Icelanders are a bit of a fad nation. When something new comes on the market, everyone must have it. You want to be as cool as the next person. This inevitably results in this one thing becoming the Christmas gift of the year. It doesn’t happen every year, but a few stand out.

The Icelandic Research Center of Commerce does a survey every Christmas. The project aims to analyze part of the country’s consumption behavior in the run-up to Christmas and draw attention to shopping in the country. The conclusions don’t necessarily hold hands with what people actually give for Christmas. Still, it indicates how the people of Iceland are thinking.

In 2008, Icelandic design was the Christmas gift of that year. A year later, when the Financial Crash had hit most homes very hard, the Christmas gift most people wished for was a “positive experience.” A year later, people wanted Lopapeysa.

In 2011 it was a tablet. It was a surprise as they were still very expensive then, and people were still reeling from the Crash. The Research Center surmised that if it was bought, it was for the whole family.

Before Christmas 2022, 55% of people want Icelandic books and board games. However, 47% want a plane ticket. This year, 2023, people say their Christmas gift wish is to spend more time with their family, especially grandparents.

The Air Fryer

We begin with one of the newest fads. According to Iceland’s largest electronics store Elko, this is the Christmas Gift of 2022.

For those who don’t know, it is a small countertop convection oven designed to simulate deep frying without submerging the food in oil. But it can also be used to bake bread, cook food, and so on, as it works the same as a convection oven. It takes a shorter time, though, as you do not need to wait for it to heat up.

Who knows, maybe this machine will get a place next to the sous vide and foot massager in the storage room soon.

The Clairol Foot Massager

In 1982, 14000 Clairol Foot Massagers were sold before Christmas. It is possibly the first instance of a Christmas gift fad consuming Icelanders. Then, as with so many trends, it was not long before this massaging machine was placed on a shelf in the storage room where it stayed.

AB Flex

In the late 80s and early 90s, a true aerobics mania consumed Icelanders. And with it came tools to make exercises easier became popular. Who doesn’t want a 6-pack without going to the gym? Not to worry, get the AB Flex, and your ab-dreams will come true. In Icelandic, this tool was colloquially called the “Paunch Bane.”

Fondue Pot

In the early 1970s, everyone had to have a fondue pot from Switzerland. People thought it was a good gift as the whole meal took much longer as everyone needed to either fry meat pieces bit by bit or dip their bread into the melted cheese. There are not many people anymore that use their fondue pots if they still have them.

The Massage Gun

Sitepatomat, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A couple of years ago, everyone and their grandmother had to have one of those massage guns. You might start to think that Icelanders are incredibly tense people, wanting foot massagers and massage guns. Who knows, maybe that’s true. One thing is for sure, people who have both probably don’t need to go to a masseuse. They’ll relax at home while watching Netflix.

The Sous Vide

The tool chefs around the world have been using in restaurants for years. In 2016, this was the most popular Christmas gift. There’s a tradition where companies give their staff members a present before Christmas; it can be in the form of gift cards, plain old money, days off or a physical gift. That year, the sous vide machine was a popular company gift… and for others.

Some got two or three for Christmas. Recipe books on how to cook with sous vide sold out, and people were spoilt for the choice of machine to buy. Did you want just a simple one where everything is manual? Or did you want it to be WiFi and Bluetooth connected? Did you want an app along with it so you could control it while away from home? This machine now sits next to the AB flex and Foot massage machine in the storage room.

Trivial Pursuit

This is one of the most popular board games in Iceland. It used to be released in Icelandic, but sadly, that stopped in 2014 when Hasbro bought it. Icelandic people love playing board games during Christmas, and this is one that almost everyone can participate in. Icelanders love it so much that they received the manufacturer’s recognition in 1998 for the most games sold per capita. The game was then available in 33% of homes,

The questions aren’t always correct, though, and in one 80s version of the game, the question “Who was the singer of the Rolling Stones” appeared.

The Itty Bitty Booklight

Decades before the Kindle or tablets, people had to make do with reading actual books. No backlight or anything. What did you do when you wanted to read longer than the person sleeping next to you? You could, of course, keep the ceiling light on or use a small table lamp. But that’s just for plebeians. The small battery-powered book light is much better! This was called “the little light elf” in Iceland and was what many people got for Christmas the year after the foot massager.

The Electric scooter

This is possibly the only thing on this list that people actually use still. A couple of years back, the electric scooter suddenly became affordable, and many got one for Christmas. For those who do not own one of those gadgets, you can rent one, and according to a new survey, about 50% of people in Reykjavik use one regularly.

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