The Holiday Traditions Survey

Title graphic for a survey about Americans’ holiday traditions
Title graphic for a survey about Americans’ holiday traditions

The magic of the holidays has a way of bringing people together. Whether it’s gathering for a heartfelt Friendsgiving or cozying up for a classic screening of Home Alone — cherished holiday traditions create memories that last a lifetime.

As the days grow shorter and festive celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah draw nearer, we grew curious about the myriad ways Americans mark these special times. We surveyed over 2,800 Americans, eager to uncover the essence of their holiday celebrations. Keep reading to see which holiday traditions Americans can’t get enough of!

Feasts, Touchdowns, and Tarts: The Essence of Thanksgiving Traditions

Infographic showcasing Americans’ Thanksgiving traditions

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays in America, characterized by elaborate spreads, the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and an abundance of delectable pies. We asked Americans from coast to coast what holiday traditions they celebrate on Turkey Day. 

This year, the classic Thanksgiving dishes Americans are most looking forward to indulging in are turkey or ham (54%), mashed potatoes with gravy (45%), stuffing (43%), pies (42%), and mac and cheese (32%).

When it comes to pies, pumpkin pie reigns supreme, with a whopping 40% of respondents naming it their top choice. Apple pie trails behind but remains a favorite, securing 20% of the pie preference.

While the Thanksgiving feast is but a brief moment of indulgence, Americans often complement the day with cherished non-food rituals. Topping the list is watching football, with 35% tuning in, closely followed by 28% who eagerly await the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Other beloved holiday traditions include selecting a Christmas tree (25%), settling in for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (23%), and gathering for a Friendsgiving celebration (22%). Indeed, there’s unparalleled joy in lounging on the couch — especially after going back for seconds or even thirds.

While Friendsgiving offers a delightful opportunity for a second Thanksgiving feast among friends, it’s intriguing to note that only 28% of respondents claim to regularly partake in this tradition. A significant 72% opt out, and a whopping 83% express a preference for the classic Thanksgiving over Friendsgiving. Could it be that nothing compares to Mom’s signature Thanksgiving dishes?

Yet, as many can attest, Thanksgiving isn’t always a picture of harmony, especially when family members of varying perspectives gather. Our findings reveal that respondents are most prone to engaging in heated debates with siblings during the Thanksgiving meal, with 29% admitting to such encounters. Furthermore, over 1 in 10 Americans (12%) anticipate a heated exchange with their uncle at this year’s dinner table.

On the night before Thanksgiving, a segment of Americans extend their celebrations to local bars. Our survey indicates that 22% of respondents venture out to their neighborhood bar on “Thanksgiving Eve,” leaving 78% who prefer the comfort of home.

Perhaps many of those staying in are sidestepping an unexpected high school reunion. Meanwhile, others enthusiastically embrace “Drinksgiving” — the Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving, renowned as one of the year’s most popular drinking days. An apple cider cocktail to toast the occasion, anyone?

Black Friday Dilemma: Dive into the Deals or Avoid the Rush?

Charts showcasing Americans’ Black Friday traditions

While many Americans might perceive shopping on Thanksgiving Day as overly materialistic, others wholeheartedly embrace it. We sought to understand Americans’ views on Black Friday shopping, exploring whether they prefer in-store or online experiences and if they set out on Thursday or wait until Friday to hit the racks.

Once the leftovers are put away, we found that the largest share of respondents (39%) say shopping online is their primary activity on Black Friday. This is followed by 18% who dive into Christmas decorating and 14% who prefer the in-store shopping experience. Nothing will get you in the holiday mood faster than getting an early start to Christmas shopping.

In terms of Black Friday shopping preferences, 49% of respondents favor online shopping, while a mere 9% opt for in-store experiences. Interestingly, 19% choose a hybrid approach, shopping both online and in-store. Yet, 23% steer clear of Black Friday shopping altogether. After all, who can resist the allure of their cozy couch after enjoying their Thanksgiving feasts?

While many Americans are preoccupied with holiday travel plans, others are already strategizing their Black Friday hauls. Our survey revealed that over a third of respondents (37%) kick off their online Black Friday shopping right on Thanksgiving Day. Meanwhile, 39% exercise a tad more patience, scoring deals on Black Friday itself.

In the race to snag in-person Black Friday bargains, the majority of Americans lean toward the comfort of home on Thanksgiving, with a mere 11% admitting to in-store shopping on the holiday itself. However, the scene shifts on Black Friday, as 31% of Americans brave the crowds to secure deals in person.

Chestnuts Roasting and Endless Eggnog: Americans’ Christmas Essentials

Infographic showcasing Americans’ Christmas traditions

Whether sipping on a glass of eggnog or delighting in a Secret Santa gift exchange, Americans nationwide embrace the festive spirit with their cherished holiday traditions. See how Americans celebrate one of the most celebrated holidays across the map.

There’s nothing like making popcorn and perusing Netflix for the classic holiday movie. This festive season, survey results show that viewers are most likely to press play on Home Alone (36%), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (35%), A Christmas Story (34%), Elf (33%), and A Charlie Brown Christmas (29%). Besides, what’s Christmas without Snoopy or Max?

There is something special about wearing matching red-and-white PJ flannels with the whole crew. Our survey revealed that nearly a third of respondents (32%) embrace the tradition of matching pajamas or outfits with their loved ones during the holiday season.

Americans don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree — since they’re too busy listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” On average, the song will grace their ears 33 times this holiday season. When polled about their sentiments toward the tune, a significant 42% professed their love for it. Meanwhile, 19% say they hate it and 38% remain indifferent.

Eggnog, the subject of much festive debate, emerges as the preferred holiday cocktail for nearly 30% of respondents. Trailing behind are Irish coffee at 12% and spiked hot chocolate at 11%. Any drink you can pair with whipped cream is a winner in our book.

Our survey revealed that 74% of respondents savor their Christmas dinner on the day itself, while 26% indulge a tad earlier on Christmas Eve. After all, there’s nothing better than opening presents early and enjoying a Christmas feast early too.

Christmas is the season for gift giving. We found that 52% of respondents partake in a traditional gift exchange, where every family member swaps presents with one another. However, nearly a quarter (24%) opt for a more budget-conscious approach, engaging in a gift exchange with a predetermined spending limit.

Due to inflation, 56% of holiday shoppers anticipate buying fewer gifts than they’d prefer this festive season. This economic strain might explain why over 1 in 10 U.S. families (11%) forgo gift exchanges altogether.

Finding the ideal gift can be a challenge, from selecting the right sweater to the perfect pair of sneakers. However, our findings offer a hint: a majority of respondents (53%) lean toward valuing experiences over material possessions, with 47% still appreciating tangible gifts.

Now, let’s delve into holiday gift spending patterns across states.

The “State” of Christmas Spending Across the U.S.

Curious about how much to set aside for each family member’s gift this year? We delved into the data to determine the average amount each state allocates for Christmas presents per person. We found that, on average, Americans allocate $101.47 for each family member’s Christmas gift.

The states with the highest Christmas gift spend per person are:

  • New Jersey — $146.21
  • Virginia — $139.19
  • Oregon — $125.88
  • Rhode Island –– $119.20
  • Pennsylvania –– $118.45 

On the flip side, some states are cutting back on holiday spending. The states with the lowest Christmas gift spend per person are:

  • Idaho — $73.89
  • Texas — $79.50
  • Louisiana — $79.83
  • Hawaii –– $80.21
  • Utah –– $81.49

Deck the Halls in…November? How Early Is Too Early to Start Decorating?

When it comes to holiday decorations, some Americans truly pull out all the stops — their twinkling lights might just be visible from outer space! On average, Americans spend $126.38 on holiday decorations each year. Over a lifetime, considering the average U.S. life expectancy, this amounts to over $7,000. Christmas in America isn’t complete without a jolly plastic Santa or a glowing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Still, this begs the question, “When is it acceptable to commence decorating?” Our research indicates that the typical American begins decking their halls approximately 4.09 weeks before Christmas.

Leading the festive charge, the states that commence their holiday decorating the earliest are (measured by the average number of weeks before Christmas): 

  • Virginia — 5.15 weeks
  • Georgia — 5.04 weeks
  • Indiana — 4.90 weeks

Why wait to put the Christmas lights up when science says decorating will make you happier

The states that commence their holiday decorating the latest are (measured by the average number of weeks before Christmas): 

  • Idaho — 3.23 weeks
  • Massachusetts — 3.45 weeks
  • Delaware — 3.57 weeks 

When to Invite Your Partner Home for the Holidays

Considering introducing that special someone to your family? The festive season might just be the ideal occasion. Our survey revealed some holiday magic: 37% of folks think dating for just 3-6 months is enough time before bringing that special someone home for the holidays.

Want to make the holidays extra memorable this year? Gift your loved one a memory they’ll cherish forever. Shop our exquisite range of engagement rings and let this holiday season make your future merry and bright.


To delve into the holidays and traditions celebrated by Americans, we surveyed 2,875 U.S. respondents spanning 44 states. The survey was active from October 5 to October 13, 2023. We were unable to include data from Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming due to an insufficient number of respondents from these states.

Notify of
Stay in the Loupe! Sign up for Shane Co. emails

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like