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  • Writer's pictureMike Hanna

4 Ways that Software and Tech Have Changed the Holidays

Holiday season isn’t just around the corner; it’s here. In America, the start of the holiday season is pretty much synonymous with Black Friday, which has now been moved to some ambiguous point before Thanksgiving. In any case, it extends through Christmas and ends right around New Year’s Day. The holidays are usually associated with timeless traditions like regifting fruitcake, ugly sweaters, and office parties where legends are made. But in a unique year of COVID lockdowns, in a time when society has seen massive developments in tech and software, the holiday season looks a little different than it did a few decades or even years ago. Here are a few of the tech trends that changed the holidays.

Holiday Shopping

It’s no secret that tech and software have really changed the face of retail. One area of that change that has really impacted holiday shopping are store apps. Store apps do a lot more than give you rewards points for all your purchases. The software behind them tracks your purchases and makes nuanced recommendations accompanied by coupon offers that make you more likely to buy. And get this: if you use the app during your shopping trip, it may even track your motions throughout the store to get a better sense of when to send you push notifications. The app may even know if you’ve been naughty or nice. The upshot of this customized shopping journey, tailored in response to customer behaviors, is a more competitive landscape for gift shopping, and one that is also predictive in terms of helping you make a wish list. And of course, there is also the arena of online shopping, which this year is once again likely to surpass brick and mortar exchanges.

Holiday Reunions

The severity of COVID lockdowns varies throughout the country, but many families find themselves unable to make long term travel plans. In the absence of in-person reunions, families can turn to one of the many video conferencing technologies that make together time possible: Facetime, Zoom, Skype, and other video chat features available on a plethora of apps. This type of arrangement does change the dynamic of holiday get togethers. For some, there might be feelings of sadness about not being able to get together in person. For others, there will be a sense of relief and happiness that not even COVID lockdowns could interfere with the holiday spirit. Though we’re talking about holiday season specifically, the video conferencing trend is just part of a larger movement that was beginning even before the pandemic, with companies like Facebook developing The Portal, an easy to use conferencing device meant to connect isolated individuals like seniors with loved ones.

Sending Season’s Greetings

Sending Season’s Greetings in the form of a holiday card is a timeless tradition, and one that surprisingly has held up in the face of a tech-driven landscape (studies done as recently as 2017 suggest that over 70% of people prefer getting real cards in the mail). But more and more people are relying on simpler ways to send their love, with as many as 50% of millennials relying on a text message to do what Hallmark does. Many others will turn to services like Snapfish to print out customized cards with a family photo. And still others will just make a post on social media, perhaps with a card that they photo-edited themselves using a graphic design tool like Canva. In a similar vein many individuals will skip the process of gift-wrapping at home, opting instead to have Amazon or WalMart do it for them (and they seem to do it pretty well, with a whole lot less tape and frustration). And while the elves in the Amazon Warehouse might not appreciate the rush, AmazonPrime has certainly made it possible for most consumers to receive last minute directions from Santa.

Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorating is one of the most delightful parts of the season (or difficult, depending on when you ask). But this year, holiday decorating might be a snap for those relying on technology and their smartphone. Consumers can now have a tree delivered to their door by Costco or Target. IoT (internet of things) means that devices like Alexa can connect to certain types of holiday lights, allowing you to control the colors and music and create a particularly festive atmosphere (or one that freaks pets out). Other devices project lights onto your home and are remotely operable via a smartphone, so you don’t have to climb up a ladder in the cold and hang them up yourself. And if you’re in the mood for a Yule Log but you don’t have a fireplace, Sony has a solution for you with an app that puts a glowing Yule Log on your phone, accompanied by holiday hits.

Have software and tech really changed the holidays?

Hopefully software and tech have not really changed the meaning of the holiday season. But for many people, they have certainly changed the way we do the holidays. From skype calls to online shopping to holiday lights controlled by your smartphone, holiday season 2020 is looking a lot different than it did just a few years ago.

There are other ways that tech has changed the way we interact with the holiday season, such as the Santa Tracker offered by NORAD and GPS devices installed in Nativity Scenes (just in case the Grinch runs off with any key figures).

But when all is said and done, hopefully everyone will find that their favorite parts of the holiday season are the same, whether that’s drinking eggnog or seeing relatives who live far away. What are your favorite parts of the holiday season? And what are your plans for job seeking or hiring in 2021? If you think the coming year might bring a change for you, reach out to me via email at And happy holidays!

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