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Christmas Trends 2021

by Holly

 

I’m often asked my thoughts on what will be popular come Christmas – the trends I’m noticing or the themes for my decorations. At notonthehighstreet I would see huge surges in trends and would often share my trend predictions with the partners to help inspire new product innovation. 

Firstly,  I want to say I don’t believe in trends per se. I think when we design a product it should be evergreen, meaning it should be forever relevant, whatever the year or season. Ideally it should also be built to last, an heirloom that can be handed down. One of our Holly & Co mottos is ‘heirlooms over landfill’ and that’s the beauty of buying anything artisanal from a small business –  it’s been made with love, care and craftsmanship.

However, I do believe in noticing people’s shopping habits, which I personally keep a close eye on. This year, as the pandemic continues, we’ve been spending more on our homes, particularly in making any outdoor space feel more usable. I’m building an outdoor kitchen at the moment, we got a dog in lockdown, and the garden hosted a low-key wedding. These are behavioural and lifestyle shifts to consider when creating new products.

So here are my ‘trends’ for this Christmas, a list that I hope will inspire you in designing new, exciting products or services. I can’t wait to see what you come up with and shop with you!

Sustainability

Sustainability is well and truly at the fore. The pandemic has propelled it to the top of the agenda as the link between cross-species viruses and our continued encroachment upon the wilderness is clear. This summer, with a heat dome over the US and Canada, and another over Russia and Siberia causing forest fires in one of the world’s coldest regions, plus flash floods in Germany and Belgium, climate change is no longer in the future.

Sustainability demands that we change our habits en masse and in force. Not only is this good for the planet but it’s also good for business, in a recent report, nearly 1 in 3 consumers claimed to have stopped purchasing certain brands or products because they had ethical or sustainability-related concerns about them.

If you listened to my podcast with Anya Hindmarch, you’ll have heard her quoting some scary statistics that mean we must act within the next 20 years if we’re to save the planet. Sustainability in the form of responsibly sourced materials and long product life should be at the top of all our lists when producing or purchasing anything (which I know they are for many of you already). I’ve listed it as one of my trends here, but hopefully moving forward it will become integral to every Christmas going forward.

A few of my favourites include London Christmas Tree Rental, which does exactly what it says – renting out trees so that they don’t end up in landfill each year. Happy Crackers make the most beautiful re-fillable crackers for your table and you can even get a reusable Christmas hat! Such genius ideas from small business owners.

Now is a good time to plan and think about your packaging, wrapping, which charities you support, and which sustainable suppliers you can use. But also think about the products you could create. Journalists and customers will be on the lookout more than usual this year – as will I!

Gifting a new skill

In 2020, nearly half (43%) of the UK population chose to learn a new skill. Aside from seeking new skills for employment purposes, the study found that learning a new craft like knitting, painting or drawing was the most popular new skill taken up since the start of the pandemic. This was followed by cooking and learning a new language. At Holly & Co, we’ve observed a huge increase in interest in calligraphy, ceramics, baking, lino-cutting, and paper flower-making. With that has come a rise in the gifting of kits and classes.

Spending so much of our time at home, we’ve felt a need for creative outlets, not just for our mental health, but also to share on social media. In the last year TikTok has created a #LearnOnTikTok initiative to encourage more educational content with a focus on creative skills in particular. 

Personally, I’ve recently bought each of the team a voucher for an at-home experience from Indytute, I’ve also bought a Jack Laverick’s Clay Club home pottery kit, and some Paper Peony Kits from Pom Pom Factory

'Now is a good time to plan and think about your packaging, wrapping, which charities you support, and which sustainable suppliers you can use. But also think about the products you could create. Journalists and customers will be on the lookout more than usual this year – as will I!'

One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give this Christmas, is one that could lead to a new-found skill, perhaps even a career change! We’ll see this popularity continue to grow, and I’m already thinking about what kits to gift this Christmas.

So how can you, as a business, create a new product or service for this? Are you a jeweller who could create a product that helps someone to make their own piece of jewellery, or are you a painter who could give a lesson along with a kit? The creativity is yours to explore!

Nostalgia & Tradition

Naturally, when times are tough, people turn to their memories and what they remember as ‘better times’. When brands build on that collective memory – or nostalgia – they connect emotionally with their customers. People then associate the brand with that feel-good nostalgia. Krystine Batcho, a psychology professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, told National Geographic, ‘Generally, people find comfort in nostalgia during times of loss, anxiety, isolation, or uncertainty.’

