Home for the Holidays (Literally)

            2020 has become the year of cancellations, as everything from concerts, events, movie theaters, theme parks, and brand launches get delayed and pushed back. As we begin to enter the second half of the year, there’s a new wave of traditional experiences, events, and engagements that are slowly coming into focus—and they’re all surrounding the holiday gauntlet.

            As the pandemic continues to affect and directly influence the flow of American culture and traditions, local governments and big brands alike are looking for a roadmap on how to handle the holiday season, most of which, sadly, is getting chopped.

            We’ve seen several workarounds and innovations surrounding American traditions, including prom, graduation, and concerts, that all take the pandemic into consideration and leverage a mix of technology and optimism in order to pull off. These, however, although they may be spread over many weeks as each community celebrates, are not technically nationwide holidays that have a universal theme and go on for weeks at a time.

            So, what will the holiday season look like for 2020? What’s Halloween without trick-or-treating? How about Thanksgiving where nobody wants to travel or get together, let alone eat a meal that often is served buffet style? Is Black Friday even a thing anymore. . .and, is it time to rename the event? Then, there’s the Christmas gauntlet—no shopping, parades, the mall Santa—I’ll stop myself here; you get the point.

            The holiday season looks like it will be celebrated on a much smaller scale, more immediate family only, and more focused on what we have versus what we want. It actually  may accomplish the goal many talk about year-to-year, that of downsizing the holiday, but  rarely do. It’s not all a move by choice, however. This mindset is emerging as we look at millions struggling with unemployment, slashed municipal budgets, and the ever-looming threat of the ongoing pandemic. All of these factors combined are putting the focus on an emerging mindset very similar to the quarantine, where the holidays are what you make them—and you can’t necessarily rely on anyone else for holiday cheer.

            As we begin to see holiday events cancelled across the country—in July—we have made a conscious decision on how much of a personal and cultural impact it is going to have this holiday season. How much will it influence our behavior, seeing that the seasons we’re accustomed to looking forward to can be, essentially, cancelled? And, how will it be viewed in the years to come?

If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it is that it will have lasting influence on behavior itself. This is seen across the restaurant category already, as leaders invest in drive-thru, ghost kitchens, and other services that help consumers stay engaged while staying safe. It is hitting other categories similarly, from automotive to education to hospitality and more.

            Will the adaptation to new holiday needs and expectations become a bigger deal than a one-year, one-time, necessity? Quarantine made people reevaluate their eating and shopping habits, it changed how consumers engage with brands, and now, on a bigger scale, it may permanently influence how consumers engage with celebrating holidays.

            And, while it’s a definite hit to the economy, is this a negative impact, or, when you think about it, does it have a positive side?

            We’re just here to make you think . . .