LendingTree Survey Finds Thanksgiving Hosts to Spend $475 on Average in 2020, Up 53% from 2019

CHARLOTTE, N.C.Nov. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — According to LendingTree’s latest survey, Americans who are hosting Thanksgiving dinner expect to spend an average of $475 on the holiday, up from $310.17 in 2019. LendingTree surveyed 2,042 Americans, including 841 who are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, to gauge spending expectations and sentiments surrounding the dinner-centric holiday.

  • Americans will spend $475 hosting Thanksgiving, up 53% from 2019. Nearly a quarter of hosts are spending more money to make up for holidays that weren’t celebrated due to the coronavirus pandemic. Millennials expect to spend the most of any generation ($556.46), while baby boomers expect to spend the least ($173.83).
  • More people are hosting smaller gatherings for Thanksgiving this year. Forty-one percent of Americans plan to host guests on Thanksgiving, up from 33% in 2019.
  • Hosts expect to serve dinner for 9 guests on average (including members of their own household), down from 10 last year.
  • About 2 in 5 hosts said hosting Thanksgiving is a financial strain. Most hosts (57%) do not expect guests to help cover costs, and 38% will borrow money to cover Thanksgiving expenses.
  • Hosts spend roughly 8.6 hours preparing for the holiday feast on average, and 52% said that they or someone in their household would take time off work to prepare.
  • Many hosts (42%) worry about heated conversations at the dinner table. Twenty-two percent are nervous about a political debate, and 15% are concerned their guests will argue about the coronavirus pandemic.

Holidays and celebrations look different in 2020, and there may be some added pressure to go “all out” for the winter holidays to offset what has been a disappointing year for many. However, hosts should be wary of getting carried away with their spending, according to Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief credit analyst. “This has been such a trying, exhausting year for virtually everyone, so I’m not surprised at all to see people going a little overboard this Thanksgiving to make up for it,” Schulz said. “It’s totally understandable to want to do so, but it’s really important that you don’t make a bad year worse by spending yourself into debt.”

Many hosts don’t have a firm budget

Setting a budget can help to keep Thanksgiving-related costs in check, but LendingTree’s survey found that most hosts don’t have a set budget. Two in five hosts (39%) have a “very firm” budget, while 46% have a flexible budget. One in six (16%) don’t have a budget at all.

Most hosts plan to use coupons and/or shop around for the best price on their Thanksgiving purchases. About a third (32%) of consumers plan to use coupons, and one in five will shop around for the best price, but won’t cut coupons. A select few price-conscious hosts (30%) expect to both shop around for deals and use coupons when shopping for Thanksgiving — an even smaller minority (18%) won’t do either.

More people are hosting Thanksgiving — with less guests

The average number of guests (including household members) per host dropped from 10 to nine between 2019 and 2020. The percentage of Americans who are hosting Thanksgiving also increased from 33% last year to 41% this year. These findings go hand-in-hand: More people are hosts, and less people are guests, which makes for smaller gatherings.

60% of hosts are at least somewhat stressed leading up to Thanksgiving

Anyone who has hosted a Thanksgiving knows that costs can add up quickly. For about two in five hosts, Thanksgiving is a financial strain. This feeling is most prevalent among Americans under 40, including Gen Z and millennials.

Furthermore, 38% of hosts are planning to borrow money to cover Thanksgiving costs, including charging a credit card or taking out a holiday loan. Of the people who will borrow money, 43% won’t pay it off within one billing cycle, potentially accruing interest charges to pay for holiday-related costs.

On top of the financial strain of hosting Thanksgiving, many hosts will take time off work to do so, potentially losing out on income. According to the survey, more than half (52%) of hosts said that they or someone in their household will take time off work to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.

And then, there are the notorious Thanksgiving dinner conversations, which could get more intense given the 2020 election and the continuing pandemic. More than one in five hosts (22%) are nervous their guests will get into a political debate at the dinner table, while 15% are concerned their guests will argue about the coronavirus pandemic. Another 10% are worried their guests will bring up family drama. In all, 42% of hosts are worried about the conversations that will take place over Thanksgiving dinner.

Given the financial strain and emotional stress that comes along with hosting Thanksgiving dinner, it safe to say that guests this year should be especially thankful for their Thanksgiving hosts.

For the full findings, please visit: https://www.lendingtree.com/debt-consolidation/thanksgiving-spending-survey/


LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 2,042 Americans, including 841 Thanksgiving hosts. The survey was fielded Nov. 6-11, 2020.

We defined generations as the following ages in 2020:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 23
  • Millennial: 24 to 39
  • Generation X: 40 to 54
  • Baby boomer: 55 to 74
  • Silent generation: 75 and older