Do you remember Christmas in the 1970s?

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It was the decade of the Chopper, Morecambe and Wise and Marathons in your selection box

Christmas is great, but it’s hard not to look back and wonder if it was even better in the days before iPads, smartphones and festive adverts that began in October. Here are a few reasons why Christmas in the 1970s was so magical...

THE DECORATIONS

Forget every spare square inch being covered in Christmas lights before the end of November, in most homes in the 1970s the tree and decorations only went up about a week before the big day.

All the tinsel, coloured lights, foil hanging decorations and crepe paper streamers would be carefully brought out of storage from the year before, with new paper chains being prepared as required. Baubles were big news – the more brightly coloured the better.

The countdown to the big day was marked on the traditional Advent calendar, but it was more than likely to have only a small pictorial scene behind the paper door such as a robin in the snow, rather than the chocolates or other treats you see today.

When it came to baubles, it was the bigger and brighter the better.

When it came to baubles, it was the bigger and brighter the better.

As a special treat on Christmas Day you might be allowed to let off some indoor fireworks. That’s right, indoor fireworks.

THE TELEVISION

WITH only three channels to choose from and no videos or DVDs in sight, the chances were that you and the rest of the country were watching pretty much the same thing at the same time in the Seventies.

The Basil Brush Show, Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game, Billy Smart’s Christmas Circus, To The Manor Born, the annual star-studded BBC panto and The Good Old Days were all among the festive favourites.

Record numbers tuned in to see kings of comedy Morecambe and Wise.

Record numbers tuned in to see kings of comedy Morecambe and Wise.

But there were two stand-outs that truly brought the nation together. Christmas dinners up and down the country were planned around the Queen’s Speech at 3pm, while the Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials kept the whole family entertained with big names such as newsreader Angela Rippon and conductor Andre Previn playing along for laughs. With the exception of 1974, the duo were Christmas Day fixtures and their 1977 special scored one of the highest ever audiences in British television history with more than 20 million viewers.

THE PRESENTS

Never mind an Xbox, Ipad or smart phone, you waited all year long to receive a Speak and Spell, an Etch-a-Sketch, a Space Hopper or, if you were really lucky, you might have woken up to the must-have bike of the decade – the good old Raleigh Chopper. For smaller riders, the Budgie or Tomahawk fitted the bill.

Action Man with so-called ‘Eagle Eyes’ that you could swivel using a level on the back of his head, along with Sindy and Barbie dolls for the girls were also big news.

The Raleigh Chopper was the must-have bike of the decade.

The Raleigh Chopper was the must-have bike of the decade.

Other favourites unwrapped on Christmas morning included Scalextric and Hornby train sets, Girl’s Worlds and, in some lucky households, a then revolutionary Atari games console.

Oh, and no one went in for fancy, tasteful matching Christmas wrapping paper - it was a case of the gaudier, the better.

THE MUSIC

The 1970s was the decade when the Christmas record truly came into its own.

Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day lost out to Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody for the number one spot in 1973 in a true clash of the festive titans.

The following year it was Mud’s Lonely This Christmas, Johnny Mathis’ When a Child is Born topped the charts in 1976 and three years later it was Boney M’s Mary’s Boy Child. Classics every one, they are all still played today.

Youngsters around the country dreamed of waking up to a Scalextric set under their Christmas tree.

Youngsters around the country dreamed of waking up to a Scalextric set under their Christmas tree.

THE FOOD AND DRINK

YOUNGSTERS might have started with Puffa Puffa Rice or Pink Panther Flakes for breakfast but before long they were ripping into their Selection Box.

This festive staple contained more chocolate than they were ever usually given in one go, including the likes of Spangles, Treets and a Marathon bar.

There was still enough room for turkey and all the trimmings though, washed down with a glass of Blue Nun or Black Tower wine – for the adults at least. After dinner there was the chance of a cheeky splash of port or sherry. To really get things in full swing, a Party Seven (a tin can containing seven pints of ale) might be wheeled out, just as long as dad was able to open it. A screwdriver and hammer were usually required, then it was like Mount Vesuvius.

Tell us what you loved about Christmas in the 1970s in the comments section below.

Remember tearing into a Selection Box on Christmas Day?

Remember tearing into a Selection Box on Christmas Day?

Sisters Jane and Lucy Batham at the Tarte and Berry bakery in Farsley. PIC: Simon Hulme

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