The first S gauge Holiday car was the 48309 1990 Seasons Greetings boxcar. Lionel has made a boxcar every year since then. In some years they have also made engines, cabooses, hoppers, TOFC, handcar with shed, billboards, passenger cars, accessories and even boxed sets. I believe AM and SHS also made some Christmas cars.
I happen to be as big an all things Christmas fanatic as I am for S gauge trains. Normally I wait until the first day of fall to post any Christmas items, but Al brought this up and I happened to have these two cars front and center.
The 48309 was the first Christmas car in S gauge followed in 1991 by the 48311. Interestingly both were uncatalogued. The 1990 was announced late to dealers and few were sold so a NIB 1990 will sell for $200 to $275, depending on how many collectors see the auction. The 1991 car was expected and many more were sold.
I have never done any research as to when the first Christmas box cars were produced. Thanks for the information Tom. I did know that they were a relatively recent addition. As I stated a while back, I have some but stopped buying because they are addicting.
Today I have one final picture posting on this subject until after Halloween, I promise. This is the third in the series, the 1992 American Flyer Christmas Boxcar. For some reason the 1992 was still uncatalogued, 1993 was the first year the S gauge Christmas items were included in the Lionel catalog. It is the final uncatalogued holiday boxcar and in a way, it is the first Christmas Boxcar in S gauge. It is the first car to include the word Christmas stamped on the car. I also wonder why Lionel made the build date 1-92 rather than 12-92. As we can see 1992 was the first year that Lionel changed the American Flyer boxes from white to red.