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How Sears made our Christmas AWESOME.

One of my favorite holiday memories was sitting on the floor pouring over the Sears Holiday Wishbook. This was the catalog to end all catalogs. Every fall we would wait in giddy anticipation for this giant tome to arrive in the mail. Nearly two and a half inches thick, every page was crammed full of amazing goodness for the entire family. My brother and I would look at this catalog with great reverence….ear-marking all the amazing things we wanted. And oh, there were so many things to want! Colorful quirky clothing….rad sleeping bags….cool bicycles…and the toys. Lord have mercy, the TOYS. The Sears catalog made you want things you didn’t even know you wanted. It was that good.

C’mon. I’ll show you….

Normally clothing for Christmas is kind of boring for kids, but back in the 70s clothing was colorful and fun and totally had me transfixed!

How cute are the little Girlie Toughskins??

Didn’t everyone’s family wear matching “loungewear”??


But the clothing was just like a little polyester appetizer. It was really alllll about THE TOYS.

Whoa, check out that ski jump up there. I can’t imagine Barbie successfully navigating that at all.

For those of you unfamiliar with the majesty of “Growing Up Skipper”…..she was little preteen Skipper when you pulled her out of the box, but when you spun her arm around, oh ho ho! Her waist shrunk, she got taller….and she grew BOOBS! I’m totally not kidding, folks.

(Please notice the terrifying “HUGO….man/doll of a thousand faces.” up there)

Of course pages like these “grab bag” were among the most tantalizing—jam packed with stuff.

The Weeble tree house and club house! The Haunted House and Weeble Mickey Mouse Clubhouse…Fisher Price, Play Mobil….and the McDonalds Playset, complete with Grimace and Hamburgler!

Oh how I wanted a huge Barbie head that you could style and put make up on… in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t get her. She’s totally creepers. I DID have a snazzy dolly stroller like the one below though. So cute!

Dottie totally had my wheels spinning yesterday thinking about Christmas wishes….the Easy Bake Oven was always on everyone’s list, but do you remember the Pizza Hut Oven???

The costume section was a little weird, but I think that the catalog arrived in September—so prospective Halloweenies could scope out their costumes!

Oh this is just the tip of the iceburg, friends. There were soooo many more awesome goodies. I haven’t even tapped into the ladies clothing section or housewares. BUT, I leave you with this brilliant selection for dad. Well hello there….

images: wishbook

Do you remember the awesomeness of the Sears catalog?

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Posted in Best of Alix, Best of Modern Kiddo, Holiday Kiddo.

71 Responses

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  1. danielle thompson says

    I DIE. These are amazing!! Now scouring ebay for these finds shall commence. (ahem, the strollers omg!! like i need a stroller?!) I don’t remember looking through the SEARS catalog! I really missed out!

    • Alix says

      Oh man you totally missed out! JC Penney’s had a great one too. I wonder if it was regional?? It was the highlight of all the kid’s as you would pour over the thing looking for potential “Santa Letter Writing” material!

  2. Cora says

    Everything looks so fantastic! For some reason those mitten socks are really jumping out at me 🙂

    • Alix says

      I never had any but my mom had some really groovy ones——red and white stripes with a faux red nail polish on the “toes”!!

  3. jennifer w. says

    Although I did get the Weeble tree house one year, I always wanted the giant head. Where was my giant head, Santa?! Wait, that doesn’t sound right…

    • Alix says

      I know right???? ME TOO!

  4. Dottie says

    Um. Alix, this is AMAZING! I remember spending HOURS with that book looking over the pictures with my cousin Cheryl. I particularly remember wanting that ballerina tutu.

    I’d like that carousel kitchen in real life please!

    • Alix says

      I wanted the Miss America…..hah!

  5. Lynn Landry says

    I completely forgot about the carousel kitchen. I didn’t get it, though. I am trying to think what I got in 1975. I think a cassette recorder was the big get!!!

    • Alix says

      I did get the Barbie townhouse one year which i LOVED. As un-domestic as I am, I do remember wanting one of those little kitchens!!

      • Lynn Landry says

        I am so jealous. Only my cousin Annette and her sister Donnell had the townhouse! I had the camper. My barbie was more GI Jane.

  6. Mason says

    wishbook is one of my favorite websites, i spent hours going back through all the catalogs on their sight reliving my childhoo.

    • Alix says

      oooh i’ll have to check it out. sounds amazing! thanks for the tip mason!!

  7. jenny says

    so amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i was just looking through a sears cat from the 50s the other day at the shop!!!!
    those things were like phone books!

    ahhh the good old days.

    • Alix says

      the 50s one would be super sweet. i bet the furniture is out of control cool!

  8. Kathy says

    What a flashback! I remember getting my marker out to circle all the Fonzes and Betty Crocker ovens I wanted 🙂

  9. Melanie says

    Oh…my…God!!!! I can actually remember the images when I see them! This is so awesome! I HAD that yellow kitchen set!

    • Alix says

      That is the PERFECT reaction! I felt the same way Melanie…

  10. christine says

    my brother and I LIVED for the arrival of the sears and jc penny christmas catalogs every year! and I actually had that pink ballerina costume #4 on the costume page! so awesome!

