Editor's Picks: Making Up For Lost Celebrations


Because of the pandemic, consumers everywhere have been forced to change the way they live, work and interact with one other. Thanks to the quick work of scientists, there is finally a light at the end of this tunnel, but it’s possible that our social lives will never actually go back to “normal.” Last March and April, during the early stages of the pandemic, MSN and NPR predicted the end of handshakes and hugs. Young people will even engage in less casual sex, according to The Economist. Der Spiegel, a Germany weekly news magazine with a circulation of nearly one million, declared “the end of night” because of the near-impossibility of practicing social distancing in bars and clubs. 

But COVID-19 is not the first virus to disrupt life globally or even radically alter the course of humanity, and it won’t be the last. And if history is a guide, this pandemic won’t stop people from enjoying their active social lives and celebrating all of life’s moments once again. In the final months of World War I, a novel virus infected hundreds of millions of people across the world. This novel virus, the 1918 influenza, would ultimately kill more than 50 million people. At the time, people must have thought that life would never return to normal—because why would anyone ever again risk contracting and spreading a deadly disease just to attend a graduation, a birthday dinner or a party? 

Instead of prolonged isolation and physical distancing, the devastation from both World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic paved the way for the Roaring Twenties. There was a manic flight into sociability—think Great Gatsby-level soirees—that led to dramatic social and political change. After great human suffering, the Roaring Twenties birthed the “new woman,” the Harlem Renaissance, prohibition and the jazz age. Humanity’s determination to socialize was not deterred by a virus that killed more people, at the time, than humanity’s deadliest war. 

No matter what, people will not stop seeking out one another’s company, and pandemics are not the only tragedies that test our determination to congregate at all costs. According to The Atlantic, when suicide bombers regularly attacked cities such as Baghdad and Tel Aviv in the 2000s, people insisted on going about their daily lives. In France, when terrorist attacks had increased and armed soldiers began regularly patrolling the streets of Paris, the number of patrons in cafés and clubs did not dwindle. In countries such as Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico, which are plagued by high rates of shootings and kidnappings, you can still find a vibrant nightlife. 

This pandemic will change many things, but not our desire to celebrate life with friends and family. According to a Morning Consult poll, most Americans still celebrated a major holiday last year with a slim majority (53 percent) saying their family’s usual holiday get-togethers went as planned, while 47 percent reportedly scrapped their plans altogether. While some may have attended a holiday party last year, most people (71 percent) spent less on holiday celebrations with friends and 67 percent spent less than usual on celebrations with family. When it came to gifts, consumers were also more likely (49 percent) to spend the same amount on gifts as they did in 2019, but nearly 39 percent planned to cut back. When people did take part in the act of giving, they gave practical gifts such as fun and entertaining products that could be used at home or in the office. The most popular gift last holiday season was likely gift cards with nearly half (48 percent) of adults planning to buy or give gift cards. Financial concerns during 2020 can been seen in the lack of demand for premium and luxury products: 73 percent of Americans anticipate buying fewer or no high-end goods this year. 

However, according to The NPD Group, consumers looked to splurge on their own needs, selecting bigger ticket items that support the current homebound, virtual lifestyles such as air fryers, robotic vacuums and large monitors. “Splurges on both ‘guilt-gifting’ and self-gifting will be significant components of the consumer’s retail therapy during holiday 2020,” predicted Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor for retail. “While the emphasis will continue to be on items that are useful to the consumer’s new way of life, the holidays are likely to prompt upgrades to up the ante on many of those practical purchases.” According to NPD’s annual holiday purchase intentions study for 2020, three in 10 holiday shoppers were planning to spend more than in 2019 because they had fewer expenses related to activities like dining out and travel. Forty percent of consumers also indicated that, as a result of COVID-19, they plan on buying more gifts to bring joy during challenging times.

Although we are still urged to maintain a physical distance from others, our need and desire for face-to-face interaction has not waned. According to social media data evaluated by Kantar, a data and consulting company, people are most looking forward to a “night out/pub/drink with friends,” with a 3,000-percent increase in social media mentions from March 24 to May 4, 2020. The data also showed that people are very much anticipating “live events/music/outdoor venues,” “travel” and “seeing loved ones, friends and family” after lockdowns. 

We may never officially go back to “normal,” but the pandemic’s impact on our sociability is only temporary. The weddings, barbecues, birthday parties and holiday events will begin once again—thankfully, it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Prepare your clients with products and gifts perfect for every future celebration. 


Consumers have embraced the concept of self-care and know that its practice can come in a variety of forms, including useful, soothing and accommodating products. Shoppers are looking to upgrade, seeking both innovation and familiar quarantine favorites to enhance their lives. It was splurge-spending on personal needs that drove 2020 holiday sales. According to The NPD Group, 40 percent of consumers planned to buy more gifts to bring joy during challenging times. “In this spirit of self-care and doing something good for ourselves,” says Larissa Jensen, NPD’s vice president and industry advisor on beauty, “consumers may be more inclined to self-gift this year, because won’t we all want to congratulate ourselves for making it to 2021? But even beyond the self-gift, self-care related gifts for others are an opportunity as well.”

According to NPD’s Makeup Consumer Report, fewer women are wearing makeup today and the ones who are, are wearing it less often. Although makeup lost some market share in 2020, skincare has been the most resilient of the beauty categories. More women in the U.S. are using facial skincare products today compared to last year, according to new findings from The NPD Group’s 2020 Women’s Facial Skincare Consumer Report. Nearly 40 percent of facial skincare users have reported using their products more often and usage of basic care products, such as cleansers and moisturizers, and treatments including exfoliators/scrubs and masks, saw the most significant growth since 2019. 

