Leather from yeast or lab-grown diamonds: the presents of Christmases yet to come

Multi-ethnic family enjoying opening presents together in their pyjamas on Christmas morning.

Pre-loved presents will become popular as families make Christmas gift-giving more environmentally friendly.
Photograph: Louise Beaumont/Getty Images

In 2019, Brits have been searching for zen. According to research by American Express, 11 million of us have taken up a new hobby or sport this year, with 21% doing so to achieve a better work-life balance – the most common reason given.

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With Christmas around the corner, how has this affected what we’re planning to give each other? On Pinterest this year searches for self-care packages increased by 134%, suggesting that we’re keen to make each other feel better this Christmas. James Wallman, author of Time and How to Spend It, says that sharing positivity for Christmas will only grow in popularity. He believes that in the future “gifting will be all about experiences that make people happier, more resilient and successful. By 2030, just giving someone random stuff will sound out-of-date.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be spending any less, however. A report from the Centre of Retail Research suggests that the UK is set to spend £80.27bn over the Christmas period, an increase of 0.8% on last year’s spending, continuing the trend of year-on-year festive spending increases. With American Express’ Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card you can recuperate some of that spending, with up to 5% cashback available on a huge range of purchases – a simple way to make your money work harder for you, this Christmas and beyond.

So what might we be spending our money on in Christmases yet to come? We asked a panel of experts – including futurist Lucie Greene; Lisa White, director of lifestyle and interiors at WGSN; games consultant Kristian Reed; and Sara Jones, partner and client services director at design agency Free the Birds – to look into their crystal balls …

2020: a sensible Christmas?
Gifting of pre-loved clothes (secondhand) and financial presents such as Isas will increase, while beauty and water-activated personal care products will become huge. Supermarkets will stop selling Christmas crackers containing plastic toys, making 2020 a lower-waste year. Environmentally unfriendly advent calendars will be gone.

2021: giving the gift of happiness
It’s all about the experiences, and embracing kinship and communities through events in 2021: yoga retreats and wellness holidays will be on the rise for shared memories and positive feelings, and more plants will be given as gifts than ever before.

Tech will change, too. Reed says: “Virtual reality will get better and cheaper (wireless, more realistic, more comfortable), and augmented reality will also make inroads in parallel with virtual reality.”

Scene Of A Group Of People Practicing Yoga In Class.

Giving the gift of a yoga retreat will be on the rise in 2021, experts predict.

Photograph: Javier Pardina/Stocksy United

2022: fading taboos make for fun festivities
Giving the gift of cinema membership for any age offers a place to suspend disbelief for a couple of hours and immerse in filmic wonder. Jones predicts that lab-grown diamond jewellery will become popular, “signalling the desire for luxury, style and indulgence without the ecological price”.

2025: an animal-friendly Christmas
It will be the norm to subsidise loved ones’ quests for a healthy lifestyle, from gym memberships to tailored supplements. Any leather being gifted will be lab-grown; for example, some companies will be creating animal-free leather, using collagen protein made by fermenting yeast.

2030: a whole new, hangover-free, world
The protection of our environment will be fully ingrained in our choices. We will be aware of what works, and we will have improved and changed what doesn’t, and the planet will be happier for it. Hangover-free champagne will be welcome in the festive season. There will be technologies that blur virtual space with reality, and you will be able to live inside a game using immersive technologies, or take experiences to a whole new level – fancy stepping inside a professional photographer’s mind and experiencing them taking a picture? Plus, fragrances, clothing and skincare will be manufactured by information from our subconscious.

Important information

Applicants must be UK residents, aged 18 years or older. Approval subject to status. Terms and exclusions apply to earning cashback. See for more information. 5% cashback on your purchases made in the first 3 months up to £100. Cardmembership begins from Card approval. Introductory offers are not available to anyone who currently holds or has held any other American Express personal Card in the past 24 months. Cashback will be payable at a rate of 0.5% on spend up to £5,000; 1% on spend more than £5,000. There is a minimum annual spend of £3,000 to receive cashback. Cashback is not earned on non-purchase transactions.

American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, UK. It is registered in England and Wales with company number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


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