Thanksgiving changed forever: 7 in 10 agree pandemic left permanent mark on holiday season

NEW YORK — The pandemic disrupted many holiday traditions last year. It seems it’ll happen again this year too. A survey finds many Americans carved their Thanksgiving turkeys solo last year — and over half plan to do it again this holiday season.

A survey of 2,000 Americans looked at how respondents’ traditions and feelings about the holidays changed during the COVID pandemic – and the results found that 72 percent of those who celebrated alone last year thought the festivities were more stressful than in past years.

Thanksgiving never the same again?

Holiday TraditionsThe pandemic caused 60 percent of respondents to reevaluate the holidays, with 68 percent saying the way they celebrate has changed forever. When it comes to holiday foods, 44 percent say they cooked a holiday meal by themselves for the first time last year. Another 58 percent plan to do it again this year. However, more than half (54%) ate different holiday foods than what they usually do at Thanksgiving last year. Those foods include pizza (30%), steak (29%), pasta (28%), and fast food (26%).

Commissioned by The Little Potato Company and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also found that people are looking forward to the holidays this year, with 61 percent feeling optimistic that they will get to see their families again.

Four in 10 prefer to celebrate only with their immediate family. Meanwhile, 47 percent of respondents believe some holiday traditions should not return. According to the findings, those include listening to family discuss politics at the dinner table (49%) and kissing under the mistletoe (39%).

Holiday traditions making a comeback

Respondents also identified holiday traditions they look forward to coming back this year, such as baking (40%), making a family dish (37%), listening to holiday music (34%), and gathering with family in person (31%). This year, 46 percent want to start new traditions. Of these people, four in five plan to pass them down to their children.

Holiday TraditionsThe holidays now mean respondents are exploring unique ways to celebrate, including spending less money and focusing on experiences, hosting holiday celebrations via video calls, and having a deeper appreciation for loved ones.

“Enjoying good food is an important holiday tradition every year, no matter how you are celebrating,” says Angela Santiago, CEO and co-founder of The Little Potato Company, in a statement. “Whether it’s spending hours recreating grandma’s secret recipe or using a modern hack to make a classic dish quickly, food will always be at the center of our celebrations.”

During a typical holiday season, 62 percent prefer having friends and family over for dinners and parties unrelated to the holidays themselves. Many admit cooking during the week can be overwhelming, with 44 percent saying they are stressed about finding time to make regular, weeknight meals during the busy holiday season.

More than a third plan to survive weeknights during this holiday season by buying pre-made or easy-to-make meals (39%), meal-prepping (38%), having groceries delivered (34%), or ordering take-out (31%).

“As a busy parent, taking the guesswork out of weeknight dinners gives me more time to enjoy the holiday season with my family and friends,” Santiago says. “For me, that might mean making a sheet pan meal or preparing an easy dinner with little cleanup. The holidays are always bustling, so my advice is to find simple solutions that make things easier for you.”