37 Throwback Christmas Pictures Of Hollywood’s Brightest Stars

Published December 25, 2023
Updated December 26, 2023

From posing with mall Santas to belting out Christmas carols on a microphone, these celebrities knew early on how to get into the holiday spirit.

It’s the most wonderful time of year. A time in which children line up to take photos with Santa, pose for holiday greeting cards with their families, or grin for the camera as they open presents on Christmas morning. And as these celebrity Christmas photos show, even some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have participated in these heartwarming traditions.

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37 Throwback Christmas Pictures Of Hollywood’s Brightest Stars
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In this slideshow, you'll see a Christmas photo of the whole Cyrus family, a picture of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson crawling in front of a Christmas tree back when he was "just a pebble," a snapshot of a young Sarah Michelle Gellar sitting on Santa's lap, and dozens of other images of your favorite celebrities getting into the holiday spirit years — or decades — ago.

What makes these vintage photos so delightful is the fact that many of them were taken long before their subjects became famous. At the time, they were kids just like any other, excited to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas or to test out a shiny new toy they had just unwrapped.

It's only hindsight that makes a photo of, say, a young Bruno Mars singing into a microphone, seem significant. At the time the photo was taken, Mars was just a young boy performing his heart out during the holiday season. Today, at age 38, Mars is one of the world's biggest music artists.

But perhaps one of the most touching examples is a photo of a young Tupac Shakur opening Christmas presents as his mother looks on.

Why Tupac Shakur's Vintage Christmas Photo Is So Poignant

Tupac Shakur's life story is inextricably marred by his untimely death. On September 13, 1996, the legendary rapper died at the age of just 25 after being shot four times by an unidentified gunman. (In September 2023, the last living suspect in the shooting, Duane "Keffe D" Davis, was charged with the murder, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be convicted.)

The late hip-hop artist had built his successful career by speaking openly about the struggles that he and his Black friends faced growing up in inner cities. Indeed, DAZED reports that when Shakur was a boy, his mother Afeni had difficulty finding a steady job, likely in part because she had been a prominent Black Panther Party member as a young woman.

Shakur's family moved from city to city, often staying in shelters, and Afeni eventually became addicted to crack cocaine. At times, the Shakurs struggled to get by. Still, as evidenced in the photo below, they also experienced moments of complete and utter joy.

Vintage Celebrity Christmas Photos

2PAC 13A young Tupac Shakur opening presents on Christmas while his mother Afeni Shakur joyfully watches.

This image paints a scene of a happy Christmas day. You can see a gleeful young Tupac opening a Christmas present, a look of utter shock and excitement on his face at the gift inside the box. Meanwhile, Afeni beams and poses for the camera, happy that her son had a nice holiday.

It's a rare and vibrant glimpse into the rapper's boyhood, a sweet moment that offers insight into who he was long before he became a famous celebrity. And it's a joyful memory only made tragic by the knowledge that this little boy would only live to be 25 years old.

And that's just one example of the stories these photos can tell.

Check out the photo gallery above for more vintage celebrity Christmas pictures that will give you a glimpse into the way that stars celebrated the holidays years ago, from Britney Spears to the Obamas.


After looking through these throwback celebrity Christmas photos, check out these 40 vintage holiday photos that will take you back to a simpler time. Or, take a look at these school photos of some of your favorite celebrities.

Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.