With detailed responses from hundreds of consumers, the 2020 AdThrive Holiday Study is jam-packed with insights on exactly what your readers are looking for this holiday season.
Our insights team surveyed 500 women, aged 18-54, to understand their plans for the holiday season and how COVID-19 is shaping this years’ celebrations, shopping, food, decorating, and travel.
“Home for the holidays” is taking on a whole new meaning this year! Drill down into major trends and differences compared to last year for lightbulb moments as you research, create, frame, and promote your content this holiday season.
Whether you’re looking for bite-sized infographics or an in-depth analysis of the study results + additional industry research, you’ll find lots of helpful info below!
Here’s what you’ll find:
- 2020 holiday trend highlights: Celebrations
- When we’ll see celebration planning really start to take off
- The faceoff between in-person and virtual events
- How the pandemic is shifting time-honored traditions
- How COVID is affecting the sizes of holiday gatherings
- 2020 holiday trend highlights: Gifts
- How gift budgets are shifting in 2020 & one area where gift spending is extra high
- The factors driving holiday gift spending this year
- The top gifts your readers are interested in
- 2020 holiday trend highlights: Food
- Who’s cooking this holiday season?
- Nostalgia & tradition vs. exploration & novelty
- Recipe difficulty levels + reader interest
- 2020 holiday trend highlights: Home & decor
- How the pandemic is affecting interest in holiday decorating
- The role of nostalgia
- 2020 holiday trend highlights: Travel
- Who’s traveling this holiday season, and how are they getting there?
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2020 holiday trends highlights: Celebrations
The pendulum of uncertainty that has followed us throughout COVID continues to swing into the holidays this year. People are eager to make plans and jump into the celebrations but are also uncertain about what the future holds and, in some instances, waiting to make definite plans.
Celebration planning is already kicking off
Your readers are excited for the holidays, with 1 in 4 starting their planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas earlier than usual this year.
Check out the Google Trends chart below to see the difference in searches for “Christmas” in 2020 vs 2019.2
You may be seeing some traction on your holiday content already, but don’t let that stop you from continuing to evolve your content as we get deeper into the holidays, because…
Uncertainty is delaying holiday planning
With travel restrictions and other protection policies in place, people are unsure of what their plans are going to look like this year.
In fact, many people don’t know what their plans will be yet.
Those that are planning are anticipating celebrating with a mix of in-person and virtual events:
To do: Help your audience stay flexible this season with tips they can use to pivot quickly as plans change at the last minute. For example, how do you plan a holiday get together with minimal advance notice or transition an in-person event to a virtual one?
Readers are looking for new ways to celebrate virtually
While warmer weather over the summer offered socially-distant options for in-person gatherings, colder weather makes outdoor get-togethers less feasible, leading people to turn/return to virtual events.
People are embracing new digital platforms to connect with friends and family and looking for ways to make in-person holiday traditions work over the web.
If you’re seeking ideas for entertainment content, here’s what blog readers said their perfect virtual celebration looks like …
To do: Think about your favorite (or popular) in-person holiday traditions and brainstorm ideas for successfully pulling them off in a virtual setting. For example, how can people celebrate Friendsgiving virtually? Share fun games, ideas for meals and cocktails, and activities that work well over a digital platform. What about ringing in the new year? Start preparing and sharing your ideas for virtual toasts and celebrations.
The new normal calls for new traditions
With 77% of blog readers agreeing that this is the perfect year to try new things during the holiday season, there are many opportunities to pioneer fun ideas for people to celebrate at home or while social distancing.
For example, people may opt to take their holiday meals and gatherings outside this year, location and weather-permitting. What sort of ideas do you have to make that transition seamless, from ideas to decorate outdoor or fun activities. And, with more time at home, parents need to fill time with more activities for their kids.
To do: Get creative and brainstorm several new takes on old traditions, following our Creativity & Data tips. Bonus — you can use the printable workbook for idea generation!
People are planning on smaller, more intimate gatherings
Our research shows that people are anticipating a slightly smaller guest list this year. Your readers expect to host an average of 8 guests this year compared to 10 guests last year.
But with things up in the air and guest lists likely to change, look for ways to keep your ideas scalable (for example, tips on doubling recipes) so readers can adjust at the last minute as needed.
2020 holiday trends highlights: Gifts
Many people have lower holiday budgets this year and will rely more on deals
The financial impact of the pandemic extends its shadow to the holidays, with more people looking for ways to cut back on spending this year.
- 70% say that their 2020 holiday budget will be lower than their 2019 budget
- 88% of blog readers say they’re more likely to look for deals this year (and remember — this shopping will be happening online)
Despite tighter holiday budgets, gifts are still a priority
Even with tighter finances, plenty of people are looking to make the holidays even more special by splurging a bit, especially in the gift area.
- 46% say that they’re more likely to spend more on gifts this year than last year
- 42% plan to splurge on gifts “more than usual” this holiday season
One area where gift spending is extra high:
Parents spending on their kids. They’re taking extra care to make sure the holidays are still magical for their children.
