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The Entrepreneurs and Success Stories Behind Iconic Christmas Crazes

Christmas has always been a season of joy and festivities, but for some entrepreneurs, it has also been a phenomenal success.

Through innovation, marketing genius, and a bit of holiday magic, these creators have launched products that captured the hearts of millions and revolutionised the toy industry. 

Without further ado, let’s assess some of the greatest-ever Christmas crazes and their impacts. 

The impact of christmas crazes on consumer culture

The holiday season brings a significant upsurge in consumer spending, and Christmas crazes are a massive contributor. Christmas spending increased rapidly as toys, games, and other products were brought to global audiences throughout the 60s and 70s, thus creating the phenomenon of the Christmas craze. 

In 2023, Brits are expected to spend an average of £602 each on Christmas gifts, a 40% increase from the average of £429 in 2022. The total spending on Christmas gifts in the UK for 2023 is projected to reach £27.6 billion, up 37% from £20.1 billion in 2022. 

Generation Z is leading the spending spree, with an average expenditure of £828 each on gifts, while baby boomers are more conservative, averaging £390 each. 

For many retailers, Christmas can yield more profits than much of the year combined, and crazes play a major role in stimulating spending. 

Christmas crazes through the ages

Let’s take a look through some of recent history’s biggest Christmas crazes. 

Furby: A 90’s sensation

The Furby, an American electronic robotic toy resembling a hamster or owl, was the brainchild of Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung. 

They spent nine months creating the Furby and an additional nine months designing it. Richard C. Levy joined their efforts, bringing the Furby to Tiger Electronics, which purchased the rights.

Furby first appeared at the American International Toy Fair in 1998. It was a hit from its holiday season launch, with over
40 million units sold in its first three years. The 1998 Christmas period saw its price skyrocket due to high demand.

Cabbage Patch Kids: The doll craze that sparked riots

Xavier Roberts, a 21-year-old art student, discovered Martha Nelson’s Doll Babies and started creating his own hand-stitched dolls called “The Little People.” Roberts and his friends-turned-employees sold these dolls from their converted toy store, Babyland General Hospital, in Cleveland, Georgia.

Roger L. Schlaifer acquired exclusive worldwide licensing rights in 1982, renaming the Cabbage Patch Kids brand. 

The dolls, now with plastic heads and softer bodies, were first produced by Coleco Industries. They set toy industry sales records for three consecutive years and were one of the most popular children’s licensed products in the 1980s.

The Cabbage Patch Kids became a phenomenon, with the parental frenzy over obtaining them during Christmas seasons, leading to what was known as “Cabbage Patch riots”​​​​​​.

Beanie Babies: A revolution in the soft toy world

Ty Warner, an American businessman, created Beanie Babies in 1993. These stuffed toys, filled with plastic pellets (“beans”), were first introduced at the World Toy Fair in New York City.

Sales were slow initially, but the decision to limit production and “retire” certain characters created scarcity, leading to a surge in popularity and a collecting craze.

By 1996, Beanie Babies were so popular that their resale on
eBay constituted 10% of the site’s sales. Their collectable nature led to some being insured for thousands of dollars.

Despite ceasing production in 1999 due to overwhelming demand, Ty, Inc. restarted production in 2000 with a Beanie Baby named “The Beginning”​​​​​​​​.

Christmas crazes from recent years

Over the years, many toys and gadgets have captured people’s hearts and imaginations during the holiday season. 

Each has its unique story and impact, influencing consumer culture and reflecting the trends and technology of its time. Here are some notable Christmas crazes from recent years:

2015: BB-8 Droid

The BB-8 Droid, a part of the Star Wars franchise, became a must-have holiday gift in 2015. 

This robotic ball with a detachable, independently moving head, controlled by a smartphone, captivated Star Wars fans of all ages. It coincided with Disney purchasing the rights to the franchise. 

2017: Fingerlings

Fingerlings, introduced in 2017, are small robotic monkeys that attach to your finger and make monkey noises. 

