Inspired research shows the 1980s is the best decade for Christmas – and tinsel is back too!

As Brits prepare to make the most of the upcoming festive season, award-winning later living operator, Inspired Villages, today reveals what makes the ultimate Christmas from across the ages, with the 1980s named as the best decade for festivities.¹

What previous decade holds your fondest memories of Christmas

The nationally representative research, which surveyed over 2,000 16-95 year olds in the UK, explores how priorities have changed across the decades and provides insights for creating the perfect Christmas and what can be learnt from each generation.

Festive priorities

Over half (58%) of respondents believe Christmas priorities have changed over the years, with 30% believing for the better versus 27% who believed for the worse.

 Do you believe that priorities surrounding family and friends during the festive period have changed in recent years

Of those who believe the change is for the better, 47% attribute this to more time spent with family. The perception of negative change comes from the 57% who believe there is now too much focus on material items and presents.

Those respondents who believe that priorities surrounding family and friends during the festive period have changed for the better in recent years

The research also investigates the most important elements of Christmas now versus when respondents were a child, finding that family time is deemed the most important across every generation, with 73% in agreement.

To what extent do you agree disagree that the following were the most important element of Christmas to you when you were a child

Christmas food was ranked second most important in 2021 by all age groups at 68%, followed by giving presents (64%) and socialising with friends and colleagues (52%).

Despite traditions changing over the years, the data finds that the younger generation of 16-44 year olds collectively believe going to church is most important (30%) compared to 20% of 65-84 year olds. However, almost a third (30%) of all age groups considered going to church more important when they were children.

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the following are the most important element of Christmas to you now

Christmas spending

After a Christmas impacted by Coronavirus restrictions in 2020, consumers are expected to go big this festive season, with Brits predicted to spend an average of £168 per head including presents, food, drinks and activities in 2021. 35-44 year olds are expected to spend the most (£222), followed by 85-94 year olds (£209). 75-84 year olds are set to spend the least, at an average of £125.

How much do you expect to spend on Christmas per person this year

Despite the appetite for spending, almost half (46%) of those surveyed who believed that priorities have changed for the worse, complained that there is now a lot of pressure to spend lots of money during the Christmas period. This was a view shared mostly between 75-84 year olds (64%) and 55-64 year olds (58%).

A touch of nostalgia

Christmas nostalgia is on trend for 2021 and despite often dividing generations, tinsel was voted the top home decor staple by a quarter of multi-generational respondents (25%). This is followed by wreaths (21%), coloured Christmas trees (17%) and chocolate tree ornaments (17%).

What are your Christmas home decor staples

While the bicycle was voted the gift that evoked the most Christmas memories across all generations, the survey reveals that younger generations hold the most sentiment towards homemade gifts. 16% of respondents aged 16-24 chose presents such as homemade photo albums, artwork, garments and condiments as most meaningful. This is compared to only 7% of 75-84 year olds who most likely receive more of these gifts.

Which Christmas present evokes the best memories for you

The perfect day

It appears no Christmas dinner would be complete without the classic roast turkey. This centrepiece proved the most popular amongst all age groups with almost half (44%) of the nation favouring this, including 64% of 75-84 year olds,  58% of 65-74 year olds, and 29% of 16-24 year olds - the perfect intergenerational main meal.

1957 saw the first mention of a pig in blanket recipe in a Betty Crocker book and Brits haven’t looked back since. So much so, almost a fifth of the nation voted for them as their top side. In particular, they are a favourite amongst 16-24 and 25-34 year olds compared to 12% of 65-74 and 8% of 75-84 year olds.

One of the true Christmas classics, the humble Christmas pudding dates all the way back to the 17th century, yet remains one of the most popular festive desserts. Almost a quarter (24%) of Brits still name it their number one after-dinner choice. This includes 1 in 10 (11%) 16-24 and 25-34 year olds and almost half (48%) of 75-84 year olds.

What would be included in your ideal Christmas meal

When it comes to Christmas Day entertainment, Christmas films came out on top across all generations (44%) followed by playing board games (26%) and watching Christmas soaps on TV (20%).

What would be your ideal Christmas entertainment

Inspired Villages asked respondents which films and music they would most want to watch or listen to with their grandchildren or grandparent, with Home Alone voted top film (13%) and Fairytale of New York voted top song (14%).

What is the Christmas film you would most love to watch with your grandparent or grandchild


What is the Christmas song you would most love to listen to with your grandparent or grandchild

Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages commented: “After another tough year for many, it’s understandable that we can expect to see consumers spending and enjoying the upcoming festive season as much as they can with loved ones. It’s particularly brilliant to see that there will likely be more emphasis on spending time with family this year.

“With families of all generations expected to be able to come together and celebrate, our research reveals not only the intergenerational differences when it comes to Christmas sentiment, but also the similarities and priorities that we all share and have stood the test of time. There is so much to be learnt from each generation. For example, in addition to all age groups voting quality time with family and Christmas food as their top two most important elements, 5% more 75-84 year olds valued socialising with friends than their teenage and young adult counterparts, showcasing the desire to remain connected and have a healthy social life in later life.

“Not only that, over half of 34-55 year olds value receiving presents more than any other generation - 10% more than the national average, as well as being the generation most likely to spend the largest amount of money this year. While their parents and grandparents are set to spend the least per head, likely due to being hosted by loved ones, 74-85 year olds are the generation to value giving presents most, showcasing that spending power and sentiment held across every age within families should not be underestimated.

“At Inspired Villages, we will be doing everything we can to use our findings to ensure residents and their families have the best Christmas they possibly can in order to create memories that can be shared across all ages, from grandparents to grandchildren.”

Inspired Villages hosted ‘A Very Inspired Christmas’ on Wednesday 1st December at its Gifford Lea village with all elements of the party inspired by the new research including food, drink, entertainment and decor. Members of the community, along with residents, had a great time enjoying the perfect multigenerational Christmas event.

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