Our Favorite Holiday Gifts, from The Staff of The Saturday Evening Post

The staff of The Saturday Evening Post looks back on their favorite holiday gifts.

Man handing over a wrapped holiday gift
What’s your favorite gift that you’ve ever gotten for the holidays? (Shutterstock)

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The staff of The Saturday Evening Post wants to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday. And to put you all in the mood, we decided to share some of our favorite gifts that we’ve ever gotten. Feel free to tell us all about your own!

Amanda Bixler, Art Director

A futon
Not Mandy’s futon. (Shutterstock)

I had been enamored with futons ever since I sat in one in a department store as a preteen. In my mind, it was the most comfortable piece of furniture that ever existed. In 1997, my film-obsessed older sister was getting a camcorder for Christmas. My mom always made it point to spend the same amount of money on both of us. So for my big present, she surprised me with an enormous futon with a solid wood frame that she had secretly sanded and stained in our garage. I’m not sure couch-bed hybrids are what most 16-year-old girls have on their Christmas lists, but I loved my futon. That relic from the ’90s in still in my home, and I still think it is comfortable.

Jennifer Bortel, Web Editor

A horse grooming kit containing brushes, shampoo, and a hoof pick.
Horse Grooming Kit. (©Lucky Pony)

When I was 12, I was really into horses and took riding lessons once a week. My family wasn’t in a position to buy me a horse, so I was always a bit of an outsider. One thing that all the riders had was their own horse grooming kit – a caddy filled with a hoof pick, curry comb, and various brushes. For Christmas that year, my parents bought me my own horse grooming kit. They were not into the horse scene at all, so it would have taken some effort to find out what went into a kit and where to buy it. It really helped me feel like I was a “real” horsewoman and part of the stable.

Wendy Braun, Health Editor

Shag carpeting
1960s-style pink shag rug. (Shutterstock)

I have fond memories of sitting in my bedroom on my brand new cotton candy-pink shag rug in the early ’60s, listening to music on an also-new avocado clock radio of my very own. I was about nine, and feeling very grown up.

Troy Brownfield, Staff Writer

A video walk-through of the Star Wars Death Star Space Station Playset by Tom’s Toy Chest.

As a kid, my favorite was probably the Star Wars Death Star Space Station Playset. As an adult, it’s a tie between two gifts from my wife, Becky. In the ’90s, before we were married, she tracked down an out-of-print original copy of Blue Velvet on VHS for this avowed David Lynch fan. In 2004, she surprised me with an Xbox that she’d been hiding under a piece of furniture in our living room for months, proving simultaneously that she’s an awesome wife and that I didn’t vacuum under the love seat.

Jennifer Burnham, Senior Editor of Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty Magazines

A bucket of popcorn
There’s a long tradition of creating garland for the Christmas tree by stringing popcorn and cranberries. (Shutterstock)

Last year, my boyfriend “surprised” me with a bunch of random stuff that he had found at Target the day before Christmas. Popcorn. A makeup organizer. A cute purse. And some other fun finds from the dollar section. Was I mad? Nope. I was five months pregnant and exhausted. I was too tired to be mad. Plus, it was kind of cute. I figured it was his way of getting a head start on being a dad — my dad likes to shop on Christmas Eve, too.

Tim Durham, Multimedia

A smiling pug
Not Tim’s pug. (Shutterstock)

When I was 13, I asked for either an iguana or a black pug. Not realizing the long life of small dogs, my mom would joke for years to come that she should have gotten the iguana.

Nick Gilmore, Staff Writer

The Hydro Strike! commercial.

When I was six years old I received the game Hydro Strike! from Santa. The Crossfire knockoff was essentially pinball-for-two in which the loser gets doused with a built-in water gun. I was ecstatic to finally experience the thrill I’d seen on Nickelodeon commercials for months: “The game where you’ve got to be fast with those flippers, because if that ball zooms into your goal, you’re wet boy!” I did not get wet, however. The physics of the game were flawed, and when the ball hit a sensor in either goal, the spray nozzle would only leak drops of water onto the table below. Within a few weeks, one of my friends pumped the water sac too many times and it busted. I guess you could say it was my first time grappling with severe disappointment, but for a few hours on Christmas morning I felt that I was on top of the world.