I’ve noticed over the past couple of years the trend for tradition, vintage and nostalgia at Christmas. I believe it’s because we’re seeking comfort in the past, the simplicity of the time before the pandemic, and past family Christmases when we bought fewer gifts but kept them forever. 

Each year, my son Harry and I buy one decoration together, and it becomes part of the Tucker Decoration Box collection. Every Christmas, we unpack these magical objects and eventually they will be passed down to Harry when he has his own family. Last year I bought a hand-painted bauble by Amy Swann, (which led to many more purchases throughout the year!). I can’t wait to get it out of the box this year and marvel at its beauty. Another beautiful brand that I buy from every year is Polar Post, whose hand calligraphed letters to Santa always take me back to a bygone age.

I often look to the past for inspiration and at Holly & Co, we drool over craftsmanship, design, and meaningful words. We love that skills which could so easily be lost, are being kept alive and relevant. It’s why Holly & Co has a hand-painted shop sign, but the brand has the modernity of a podcast. 

How can you create something traditional with a modern twist this Christmas?

Rituals

Anthropologists have long observed that people across cultures tend to perform more rituals in times of uncertainty. Wars, environmental threat, and economic insecurity are often linked with spikes in ritual activity. The more hardship experienced, the more we turn to the comfort of rituals and tradition. We’ll be going through our second Christmas in a pandemic and some of us will be apart from family and friends. Not only will we want to take comfort in the magic of tradition but also to create new ones too. 

Last year, I noted increased interest in simple traditions from the past like the advent candle – Matilda Goad creates beautiful hand-painted ones. I also looked to Nordic countries with their inherent ability to infuse winter and family traditions with hygge. Growing up in Holland, I loved the Dutch traditions of leaving sweets in shoes for SinterKlaas and receiving the first letter of my name made of chocolate in my stocking. It’s a tradition my family still honour now with personalised chocolate letters from letterroom.

'Each year, my son Harry and I buy one decoration together, and it becomes part of the Tucker Decoration Box collection. Every Christmas, we unpack these magical objects and eventually they will be passed down to Harry when he has his own family.'

I remember when I was at notonthehighstreet, I started a tradition of creating a Christmas Eve Box for Harry. I would buy him a new pair of pyjamas, some popcorn to eat while we watched It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, and a personalised mug for his hot chocolate. All my friends wanted to buy a Christmas Eve Box too so we turned it into a product on notonthehightstreet. The Christmas Eve Box has now become a bit of a phenomenon, so much so, I even buy one for my furry children Mudley and Chewy from the geniuses at Modo Creative. 

What is the new Christmas Eve Box? What traditions could you inspire through your designs? We are all looking for new special moments to mark, what could you offer through products or services? Think about creating meaning and sharing authentic sentiment this Christmas.

Magic

Christmas is mainly a time for little ones, and magic is always at the forefront of everything I do each year, from buying the Polar Post letters to decorating the fairy door at Holly & Co with it’s tiny Christmas tree and letterbox!

More than ever we will be looking at ways to bring the magic to our kids, after a couple of tough years of homeschooling, not seeing friends, missing out on key moments in their lives. So I predict even more of a shift to products or services which can bring the true magic of Christmas to children this year. 

Small businesses do this so well like Polar Post who I mentioned above or The Trawden Forest Fairies where you can buy your own fairy door. How about  tiny theatres in your living room? Or even a magical gramophone advent calendar from the most magical shop in the UK?

How can you bring magic to the younger generation this year? I can’t wait to see what you create!

Key takeaways:

Are there themes and trends that resonate more strongly for you and your business? Focus on one or two that work best for you – and enjoy being creative! 

1. Innovative sustainability: Think about items we don’t use much or throw away, how can you make them into beautiful reusable items that capture the imagination?

2. The gift of a skill: How can you package your product with the added bonus of a learning experience? Can you create YouTube tutorials  that can only be accessed by the recipient or a bespoke Zoom session?

3. The wonder of Christmas past: What are the rituals and traditions or memories that you most fondly remember? Can you bring them to a new audience? How can you update them in a way that gets people talking about it on social media?

4. Pure magic: Christmas is all about magic – and it’s not just for children! How can you create something magical that persuades people to suspend their disbelief for a moment and become utterly enchanted?

Images: ‘The Magic is in You’ decoration – Amy Swann

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