The commercialization of Christmas began during the Victorian era. Retailers encouraged consumers to shop for the holidays instead of giving homemade gifts, and shop employees also decorated their shop windows with lavish displays to attract passersby. The tradition of Christmas shopping was born.
So what were the popular gifts in this bygone era? Let’s find out by examining a sampling of store ads from 1890-1920.
Readers of The Boston Globe on Dec. 21, 1890, found deals in an ad from Houghton & Dutton, located at Tremont and Beacon Streets. The shop’s ad took up nearly a third of the page and included these gift ideas: