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COVID Is Changing Gift-Giving this Holiday Season

The COVID Pandemic is affecting so many areas of our lives: The way we work, the way we celebrate the holidays, and the way we shop. I recently learned of a survey commissioned by Cratejoy, the largest marketplace for subscription boxes, that sought to understand consumer 2020 holiday gift-giving expectations and plans. The findings were interesting, although not necessarily surprising.

COVID Is Changing Gift-Giving this Holiday Season

In this post, I’m going to highlight some of the results of the survey, along with some creative tips inspired by the trends.

People will be shopping earlier this year

More than 50 percent of the respondents planned to or had already started their holiday shopping as early. The survey was taken in September and 29% planned to start in October and 33% planned to start in November. Interestingly to note, 15% of respondents had already started their holiday shopping when they took the survey.

One practice I’ve done for years is if I see a gift that would be perfect for someone, I either buy it on the spot or put it in a special gift-giving list I keep on Amazon. This has saved me so much time in shopping around when a gift-giving opportunity comes around.

In addition, shopping earlier will reduce the odds that you’ll have to give your gift in January because it didn’t arrive on time. The holidays are always a mad scramble for shipping because more people purchase things online and through catalogs around the holidays. This year the stress on the shipping system will be greater because people have been ordering online more in general due to the lockdowns and safety concerns.

Creative Tip
Why not shop all year round for those you give gifts to the most?
When your husband mentions something he likes, write a note, or save it in an online wish list. That way you’ll never be stuck for ideas! And, start shopping NOW! Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to arrive.

Retailers are re-thinking holiday sales

Have you noticed that there have been more themed sales events lately? Amazon held their Prime Day in October (they usually have it in July). Several major retailers teamed up to make October 10 a shopping holiday. And many businesses are making the entire month of November “Black Friday.” It will be interesting to see what happens over the Cyber Weekend!

Creative Tip
Now is the time to be keeping your eyes out for sales with a gift-giving mindset.
You never know what great gift you’ll be able to get your loved ones because it was on sale! Also, check out the clearance sections. Many retailers are giving an extra discount on top of the already discounted price.

Shoppers are being more mindful of the gifts they are giving

My philosophy of gift-giving has always been to find a gift that expresses the relationship in some way. I like to give gifts that the person will like that also is something they might say, “Oh! That is totally something Carma would give!” It seems that the pandemic is encouraging folks to take a similar mindset.

  • 46% of respondents are looking for “unique and thoughtful” gifts
  • 32% are looking for gifts that “shows that I care”

Conversely, only 8% are seeking something that is convenient to buy, 7% are looking for great deals and 5% are waiting for last-minute availability.

Creative Tip
When coming up with your gift ideas,
think about what you know about that person.

Is there something they are passionate about that you could tap into? For example, do they love traveling to Italy? Give them a “Virtual Tuscan Vacation” in a box. You can include things that evoke the feelings of Tuscany such as a book about Renaissance art, a bottle of Chianti, and a jar of Tuscan olives. Put them in a picnic basket complete with red-and-white checkered table cloth, a coupon to a local grocery store, and a note telling them to enjoy their “virtual picnic in Tuscany”!

Gift-givers are looking for experiential gifts

Because we’re all stuck at home, gifts are reflecting the need to have fun while there. Common experiential gifts that respondents to the survey say they are looking for include:

  • Gifts related to hobbies (46%)
  • Books (40%)
  • Crafty gifts (38%)
  • Cooking related gifts (34%)
  • Games (33%)

This probably explains the up-tick in subscription box sales. Because Cratejoy is a website where you can find all sorts of subscription boxes – it is kind of an aggregator of these types of services – they’ve noticed increases in these categories, as well. Craft subscriptions are up 222%, cooking boxes up 199%, books are up 177%, games are up 163% and hobby subscriptions are up 108%.

Creative Tip
There are creative ways to give experiential gifts.
Giving a subscription gift can be pricy – many of the boxes you can find on Cratejoy are $12 and up per month. That means your gift will cost you $144 and up for a full year’s subscription. That might not fit into your budget. But don’t despair, when you think creatively, you can still give an experiential gift.

I provided one example above, but you can do it in a wide variety of ways! I outlined how to create a virtual Thanksgiving-related basket a few days ago. The thought process for any type of gift basket is the same:

  1. Choose your theme: What kind of experience do you want the gift basket to evoke?
  2. Select an appropriate container: Gift baskets don’t always come in baskets? You can choose a container that is related to the experience. For example, a popcorn bucket for a movie-themed gift, or a box made from record album sleeves you found at a thrift store for a music-themed gift.
  3. Decide what will go into the container: Choose items that are related to your theme, even better, that work together. For example, you can include a cookie-dough scooper along with a cookie cookbook.
  4. Purchase all the items: There are lots of places where you can find cool items to include in your gift basket. I’m a big fan of dollar stores and Big Lots. Remember to buy some pretty filler, as well.
  5. Arrange the gift: Start with putting the tallest items in the back and move forward from there so that all the items in the gift can be seen.
  6. Add some filler to make sure everything stays in place: You can find inexpensive, yet pretty, colored shred filler at most dollar stores.
  7. Wrap it up and ship it out!

Kitchen creativity can serve you well this holiday gift-giving season

Sure, the way we do things has changed. But “necessity is the mother of invention,” so I know what when you unleash your Kitchen Creativity, you can make the best of this situation and create some amazing new memories this holiday season.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.

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