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Surveying Americans on Their Favorite Holiday Traditions & Rituals

Surveying Americans on Their Favorite Holiday Traditions & Rituals

The holiday season is finally here. The season of joy, giving, and stuffing our faces full of delicious, homemade meals in the company of family and friends. Though the holidays come and go every year, we all have unique ways of celebrating. From finding the Elf on a Shelf in a new place every day to majestic holiday light shows, the holiday season means something different to everyone.

At Bits & Pieces, we understand the value of tradition. So, we surveyed 3,400+ Americans across demographics and all 50 states in October 2021 to see which holiday rituals are the most popular across the U.S. Additionally, we asked questions about gift-giving habits, Black Friday traditions, bringing a new partner home for the holidays, and more.

Read on to see how your state stacks up!


The Most Popular Holiday Ritual in Every U.S. State

While there are hundreds of ways to celebrate the holiday season, we found that four traditions beat out the rest: neighborhood light displays, decorating the tree, Christmas movies, and tree lighting ceremonies. 

Watching Christmas movies is the most popular holiday ritual overall, winning 24 states and tying for first in three states. With classics like A Christmas Story and newer comedies like Elf, we expect nothing less! Neighborhood light displays are the second-most popular holiday ritual, being the most popular in 12 states and tying for first in one additional state. 

Surprisingly, decorating the tree is only four states’ favorite holiday ritual: Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Decorating the tree also tied for first in Oregon and Rhode Island.


Here’s What Americans Really Want for Christmas…

Why is it that we know what we want all year long, but when it comes time to write a letter to Santa, our mind goes blank? We searched beyond the inevitable, “I’m not sure what I want,” and took a look at what Americans really want to receive for Christmas. Nearly one-third (30.2%) prefer to receive clothing items. Following closely behind are gift cards, wanted by 27.9% of Americans, while one in every 10 Americans prefers puzzles or games as gifts. 

When it comes down to it, Americans prefer material possessions over experiences as gifts. This is true across all generations, though the opinion is most split for Generation X. Baby Boomers and Generation Z, on the other hand, are the least apt for experiential gifts. Only 31.4% of Baby Boomers and 32.8% of Gen Z would rather have an experience than a physical gift. 

For those who would rather give an experience than a wrapped gift, the safest bet is to go with concert tickets. 42% of Americans would prefer to receive concert tickets over any other experience––including airplane tickets! But, don’t stress too hard over what to get your family and friends for the holidays. After all, nearly 60% of Americans admit to re-gifting a gift they received to someone else, and 50% of Americans would rather receive cash than a gift!


Turkey Day Habits & Preferences

Finally, we decided to survey Americans on one of the most overlooked holidays of the season: Thanksgiving. Over six in every 10 Americans enjoy celebrating the holiday with friends, in a feast called “Friendsgiving.” Unsurprisingly, the turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving feast. 29.5% of respondents say that they get the most excited about the turkey or ham each year. Mashed potatoes are the second most popular Thanksgiving dish, winning the approval of 15.4% of Americans. 

Of course, once we sleep off the turkey-induced coma, it’s time for Black Friday shopping. Most families have converted to online shopping to avoid the mass crowds of discount shoppers. 39.5% say their family shops online on Black Friday, whereas only 17.7% of families dare to go in-stores. 


Bringing a Special Someone Home for the Holidays

Amidst the chaos of feasting, decorating, and shopping, bringing a significant other home for the holidays is a big deal. So, when is the right time to do so? The largest portion of respondents, 36.6%, said they would bring their significant other home to family holiday celebrations after only three to six months of dating. 

The holidays are an exciting, action-packed season. No matter how you and your family choose to celebrate the holidays, our holiday jigsaw puzzles and unique gifts are the perfect addition to your favorite rituals!

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