23rd November 2021

Writing New Rules of Celebration

The beloved illustrator returns, just in time to help us #WriteNewRules for the holidays and share his unique approach to gifting.

Writing New Rules of Celebration with Russ Pope

Whether you crave tradition or couldn’t be happier to ditch it, this holiday season we’re celebrating the myriad ways you can get in the spirit. That’s why we once again enlisted the help of iconoclast illustrator Russ Pope, who knows a thing or two about going against the grain, be it with his art or with his philosophy towards gifting.

Writing New Rules of Celebration with Russ Pope

For those who don’t know you, who is Russ Pope?

“I’m just an artist making stuff for the world, reporting on life events with paintings and illustrations. That work is first and foremost for myself, but I also have collections that I’m always working on for gallery shows. I have a skateboard company and I also do collaborations with select partners that feel right and align with the stuff I use, whether it’s a pair of Cole Haan shoes or a pair of reading glasses.”


This holiday season we’re celebrating what it means to both embrace tradition but also go your own way. As we understand it, that’s always been the approach for you and your family.


“We’d had conversations about learnings from last winter, when people were forced into flipping the script. Most people did do some things that weren’t normal for them, like new traditions, but it’s not all that uncommon to me because we have an abnormal setup for the holidays. So it was kind of business as usual for us.”

Can you give us an example?

“We have a tradition where on Christmas Eve we always have pizza on the beach. That’s not most people’s Christmas Eve dinner but it’s something we’ve always done because the beach is my wife’s happy place. I grew up going to the beach and I’ve spent plenty of time there too. It doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with gift giving or looking pretty or making sure you are looking awesome.”

Writing New Rules of Celebration with Russ Pope

That sounds great.

“It feels really great. I think it can be like that for everybody, whether they’re barbecuing on Christmas, for Hanukkah, or whatever they celebrate. People are doing things differently because they were surprisingly excited about their new traditions [made last year], not being jammed around a table indoors or being stuck in a house all day. I just wanna be outside taking the whole family on a hike for Christmas morning.”

You also have a non-traditional approach to gifting, right?

“We don’t do gifts, we travel instead. We take the money we’d spend on gifts and do a week of travel every year with my family.”

Writing New Rules of Celebration with Russ Pope

That’s incredible. How did that start?

“We started when my kids were little, but my kids didn’t really care because they had everything they needed. Our family’s been super fortunate in that way. So Christmas became about spending time together and going places that were interesting. The Dominican Republic, Paris, London…”

Where are you going this year?

“We might do Christmas in Manhattan. New York during the holidays is wonderful.”

If you were going to write a new rule for celebrating this season, what would it be?

“I’d give people permission to be themselves: Do what feels right for you.”

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