Written by our Founder and CEO, the Celebrations Pulse letters aim to engage with our community. By welcoming your ideas and sharing your stories, we want to help you strengthen your relationships with the most important people in your life.

Four years ago, our country first felt the devastating effects of COVID-19. We had been reading the frightening news for months out of China, Italy, and other parts of the world. In March 2020, it was our turn.

Officials began mandating social distancing, closing schools, and shuttering businesses to slow the virus’ spread. We started to disconnect from our jobs, our communities, and everyone outside our immediate families. We were scared and confused.

Amid the personal anxiety, there was a great deal of business uncertainty. Stock markets plummeted. Companies laid off workers in droves. And nobody understood what the most serious pandemic in 100 years would mean for the economy.

An idea for staying connected

What was happening to you, our customers, was at the top of our minds. I challenged my team to find ways to strengthen our relationship with you during this unprecedented time. They came back with the suggestion that I should write you a letter.

It was no ordinary email you’d expect from an e-commerce company. Sent on March 20, 2020 – five days after our nation was put into lockdown – it was titled simply, “Checking in to See How You’re Doing,” and contained only information on how to get through this difficult time. The only sales pitch was for ideas on staying connected.

That marked the birth of the Celebrations Pulse, and the feedback from our community of customers was overwhelmingly positive. One of my favorites was from Crystal, a customer in Virginia:

I’ve gotten 10,000 inappropriate emails from companies trying to capitalize on COVID-19 and only ONE from a company titled “Checking in to See How You’re Doing” not trying to sell me one single thing. Thank you, 1-800-Flowers.com, for showing some humanity.”

We continued the letter in various forms throughout the pandemic, exploring topics like celebrating birthdays and other occasions while social distancing and how to cope with the loss of life many of us were experiencing.

first celebrations pulse

Expanding the Celebrations Pulse

COVID accelerated many trends that existed long before the pandemic, and these became tentpole topics for the Celebrations Pulse during the pandemic years and beyond. Many letters have focused on mental healthloneliness, the challenge of caregiving, and the friendship recession.

At the heart was a simple idea: All of us have a special superpower to connect with and lift other people. All it takes is reaching out by text, email, or in person. And the message can be as simple as, “Hi, how are you doing?”

Through the first year, I found myself turning to experts to help our community during this difficult time. These folks eventually became close friends. In February 2021, we made these advisers official by forming the “Connectivity Council,” to provide guidance.

The brainchild of 1-800-Flowers.com board member Larry Zarin, the council is made up of professional and highly respected psychologists like Dr. George EverlyDr. Chloe CarmichaelDr. Dan Willingham, and Dr. Joel Weinberger. Others included workplace expert Dr. Angela Jackson and mental health specialist Dr. Dan Cordaro, as well as sympathy experts Dr. Camelia ClarkeDr. Shoshana UngerleiderRebecca Soffer, and David Kessler.

The following year, as COVID finally began to recede, I launched the Celebrations Chatter podcast, which became an opportunity to dive deeper into Celebrations Pulse topics. Hard to believe I’ll be celebrating the 100th episode in a few short weeks!

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The most important voices

Of all the people interviewed or consulted for the letter, the most important voice in its success has been you, the 10 million members of our community.. Your feedback, ideas, and stories have fueled many of the letters week after week.

I’m especially inspired by the rituals and traditions you share around major and minor occasions, whether it’s Halloween, Christmas, birthday parties, or more somber occasions. What you share inspires me and, I hope, all the recipients of this letter.

Last week, I looked again at the very first letter. Its conclusion still works today: “Staying connected with others is one of the best things we can do for our well-being during these anxious times. At the end of this period – and it will eventually end – you will emerge with more, deeper, and better relationships.”

All the best,

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Jim McCann is the founder, CEO, and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. as well as a business leader, author, and philanthropist with a passion for helping people deliver smiles. Devoted to helping others, he also founded Smile Farms, a 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful jobs in agricultural settings to young adults and adults with developmental disabilities.

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