Vintage Ads: Popular Presents from the 1960s

What might have been under your tree in the 1960s? These ads from the pages of The Saturday Evening Post give us a hint.

Advertisment for a General Motors sedan.

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Ready for some groovy presents from the 1960s? We looked through the ads of our magazine from 1960-1964 and found some perfect throwback gifts.

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An ad for Sno-Flok, a spray that covers a Christmas tree with a snow-like substance.
December 3, 1960

With Sno-Flok, you just hook up your vacuum and spray a mixture of adhesive and cellulose fiber to coat your tree in a fluffy, snow-like substance. Flocking your Christmas tree peaked in the mid-’60s. General Mills doesn’t make Sno-Flok anymore, but you can still find recipes online if you want to make your own.


Advertisement for a home organ player, with father at the keys while his family watches.
The Lowrey Organ
December 3, 1960
(Click to Enlarge)

Electric home organs were a popular fixture in many living rooms from the 1940s through the 1970s. Lowrey was one of the most popular brands. The home organs could mimic other instruments, create a beat, simulate a slide, and even record your performance. The organ declined in popularity as the more portable electronic keyboard took its place.


Christmas advertisement for Smith-Corona typewriters, in an assortment of colors.
December 3, 1960
(Click to Enlarge)

Smith-Corona touted these models as the most portable typewriters of the day; The Skyriter weighed only nine pounds (and had its own carrying case).


Christmas advertisement for portable house appliances, such as a television, radio, and clock radios.
December 3, 1960
(Click to Enlarge)

Portability was a big selling point in 1960, and Sylvania was there to offer holiday shoppers portable stereos, clock radios, and television sets for “a world of endless personal entertainment.”


Christmas advertisement for a rotary telephone.
Princess Telephone
December 3, 1960
(Click to Enlarge)

The Princess phone by Bell was sold on the merits of its small size and good looks. The Princess name and the available colors — white, beige, pink, blue, and turquoise — showed that Bell clearly had a target audience in mind.


Advertisment for a General Motors sedan.
General Motors
December 10, 1960
(Click to Enlarge)

“Even a trip to the corner store is a festive occasion” if you’re doing it in GM’s Safari wagon or Tempest sedan.


Man carrying a stack of Lucky Strike Cigarrette boxes in this Christmas advertisement.
Lucky Strike Cigarettes
December 10, 1960
(Click to Enlarge)

The average price per pack of cigarettes in 1960 was 26 cents ($1.49 adjusted for inflation), or around $2.50 for a carton. In other words, you could afford to buy a lot of cigarettes then. (Today that many cartons would cost you $1,400 or more.)


Advertisement for a Polaroid instant color camera, with a developed image of a father and son set next to it.
December 7, 1963
(Click to Enlarge)

Polaroid debuted instant color film in 1963, and it was a huge hit. This was the first camera to use pack film: film came in a pack that contained both negative and positive sheets and was developed outside the camera. After waiting a minute or two, the photographer had to peel off the negative to reveal the picture underneath.


Advertisement for small household appliences, with characters from the vintage "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" television special.
General Electric Small Appliances
December 12, 1964
(Click to Enlarge)

This GE advertisement appeared in The Saturday Evening Post near the first original air date (December 6, 1964) of the Rankin/Bass special, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and featured the characters of Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius, Sam the Snowman and Santa, of course. The special still airs today, making it the longest continuously running Christmas TV special in history. (We can’t vouch for similar longevity of the bonnet hair dryer.)

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  1. My oversight the other day in not mentioning that the lady in Bell’s beautiful ‘Princess’ phone ad has more than a passing resemblance to Princess Grace at the time.

  2. Thanks for that enlarged picture of that beautiful (first) Tempest/Le Mans at the top; loved reading the ad copy at the bottom also. No ad here though is more exciting than the one for the Sno-Flok! You bet half the fun is in the doing!! I can see the 3 1/2 year old me spraying that stuff on the tree like a little fireman. I loved that exhaust type of vacuum cleaner, and still do.

    It doesn’t sound like a product I’d associate with a food company like General Mills, or even a recipe. You can still get Sno Blower Aerosol Spray or Original Faux Insta-Snow though. I don’t think it would come out as well if I made it myself, no.

    I love the way the ad for the Smith-Corona portables looks, very eye-catching. The Sylvania portables look great to me now, and I’d be very happy to have any one of them in new condition! The Princess phone ad is fantastic. Look how it’s all lit up, and the lady it’s intended for. The fact you could still dial the phone (literally) makes it even better! There’s also nothin’ like that beautiful Peek-A-Brew Coffee Maker. Beautiful. Wrap it up for me, please.

    As far as the cigarette cartons go, they’re STILL not expensive enough. They should be $50 a pack and $200 a carton for those filthy cancer sticks.


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