    • Alix says

      I had the pink ballerina costume too….and oddly, THE NURSE! I think that was a hand-me-down from someone though.

  11. Naomi A. says

    I really really really – and I mean really – want one of those plaid suits for my two-year-old. He would be the coolest kid in church – especially if I could train him to throw the jacket over his shoulder like that.

    • Alix says

      I’m tellin’ ya. Plaid pants? HOT HOT HOT!

  12. Mod Male says

    So many great memories from these catalogues! I used to love visiting my grandma who would bring the catalogue out for me to circle my wishlist, which usually just consisted of the latest Transformers.

    • Alix says

      Aw you and Greg are reminding me need to add some more little dude stuff in there!

  13. Jody says

    FANTASTIC! Love this all, but what I REALLY want to point is the lack of PINK! All those fabulous girls outfits and barely a shred of pink or lavender! Green, blue and orange dolly strollers! Yellow unisex kitchen! I know I keep banging this drum, but good lord, toy and clothes people: give us options like we used to have!

    • Dottie says

      Such a good point, Jody! I love the use of primary colors for girls. And I hate that it is such a CRAZY idea for toy manufacturers today. Sigh!

    • Alix says

      I say that all the time….and not just about the PINK thing, but look at the boy stuff. So much more colorful and FUN. Such a good comment!!

  14. Ms.Tips (Tammy) says

    gotta love those mens’ section!! I want all of those toys! amazing stuff. thanks for sharing:)

    • Alix says

      You have to see the women’s section too….maybe a follow up post! : )

  15. Fuzzymama says

    I am DIE-ING. I remember some of those EXACT pages—My dad worked for Sears and we would always get the catalog way before anyone else–I was tres popular this time of the year with my friends—everyone wanted a sneak peek!! Thanks for some wonderful memories!
    That Hugo, face changing man freaks me out now as much as it did then!!

    • Alix says

      OMG you were SUCH HOT SHIT are you kidding me??? You got it EARLY?!?!?! WOw!!!!

      I totally remember Hugo. I didn’t know it til I saw him and his weird bald head!!

      • Fuzzymama says

        We have a vintage Sears Wish book SOMEWHERE in this house–I’m tearing up the place until I find it–was Cheryl Tiegs ever on a Wishbook?

        • Alix says

          She might have been!! I have an old JC Penney one too….i’ll have to look!

  16. sandi d says

    Amazing!!! I actually have a 1960’s Sears catalog checked out from the library (a month overdue mind you too) and I have been having a hard time returning it cause I’m in awe over all the fabulous clothing styles which I wish I owned. Thanks for sharing this, I’m loving that little girls “long dress” number 1, too cute! I had that vintage barbie gymnastics set, and currently miss P has that “pumpkin stroller” but it’s a bit beat up and not as clean. 🙂

  17. Tiffanie says

    You are amazing! This is amazing! How did you get these images, do you have an old catalogue?

    I, too, remember seeing some of these exact same pages, and that’s the swimming pool Santa gave me, and that kitchen set was the one I had. It’s so visceral, the feeling I get every time I check in here and see something like this. Really brings me back, thank you!

    I wish they still made those metal and fabric baby doll buggies and high chairs….I like the lines better than some of the more bulkier wood ones of today.

    • Alix says

      I DO have this Sears catalog, but I can’t take credit for the images. I was sitting down to scan it all and thought “hmm, i bet someone on flickr has already done this”. There is a credit/link to their flickr page at the bottom!

      The dolly buggies are SO GOOD!

  18. karen says

    I keep coming back to this over and over — I keep seeing more and more I had and wanted! I just sent it out to everyone at work, and I can hear squeals and “Oh my Gods” across the office. I am FREAKING about the kitchen. I LOVED mine… And DUSTY. EW. i was always scared of Dusty! And DON’T get me started about HUGO…

    Thank you, Modern Kiddo, for making my DAY awesome! xoxoxoxo

    • Alix says

      oh i’m so glad….seriously it was the hardest thing ever to just post these (and i just snuck in and added a few more boy-centric thangs….). the kitchen was SO GOOD huh! i wanted everything in this catalog!!

  19. Sarah says

    This is so cute. This is before my time but growing up in the 80’s I had one of those giant heads and I loved it! You could style it’s hair, etc. And I bet all of these Sears brand products were actually made in the USA back then!

  20. lishyloo says

    i hope you’re happy because you just killed me.

    i had that winnie the pooh dress in my shop, the one with the big bow, before i even knew i would be having a third much less a girl, double death.

    • Alix says

      oh noooo! we need to find the Tulip another Pooh Bear dress!!!!

  21. lishyloo says

    oh and giant heads? my neighbor gave me one to sell in the shop, do they even make those things anymore??? maybe i should keep it! it comes in the original box too. giant head. i had the brooke shields giant head.

    • Alix says

      oooooh the brooke shields giant head! nice!!!! (i love that everyone is now referring to them as GIANT HEAD! heh!)

