It’s hard to tally all the ways technology has made life significantly easier. A virtual headset can drop users on faraway continents; a few snaps of a picturesque meal can make you feel like you’re sitting at the very same dinner table; and social media has virtually replaced the need for most in-person interactions if you’re not particularly keen on leaving the house.
Screens, at their most benevolent, have existed as a window into possibilities we’ve only dared to consider. They’ve also served as a means of extreme, occasionally prolonged escapism and, at times, detachment. Per a recent study, the average family spends about 250 hours on screens during the holidays, which is a tremendous waste of time when you could be creating lasting memories or, at minimum, enjoying a perfectly awkward conversation with your aunt.
Even if a world entirely engrossed in electronic devices sounds like the beginnings of a zombie-riddled nightmare, it’s a little hard to view the latest short from HP and creative agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), “Print the Holidays,” and not get a little caught up in the wonder.
With the direction of Michel Gondry, the Academy Award-winning director behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the short continues the brand’s “put the phone down” theme and explores a holiday entirely run by screens to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas.” The French director’s whimsical stamp is evident with magically growing couches, rotating dinner tables and a giant Santa Claus. Alas, all of this mirth is lost on people guided by their phones and tablets.
But then, as if by some sort of Christmas miracle, the 12 texting teens are replaced by 12 baking boys. Swiping and liking have been exchanged for crafting and origami. Suddenly, after taking a second to “get real,” the holidays have become about engaging with those you love again.
Where does HP, a company that has undoubtedly benefited from a screen or two, fit in? The tech giant is inviting users to skip the devices and “print the holidays” by taking a look at their printable activities—with over 250 hours of exclusive comic books, coloring pages and games.
“When we go to plays, movies and doctors’ offices, we’re asked to shut off our phones. What if we shut off our devices for a while over the holidays and spend some quality time with our families?” said Rich Silverstein, co-founder and co-chairman of GS&P. “The last thing you want to do is tune out during the holidays. It’s time to spend real quality time with the family.”