Andy Hollandbeck, Managing Editor

A family having a Thanksgiving feast
Few things evoke holiday gatherings like Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want. 

I know I’m supposed to say that the best gift I ever got for Christmas was my second son, born December 28, 2002. Yeah, he’s a great kid who’s given me years of joy, but he seems more like a Festivus miracle than a Christmas one. Plus, we’ve been paying for him ever since, which strains the very definition of the word gift.

No, the best Christmas gift I ever received — one I got to enjoy year after year when I was young — was our annual Christmas Eve gathering at my grandparents’ house, topped off by Grandma Phyllis’s cooking. To this day (and I’m halfway through my fifth decade), the smell of boiled potatoes takes me back to the best Christmases of my life.

Zach Manges, Editorial Assistant

Toy featuring a sailor in a whale-shaped submarine
Fisher-Price Great Adventures Mighty Mouth Whale. (Photo from FigureRealm.com; used with permission)

My favorite Christmas present was a Fisher-Price Mighty Mouth Whale, a mechanical beast with moving jaws for eating pirates, received when I was three. It’s my earliest memory of desperately hoping for something specific under the tree, but also significant because the thing was sold out and discontinued. Due to my total faith in Santa’s elves just making me a fresh one, my mom called the manufacturer and tracked it down in a warehouse, keeping my belief intact.

Pat Perry, Executive Editor

The Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. (Shutterstock)

One Christmas Eve, my daughter and I unwrapped an otherwise ordinary box, finding inside an overnight trip to Christmas at the Biltmore Estate. Both of us had weathered recent losses, and she would soon be out on her own. Landing in Asheville, we were quickly scuttled onto a tour bus bound for the Biltmore House. We were also battling an unyielding winter snowstorm that accelerated with each mile — as did our laughter. The manse served up a sensory feast —miles of garland, the gentle glow of candlelight, the scents of Fraser firs and allspice, and the sparkle of thousands of ornaments. I don’t remember what we talked about. Don’t think it mattered. What mattered was the gift of an adventure for a dad and his daughter and the laughter in between.

Steve Slon, Associate Publisher and Editorial Director

A bass guitar
Not Steve’s bass. (Shutterstock)

In about six grade I wanted to be in a band. I was a mediocre guitar player, but I was good enough to be a bass player. My parents bought me a bright red Harmony electric bass and it was the greatest thing ever. The band was called “The Sound” and we played some great gigs, shattering the eardrums of our fellow junior high students with “Mustang Sally” and the like at a gymnasium and destroying a few apartments with noise. We actually got paid once for a gig. That was the end of my musical career though, as the band tossed me out around ninth grade when they got somebody who could actually play guitar.

Chris Wakefield, Marketing Manager

A Super Nintendo console with controller.
The mighty Super Nintendo. (Picture by Evan Amos; Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

When I was about seven years old, I finally received the gift of all gifts; a Super Nintendo (SNES). This was a dream come true. As I tore through the wrapping paper like a wild man, I instantly recognized the jet black and ruby red box. Inside this box was the answer to all my problems. Now, my only problems were things like, which game am I going to play first (Super Mario obviously)? Do I have the proper connectors to hook the SNES into my TV? Which friends should I invite over to play with me? All of these questions and fantasies quickly faded away as I bolted upstairs, hooked the SNES up to my TV, inserted the Super Mario cartridge, and powered up the system for the first time. For, you see, I suddenly heard the voice of my big sister in my left ear. Seeing the ear-to-ear grin that was on my face, she sat on the floor next to me, yanked the precious controller from my hands and said, “Mom says you have to share this with me…”


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  1. Really great stories and photos.. Keep it up for next year. I am a fan of Norman Rockwell , have been for years, Really great at what he done..


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