The Evolution and Variations of Holiday Dolls 

May Nguyen, Staff Writer

Dolls originated as simple figurines that slowly evolved into the prominent toys we know and love today. Whether it is in a magazine, a shop window, on a screen, or in your hand, this toy has shaped the childhood of many. For this holiday season, let us go down memory lane to view holiday-themed renditions of dolls by different companies that will make you feel both jolly and nostalgic. 

Arguably the biggest contender in the doll market is Barbie. According to Toy Tots Pets and More, “It all started when Mattel decided to shake up the world of dolls and collectible toys by releasing what would quickly become a holiday icon.” First created in 1988, the Holiday Barbie collection has grown by one every year. Looking along the timeline of this special allows an insight into the trends of what was popular that holiday season. The standout here is the designers’ lack of worry about branching out creatively. The yearly makeover includes everything from dresses in traditional red and green to bright pink and grand ball gowns to modern accessories. Biology teacher Denise Moberly grew up seeing the progression through her cousin’s collection and shares her thoughts on the changes. She says, “The 2011, 2020, and 2022 doll is more my style. The doll itself has gotten more exaggerated, but I think the more modern fashion has gone upwards.” Having a collection is an exciting hobby for many, but the limited-edition pricing makes these Barbies less accessible to the average consumer. However, there are other ways to revisit these childhood memories without having to burn your pockets, including seeing the film version of these holiday icons.  

Barbie movies are not new by any means, but many may not know about their Christmas movies including remakes on classics like “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol” or “A Perfect Christmas,” which is a Barbie original. Freshman Peyton High says, “I love Barbie movies, I would still watch them today. They are amazing.” There is a guaranteed sentiment of nostalgia shared with these movies. Junior Evanka Singh shares, “Christmas Barbie movies were always so comforting to watch at home with the festive and cozy holiday feel. It was a fun way to feel included in Barbie’s life and enhance the fun creative ideas of the holidays.” Universal All-Access is one of many places you can rent a Christmas bundle for your next movie marathon! 

The conversation surrounding the holidays often circles around just Christmas. American Girl Dolls set out to change that by introducing their Cultural Celebration collection. According to the American Girl blog, Girls in the United States and around the world celebrate all kinds of special occasions. With Cultural Celebrations outfits and accessories, you and your girl can have fun learning about a few of them!” Freshman James Hudson says, “I think it is good that the holiday range is expanding around the world, not just Christmas.” Launched in 2021, the current added collection features Hannukah, Kwanza, Lunar New Year, Día de los Muertos, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, and Christmas. The feedback has been positive, showing the power of proper representation. Sophomore Hannah Tran explains, “I celebrate Lunar New Year. It is a nice doll and a great idea.” She goes on to elaborate on the importance of representation in children’s toys. Tran says, “I think that my American girl doll that is supposed to look like me made an impact on my childhood. It was nice having a doll that looked like me, as a lot of dolls were not Asian. It helped me feel more represented and confident in myself.” With a small range and the need to always improve on the horizon, American Girls set themselves in a well spot for expansion. Singh says, “I celebrate Diwali and I absolutely love the use of the saree/lehenga for the doll. One way the doll could be improved would be adding one that could be wearing a kurta which is another type of common clothing. In India, the kurta is usually worn by men, but women wear this as well and are often ridiculed by elders for dressing too manly, so adding this can include even more representation!” We all can hope that feedback will be listened to so more dolls can be on the way for the younger generation.  

The last and strangest addition to the holiday dolls family is Cabbage Patch Kids “Holiday Helpers.” The Cabbage Patch Kids history page dates to 1976. The unique facial shape and structure allowed these dolls to stand on their own as a brand. Gifting these silly dolls for the holidays is a guarantee for laughter all around.  

Whether you are looking for gifts or a memory, the Holiday dolls have lasted the test of time. The ones collected today may turn into rare collectibles in the future!