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Here’s How Young Europeans Plan to Spend the Winter Holidays

The holidays won’t be completely back to normal this year, but young Europeans are planning on celebrating with some winter holiday classics…


Holiday traditions and celebrations were majorly altered across Western Europe in 2020 as the pandemic put a stop to travel and many quarantined at home. And while vaccine rates are rising and lockdowns have subsided, for many young Europeans, this year’s holiday celebrations may not look much different. In YPulse’s recent WE Winter Holiday Plans report, we found that nearly half of young Europeans say celebrating will be hard this year because of COVID, and nearly two in five say their usual holiday gatherings will probably be canceled. 

European Gen Z and Millennials aren’t letting it get them down, though. Instead, the majority say they want the holidays to come early as they look to create moments of joy. And many plan to do that by spending time with their loved ones:

Gen Z is slightly more likely to say they plan on staying home for the holidays, which makes sense—the majority still live at home with their parents. Millennials, meanwhile, are planning to go a little farther, with 45% saying they’ll go to a family or friend’s house nearby. Millennials are also more likely than Gen Z to say they’re planning to travel: a full quarter of 21-39-year-olds are planning to travel to visit their loved ones compared to just 19% of 13-20-year-olds, and 14% are planning on going on vacation. We predicted that late 2021 would bring a travel boom among Millennials after nearly two years being grounded in one place, and it appears they’re starting to make up for lost time: our recent COVID Impact Update report found that young Europeans are growing increasingly comfortable with travel, and “travel” made the top five on their holiday wishlists

Despite their pent-up wanderlust, vacation is still at the bottom of Millennials’ holiday plans list—even below work. Instead, the majority of young Europeans plan to stick with holiday celebration classics:

Gen Z and Millennials’ top holiday plans are similar, but the differences show the generational gap, or at least the age gaps that put these two groups in different life stages. For the younger cohort, presents are the top attraction, followed by watching holiday movies and playing games, while Millennials are far more likely to say they plan on cooking this holiday season. In fact, 59% of Millennials tell YPulse that cooking is their favorite part of the holidays compared to 48% of Gen Z, and the majority say they spend time looking for new recipes for the holidays. Cooking has taken off with young consumers during the pandemic, and while some predicted that “kitchen fatigue” would set in, we’ve seen the opposite: YPulse’s cooking and diets report found that only three in ten young U.S. consumers say they’re tired of cooking, and the vast majority say they’ve grown more passionate about making their meals at home since the pandemic. 

Besides creating delectable meals, both Gen Z and Millennials are planning on watching a lot of holiday movies this year. In fact, over half of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe tell us that that holiday movies and music can’t come early enough this year, and a third say they plan on watching more holiday movies this year compared to last. Their enthusiasm for those heart-warming made-for-TV holiday movies was evident in the popularity of last year’s Netflix original Holidate, which debuted at the top of the streaming service’s most-watched list—and was released before Halloween—and Netflix is taking note again this year: the streaming giant started dropping holiday content Nov. 1 and will release at least one holiday original a week until Christmas. 

Young Europeans are also planning on making purchases part of their holiday celebrations, with nearly half of both Gen Z and Millennials saying they’ll be shopping during their winter holidays this year. In fact, our WE Holiday Shopping report found that 84% of 13-39-year-olds plan to spend as much or more on holiday shopping this year compared to last—and they’re particularly excited to shop the holiday sales. And while clothing topped their holiday wishlists, we’ve found that many young Europeans are more concerned with the less tangible joys of the holidays: “health and happiness” and “time with friends and family” both made it to the top 15 wishlist items, highlighting that the overall re-evaluation of their priorities in life caused by the pandemic is causing them to put a greater emphasis on their wellbeing—and that of their loved ones—this holiday season. 

YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full Winter Holiday Plans behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.