  22. Chris Allen says

    Oh Man, I just blacked out a little! What a blast from the past! I would spend HOURS scouring the massive Sears Christmas catalogue for the perfect mix of toys to demand from Santa. HOURS! The Barbie pages alone could entertain me for hours. I actually had that “Growing Up” Skipper. Okay, I’m not going to front; I HAVE that Growing Up Skipper and she’s sitting on my kitchen shelf counter now. And yes, when you turn her arm, she does grow a half and inch and develop boobs! Classic.

    Do they still make the Sears catalogue? Does is mesmerize as it did in the 70’s?

    • Alix says

      They do not! You reminded me I meant to add in a bit about Growing Up Skipper….I highlighted her on the page and then never esplained her! (you KNOW she’s a whole post unto herself!! I looooove you still have her)

      • Chris Allen says

        How could I let her go?? For years, no one believed that she even existed. It was a bizarre and short lived experiment. My older sister found her and sent her to me in SF (along with my Jr High yearbooks and my Black Ballerina Barbie). Now my home is complete.

  23. lishyloo says

    i just ordered harry a polyester suit off etsy i was so fricken inspired.

    i second that wishbook is amazing on flickr!

    and no pink??? crazy!! it took a lot for me to find a non pink kitchen for my boys that was not 9 billion dollars and they play cooking at LEAST once a day. are we regressing with the gender stuff? i mean, chefs? hello!

  24. jeannie says

    Insanely amazing. I think I’m going to have to click back over to this post often so I can die all over again over every page.

    • Alix says

      hahah, aw I’m so glad you liked!!

  25. daisy says

    total supreme awesomeness. wanting the wood panelled red gingham kitchen, planet of the apes costume and battery powered patriot chopper!!!

    • Alix says

      I know. I was thinking how much I wanted those big wheel bike dealies for Wolfie SOOOOO badly!

  26. Wil says

    This was so much fun! I totally had ALL of the Six Million Dollar Man stuff. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. 🙂

  27. Eartha Kitsch says

    Oh my gosh, I love this post! It made me get teary eyed but in a *good* way. I remember how my brother and I would wait anxiously for that catalog to arrive and then we’d sit down and write on wide-ruled notebook paper everything that we wanted Santa to bring (complete with page numbers). These lists would have many edits before Christmas too.

    • Alix says

      Oh yes, you had to strategize like crazy….which items would make the list??? (know you couldn’t/wouldn’t get every thing) haha!

  28. Mari, Small for Big says

    This is so beyond awesome I don’t even have words.

    • Alix says

      My gift to you, sweet lady….haha.

  29. Lynn Landry says

    I thought the last one said “Perma-PRIEST” kimonos and it made me shudder.

  30. Audelaine Ax says

    Thank you, ladies for the most wonderful trip down memory lane 🙂 I still have some of those toys for my little one to play with.

  31. Lady T says

    Ohhhhh MAN! This is the best, thank you for tapping all those great memories. We had a discount at Sears so I’d completely obsess over stuff (even creepy Hugo…WEIRD) knowing most of the things I wanted would be mine in a matter of weeks. Whoa, I tell ya I was a little ghetto Veruca Salt but honey the Barbie pool set and Sleep n’ Keep case were oh-so-fabulous. Won’t disclose how many Giant Heads I had. Anyone remember Candy? You could dye her hair….purple.

  32. michele trimble says

    Super post! Been readling your blog for a bit now, thanks for taking the time to produce it, it is really great!

  33. Jeanette says

    EVERY YEAR!! Sears or Penney’s Christmas Wish catalogues….There are a LOT of toys in these pages that my sisters & I got for Christmas! And Toughskin Jeans?!? The bomb in my elementary school clothes repertoire!!
    Coolest Christmas post EVAH!!!
    Thanks for bringing lots of smiles and memories back to me today!

  34. Whozat says

    OMG! I’m pretty sure that my brother and I wore costumes #1 and #2 that year – Drum Majorette (my “spats” kept falling off while trick-or-treating) and Evil Knievel!

  35. Scott says

    Serioisly…. Not one page of lingerie 😉

    • Alix says

      HAH! Listen, this was about what we wanted as kids…and lingerie wasn’t top of my list. I’ll do a follow up for the grown ups soon, including the mysterious “Sears Underwear” spread that supposedly had a peek-a-boo dude in his tighty whities…..

  36. Sherri says

    That was a very memorable look back. I so enjoyed it. Fun fun fun times.

  37. Brenda says

    I remember waiting for weeks for the CHRISTMAS WISH BOOK and when it FINALLY came, spending WEEKS looking through it over and over and over again. And after Christmas we would cut out the pictures of dolls, clothes, furniture and the rest of that stuff and have a shoebox of all of them to play with. Back then we used OUR MIND & IMAGINATION!!!!!!! Kids today have no idea of what they are missing out on; kind of sad really. Was fun to look through and bring back those old memories 😀

  38. BJ says

    I loved those catalogs! Then one year they stopped mailing them & started charging for them. No more Sears catalogs after that. The end of an era. (sighs)

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