You can feel it in the air almost as soon as the last of the Halloween candy has been picked out of the bowl. The holiday season is here. Everything from streetlights to dining room tables are being decked with twinkling lights and garland. Shelves are overflowing with red velvet and jingle bells, while Mariah Carey and other Christmas classics are played over the speakers. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can’t deny the feeling of magic and merriment everywhere. Yet, there are many who don’t celebrate the Christmas holiday, and even with the major shifts in conversation for inclusivity, many feel left out during the holiday season.

Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule Winter Solstice, Ōmisoka, Diwali and other holidays are all celebrated around the same festive time of year, yet are rarely included in the conversation. Brands are missing out on the opportunity to create loyalty with proper inclusion of the holidays, which can have a direct impact on the emotional attachment to a company. When your entire December is covered in evergreens, an end cap of merchandise and a social media post gives holiday outliers a story to share with their community, a memory and a connection.

The proof extends beyond people celebrating those holidays, but also to audiences looking to support a brand that includes diversity and inclusion in their messaging. According to the 2018 Accenture Holiday Shopping survey, millennials are more likely to choose one brand over another if it demonstrates inclusion and diversity in its promotions, offerings and in-store experience.

As someone who celebrates Hanukkah, I always get the warmest feelings any time I see something geared specifically towards Hanukkah, like someone notices me. Sure, it could be confusing at times. Why do grocery stores put out matzah for every Jewish holiday when it’s just a Passover thing? And how could Twitter get a Kwanzaa emoji wrong? But you bet if you have one quirky Hanukkah tea towel, I’ll own it and tell all my friends about it.

So how can brands take a more inclusive approach to the holidays?

Take It to Someone Who Knows
A rookie mistake seen quite too often is brands assuming they know about an audience that they cannot personally speak to. Check in with the community you plan on targeting. Is the phrase you plan on using for the right holiday? Are you sharing your product or post at the appropriate time? Will what you’re saying even hit home with your target audience? Taking a proactive approach will save time on the need to react to any missteps.

Each Holiday is Unique
Hanukkah is not Jewish Christmas. Kwanzaa’s kinara is not the same as Hanukkah’s menorah. Yule Winter Solstice is still being celebrated. Instead of trying to fit others’ holidays into Christmas, treat each one as unique and special. It’s worth the extra investment to not simply rebrand Christmas, but create something that’s valuable to the other holidays’ traditions.

Don’t Educate (Unless Your Platform Calls for It)
When you’re deciding how to craft your messaging, keep in mind that the people celebrating usually know the basics. As a brand, your responsibility isn’t to educate audiences on how to do their holiday culturally, but rather to provide essentials, fun and modern twists, or simply well wishes.

Be Creative
There’s so much opportunity for fun messaging across all the holidays this time of year, from content to a fun purchase. Everyone loves a good tacky sweater with witty phrases. Offering engaging content gives another touchpoint. While there are boundaries, don’t be afraid to let others in on all the holiday cheer.


These sentiments can go past the brand level as well, and present an opportunity for agencies and consultants to advise on inclusion. Agencies have the opportunity to look at creative possibilities from a different light, bringing in resources and brain power across the company from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds.

Whether you plan on going big or small in recognition of non-majority holidays, it is a nod to your audience that can have a lasting impact that far outlasts the holiday season.

And so … Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Hanukkah Sameach. Joyous Kwanza. Yuletide Greetings. May your Diwali be free from darkness and abundant with light. Yoi o-toshi wo. Happy New Year … And to all a good night!