- Parents plan to spend 2x more on gifts for the kids this year than on gifts for other groups of people
- Moms are buying, on average, 7 more gifts than non-moms — which works out to about 4 average gifts per child
To do: Do you publish any content related to holiday gifts? Review existing content or your content plan with an eye on these budget data points, especially as you’re planning any affiliate marketing. Should you highlight more deals? Are your readers shopping for children? Can you validate your audience’s desire to splurge?
Other factors driving shopping behavior
With people shopping for the holidays earlier this year, one study looked at what drives early purchase behavior.3
The main factor is sales and promotions, followed by avoiding crowds, and finally, keeping stress levels down.
To do: If you publish gift content, knowing these main priorities can give you a few different ways to grab readers’ attention. Try a couple of angles and see which your audience responds to most, whether that’s relevant promotions or tips for staying safe and sane this holiday season.
Handmade gifts are more about being thoughtful than budget
This year, more than half of gift-givers will be giving something handmade.
- 64% of blog readers plan to give some handmade/DIY gifts this year
- 1 in 4 blog readers are more likely to give DIY gifts this year compared to last
But DIY isn’t always about saving money! Those planning to give DIY gifts also say they’re 1.4x more likely to splurge this year.
In a year where people are starved for connection and have more free time than usual, handmade gifts provide a perfect outlet for good intentions and newfound skills!
The top things on your readers’ wishlist this year
When it comes to what’s on people’s wish lists, the National Retail Federation (NRF) conducted a recent holiday survey and found that, compared to last year, people are asking for more home decor and home improvement gifts and, in general, most people want gift cards, clothes, books/media, and electronics.3
2020 holiday trends highlights: Food
Food continues to star at the center of the holidays
This year, we saw people getting into cooking more than ever while stuck at home, so anticipate them using their new skills and kitchen muscles to make the holidays even more special this year.
- 84% of blog readers say their holiday traditions revolve around food and cooking
- 65% of all respondents said they will turn to blogs for holiday food and recipe ideas
- 90% of habitual blog readers will be turning to you for food ideas for the 2020 holidays
Provide readers with a mix of traditional foods and new recipe ideas
The desire to spice things up and try new things continues.
Although people generally enjoy sticking to holiday traditions (83% of respondents), over 80% of blog readers plan to try new recipes and new ingredients this year.
According to research from Facebook:4
- 52% of holiday shoppers surveyed in the US are likely to try new food brands during the holiday season
- 60% of holiday shoppers said that they explore new products more during the holiday season than the rest of the year
Don’t be afraid to increase the difficulty level on new recipes
2020 has been a year for home cooking, and after months of practice, people are ready for a challenge this holiday. They want new recipes, and they’re not afraid to get technical.
Those who say they want to try new recipes this year are 1.24x as likely to say they’ll be cooking more dishes from scratch.
To do: Share new techniques and/or difficult recipes for those looking to flex their new culinary muscles. Look for ways to help your readers perfectly execute a new skill for the holidays — promise and deliver!
2020 holiday trends highlights: Home & decor
Decorating for the holidays is a priority this year
With everything going on in the world right now, people are more eager than ever to bring some of the magic and sparkle of the holiday spirit into their homes this year. And it’s an area of priority even when it comes to decreased holiday budgets.
- 86% of blog readers will be decorating their home this year
- 67% say they plan to decorate more than they did last holiday season
- 69% will be spending the same or more on holiday decorations this year compared to last
Your content will be at the center of holiday decorating
84% of blog readers say that they’ll be turning to your content for decorating ideas. Like with cooking, readers have been getting into crafty hobbies since the onset of COVID, and the holidays provide an excellent opportunity to show off their newly acquired skills.
To do: With all the emphasis on DIY and handmade this holiday season, provide your readers with outlets for their new skills around the home.
Nostalgia is a big decor driver…
Those who plan to decorate more than last year are also more likely (1.23x) to say the holidays will be more nostalgic for them.
To do: How can you help your readers rekindle the holiday magic of years past? Try listing your own favorite holiday decorating traditions and nostalgic emotional connections as a jumping-off point.
2020 holiday trends highlights: Travel
People are sticking close to home for the holidays
Less than 1 in 3 blog readers will be traveling away from home this holiday season.1 Compared to last year when over half of people were planning on going home for Christmas, this is a significant drop.5
Even fewer people will be traveling home for Thanksgiving, according to one study — just 9.2% in 2020 vs. 23% in 2019.5
Road trips are the preferred mode of holiday travel
Of those traveling, 80% will be taking trips to spend time with friends and families in their homes. 533 miles will be the average distance traveled, and 4.3 days will be the average trip duration.5
The vast majority will be skipping plane tickets and other forms of mass transport and sticking to the car.
- Car (79%)
- Airplane (16%)
- Train (2%)
- Bus (2%)
- Other (1%)
Are you wondering how holiday enthusiasm compares to last year, especially in light of the pandemic’s effects on budgets, shopping, and the holiday spirit? Interested in learning a surprising source for where 80% of people are getting 2020 holiday inspiration from?