Holiday photo card industry pivots in coronavirus pandemic

Holiday decoration sales surge amid coronavirus pandemic

Holiday decoration sales surge as more people are stuck at home due to coronavirus. FOX Business’ Jeff Flock with more.

Holiday cards might look a little different after the coronavirus pandemic turned 2020 into an unimaginable string of events — or lack thereof.

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A new tier of greetings is encroaching on the traditional seasonal themes that are often stamped across holiday cards. While many are opting to send wishes for “health” and “safety” instead of “joy” and “love,” others are approaching their card with humorous and light-hearted messaging as a nod to the outlandishly unconventional year.


Quarantine-themed cards are some of the best-sellers this year, reflecting a realistic recap of what many refer to as a “non-event” year, according to card company Minted's CEO, Mariam Nacify. After canceled travel plans, the rise of remote work and less social gatherings, “home for the holidays” has become more than just a seasonal expression.

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And if the pandemic hasn’t brought families closer enough together, some cards are poking fun at the year with survival-mode messaging like “Merry Christmas from our Quaranteam to yours,” or “We laughed, we cried, we Zoomed, we made it,” paired with an informal photo of a family lying around the living room floor.

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Other taglines sport messages like “2020 — would not recommend” with a rating of one out of five stars or “this moment is brought to you by quarantine 2020.”

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Other popular templates feature Zoom screenshots cobbled together mocking the virtual communication that has pressed into many facets of lives. Snapshots of families in a car reveal the mode of vacation that has become a mainstay.

“It’s amazing to see how the course of history runs through people’s holiday cards,” Nacify told FOX Business. “This year was particularly evident.”


Minted, a curated design marketplace of independent artists, has seen health-related card greetings increase by 182%, with salutations including the word “health” or “well” up 14 times from last year. And as the pandemic has sparked a surge in relocations, supported by widespread movement from cities into suburbs, as well as virtual job capabilities, cards referring to a new home or address have grown 11 percent.

A surge in pet adoptions has also prompted an uptick in cards with keywords related to new dogs and cats. In other cases, pets have replaced family photos for those whose furry friends have been the highlight of the year.

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“For some, humor is appropriate at the holidays as a way to share positivity and encouragement,” Hallmark CMO Lindsay Roy told FOX Business. “Humor can be a way for people to connect with one another and offer distraction from negativity. Others may send a funny card to a loved one as a way to cope during this tumultuous year.”

Even though tones of satire and jest have become a way to shed a festive light into a year of darkness, humor is not for everyone, according to American Greetings Chief Creative Officer Kelly Ricker.

“There is a fine line,” Ricker told FOX Business. “We really do have to be careful that we're not treating the topic lightly overall because we are coming up on 300,000 people losing their lives.”


Hallmark Trends Studio found that people are gravitating towards cards that share positivity, offer encouragement, express gratitude and send love from a distance, and many are craving the warmth and comfort of the holiday season more than ever. The company expects to see cards that reference physical connection such as messages that express “wish you were here” or “wish I could be with you.”

Phrases like “sending you holiday snuggles” and “this isn’t a card, it’s a hug” touch on a more intimate essence that is being communicated over the holidays with travel restrictions and a new round of lockdowns in place.

Nonetheless, the practice of card-sending is breaking through, according to Hallmark. New research shows that people value them more now than a year ago. For example, one survey found 60% of respondents thought cards were more meaningful than other forms of communication, with 76% saying that the impact of a card is worth the time it takes to write a message and send.”


“There is a resurgence of this idea that people want to connect with the people that are the most important to them and tell them how important they are,” American Greeting’s Ricker said. “If they can’t see them in person, a card is usually the next best thing. And whether you are a regular card sender or someone that hasn’t sent as many over the last few years and you’ve used other means to stay connected, there is something about this year that has caused people to retrench in sending love through a card.”

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