Scott Stewart
Scott is a Senior Analyst for Mintel's Canada Technology and Media Reports.

With Thanksgiving and Halloween behind us, the next major holiday in Canada is perhaps the biggest one celebrated so far during the COVID-19 pandemic: Christmas. Considering that Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve will also take place in December, many Canadians will be looking for ways to safely gather and celebrate these important winter holidays, according to upcoming Mintel research on entertaining at home.

Winter holidays are more important to Canadians than Thanksgiving

What sets this winter apart from the fall is that the winter holidays – specifically Christmas – are especially important to Canadians. When asked in August 2020, one in 10 consumers said that winter holidays should be skipped entirely this year – just half the proportion who felt comfortable skipping Thanksgiving. Put simply, many of those who were willing to skip this year’s Thanksgiving festivities will not be ready to give up on Christmas or other December celebrations.

Most acknowledge they will need to make changes

Most people realize that – even if they do get together for the holidays this year – there will need to be changes. However, one of the most widely-used measures during the summer and fall was to spend time outdoors, which will be difficult to do in December.

Instead, the most common tactic that nearly half of Canadians expect to do for the winter holidays is a limited guest list; a measure that both minimizes the risk of viral transmission while also more closely adhering to regional limits on private gatherings. Notably, these smaller invitee lists will be more common than shorter gatherings, such as time limits or multiple small gatherings instead of one big one. The result will be many more small get-togethers these holidays across the country – but many Canadians will not see everyone in person that they usually do at this time of year (and that will, unfortunately, include close family such as siblings, parents and grandparents).

Consumers will also stock their homes with certain products to help them host more safely, too. A third of consumers believe that there should be readily-available hand sanitizer at the upcoming winter holiday gatherings, while a quarter expect disposable plates, cups and dishes.

Finally, guests could act a bit differently at these events too (if they’re able to make it onto suddenly-exclusive guest lists, of course). Some expect small tweaks to their get-togethers, such as plated meals instead of family-style servings and seating plans that group members of the same household together.

What we think

Christmas and other winter holidays will be unlike anything we have seen so far during this pandemic; Canadians are more adamant about celebrating in December than they were Thanksgiving – but they no longer have the option to stay outside. After public health officials already asked Canadians to skip Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween parties this year, there will be many hosts who go ahead with Christmas celebrations regardless of official health advice.

The opportunity for brands in this industry is that the consumers who do host these get-togethers will be looking for solutions to keep themselves and their guests safe and comfortable – both in the form of products like hand sanitizers and disposable dishes, as well as ideas and inspiration about how to celebrate properly. But since this is traditionally a time for fun, comfort and enjoyment, they will gravitate towards the measures that will have the least impact on the gathering itself. Expect that Canadians will look to make adjustments to their holiday gatherings while doing their best to maintain the essence of the event.

Stay tuned to the Mintel Store as the upcoming report, Entertaining at Home – Canada, November 2020 will publish later this month!