The only Thanksgiving survey you’ll ever need: 10,000 people on what, when, and how they plan to celebrate

Thanksgiving is a day to count your blessings, enjoy time with family and friends, and possibly have the pleasure (or displeasure) of running into high school classmates in your hometown.

These holiday traditions can take myriad forms, however, so we at Survata were curious to get a handle on how people across the country will be spending their Thanksgiving Day. To do so, we used our consumer survey tool to ask 10,546 respondents about their plans.

Eating early?

Maybe it’s based on tradition, or on optimizing sustenance for a Black Friday brawl, but the time of day respondents eat their Thanksgiving meal varied significantly by region. Overall, 66% of respondents plan to have their meal between 1 and 5 p.m, with 7% planning on eating before 1 p.m. and 27% after 5 p.m. Those in the Plains region are the most likely to have an early Thanksgiving meal, as 54% of respondents answered they will eat before 3 p.m. The Far West region, on the other hand, is the least likely to have an early meal, with only 26% stating they plan to eat before 3 p.m.

Cooking for a crowd

While spending time with loved ones is obviously a popular Thanksgiving tradition, respondents’ plans range from channeling the Duggars to more of a lone wolf approach. 32% of respondents plan on sharing their Thanksgiving meal with 4 to 7 people, while 14% answered they plan to spend Thanksgiving with 1 to 3 people. 10% of respondents plan to have their meal with more than twenty people.

Poultry preparation

Although turkey is the predominant bird of choice at Thanksgiving, there are a variety of ways to prepare it. Among those planning to cook a turkey, we found that roasting turkey, at 76% of respondents, is the most popular option. 8% of respondents have delicious (albeit dangerous) plans to deep fry their turkey, and 6% will grill their turkey.

Pass the potatoes

However, we all know there are many things besides turkey that will be sending eaters into a Thanksgiving food coma. When it came to Thanksgiving side dishes, our results show that mashed potatoes are the most popular overall, as 31% of respondents listed it as their favorite side dish. Stuffing and sweet potatoes were also commonly selected, at 27% and 14% respectively.

Our take

Other commonly cited traditions included watching football, playing football (although surprisingly less than 10% of respondents planned on participating in a Turkey Bowl) volunteering at a homeless shelter, and relaxing with family. We expected to find more regional correlations in the data, and were surprised to see that most of the categories didn’t vary significantly by geography. Perhaps major Thanksgiving traditions simply transcend state bounds.

Want to gauge consumer behavior across the nation? Try Survata today.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 10,546 online respondents from November 13 to November 22, 2013.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing.