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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Potential Holiday Party Ho Ho Hosts Expect to Spend an Average of $556 on Celebrations, With Many Pressured by Social Media Expectations

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It may be the hap-happiest time of the year, but parties aren’t free for hosts. In fact, it can be tree-mendously expensive to welcome people into your home for a holiday gathering.

The latest LendingTree survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers finds that the 60% of Americans who are considering hosting friends and family this holiday season expect to spend an average of $556 on those festivities — and some are planning to spend far more.

We dug deep into the costs of holiday hosting, what could put guests on the naughty list and more expectations for end-of-year gatherings in 2023.

  • ’Tis the season for fun and cheer, but party hosts might shed a tear. The 60% of Americans considering hosting holiday gatherings this year expect to spend an average of $556 on their celebrations. Six-figure earners plan to spend the most at $764, followed by those who make $75,000 to $99,999 yearly ($742), parents with young kids ($735) and millennials ($730). This money is mainly going to food and drinks (84%), indoor decor (46%) and outdoor decorations (29%).
  • The potential for holiday gathering debt may haunt hosts, but some are doing it for the ’Gram. 43% of potential holiday hosts think the cost of their gatherings could send them into debt. This figure is even higher for younger generations, at 58% among Gen Zers and 52% among millennials. Further, social media may be a significant factor in the overspending as 46% of Gen Zers and 34% of millennials say they feel pressured to make their parties more lavish to keep up with their friends online.
  • Showing up to a party without a gift can put you on the naughty list. 77% of Americans think they may attend a holiday party at someone else’s home. Meanwhile, 64% say they typically bring a host gift. But what’s the perfect host gift? 31% say it’s wine or alcohol, 21% prefer baked goods and 10% suggest it’s plants or flowers. If, however, a guest were to show up empty-handed, 15% say they’d be offended.
  • For most Americans, being a guest is best. 42% of Americans want to avoid the headaches and cost of hosting, preferring to be guests — just 13% prefer to host. A third (33%) enjoy both roles equally, while 12% would rather avoid socializing altogether.


With all the festive feels in the air, 60% of Americans might host a holiday gathering of friends and family at their home this year. That breaks down to 31% who say yes and 29% who are on the fence. Overall, 40% say they won’t.

RELATED: 2021 LendingTree survey on holiday party hosting

Six-figure earners (76%), parents with young children (71%), those who earn $75,000 to $99,999 yearly (71%) and Gen Zers (ages 18 to 26) (70%) are the most likely demographics to consider hosting this year. Nearly half of six-figure earners (47%) are already a committed yes, while more than half (52%) of those who make less than $35,000 a year are a no.

Those who plan to host expect it to cost them an average of $556. Men expect to spend more than women — $662 versus $453, respectively. The same can be said for younger generations compared to their elders:

  • Millennials (ages 27 to 42): $730
  • Gen Zers: $613
  • Baby boomers (ages 59 to 77): $385
  • Gen Xers (ages 43 to 58): $373

LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz says that hosting can cost a lot of money — especially among those on a tight budget or living paycheck to paycheck — so it may be important to look to cut costs where possible.

“Americans love celebrating over the holidays, and doing a holiday party right often isn’t inexpensive,” he says. “It’s important for people to understand there are things they can do to keep costs down, such as having guests pitch in, shopping around for decorations and getting creative.”

What is it that sends those soiree bills soaring? Most hosts say it’s food and drink (84%), followed by decorations — both indoor (46%) and outdoor (29%).

Other things that add up:

  • Special table linens/place mats (23%)
  • Party favors (18%)
  • Entertainment (17%)
  • Special silverware/serving utensils/serving bowls (15%)
  • Invitations (6%)
  • Other (5%)

Some people are so filled with the holiday spirit that they’re willing to skate on thin financial ice to host their friends and relatives. Overall, 43% of potential party hosts say they might accrue debt due to holiday hosting — 16% of whom say yes and 27% who say maybe.

Younger hosts are significantly more likely than older hosts to say they expect to or may accrue debt for holiday hosting:

  • 58% of Gen Zers
  • 52% of millennials
  • 41% of Gen Xers
  • 18% of baby boomers

There’s also a significant difference on the possibility of debt between parents with young children (54%) and those with no children (43%) or those with older children (26%).

Schulz says a little bit of debt to celebrate the holidays may be fine — but there are caveats.

“It may be OK to take on a little bit of debt for a big, blowout holiday celebration because those parties can create memories that last a lifetime,” he says. “If it takes you an extra month or so to pay it off, it’s likely not the end of the world. However, going deeply into debt for many months or even a year probably isn’t wise. As much as your loved ones might enjoy that party you threw, they probably don’t want you to go into a ton of debt to do it.”

