Holiday hardship: 1 in 4 Americans can only afford to spend $100 on Thanksgiving — or skipping it entirely!

SAN FRANCISCO — Thanksgiving is typically a time for big family celebrations and lots of food, but a new survey finds the struggling U.S. economy is forcing many Americans to cut back this year — or not celebrate at all!

In a poll, commissioned by digital wealth management company Personal Capital, one in four Americans say they’re actually skipping Thanksgiving altogether in order to save money. One in three are hosting smaller dinners and a staggering 88 percent are cutting at least one dish from their table in order to make ends meet.

In 2021, researchers note that an IPSOS survey found that nine in 10 Americans planned to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year, the new poll of 1,000 people found that number has fallen to just 74 percent. In fact, 47 percent say they’re celebrating “Friendsgiving” because of its more budget-friendly menu. Specifically, just 24 percent of Friendsgiving celebrations will even have a turkey on the table, with 33 percent opting for a pizza instead!

Inflation and job insecurity are raining on the Thanksgiving parade

With many Americans struggling with higher prices at the grocery store, 52 percent are asking guests to bring a dish to Thanksgiving dinner. Three in four are asking guests to bring their own alcohol, while just under half (46%) are asking people to provide the dessert. Another 42 percent are going a step further, asking their friends and family to help pay for the big meal.

Nearly six in 10 (57%) admit their Thanksgiving guest list is much smaller this year and 53 percent are cooking fewer dishes. When it comes to who’s cutting back the most, Gen Z respondents were the most likely to say they’re doing all four of those things to cover the cost of Thanksgiving in 2022.

For those who lost a job over the last year, the holidays may be even tougher. The survey finds fewer Americans who lost a job (71%) say they’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in comparison to those who kept working (78%). However, those who lost a job are significantly more likely to attend a Friendsgiving (55%) than employed Americans (38%).

Overall, 45 percent of the country say they feel financially stressed by Thanksgiving 2022. Gen X Americans have the least amount of stress (33%) while Gen Z is feeling it the most (54%).

Thanksgiving budgets may be tighter than ever

In terms of dollars and cents, one in five Americans doubt they have enough money to afford a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year. Although 52 percent say they’re spending the same on their holiday groceries, 33 percent are slashing the budget.

In fact, 28 percent say they have less than $100 budgeted for their Thanksgiving shopping. Nearly six in 10 (57%) plan to spend between $100 and $200 for their family gathering. Just 15 percent of Americans have more than $200 set aside for the holiday feast.

Although Gen X Americans are feeling the least amount of stress this holiday season, 40 percent say they’re spending less than $100 on their Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps they simply know the best ways to save money while shopping on a tight budget.

Respondents say the best things to do to save money are pay attention to deals (38%), use coupons (36%), and start shopping for holiday ingredients early (36%). When it comes to the items no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without, turkey tops the list (36%), followed by gravy (35%), mashed potatoes (31%), stuffing (31%), and sweet potatoes (29%).

If you’re wondering which dishes are most likely to disappear in order to save money this year, extra desserts, Brussel sprouts, squash, and creamed spinach are all on the chopping block.

thanksgiving savings


For this campaign, Personal Capital surveyed 1,000 Americans to explore their plans for Thanksgiving this year. Among them, 56% were men, and 44% were women. The generational breakdown was 25% Gen Z, 36% millennials, 26% Gen X, and 13% baby boomers.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. I was shocked when I looked for a turkey at the market. They were much too expensive, around $85 for a large fresh one. I will buy a smaller frozen one to keep the price down. I paid $8 for three large potatoes and practically had a conniption at the price. I will bake my own pumpkin pie (pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin spice and a shortbread crust) totally easy and much less expensive than buying one from the bakery. Honestly with the disappearance of many of my normal go to products due to supply line shortages, to the huge price increase in other products and the shortage of market staff to serve the customers, I wonder just where we are heading.

    1. I paid $4.54 for a 12 pound frozen turkey on Saturday (37 cents a pound) and a 10 pound bag of russet potatoes can be had for $4.49. I live in a suburban area with a high cost of living. The prices you’re describing are absurd. Where are you shopping?? Whole Foods?

  2. Where do you live? I can get 5lbs of potatoes for $.99 (for the whole bag), a 20lb turkey that’s not even on sale for $38 and gravey is homemade with the drippings. Add $10 for milk and butter. And always make homemade pies and cheesecake with fresh ingredients which ends up being around $8 per desert. The rest of the meal is stuffing (which is cheap ingredients) green bean caserol and whatever else I feel like making. I could feed 10 people for $100….??

  3. This article is comical. People are skipping Thanksgiving…yet every restaurant is town is packed with people every night. Things are bad enough already…you don’t need to help.

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