The Essential Gifts of the 2020 Holiday Season Compared to Holiday Season of 2019

Homemade cookie basket for the holidays
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Shopping online will continue to be this season's go-to for getting the best deals and best variety on a range of items, including appliances, equipment, gadgets and even a little inspiration, for that holiday list.

Holiday gifts look a lot different in 2020 compared to 2019. Amid a global pandemic, people are putting more time and effort into making their gifts smaller and their smaller celebrations special, experts say. An increase in online searches on Etsy and Pinterest have shown that this holiday season shoppers are seeking out more personalized and meaningful gifts to feel connected during the pandemic, CNBC reported.

Shopping online will continue to be this season's go-to for getting the best deals and best variety on a range of items, including appliances, equipment, gadgets and even a little inspiration, for that holiday list. 

In a recent report, Nielsen predicted that homemade gifts and cooking are some of the major categories seeing a surge, particularly for those who are on a tight budget or for those who want to limit their shopping trips outside of the home. Sales of related items, artist and hobby supplies, cocktail mixers and baking supplies, have already jumped this fall compared with the same time a year ago, Nielsen reported.

Swasti Sarna, insights manager at the social media site Pinterest, told CNBC that holiday searches started to pick up in April, just weeks after the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. Normally, those same searches kick up in June, she said. Some of the more popular searches she has seen include: "Christmas gift ideas," which was searched three times more in April 2020 than the same time a year ago. Searches for "personalized Christmas gift ideas," increased 46% from 2019 and "sentimental gifts for best friend," doubled in October compared with October 2019, she said. 

“People are just looking for something to look forward to,” Sarna said. “It’s a really tough time for everybody, but the holidays are always a really fun time to just a spread a lot of cheer."

The e-commerce site Etsy has seen a 156% increase in searches for custom or personalized gifts compared to a year ago, CNBC reported. 

On that note, although most of us are still craving those large in-person gatherings with friends and family and missing those shared experiences of travel, seeing a concert, catching a Broadway show, or attending a sporting event, the holidays can still be joyful, even if it happens to be in a smaller group and over a video call.  

Inside Edition Digital reported on some of the holiday gifts that have emerged during these challenging times. Read below to see the types of gifts that are being gifted holiday 2020 compared to the pre-pandemic days of 2019, according to The Washington Post and other other media outlets. 

The Most Popular Gifts of 2020 

Loungewear: spending more time at home means plush slippers, comfortable robes and cozy pajamas.  

Books and Audiobooks: From historical fiction to memoirs, non-fiction to astrology and astronomy.

Home Office Essentials: Blue light blocking glasses, insulated tumbler, desktop dry-erase board. 

Appliances for the DIYer: Bread makers, pasta machines, personal size blenders, ice cream machine. And, some popular appliances this year include robotic vacuum cleaner mops, food processors and air purifiers.

Handmade Care Packages and Gift Boxes: Breadmaking, canning, baked goods, chocolate treats and even goodies for your pet rank high on the list of in demand presents.

PlayStation and video games: With the Christmas shopping rush upon us, it looks like some children with their sights set on specific toys may wake up disappointed on Christmas morning. Some high-demand toys are nowhere to be found, including the coveted PlayStation 5. The pandemic is playing a big part, leading to manufacturing and shipping delays. Parents have also loaded up on toys to keep kids occupied while in lockdown. Stores are also noticing that retro toys like roller skates and puzzles are making a comeback. 

Personalized DIY Crafts: Beading, tie-dye, jewelry, handmade stationary, crocheting, personalized recipe tea towels, cutting boards and wine glasses, as well as notebooks are all in demand this year. DIY Self Care Kits filled with homemade scrubs, masks for the face and mani/pedi kits for the feet will also be appreciated this year. 

Home-based activities: Including, board games, cards, puzzles, chess and checkers.

All Things Fitness: Equipment and machines for the home gym you just built and fitness trackers to log it all are in high demand this year. 

Online Classes: Exercise and yoga classes, as well as cooking, baking, meditation, astrology and gardening rank high.  

Monthly Subscription Boxes in Just About Any Category: you name it, there's a subscription box for it. Subscription boxes for food, books, beauty, wine, shaving even therapy, saw an uptick this year, according to New York Magazine.

Candles: Unique scents, such as black pepper and smoked papyrus, and sounds, like a crackling fire, and essential oil diffusers are a great way to relax and enjoy the soothing scents of lavender and eucalyptus for hours. 

Massage Guns: For those sore achy muscles.

Tech Gadgets: Wireless chargers and UV-C sanitizer, speakers, air pods, etc. 

Weighted Blankets 

The most popular gifts of 2020 stood in stark contrast to the most popular gifts of 2019, but could serve as a reminder of what to look forward to once traveling and life as we knew it is back on the agenda. Below are the most popular gifts from last year, according to USA Today and other media outlets. 

Tickets to an upcoming concert, sporting event, Broadway or off-Broadway show ranked high on the list, while gift cards to a favorite restaurant, massage and spa treatments were also in demand, USA Today reported. Gym memberships and/or personal training packages, family trips to Disney, cruises and DNA testing kits were all popular gifts last year. Luggage, noise cancelling headphones and drones also ranked high on the list of hot items USA Today reported.