This may seem odd for a holiday gift guide, but today’s theme in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide is Christmas.

Especially after the mess of the last several years, it might be hard for some people to get into the Christmas spirit, so today we’re suggesting five gifts that can be given early to help provoke a more Christmas-y mood. In fact, so many people could use an extra holiday boost that we’re planning to revisit this theme next week with five more picks.

Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture
by Mark Voger
TwoMorrows Publishing
ISBN-13 : 978-1605490977

This is a book that was due out last year but was delayed by the pandemic until this spring. I reviewed it in March, and here’s why you should consider giving this as a gift to the person on your shopping list who needs a little prodding to get into the holiday spirit.

Mark Voger has written a series of wonderful books of pop culture nostalgia for TwoMorrows and Holly Jolly is no different. It’s basically a collection of short, entertaining essays, lavishly illustrated, that celebrate Christmas as a pop culture phenomenon. Sections of the book are dedicated to the history of the holiday, the toys of Christmas, the books, movies, decorations, television and music of Christmas and even holiday memories from celebrities.

Holly Jolly is a brisk, enjoyable survey of fond recollections that doesn’t have to be devoured in one sitting. This is going to punch the nostalgia buttons of readers of a certain age (like yours truly) more than others, but the experiences are universal enough that anyone who grew up enjoying Christmas can identify.

Voger touches on everything from Captain Action to Gumby to “I Love Lucy,” to classic animated Christmas specials to hit holiday songs to beloved movies.

Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture is a nice blast of Christmas spirit, and it’s really too much fun to hold off and read only during the holiday season. You should be able to order it from any bookseller using the ISBN code, or get it directly from the publisher .


This is a repeat from last year’s Gift Guide, but the mugs and scarves and other fine stuff have all been updated for the new year.

The Christkindlmarket Chicago was first conceptualized in 1995 when The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc. (GACC Midwest) was seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany.

The inaugural event took place on Pioneer Court in 1996 for the first time. By special invitation of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. Last year there was no in-person Christkindlmarket, but they did do a virtual online store, and that is back this year with all-new Christmas gear.

In addition to the collectible mugs, this year they’ve added the first-ever Christkindlmarket official Christmas ornament.

At the online store you can order mugs and scarves and ornaments and other cool stuff, plus they have several different sizes of gift boxes with select items from some of their favorite vendors. These boxes include things like Souvenir Mugs; Glühwein Spice Mix; Hermann the German’s roasted almonds; Bob’s Belguim Hot Chocolate Mix and many other traditional trappings of the holiday season.

Check out the Christkindlmarket online store and you’ll find a variety of gift ideas at a wide range of prices.

Dark Horse Records
In a variety of formats you can find HERE

It’s a nice day for a White Christmas!

What would Christmas be without a cool new remixed and remastered holiday album, and who better than Billy Idol, the New Wave/Punk icon, to deliver it.

Even if you find that you’re dancing with yourself underneath the mistletoe, your spirits will be brightened by hearing Mr. Idol’s take on 15 classic and original holiday songs.


1. Frosty The Snowman
2. Silver Bells
3. Happy Holiday
4. White Christmas
5. Here Comes Santa Claus
6. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
7. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
8. Let It Snow
9. Winter Wonderland
10. Run Rudolph Run
11. Jingle Bell Rock
12. O Christmas Tree
13. Silent Night
14. Auld Lang Syne
15. On Christmas Day

Sure, it originally came out fifteen years ago, but this version adds a new song (and subtracts a couple), and you probably missed it when it first came out anyway.

You can order this album on CD, vinyl, or white vinyl, HERE, plus you’ll find a collection of other holiday-themed Billy Idol merch, too, including an ugly holiday sweater with an f-bomb on it. You can probably find it anywhere fine music is sold.

The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories
by Walt Kelly, John Stanley and more
edited by Craig Yoe
IDW Books
ISBN-10: 1600107737

This is a book I recommended several years ago, but it’s still in print, and you can still find it at Amazon, and I can’t think of a better way to jump-start your holiday spirit than in this reprint collection of classic comics.

Among the joyful and innocent work in this volume, you will find stories by Walt Kelly (“Pogo”), John Stanley (“Little Lulu”), and many others. If part of your Christmas tradition is cozying up with a big stack of holiday themed comics, this is the book for you. It’s 176 pages of holiday happiness. Just check the publisher’s blurb:

These wonderful Christmas comics from the Golden Age of Comics will warm the hearts of children of all ages! Top cartoonists like Walt (Pogo) Kelly, John (Little Lulu) Stanley, and Dan Noonan penned the humorous, heartwarming comics in this beautiful collection. You’ll meet elves, reindeer, talking snowmen, funny animals, and, of course, Santa Claus himself, in terrific stories that will provide a sense of wonder for the whole family.

You should be able to order this from any bookseller using the ISBN number.

Available in a variety of formats, DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital

I have to admit a personal agenda here. I’ve noticed that a lot of folks consider The Nightmare Before Christmas to be a Halloween movie.

Those people are wrong. This movie is about Christmas. It even has “Christmas” in the title. Santa Claus is in it, for crap’s sake!

And the movie is all about appreciating the Christmas experience. This animated classic is the perfect way to get your hardcore Halloween-addicted friend or family member to grudgingly acknowledge that Christmas is cool too.

So I’m including it on this list. It’s available almost everywhere movies are sold or streamed. A new Blu-Ray release includes a sing-along version, which might put some folks off their lunch (the last thing I want to hear when I’m trying to watch a movie is somebody beside me singing their own version of it), but if that’s what floats your boat, go for it.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is way more of a Christmas movie than Die Hard, so you really ought to consider this as a holiday mood enhancer.