How a hectic 2020 transformed what people put on their holiday wish lists

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A study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Lincoln Financial Group explored what Americans have on their 2020 holiday wish lists. (Photo by Mike Arney on Unsplash)

Americans’ holiday wish lists are looking a little different this year.

Gift-givers and receivers alike are gravitating toward intangible wishes and doing away with material gifts, according to new research.

A new survey of 2,000 Americans also revealed that over half (57%) don’t want any material gifts at all this holiday season.

Good health (65%), the safety of family and loved ones (60%) and an end to the pandemic (55%) topped Americans’ “grown-up holiday wish list” for the 2020 holidays.

Other much-wished-for intangible gifts included a better year in 2021 (44%), less stress (40%) and peace of mind (38%).

Additionally, 73% of respondents reported being “much more interested” in gifts that could help relieve the stress of their loved ones than they were in past years.

Sixty-two percent, moreover, agreed this year’s events have permanently changed how they view gift-giving in the holiday season.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Lincoln Financial Group, the study also examined how respondents are re-allocating their holiday spending, as 16% reported their holiday spending budget is tighter this year.

Nearly eight in 10 said the pandemic has them rethinking the holidays this year, with 53% reporting that they will be re-allocating their holiday spending.

Over half (54%) said their budget has increased or stayed the same, and roughly the same percentage are putting less money toward traveling this season.

Yet four in 10 said they are actually putting more money toward a somewhat unexpected spending source this holiday season: their savings accounts.

“The holiday season is often about family, and this year protecting our families and planning for the future has become more important than ever — especially when it comes to finances,” said Jamie Ohl, executive vice president, president, Retirement Plan Services and Head of Life and Annuity Operations.

“Instead of potentially overspending on gifts this year, Americans are taking a holistic look at their overall financial wellness, to ensure they have the coverage they need today and are saving for tomorrow.”

In fact, given the widespread economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a full 78% of respondents agreed that the unexpected stresses of 2020 have caused them to think more seriously about their plans for their and their family’s financial future.

Eighty-two percent, moreover, asserted that the uncertainty of the past year has made them more aware of protecting what matters most to them.

And 69% said they’d found themselves having more conversations about this topic with their loved ones.

An increased sense of gratitude has likely played a role in this change in mindset, with nearly three-quarters of respondents reporting that they are more grateful for what they have after this year.

When asked what they value most, respondents’ priorities were clear: the percentages who cited their family (41%), health (27%) and financial security (19%) far outpaced those who selected job security (6%) or political cohesion (3%).

“Ensuring those you love are protected financially and have a secure financial future is one of the most valuable things you can do, and is a gift that will last long after the holiday season,” added Jamie Ohl, executive vice president, president, Retirement Plan Services and Head of Life and Annuity Operations.

1. Good health (65%)
2. Health and safety of family/loved ones (59%)
3. An end to the pandemic (55%)
4. A better year in 2021 (44%)
5. Less stress (40%)
6. Sense of clarity/peace of mind (38%)
7. Protecting family/loved ones financially (30%)
8. Job security (25%)

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1. Family (41%)
2. Health (27%)
3. Financial security (19%)
4. Job security (6%)
5. Political cohesion (3%)

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