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These Were the Popular Christmas Gifts 70 Years Ago

1940s | December 12, 2017

This collection of Macy’s best-selling holiday gifts of 1948, compiled by LIFE magazine shows use just how much things have changed since then.

For starters, the gifts then skewed more toward the practical. A pair of nylons or a ballpoint pen were Macy's third- and fourth-highest-selling items that season. Second, there is a conspicuous absence of gadgets  or anything technological.

Then again, the rise of personal technology was still decades away, as these were the days when fewer than 10% of households even had a TV set. Rather than gadgets, gift-givers wrapped up objects that were wearable or edible, and immediately usable: a pair of pajamas, a bottle of scotch or a pair of sturdy slippers. Basic but sure to be put to frequent use.

Best Selling Christmas Gifts - Napkins and cards

Best Selling Christmas Gifts - Napkins and cards

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Lace stockings

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Pen w/ paper

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Boxers on model bust

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Socks

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Socks

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Pressed Shirt

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- York House Wine

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Pearl Necklace

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Boxers

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Red Tie

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Lacquered items

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Purses

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Tin Cans

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Peephole shoes

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Box

Best Selling Christmas Gifts- Strauss Waltze book

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