Christmas sure has changed a lot in the modern era, hasn’t it? Instead of going out shopping, you probably just point and click on Black Friday; you may send out an email greeting instead of a holiday card; and you can hook up your tree lights at home to your Alexa. All pretty convenient, but there’s something about the season that makes us a bit nostalgic for a less tech-focused time.
After all, those looking for modern blockbuster holiday programming can find splashy, showstopping concerts and Broadway-worthy productions right on their small screen. But several decades ago, your big-ticket holiday TV events were more likely to involve cheesy-looking sets, a lot of fake snow, random guest stars, and corny Christmas skits in a variety-show setup familiar to TV viewers of the ’60s and ’70s.
And yet, the best of these had an undeniable Christmas charm you just can’t find in the holiday programming of today. So here are a handful of our favorites, featuring some beloved Christmas performers and the songs we’ve grown accustomed to hearing year after year. We recommend taking a break during this hectic season by curling up with one or more of these and some hot chocolate (put some some schnapps in it, it’s Christmas), and appreciate at least one thing about modern technology: These decades-old specials are now available for streaming on YouTube.