Vacationers and Tourists are seeking ornaments and holiday-themed Souvenirs and gifts now that they can enjoy later.

July 3, 2024

Tourists might not be taking their vacation during the holiday season, but when they venture into your gift shop and see an ornament or holiday-themed gift that doubles as a souvenir, they often can’t resist.

Ornaments are a beloved souvenir to take home to commemorate a vacation, and holiday-themed tea towels, figurines and puzzles can also make great presents for loved ones.

“People buy ornaments throughout the year to remember the adventures they go on and the people they’re with,” says Neal Applefeld, president and CEO at Old World Christmas, a wholesale vendor that offers hand-blown glass ornaments and other decor. “They can be used to decorate your Easter table, wrap a present, create summer wreaths. It’s all about getting creative,” he says.

The popularity of ornaments and peoples’ love of all-things Christmas is also why some destination retailers are successful dedicating their entire stores to Christmas and holiday products. In Boerne, Texas, for example, The Christmas Shoppe has specialized in selling Christmas-themed souvenirs for almost 30 years.

“We are a year-round Christmas store,” says Owner Emily Carvalho. “In order to be year-round, of course, we embrace every holiday. We do home decor and gifts for Valentine’s Day all the way to Christmas and every holiday in between. We have everyday gift store items as well, including toys and Jim Shore figurines.”

Carvalho notes that many tourists frequent Boerne who are visiting San Antonio and the surrounding Texas Hill Country.

Bell Farms’ Forever Christmas shop has all kinds of Christmas decor from reindeer to gingerbread men.

“So many people visit Boerne and appreciate souvenirs,” Carvalho says. “There was a period of time when we were the only shop in town that carried anything that worked as a souvenir. We were selling mugs, coasters and T-shirts — all the typical souvenirs. Being a year-round Christmas store, we always carry Boerne ornaments and Texas ornaments as souvenirs.”

Up north in York, Maine, Bell Farms had such success selling Christmas ornaments and decor that it opened a mini store in its upstairs section called “Forever Christmas.”

“People started to know us for our Christmas products, so we said, ‘Let’s do Christmas all year round,’” says Bell Farms Owner Michelle Corgan. “So now if someone is just here one time of the year, if they see something they like for Christmas, they can buy it whether it’s January or December.”

Offer options with ornaments

When people shop for ornaments on a trip, they often enjoy options that feature a name drop of the attraction or location they just visited.

“Ornaments can capture a destination’s essence and evoke memories during the holiday times,” says Impulse Souvenirs Sales Manager James Melley.

Corgan says customers love name-dropped ornaments at Bell Farms’ Forever Christmas shop.
“Anything with Maine written on it — even locally, Maine made does well,” she says.

Colleen Hall, vice president of marketing at C&F Home, notes that imagery and graphics related to the destination also help sell ornaments.

“The ornaments don’t have to be name dropped, but they can be more interpretive representations of the trip,” says Hall.

Customers can find just about any nutcracker they want at The Christmas Shoppe in Boerne, Texas.

The Christmas Shoppe certainly offers some name-dropped ornaments, but Carvalho says the retailer also has a Texas-themed tree decked out with southwestern-themed ornaments, including a very popular armadillo ornament.

And that’s not the only animal getting in on the holidays. People love buying pet-themed ornaments while on vacation, she adds.

“Tourists will come in and visit Boerne in spring when they aren’t thinking about Christmas at all, but if they see their breed pet on an ornament, they’ll buy it,” says Carvalho. “We carry E&S’ pet line, which has pet ornaments that can be personalized. So even if it doesn’t look exactly like their particular pet, they’ll have us personalize it for that pet.”

As holiday season approaches, destination retailers also might want to expand their ornament options to include other themes and styles to appeal to a wide range of customers.

Applefeld notes that retailers should consider fads and trends when stocking ornaments for the next season.
“This past year, we saw an uptick in our Santa and Mrs. Claus Pickleball ornaments as well as anything pickleball themed,” Applefeld says. “This year, we’re launching a ‘Swiftea’ Cup and a Kringle Cup.”

Customers also seem to appreciate food-themed ornaments around the holidays. Carvalho says she has at least one of her store’s Christmas trees dedicated to showcasing food and baking ornaments.

“For years, Old World Christmas’ deviled egg ornament was our top in-store and online ornament,” she says.

“And last year, Kurt Adler had a blown-glass chicken nugget ornament that was so popular, especially online. What it boils down to, I think, is someone says, ‘This kid in my family only eats chicken nuggets. I want to commemorate that on our tree.’”

Cozy and warm decor

In 2024, customers seem to be drawn to more natural-looking ornaments and decor. Hall shares that monochromatic, natural-looking styles are trending lately.

“A monochromatic or soft natural look are both on trend in holiday decor right now,” she says. “People want to decorate their homes for the holiday but keep true to their core home aesthetic.”

Pumpernickel Press offers a variety of boxed Christmas cards that feature seasonal artwork, and Owner Bob Harju says it’s important to embrace nontraditional colors when stocking holiday products.

“Natural and neutral colors are being used much more than they used to be,” he says. “We’ve noticed a popular trending palette of gold, gray and black for a very classy, fresh look.”

He adds that minimalist color palettes are also popular right now — think soft, neutral tones with warm accents like teal, gold or rose gold, coral or peach.

Candles are a popular holiday gift item at Bell Farms’ Forever Christmas shop.

“The holidays are a busy, complicated time for many people. We find that many customers are drawn to classic, simple designs because of that,” says Harju.

Michael Adler, account manager at Kurt S. Adler, says people also seem to be drawn to ornaments made of resin.

“Resin provides better detailing and more realistic items,” Adler says. “Glass is another material where you can capture details. Glass does lend itself to a higher price point. Both options are popular for private label.”

Prepare for the season

Even if destination retailers only plan to offer holiday-themed gifts and decor around Christmastime, Hall advises they be ready for the season early.

“Customers are celebrating the holidays earlier than ever,” she says. “I recommend retailers be ready to transition to Christmas right after Halloween. I’d keep a harvest selection for the purists, but newer shoppers are tending to jump right to Christmas decorating because they find joy in that season, and it makes them happy to get their decor out earlier to enjoy for longer.”

Hosting special events and sales close to the holidays can also help boost ornament, gift and holiday decor sales. Bell Farms generally hosts a holiday open house event the first weekend in December to build hype around its Forever Christmas shop.

“We offer a discount on the entire store at that event,” Corgan says. “People wait for that and are excited about it. I think that helps us sell more holiday products.”

Harju adds that having “variety is always key” with holiday products.

“Even within a single design genre, you will still find a wide array of diverse customer interests, backgrounds and tastes,” he says. “Challenging yourself to appeal to as broad an audience as possible with varied design options will always pay off.”