This is how much the average person will spend on Thanksgiving this year

Wake up early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, stay on the couch to enjoy some early afternoon football, eat a few pounds of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and finally fall asleep early and content.

Now that sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving.

On November 22, families and friends throughout the United States will come together to kick off the holiday season. Thanksgiving is not only a day to give thanks and to be happy, but it is apparently a day to spend a lot of money as well.

For the second consecutive year, LendEDU conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans to uncover how much Thanksgiving will cost the average celebrator.

You might be thinking to yourself, “How much money can one possibly spend on Thanksgiving?” But in reality, that special Thursday in November is not only one of the biggest travel days of the year, but also requires a lot more food than your run-of-the-mill dinner.

And the Thanksgiving spending statistics we came away with might surprise you…

Average American anticipates spending $175.65 on Thanksgiving

This particular survey was quite simple and was run in exactly the same manner as the previous year. Respondents were asked the following: “How much do you expect to spend on Thanksgiving this year?”

After averaging together answers from 1,000 Americans who intend to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we found an average expenditure of $175.65 per person. The median value was $100.

This year’s figure is a bit of an increase over last year’s figure, in which we found the average Thanksgiving expenditure to be $165.14 per person.

So where is all of this money being spent?

One of the biggest costs associated with Thanksgiving is traveling. Whether it be by plane, bus, car, or Uber, millions of Americans will be hitting the road to celebrate the holiday with loved ones. AAA estimated that 50.9 million Americans journeyed at least 50 miles away from home last Thanksgiving, in addition to 4 million traveling in the sky and 1.5 million by train. Not to mention, average car rental rates spiked to $70 per day during Thanksgiving.

Because of the Thanksgiving traveling phenomenon, we wanted to find out how much of our respondents’ Turkey Day budget was going toward travel. After averaging together all answers, we found that the average respondent will allocate 21 percent of their total Thanksgiving expenditure for traveling purposes. This percentage equates to $36.88 per person.

Making the annual pilgrimage from Chicago to Texas each Thanksgiving, Stacey Caprio knows just how costly this holiday can get. “As a consumer, I spend more on Thanksgiving travel and food. I always travel from Chicago to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with my immediate family and relatives, which includes a round-trip plane ticket,” said Caprio.

“Food is the next biggest expenditure since we feed a large family of up to 14 people,” she said. “I never regret the spend on this holiday since it brings family together in such a wonderful way.”

While the average Thanksgiving expenditure may seem a bit high, it is important to remember that this is an average figure. Some people have more extravagant Thanksgiving parties with more than 20 guests and a smorgasbord that will require a more generous budget. These respondents would bring up the average Thanksgiving expenditure more so than those folks who enjoy just having a small group join them on Turkey Day.

With all that said, it is important to budget for Thanksgiving expenses, especially if you are hosting, so that costs don’t get away from you quickly. Giulia Umile, the Chief Operating Officer at Slice Communications, offered some tips on managing your money for the Thanksgiving feast: “Thanksgiving costs can get out of hand if you host, especially with the popularity of cooking shows and organic options. Depending on the size of your family and friends, budgets for hosting [average] $500. But that can go much higher quickly.”

“It is important to first set a budget and then get creative on how to stick to it,” said Umile. “Asking people to bring sides is always a big help. When building your budget, put a cost to each dish you plan to make and each accessory or feature (like tablecloths, flowers, etc.) and then start eliminating them to hit your budget.”


All data found within this report came from a poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by polling company Pollfish. In total, 1,000 Americans were polled on questions related to Thanksgiving. Respondents were screened to ensure they were planning on celebrating Thanksgiving in 2018. If respondents met the criteria, they were selected at random from Pollfish’s online user panel of over 100 million.

Respondents were asked to enter in an exact dollar amount when they were answering how much money they were expecting to spend on Thanksgiving-related expenses in 2018. After we collected 1,000 individual responses, we were able to calculate the average expenditure and the median expenditure. Respondents were also asked to enter in an exact proportion related to Thanksgiving travel expenses, these values were also averaged together. This poll was conducted over a two-day span from Sept. 29, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2018. All respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their abilities.

This article was originally published on LendEDU.