Whether Americans plan to host holiday festivities, some feel the pressure of social media to amp up their arrangements.

A quarter of Americans say they feel pressure to spend more on their gatherings and/or make them more lavish to keep up with social media. That pressure is even more pronounced for younger hosts, with 46% of Gen Zers and 34% of millennials citing this, versus 18% of Gen Xers and 6% of baby boomers.

Parents with children younger than 18 (41%) feel the pressure, too, compared with 23% of those who have no children and 9% of those whose children are 18 or older.

This year, 77% of Americans say they might attend a holiday gathering at someone else’s home. That breaks down to 41% who say yes and 37% who say maybe. But will they be nice guests or deserve a little coal in their stockings for their etiquette … or lack thereof?

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans typically bring a host gift when they attend a gathering at someone else’s home. For a host gift, 31% suggest a nice bottle of wine or other alcohol. That’s followed by:

  • Baked goods (21%)
  • Plants or flowers (10%)
  • Candle (8%)
  • Other (8%)
  • Chocolate (7%)
  • A heartfelt card or thank-you note (5%)
  • Items for entertaining, such as a serving platter or cocktail mixer (5%)
  • Home decor (5%)
  • Housewares (2%)

Gen Zers are particularly passionate about baked goods (26%) as host gifts, while Gen Xers are bringing cards or notes (7%).

But how do hosts feel when guests show up empty-handed? In most cases, a guest’s presence is gift enough. The vast majority (85%) of Americans say they aren’t offended if a guest doesn’t bring a host gift to a gathering.

Interestingly, younger generations expect them more than older generations, with 30% of Gen Zers and 22% of millennials saying they’re offended if guests don’t bring host gifts, compared with 10% of Gen Xers and 3% of baby boomers. Those with children younger than 18 are offended more easily when there’s no host gift (26%) than those with no children (14%) and those with children older than 18 (6%).

Schulz says bringing a gift is always the right thing to do.

“Don’t show up empty-handed,” he says. “Bring some small gift, such as a dessert, a bottle of wine, flowers or even a little gift card, to show your appreciation for the person going through the time, effort and expense to host you. If you’re in a difficult situation financially and can’t afford a gift, consider bringing something or doing something that won’t cost money. Maybe you show up early and help set up for the party. Perhaps you pick someone up at the airport. Maybe you bring board games. In these cases, it can be the thought that counts.”

Hosting can be costly, and it often comes with other headaches. It’s no wonder 42% of Americans prefer to be guests at holiday happenings. Only 13% say they prefer to be the host, while 33% say they enjoy both equally.

Whatever role you take this holiday season, there are ways to save.

Financial tips for guests

  • Consider sharing other costs. Consider carpooling if you and others have to drive a ways away to get to the big celebration. It’ll give you extra time with loved ones and help cut costs.
  • The right credit card, used wisely, can make a difference. You can use credit card sign-up bonuses to save on gas, hotel and airfare, or you can leverage that 1% or 2% cash back on what you buy to help extend your holiday budget a little further.

Financial tips for hosts

  • Credit card rewards can help extend your holiday budget. Whether it’s a sign-up bonus, extra points or cash back on what you buy with your credit card, every little bit helps.
  • Don’t be afraid to reuse. Chances are that those decorations from last year are perfectly fine to use again this year, and no one will know the difference.
  • Take advantage of those post-holiday deals. There’s no better time to buy holiday decorations than after that holiday has ended. You can get some serious discounts when stores try to get rid of all their unsold holiday goods.
  • Reassess your budget. If you think the budget for last year’s holiday party will suffice for this year’s, you’ll probably be disappointed. As you plan the big celebration, see if you can carve out extra money from your budget by reducing or delaying other expenses for a while. For example, temporarily canceling a streaming subscription or two can free up some cash.
  • Be open about your situation. If you’re hosting a holiday party and things are tough for you financially, don’t be afraid to share with those you love. That doesn’t mean you dwell on it or completely open your books to everyone, but letting people know you might have to dial the party back a bit can help. It may be awkward or embarrassing to be that vulnerable, but your friends and family should understand and may even want to help. If they don’t, then (maybe like your parents might say) they’re not your real friends.


LendingTree commissioned QuestionPro to conduct an online survey of 2,002 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 77 from Nov. 6 to 9, 2023. The survey was administered using a nonprobability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. Researchers reviewed all responses for quality control.

We defined generations as the following ages in 2023:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 26
  • Millennial: 27 to 42
  • Generation X: 43 to 58
  • Baby boomer: 59 to 77

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