Urgent Magic: A Post-Lockdown Christmas

2020: The Year That Nobody Expected

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Bompas & Parr look into the future exploring what trends, behaviours and creative initiatives will characterise  Christmas this year, and what the opportunities might be for successful placemaking, retail and brands.

2020: The Year That Nobody Expected

Nobody could have predicted 2020 to be the year that it has turned out to be so far. It began with hopes of a renaissance of the roaring 20s, of optimistic experimentation and of a new decade acting as a global shift of triumphant change.

What we did not expect was that that global change was going to be enforced by a global pandemic called Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. As stated in our Fluid Landscapes report, COVID-19 has brought with it new hygiene rules instated by Governments across the world, for example sticking to a 2m distance from those outside your household, to being allowed outside but only really for essentials, to not gathering in crowds. This has been a key driver of mass behaviour change, with the formation of  new habits taking between 21 and 66 days, many have now spent more than enough time to develop new sanitary rituals and social rhythms. What will be the impact on our interactions at Christmas?

Traditionally, Christmas is a time associated with family gatherings, enormous feasts and sharing gifts. All of which associated behaviours have been curtailed by the aforementioned Government rules. We hope that by Christmas, the majority of the lockdown rules will have been lifted, but what impact will this have on the events and festivities that surround this period? As the world emerges from the pandemic, we foresee that consumer behaviour will be striking a balance between Collective Optimism and Crowd Anxiety at Christmas. With Collective Optimism we will see consumers act in a more community minded way, with feelings of excitement to connect in the real world again, having not been able to interact for months. On the other end of the scale, we will see Crowd Anxiety amongst many, largely driven by fear of a second wave of infection, we will see consumers continue to act with caution amongst loved ones. However, what Bompas & Parr predicts is that continued hygiene practices will remain ever present in our lives, acting as the backbone to future events and social gatherings.

Balancing Magic & Safety

This new balance means that Christmas concepts for this year must follow a refreshed set of principles, ensuring that community, staff and public safety is protected, while delivering a joyful, celebratory experience this Christmas.

Some physical considerations that shape creative and design:

• Provision for social distancing in spatial planning:
- Allowing 2m between small groups for those that are nervous of crowd contact
- Considering activities that cater for households, as opposed to large scale events

• Excellent fresh air ventilation:
- Collaboration with engineers to consider air flow

• Low-to-no touch environment
- Will touch be considered taboo? As stated in our Fluid Landscapes report, it may become apparent that by this time, we must rehabilitate people with touch. Is this an opportunity to enhance other senses instead?

• Inclusion of sanitiser stations
- Using hand sanitiser will become routine in the future, and so consumers to any events will expect to see sanitiser stations implemented imperatively
- Consider creative ways of sanitisation - we have outlined some ideas for party piece sanitisers

Building connections through digital:

• Allow for events to have virtual counterparts that make use of multiple platforms to reach multiple audiences
• Investigate the use of different platforms for different purposes. If you are trying to recreate a crowd, then mass video chat channels like Zoom may be appropriate, whereas if you are wanting to share a performance, channels like IGTV may suffice. Be where your audience can engage most comfortably

Some of the operational considerations:
• Enhanced cleaning schedule
• Considered rota with in-built capacity and separate teams
• Provision of PPE

As we travel through these times of a ‘new normal’, Bompas & Parr have looked onwards to Christmas 2020, investigating the impact of the pandemic’s behaviour change on festivities at the end of the year.

1. Community Spirit

Having undergone months of social distancing and adhering to no crowd gathering rules, Christmas will be an opportunity to highlight and build up the community spirit that has risen from the pandemic. Bompas & Parr envisages community based Christmas festivities that follow the familiarity of coming together, but with a virtual or physical twist. This Christmas, expect to see events such as ‘Christmas Spirit Sharing’ – making the most of sharing merry messages in a blended landscape (the mix of physical and digital). Bompas & Parr also predicts crowd pleasing delights such as a ‘Turbo Cracker Emporium’, allowing visitors to partake in their own pyrotechnics display to simply blast the past year away.

2. Socially Distanced Festivities

Whilst community is a key player at Christmas, there will still be some anxiety around gathering with loved ones, as the fear of a second wave of the virus lingers. Bompas & Parr have imagined creative concepts that allow for the merriment of Christmas to continue whilst maintaining distance. The drive thru experience will be a key player this year, as the safety of the confines of a car interior with loved ones allows for entertainment from the comfort of a car seat. Bompas & Parr envisages the drive thru taking on a Christmas twist, with family-filled cars taken on a magical journey…expect to see Elves on rollerskates, car-light-morse-code wishes and car washes converted into snow storm machines. For those that don’t have a car, we imagine many more distanced activities such as ‘Orbital Feasting’ – dinner served between distanced guests on a train, and even the emergence of Christmas based scavenger hunts, allowing for small groups to explore towns at a distance.

3. Visionary Sanitisation

New hygienic routines including the regular application of hand sanitiser and being wary of touching germ coated surfaces will continue to be a part of daily life in the aftermath of the lockdown. Bompas & Parr explores festive ideas that consider these clean rituals into a key part of any experience. By Christmas, we will all be using hand sanitiser as regularly as we were once touching our faces. Germ-free skin will subconsciously be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. That being said, inner health and wellbeing will also be paramount – and so Bompas & Parr envisages the creation of ‘Glow Forth’, the world’s first glow-in-the-dark recharge cafe, where every drink glows to naturally invigorate the body and mind. For those concerned about the implications of COVID-19 on their Christmas party this year, a set of Party Sanitiser Pieces are being prototyped, from an antibacterial Snow Extravaganza to a Cloud of Cleanliness.

4. Refreshed Hope

The pandemic has often been referred to as a global reset, allowing the environment to repair and for consumers to regain an optimistic spirit for the future, learning from the past. If the pandemic is fully over by Christmas, then expect to see a new lease of hope. For this, Bompas & Parr imagines the continuation of the rainbow symbol, but in the form of a giant flavour rainbow for all to enjoy. We’ll see monuments of memoirs, as well as collective wishes for the future, portrayed through a bio-responsive ice rink.

2020 has been the year that nobody expected, but what we can now do is better prepare for the future, having taken on learnings from the behaviour changes set out during this period of lockdown. Creativity is something that the Coronavirus cannot take away, allowing us to retain a sense of optimism for what’s to come next.

To speak with Bompas & Parr about what to do with your Christmas plans this year, please contact info@bompasandparr.com