bought some of these for your own kids.
Check out our list below. Did we miss anything? What was your most desired toy when you were growing up? Let us know in the comments below!
Developed in 1938, this 3D color slide technology was all the rage.
First invented by strapping two cameras together, the little device quickly gained major popularity when it struck an agreement with Disney.
For many decades to come, the View-Master would survive as a beloved classic.
Bubbles — 1940s
People have amused themselves by blowing soap bubbles for centuries, but Chemtoy was the first company to capitalize on it in 1940 by bottling its own, patented solution.
The trend took off, and soon bubble wands of various sizes were being produced. Today, blowing bubbles is a time-honored childhood pastime.
Blowing bubbles at a newlywed couple has also recently started replacing the tradition of throwing rice.
Little Golden Books — 1940s
First published in 1942, Little Golden Books were the first line of books published exclusively for kids that were also affordable for the average household.
They covered fairy tales and other childhood favorites, and within only five months, 1.5 million copies had been sold.
Today, Little Golden Books include 1,200 titles, and the originals are still in print.
Silly Putty – 1950s
PEZ Dispensers — 1950s
Scientists were working to develop a synthetic rubber substitute during World War II as rubber supplies were dwindling. Instead, they developed Silly Putty, a stretchy, bouncy, “solid liquid” that was really cool, but not exactly what they were going for.
In the 1950s, it was marketed as a novelty toy and its popularity soared. It even finally got a practical use: NASA astronauts used it on the Apollo 8 mission to hold down their tools in zero gravity.
PEZ candies themselves were invented in 1927 in Austria, but the dispenser didn’t come around until almost 30 years later, and the novelty heads appeared in 1955.
The earliest ones featured popular characters like Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse.
They became an instant hit and kids loved collecting them. Today, the original dispensers can be worth up to $10,000.
Gumby — 1950s
Gumby, the little green creature with the lopsided head made his debut in a stop-motion film called Gumbasia in 1953, which soon evolved into The Gumby Show.
The claymation world was a hit, and by 1955, Gumby toys had hit the shelves.
Etch-A-Sketch — 1960s
Originally invented in France, the Etch-A-Sketch was bought by the Ohio Art Company, who gave it its current name.
It was so in-demand by Christmas of 1960 that the company’s factory was still actively producing them until noon on Christmas Eve.
G.I. Joe – 1960s
With all the success that Barbie, and later Ken, were having with the young female demographic, Hasbro decided they could cash in on the boys with G.I. Joe.
The doll — ahem, “action figure” — was marketed to boys as a rugged, manly war hero and came with all kinds of weapons and supplies for all of his dangerous missions.
Joe would also later star in comics, an animated series, and even a full-length movie.
Easy-Bake Oven — 1960s
In 1963, the Easy-Bake Oven taught kids to cook with simple recipes and a mini oven, which would (slowly) bake the confections via light bulb.
It’s true that the bulb wasn’t really hot enough to fully cook most of the cakes, but that didn’t stop it from being popular through the years.
Lite-Brite — 1960s
Lite-Brite was a simple creative toy that featured a black paper-covered grid lit from behind by a light, and a collection of clear plastic pegs in different colors. By poking these pegs through the paper, kids could make a glowing image. Some even came with patterns to create beloved cartoon characters.
Thanks to technological advances, Lite-Brites today feature touch-screen and LED lights.
NERF Football — 1970s
The technical term for the stuff NERF products are made from is “non-expanding recreational foam,” and the acronym is also where the product gets its name.
The soft, lightweight material made it perfect for throwing around — even indoors, and made it accessible to very young children.
There were a number of sizes and shapes to NERF balls, but the football became a hot seller and was one of the highest-selling toys in the ’70s.
Paddington Bear – 1970s
Paddington Brown first appeared in a 1958 book, where he remained until 1972, when the first Paddington plush toys were manufactured.
Already popular from the books, the bears became an instant hit, first in his native Englan and later in the U.S. By 1978, Paddington was a global celebrity.
Rubik’s Cube — 1970s
The Rubik’s Cube was invented in Hungary by one Ernö Rubik, and soon the puzzle cube was fascinating everyone, first in Europe, and then, in 1980, in the U.S.
The toy soon became a symbol of genius, and today, there are competitions quickest solving time. They’ve also branched out in size, shape, and color.
Classic Football — 1970s
Released in 1977, this handheld game was like a harbinger for the future of gaming.
Classic Football ran on a 9-volt nonrechargable battery and pitted the player against a barrage of dots (the other team) that had to be dodged.
It’s primitive by today’s standards, but it heralded the future.
Cabbage Patch Kids — 1980s
Created by a 21-year-old art student in 1976, these lumpy fabric dolls became a nation-wide trend after appearing on the TV show Real People in 1980.
Kids everywhere demanded them, and they became one of the targets of some of the first holiday shopping frenzies.
Parents camped out in front of department stores in 1983 to get their hands on one.
Glo Worm — 1980s
This friendly little grub accompanied thousands of kids to bed in 1982.
It’s a combination of a stuffed animal and a nightlight, and helped lessen fears of the dark with its huggable body.
With its success, Hasbro also put out story books, crib lights, videos, and more.
In 2005, though, Glo Worm came under criticism because its soft plastic head was made with potentially harmful phthalates.
Beanie Babies — 1990s
These little bean-filled stuffed animals created quite the buying frenzy in the mid-90s, and Ty, Inc. was able to drag out the obsession for several years with special and limited edition animals.
Soon, adults were in on the collection craze, too, and some of the earlier and rarer ones can still fetch thousands of dollars on online auctions.
American Girl Dolls — 1990s
The American Girls dolls were a huge hit because they were something of an alternative to Barbies and baby dolls.
They were modeled after girls living in different periods of American history, and so were also educational.
As time wore on, they grew to include girls from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, walks of life, and time periods including the present.
Most included tie-in book series. The dolls weren’t cheap, though, and were only sold via catalogue or at the rare store.
This year, no matter what the craze is in your house, it’s still fun to take a trip down memory lane and remember back to your own greatest holiday wish.
And if you want to spread the nostalgic cheer, don’t forget to SHARE!