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Interviews

Tyler Hynes Builds a Community with The Holiday Boot Shot Tradition 

Tyler Hynes Builds a Community with The Holiday Boot Shot Tradition

During the pandemic, isolated and far-flung family and friends found ways to stay connected, and Tyler Hynes was no different. It was in that spirit that he conceived The Holiday Boot Shot Tradition. For the uninitiated, the Boot is a tiny, boot-shaped glass ornament (inspired by his Hallmark movie, Winter in Vail) and the Shot is filling that boot with the beverage of your choosing. The Holiday Tradition is sharing the Boot Shot with friends and family in in-person and virtual celebrations, and gifting the boots to others.

Hynes started packaging the ornaments in a beautiful box set of five — one to keep and four pre-packaged ready to give. Last year’s edition sold out. As of this writing, this year’s second edition is still available at bootshottradition.com. When I spoke with Hynes last week for our deep dive into his Hallmark holiday movies, we chatted about what it means to have started, and continued, the heartfelt connection with friends, family, and his namesake Hynies, with whom he’ll do a live Boot Shot on his Facebook page on December 23rd.

When the new boxes started landing in mailboxes late last month, Hynies started putting their unboxings online, and Hynes was all too happy to share in their joy on his social media. “I don’t know that there’s something that is more fulfilling that’s happening in regard to all of this than the videos, the sentiments, the in-person sharing of stories and shots and people taking the glass and using it in various moments,” he says.

“Originally it was a sort of a holiday theme thing and it has moved far beyond that. It seems this year I’m hearing from a lot of human beings who are using it as a way to pay homage to people who have passed recently who they were sharing it with in previous years. It’s so new, so the fact that it even has that kind of a legacy is just beyond my comprehension.”

Hynes is particulary appreciative of the response when it’s a project he’s put his heart and soul into. “The attention to detail of the thought that I am putting into the packaging, to even the shipping box, which everybody was so patient with waiting for their boxes to show up because of putting this amount of work into it. I started at the beginning of the year, and they just landed a few weeks ago,” he shares.

“That’s how many conversations I’ve had about this and how much thought has gone into it, among other things in that vicinity that are yet to be revealed. But I try to live by a bit of an intention … I would expect or would hope for or would possibly dream of somebody being thoughtful with me in some kind of a way.”

“I have to know on my end, even if it’s just me who knows it, that I have put in an adequate amount of thought myself to earn that kind of reaction. And no matter how hard I try to live up to how earnest and sincere and touching everybody has been, it always seems like it’s being surpassed, being shared in these really profound moments.”

“Bringing people together, people Face Timing from different parts of the world, sending each other boxes, people not able to get the boot where they are, and then people sending them their own individual boot. People crossing the country to share a shot together as part of this. I wouldn’t expect someone looking in from the outside to understand that, and nor should they, unless you take a closer look.”

“But like anything, like any good tradition, it’s a random, silly thing that started out of a genuine, sincere place and is a motivation and inspiration to just build the things that do matter, like memories, moments. Tell somebody you love them, tell somebody thank you or happy birthday or whatever. And it seems to have been embraced by all that.”

Hynes says the Boot Shot is also popular close to home. “Even my mother and my aunts and their friends send me videos. They were one of the first people that I noticed taking it outside the realm of holiday. They were just getting together and sending me videos of them taking shots out of the boot, singing ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin.’ They’re out of control,” he laughs. And the fact that I am encouraging this kind of behavior out of a tradition that I started with my silly little group … there’s nothing that could possibly compare and I cannot wait to spend time with everybody on the 23rd.”

Hynes has also extended that sentimentality to the gifts he’s received. “A lot of the things I wear in these movies are things that were given to me from folks who watch these movies. And I just thought it would be a nice thing if one day that person might turn on the TV and see the watch that she had explained to me was her father’s and meant the world to her, and she had for some reason felt it a nice gesture to give to me,” he explains.

“I thought maybe an attempt to try to pay respect to somebody being so generous or thoughtful with me is to maybe put it in a movie that they might watch and see it and say, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s my father’s watch.’ Even if they never see it, it feels like some kind of an acknowledgement to a reaction and a generosity that I could never, ever repay.”

Photo courtesy of Hallmark Media; videos courtesy of Tyler Hynes.

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