These toys captured the market with their cuteness and interactive abilities, selling out within hours of restocking.

2018: Apple AirPods

Apple’s AirPods, introduced in 2018, became a symbol of tech and music. Although initially met with scepticism, the wireless earbuds quickly became a cultural icon and a leading Christmas gift due to their reasonable price point. 

2019: Baby Shark Song Puppet

Based on the viral “Baby Shark” song, the Baby Shark Song Puppet became popular in 2019. 

This cute, yellow puppet played the catchy tune we all know, changing the tempo with the movement of its hand.

2020: Baby Nancy

Baby Nancy, first introduced in 1968, was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2020

The doll, known for showing realistic black features, pioneered in promoting diversity and inclusivity in children’s toys.

2021: Baby Yoda

Baby Yoda, from the Star Wars universe, appealed to fans of all ages. 

Baby Yoda became a versatile and beloved character and meme, available in various forms like animatronic playthings, card games, vinyl figures, Lego, and plush toys. 

2022: Lite-Brite

Lite-Brite, a classic toy since the 1960s, saw renewed interest in 2022. 

Featured in the popular show “Stranger Things,” it captured the nostalgia of older generations while introducing younger ones to creative play with its light-up peg design​​​​.

I’m a born salesman; I have a natural talent for it. But all my meticulous work and marketing savvy combined with forces I had no role in creating. The advent of e-commerce, for example, was something I had not foreseen but moved quickly to make the most of. Nor could I have predicted the rise of eBay or the role Beanie Babies would play in its success.

Ty Warner Founder of Beanie Babies

Lessons from christmas crazes: The Entrepreneurial Spirit

There are some key lessons in entrepreneurship to learn from these Christmas crazes. 

Firstly, understanding and anticipating consumer trends can lead to significant financial success, but this is far from an exact science. From Furby to Baby Yoda, it’s not easy to predict what products see widespread popularity. 

Moreover, these selections underscore a diversity in product popularity, with traditional toys and high-tech gadgets. This shows the importance of innovation and staying ahead of the market curve. It’s also worth highlighting that many of these products, like Beanie Babies, wouldn’t have cost a fortune to develop.

It’s all about the use of marketing and creating a ‘must-have’ perception around a product. The hype generated around certain products, often driven by media and advertising, can create a frenzy of demand, which is dialled up by the holiday season. 

Key takeaways from these holiday success stories

So, what can we learn from these examples? Here are some key takeaways:

  1. Innovative product design: Unique and innovative products can capture the public’s imagination, creating demand in a short space of time. 
  2. Understanding market trends: Awareness of consumer preferences and trends is crucial for timing product launches effectively.
  3. Effective marketing: Strategic marketing and creating a sense of exclusivity or novelty around a product can significantly boost its popularity.
  4. Adapting to changing markets: Flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions, economic climates, and consumer behaviours is vital to sustaining success.
  5. Leveraging technology: Incorporating new technologies and interactive features can add value to traditional product concepts.
  6. Creating emotional connections: Products that create emotional connections, often through nostalgia or sentimentality, tend to have a lasting impact and can become iconic.
  7. Balancing supply and demand: Managing supply to create a sense of scarcity can increase demand, but it requires careful balance to avoid consumer frustration.


The holiday season is more than just a time of gift-giving – it’s a period that showcases the spirit of entrepreneurship. 

Hundreds of grassroots product designers and entrepreneurs have hit the jackpot, including some weird and wonderful products that many wouldn’t have suspected of making the mark they did. 

Christmas crazes reflect the dynamic nature of consumer culture, where trends, economic factors, and marketing converge to create moments of huge commercial success.

These product successes illustrate that pretty much everything has some sort of chance if executed correctly. 

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Olivia Wood, business content writer

Olivia Wood is a writer with hands-on experience in business success. Having made the leap into the world of freelancing, she offers her expertise to help others.

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