Because of COVID-19, 22 percent of women changed their skincare routines. Many are washing or moisturizing their faces more often than in pre-pandemic times, while one-third have expanded their routine to include more products. The majority of those using more products intend to stick with their new routine even when things normalize. Self-care is a focus of almost every consumer and a habit many hope to maintain well after the pandemic. Every client can benefit from offering thoughtful self-care kits or innovative products that add to end users’ overall sense of well-being. 


Celebrations are a breath of fresh air, and the Cactus Cool Misti Humidifier with an auto-night light will give end users just that. The air humidifier adopts high molecular atomization technology to fully diffuse water molecules into the air, effectively increasing environmental humidity to moisten skin, helping to prevent dry skin, as well as relieve stress and fatigue, and lift spirits. The USB humidifier's ultrasonic technology provides users with a quiet humidifying environment that will not interfere with sleep or work.

Nolwenn, LLC  /  PPAI 747582, S3  /  www.nolwn.com


Say “happy birthday” or “good job” with the iHome Zenergy Himalayan Salt Lamp with built-in sound therapy. Create a calming environment for sleep or an energizing atmosphere to wake to with this engaging combination of light and sound therapy. Himalayan salt rocks help reduce harmful positive ions in the air, naturally freshening the environment. The Zenergy Salt Lamp features 10 different sound therapy tracks including white noise, designed to calm the mind, slow breathing and heartrate, and prepare the body for sleep. A replaceable 15-watt bulb with a secure-twisting lock attachment creates a lush red-toned light for the perfect snoozing environment. There is a simulated wood base with a separate protective coaster to protect table surfaces. Use the sleep timer and sunrise timer for gentle waking and restful sleep.

Hirsch Gift, Inc.  /  PPAI 221823, S10  /  www.hirschgift.com


Stand out and make some noise with the Light Up BamBams. Each pair of inflatable light-up noisemakers comes with an LED bulb. Once inflated, you can shake or hit them together and watch them glow. These personalized noisemakers are ideal for all events where the lights will be turned low or off, including concerts and graduation ceremonies. 

BamBams  /  PPAI 255565, S9  /  www.bambams.com


Celebrate a work anniversary or a team reaching its sales goal with the Egg Drop. This levitating wireless speaker works up to 30 feet from a connected device, and with a unique and captivating design, it’s great for marking any occasion. A three-hour charge time provides 12 hours of listening and the durable silicone speaker material ensures the egg won’t break if dropped. Available in bamboo (shown). 

HandStands  /  PPAI 111285, S7  /  handstandspromo.com


Let’s celebrate those who’ve kept our bellies full and our pantries fuller, especially during times of crisis. This Hero Cube features creative, magnetized accessories—a bag of groceries, scanner and superhero cape—on a steel cube with front and back acrylic plates carrying meaningful messages. The Hero Cube is made in the USA and can be customized.

Visions  /  PPAI 110751, S8  /  www.visionsawards.com


The unbelievable softness of this Pro Vision Plush Throw combined with full-color, edge-to-edge graphics creates a stunning gift that enhances any brand or event. The 100-percent polyester, ultra-soft plush will make this blanket ideal to snuggle and cuddle up with. With only a one-piece minimum, you can create the perfect gift for anyone, celebrating any occasion. The throw is also a great way to showcase a team win. For example, create a trading card-type of blanket to commemorate each player.

Pro Towels  /  PPAI 112755, S8  /  www.protowels.com


Give the gift of peace of mind to those you are celebrating or thanking with the LostNFound. This small and compact device will help locate lost items. To use, download the app, attach the device to something frequently misplaced such as keys, and scan the bar code to load the device to the app. When the item gets lost, simply open the app to sound the alarm. The LostNFound will beep to help locate the lost item. Compatible with iPhone 7 and newer or Android 4.3 and newer. Available in black with dome imprint. 

HandStands / PPAI 111285, S7 / handstandspromo.com


Don’t worry about glass breaking with these two-ounce Aluminum Shot Glasses. Great for parties or virtual celebrations, these durable shot glasses make it easy to let loose and have fun. Choose from eight colors, including silver and black, with PMS color-matching available. 

Payne Manufacturing / PPAI 209947, S2 / www.paynemfg.com


Welcome employees back to the office with a house-shaped business cardholder. Made with the finest-quality optical crystal, each piece is hand-finished and inspected to ensure absolute perfection. Packaged in a presentation gift box, this cardholder is a great way to celebrate a promotion or for clients at real estate or mortgage companies. 

Hirsch Gift, Inc.  /  PPAI 221823, S10 / www.hirschgift.com


Keep celebrations cool with this bladeless fan. With an amazing and unique design, this mini electric cooling fan can be powered by electric and USB cable. The bladeless design has no blades to “cut” the air or cause potential damage, making it easy to clean, and with its ABS shell and stylish appearance, it’s perfect for the home or office. From concerts to graduations, users can take the bladeless fan anywhere. Select from a black, white or pink case; screen printing is available. 

Nolwenn, LLC / PPAI 747582, S3 / www.nolwn.com


A celebratory gift that’s perfect for kids and adults, this stacking puzzle set is a playful way to encourage fun and relaxation. Spend hours of fun with this puzzle made of sturdy, high-quality wood. This set comes in an adjustable polyester bag. From the park to the office, this set is ready to go along. Imprinting is available on the bag only.

High Caliber Line  /  PPAI 205801, S10  /  www.highcaliberline.com


It’s not really a celebration without balloons. These 18-inch round or heart-shaped four-and-five-spot-color microfoil balloons make great signage for shows, events and special occasions—and they will float for more than 30 days when filled with helium. Made in the USA.

Pioneer Balloon  /  PPAI 113823, S7  /  www.pioneerline.com


Kristina Valdez is associate editor of PPB.

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