Graphic by K8 Strassman

Holiday cards are NOT canceled, but mistletoe sure is.

Mike Berland


November 22, 2020

Holiday cards are NOT canceled. Soon your mailbox (all of them: email, snail mail, even old school AOL mail) will be stuffed with them. For anyone that was considering skipping them this year… there is still time to act!

Holiday Cards are on the UP: Momentum is already 3 times higher than this time last year, with an MFactor of 17 in November 2020 compared to 6 in November 2019.

People aren’t waiting until the holidays or New Year’s like they traditionally would. Even Etsy is feeling the surge: 64% increase in searches on Etsy for holiday cards in the last 3 months compared to the same time in 2019.

We know some of you are thinking… “Are season’s greetings even appropriate this year?” Absolutely yes. Cards are a holiday tradition that have not only beaten the pandemic — in fact, Holiday cards will show our strength of how we are getting through it. They tell our story. Connections are the enduring legacy of 2020 as we welcomed our friends, family, colleagues into our personal lives via Zoom. Now it’s time to show appreciation to everyone on our list who helped us through this year.

What’s different about holiday cards this year? They are not the “one size fits all” or “mass blast” of days past. People are either sending their cards to a more intimate shortlist or taking extra time and consideration to tailor their messages to specific recipients (…friends / family / colleagues / stakeholders etc.). This ensures the sentiment isn’t tone deaf to what that individual has been through.

The Decode

ON THE UP: Holiday Cards

Here’s how holiday cards are hitting all 5 Drivers of Momentum in 2020:

DISRUPTION “In the year 2020, quarantine gave to me… 12 cancelled plans, 11 face masks, 10 sanitizers, 9 Netflix bingers, 8 Zoom calls, 7 mental breakdowns, 6 feet apart, 5 conspiracies, 4 quarantines, 3 travel restrictions, 2 COVID scares and one massive shortage of toilet paper…”

2020 holiday cards will be the opposite of the curated, “best of” holiday cards we’re used to from years past.

In the past, staging, perfect lighting, filters / photoshop, and coordinated outfits have played a role in portraying our perfect selves in the snapshot on holiday cards.

In 2020, holiday cards will showcase authentic and unfiltered representations of the year: family Zoom meetings, home schooling, selfies, sweats, masks, TikToks, baking bread, outdoor heat lamp dinners and all.

There’s no fooling anyone this year, everyone’s 2020 looked more or less the same.

INNOVATION: “We laughed… we cried… we Zoomed.”

With so many unable to visit family, friends and loved ones in person this holiday season, staying connected through holiday cards is more important than ever.

It is time to take Holiday cards to the next level. A step up from a Zoom and the next best thing to being there in person.

Some are leaning into handwritten & handmade cards. Others are taking advantage of the new & improved digital card experience.

  • GIFGram is helping us bridge the “social distancing” gap by emphasizing the social aspect of gift-giving. Combining our love of selfies & increased demand for shipping, the app allows consumers to sync the arrival of a package with a personalized video message.
  • Cardlet creates enriched cards with a surprise AR experience that introduces a new dimension to the message. You can even add your own voice to the card to give that personal touch.

POLARIZATION: “Deck the halls with masks & lysol fa la la la la a la la la”

Holiday cards are typically your yearly mass blast (by email and by snail mail): ordering a (few) hundred in bulk & sending them out with a standard message to your friends, family and colleagues. The one-size-fits-all mindset has been a no brainer, relatively low lift process that has worked well until now.This year, holiday cards are sparking many debates.

  • To send a card or not to send a card?
  • Serious or light hearted?
  • To your small, close group of friends & family or to the entire list?

The solution? This year, people that want to send cards to a large list are creating a variety of hyper-targeted cards, taking into consideration what the receiver has been through this year.

Might be more work than years past, but the effort will be appreciated.

STICKINESS: “Ho, Ho, Holy Shit, It’s Been One Hell of a Year”

But you don’t need us to tell you that… We all know 2020 will go down in history. There’s no better way to mark the end of this textbook-worthy year than with an equally unique holiday card that reflects what we’ve been through.

SOCIAL IMPACT: “Six feet apart, but always in my heart”

We’re close to the finish line of 2020 & coming out the other side with more love, appreciation & gratitude for all the people in our lives & the frontline workers who make the world a better place.

Hallmark’s CMO put it well: “Challenging times often make people reflect on the importance of the people in their lives and the gratitude for those who helped them get through the year.”

Giving back is always a big theme during the holiday season, but this year we’re going the extra mile to make sure frontline workers who sacrifice so much for us get the thanks & appreciation they deserve.

  • Hallmark created ‘appreciation stations’ online & at some stores to help Americans thank essential workers such as teachers, caregivers & mail carriers.
  • By collecting, sorting & distributing the holiday cards through the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign, the American Red Cross is helping us say thank you & spread cheer to those who have given so much.

ON THE DOWN: Mistletoe

This one should be self-explanatory… It will forever be remembered as a bygone era. No more kissing under the mistletoe. This Holiday season it is masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing. But don’t think Santa is the problem… even Dr. Fauci says he is immune.

Decode_M Proprietary MFactor Score


If you haven’t thought about your holiday card yet… take some inspiration and get your (s)elves on it!

On a more serious note, COVID-19 has impacted all of us in so many different ways. This holiday season, we are sending everyone extra love and our thoughts and prayers as we look forward to 2021.



Mike Berland

Momentum Maker, Author of Maximum Momentum, Founder & CEO of Decode_M