COVID Ornaments Are Here, But That's Not As Bleak As It Seems

Monica Torres
·Reporter, Work/Life
·3 min read

This year’s winter wonderful holiday theme is the global coronavirus pandemic.

Holiday ornaments in the shape of virus particles, masks, hand sanitizer and even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert, have hit storefronts and craft sites. Demand for this pandemic-themed holiday decor started earlier than usual: Etsy saw a 260% increase in searches from August to September.

Using ornaments to adorn Christmas trees has been traced back to 16th century Germany, and it has since become a tradition for people to commemorate and celebrate years gone by. But remembering 2020 means acknowledging pandemic anxieties. COVID-19-themed ornaments initially seemed bleak and strange to me, but Alixandra Barasch, an assistant professor of marketing at New York University who studies the social aspect of consumption, views them as a positive phenomenon that helps people cope.

“I really think it’s based in some reasonable psychological effects of making the scary safe, to relate and connect with other humans who are going through similar hardship,” Barasch said. She noted that it could also be a symbolic way for people to take control and say, “‘I’m not hiding the way 2020 sucked, and I’m actually going to represent reality.’”

How we represent holidays is “frequently not focused on the truth,” Barasch added. “It’s focused on the curated, self-presentational side of our holidays. Maybe that just doesn’t feel authentic this year. People cannot get behind total faking out of how this year went.”

Perhaps it would be even more strange for people to not acknowledge this year’s psychological toll on their holiday tree. If being yourself this holiday means acknowledging the new normal, check out a few below:

Virus Ornaments

(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/840841276/christmas-2020-ornament-blown-glass?ga_order=highest_reviews&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=virus+ornament&ref=sr_gallery-1-3&bes=1" target="_blank">LampworkBench</a>)
(Photo: LampworkBench)

One customer called this blown-glass ornament a “pretty and accurate reflection of 2020” in their review, while another wrote, “Is it tasteless? I don’t think so ― perfect gift for a scientist and classy enough that it doesn’t draw too much negative attention from other ornaments on the tree.”

(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/806810419/2020-ornament-quarantine-ornament?ref=shop_home_active_85&frs=1&crt=1" target="_blank">SeasideSass</a>)
(Photo: SeasideSass)

For this ornament on Etsy, buyers can choose between text options like “I survived,” “We survived” or ”[Name] 2020.”


Hand Sanitizer Ornaments

(Photo: <a href="https://callisterschristmas.com/collections/covid-19-quarantine/products/hand-sanitizer-ornament" target="_blank">Callisters Christmas</a>)
(Photo: Callisters Christmas)

Hand sanitizer has become one of the hallmarks of 2020. However, even this ornament is temporarily sold out.

Ornaments That Acknowledge The Reality Of 2020

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(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/861879840/2020-dumpster-fire-ornament-christmas?ref=shop_home_feat_2&frs=1&bes=1" target="_blank">RexRoi3D</a>)
(Photo: RexRoi3D)

Acknowledge the hot mess of 2020 with a dumpster fire.

(Photo: <a href="https://the-fig-tree-chicago.myshopify.com/collections/ornaments/products/2020-review-christmas-ornament" target="_blank">The Fig Tree</a>)
(Photo: The Fig Tree)

Some ornaments are giving 2020 the lowest rating.

(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/863025490/grinch-hand-christmas-ornament-covid?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=mask+ornament&ref=sr_gallery-1-9&organic_search_click=1&bes=1" target="_blank">TrendiGoodsCo</a>)
(Photo: TrendiGoodsCo)

Sometimes you need rhymed verse from Dr. Seuss to sum up the year.

(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/868672700/that-went-to-sht-2020-commemorative?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=toilet+paper+ornament&ref=sr_gallery-1-9&organic_search_click=1&frs=1&bes=1" target="_blank">MBPaperDesign</a>)
(Photo: MBPaperDesign)

“A fun and light-hearted way to remember a distressing year,” one reviewer wrote of this toilet paper-themed ornament.

Mask Ornaments

(Photo: <a href="https://oldworldchristmas.com/search?q=mask%20ornament" target="_blank">Old World Christmas</a>)
(Photo: Old World Christmas)

Santa’s wearing a mask this year.

(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/832183064/2020-christmas-ornament-masked-2020?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=mask+ornament&ref=sr_gallery-1-3&bes=1" target="_blank">GloryParty</a>)
(Photo: GloryParty)

For this customizable ornament, one of the suggested text ideas is “This year was purhell.”

(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/884255139/holiday-face-mask-ornament-with-2020?ref=shop_home_active_4&crt=1" target="_blank">WiggleandRoar</a>)
(Photo: WiggleandRoar)

“Great way to remember 2020,” one reviewer wrote of this ornament, a miniature mask.

Dr. Anthony Fauci Ornaments

(Photo: <a href="https://www.ornamentshop.com/products/ka20102-personalized-dr-fauci-ornament" target="_blank">OrnamentShop.com</a>)
(Photo: OrnamentShop.com)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases and a high-profile member of the White House coronavirus task force, is a popular ornament this year.

(Photo: <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/884981766/dr-fauci-ornament-be-kind-ornament-peace?ga_order=highest_reviews&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=fauci+ornament&ref=sr_gallery-1-2&bes=1" target="_blank">HelloLemonZesty</a>)
(Photo: HelloLemonZesty)

This ornament quotes a commencement address Dr. Fauci gave this year. More than ever, this is good advice!

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.