Need holiday gift ideas? Survey shows what most Americans want during COVID pandemic

NEW YORK — Millions of Americans are operating on smaller budgets in 2020 as the COVID pandemic wears on, but that’s not stopping many from sharing in the holiday spirit. New research indicates that the average American this year will spend $322.65 on holiday gifts for six different people.

A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults reveals that millennials plan to spend the most, with an average budget of $331.45. That’s almost $12 more than baby boomers and Generation X. Meanwhile, Generation Z is planning to spend almost $110 less ($219.75, on average), and will exchange gifts with two fewer people than respondents from other age groups.

Holiday shopping 2020Commissioned by OnePoll on behalf of Omaha Steaks, the survey also finds that 64 percent of respondents are rethinking how they’ll go about gifting this holiday season.

How COVID-19 has changed holiday gifting

Sixty percent of respondents, for example, say they plan to do the bulk of their shopping online, sending gifts directly to recipients rather than delivering it themselves.

“This trend makes perfect sense given what an unusual holiday shopping season this is,” says Todd Simon, fifth-generation family owner of Omaha Steaks. “Having a gift shipped directly to a loved one is already practical and convenient, but now it also demonstrates a lot more care for the recipient’s health and safety.”

In addition, less than half of those polled (47%) still plan on exchanging their gifts in person, while 40 percent are planning a socially distanced holiday party. Typically, those polled admitted that they’ve disliked about 17 percent of the presents they receive during the holiday season, translating roughly to one out of every six gifts.

Holiday shopping ideasGeneration Z respondents are especially discerning, disliking one out of every four (26%) gifts they’ve received in the past. That’s almost 19 percent more than baby boomers, who only disapprove of one out of every 14 (7%). While this year is different for many Americans, 66 percent of millennials and the same number of Gen Xers say the gift they plan on giving will be more heartfelt than ever before.

Which gifts do Americans want most in 2020?

And though gift cards reign supreme among gift-givers (51%) and receivers (52%) alike, four in 10 (39%) Americans also agree that this year, they’d rather receive food as a gift instead of an object.

“Now, more than ever, the holidays are about making memories and enjoying connections with family and friends,” Simon notes. “By sending delicious gifts of specialty food and meals, you’re giving someone an experience they can share. What a perfect way to capture the magic of the season even if you can’t be there to celebrate in person.”

Out of all the age groups polled, millennials are also most likely to prefer a food-based gift (43%) and are most likely to be planning a socially distanced holiday celebration (55%).

“They are the ‘foodie’ generation, after all,” Simon adds.