We’re a generation that has more nostalgia for a decade that ended only about a decade ago than our parents have for their hippie/disco/big hair band days. Whether you were just starting to walk (in your baby Reeboks), Skip-It-ing through puberty or relating your high school experience to Pearl Jam lyrics, ’90s culture continues to be significant to Millennials. Between the success of TeenNick’s revival of classic 90s Nickelodeon shows — not to mention MTV’s Beavis and Butthead reboot and Fox bringing back In Living Color (fingers crossed for Daria and MADtv next!) — and 90s rock bands getting back together and touring again, 90s entertainment is inescapable. And that’s just the way we like it.
So here’s a few gift ideas (with a 2011 twist) to entertain anyone in your life who might live-tweet their excitement when Clueless is on TV or who still refers to Sean John Combs as Puff Daddy, while wearing a Michael Jordan Bulls jersey…
Unless you want to be that (pretty awesome) asshole to buy your friend a VHS tape, knowing that even Urban Outfitters’ ironic gifts section doesn’t sell VCRs, you can now buy DVD versions of some of the best 90s series we grew up watching. This is a vast category, so it’s a good idea to find out the favorite 90s shows of whoever you’re shopping for. There’s classic Nickelodeon shows like The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Clarissa Explains It All, Hey Arnold, Doug and Rugrats. Most of these shows are also available on iTunes. Then there’s the Warners Bros. Animation and Disney cartoons you might fondly remember from Saturday mornings when you chowed down on Berry Berry Kix or Rice Krispies Treats cereal (that you probably smuggled into your home) — Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky and the Brain, DuckTales, TaleSpin and Darkwing Duck to name a few.
Don’t forget about the TGIF lineup (Boy Meets World, Step by Step, Full House, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Family Matters) — and for the slightly more mature Millennial who craves an extra serving of teen angst, take a pick from My So-Called Life, Daria, Saved by the Bell, Dawson’s Creek and Felicity. Relive your high school and college years without leaving your couch! This especially applies if you were homeschooled or went to an online college.
You can still find most of those diabetes-inducing, fun and flavorful snacks that some of us were lucky enough to eat after school or use for bartering on the playground. For those of us whose parents didn’t love us as much (but in retrospect, loved us more as they shielded us from impending childhood obesity), our only chance at eating this delicious crap was when we went to those lucky kids’ houses. But now we’re legally-recognized as adults, so in addition to buying booze and lottery tickets, we can stock up on Gushers and Dunkaroos! Since most of these snacks are pretty cheap, these can act as stocking stuffers or you can compile a bunch of these 90s treats into a gift basket — much to your friends’ parents’ dismay! Get yourself to a grocery store though, since buying this stuff online is kinda weird and it’s overpriced. Other 90s snacks include Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll-Ups, Pop-Tarts and Teddy Grahams.
For the Millennial with a sweeter tooth, pick up some candy from their childhood, like Fun Dip, Big League Chew, Pop Rocks, Charms Blow Pops (“that’s a Blow Pop!“), Baby Bottle Pop, Ring Pops, Fruit Stripes gum, Warheads and Air Heads. And if you have the right connections, might I suggest buying the entire remaining inventory of the “Ice Cream of the Future” and the “Bankrupt of the Present,” Dippin’ Dots? To me, that’s the best gift bailout money can buy!
If you do want to be that asshole, I’d suggest buying your frenemy a beeper, because nothing says “hilarious, seemingly-extinct technology” (unless you’re a doctor…in a 90s sitcom) like a beeper! But if you just want to “celebrate” defunct 90s technology without actually purchasing the real item, then here are a few gift options: cassette tape iPhone case, floppy disk necklace, retro cellphone tote bag, Nintendo NES game controller iPhone decal and Gameboy iPhone cover. And while they’re not-so-defunct, a lot of the Swatch watches look like they’re from the 90s, which is around the time when their overpriced, colorful plastic watches were quite popular.
Save the flannel and grunge look for 90s-themed parties and instead, honor the 90s pop culture with these gnarley tshirts, all from Urban Outfitters (go figure): Saved by the Bell Babes tee, Kelly Kapowski tee, Biggie Warhol tee, Chris Farley “Awesome!” tee, Stephanie Tanner “How Rude!” tee, Nirvana “In Utero” tee, Beastie Boys tee and The Big Lebowski tee. Oh, and there’s an entire Web site dedicated to graphic tshirts with 90s references on them.
These 90s toys are the kind of gag gifts that you should probably only give to people who you’re close with. Otherwise, imagine the horror on the face of your coworker you got in Secret Santa when they open your box to see a demon-eyed Furby glaring back at them. Some of these childhood throwbacks include Tamagotchis (or Giga Pets), Beanie Babies, NERF guns, Pokemon cards, Koosh Balls, Pogs, Bop It, Don’t Wake Daddy game and Mall Madness.
A few items from this list is all you need to grant a fellow Millennial a very 90s holiday (and no, I’m not talking about 4/20.)