Setting the Thanksgiving table: Survey reveals where to go and how to save money

Setting the Thanksgiving table: Survey reveals where to go and how to save money

Rebecca Barnabi
thanksgiving turkey
(© Joshua Resnick –

Last year, consumers spent approximately $300 per person between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Personal finance website WalletHub released its report 2022’s Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving.

The report helps Americans decide where to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without breaking the bank.

WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key metrics. Data includes cost of a Thanksgiving dinner, share of delayed flights, volunteer opportunities per capita and forecasted precipitation.

The top city for Thanksgiving is Atlanta, followed by Orlando, Las Vegas, Raleigh, N.C. and Gilbert, Ariz. Dallas is no. 13, Pittsburgh is no. 14, Norfolk, Va. is no. 16 and Chesapeake, Va. is no. 18.

The average American will spend $301 during the five-day Thanksgiving period, according to WalletHub.The average American man needs nine hours and 27 minutes on the treadmill to burn 4,500 calories consumed at the average Thanksgiving meal.

Americans spend approximately $835 million on Thanksgiving turkeys each year, and 46 million turkeys are killed for the holiday’s feasts.

Sixty-six percent of Americans avoid talking politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Experts offered comments on how to save money when planning a Thanksgiving holiday experience.

“I recommend trying to steer clear of the small charges that can add up a lot in the end. For instance, you could take an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it at a free water station as opposed to buying expensive water bottles to and from your destination. If you are driving, bring a cooler with food and drinks so you can avoid having to eat out,” Kathleen D Vohs, Distinguished Professor and Chair in Marketing at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Fred Hurvitz is a professor at Pennsylvania State University. He said saving money depends on your mode of travel. For example, if traveling by automobile, he suggested researching which local gas stations have the lowest gas prices.

“Prices will most likely be higher in locations that are directly off interstate highways. Probably a good idea to fuel up before leaving home. As far as air travel, the keyword would be flexibility. Being able to leave a day or two before the big rush may mean saving some money as far as fares are concerned. My suggestion is to plan early and try to be flexible as far as your travel plans are concerned,” Hurvitz said.

Emily Goenner, an assistant professor at St. Cloud State University said that high gas prices and increasing inflation have affect spending habits in the last year.

“The high cost of food and fuel has limited spending on non-essentials such as dining out and travel as more money is needed to cover life’s basics. Many families have looked for other ways to save, such as shopping at a discount or resale stores. The rising cost of essentials has cut into many families’ disposable income and savings,” Goenner said.

Kathleen D. Vohs, Distinguished Professor and Chair in Marketing at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities offered tips on celebrating Thanksgiving on a budget.

“For the holiday itself, do not be afraid to ask your guests to bring a side dish, dessert, or wine to help defray costs. And if you are serving wine, keep in mind that the first bottle is the one that people will taste the most so you can probably serve cheaper wines,”

What are the most cost-effective ways to put on a feast for friends and family without breaking the bank?

“Putting up a thanksgiving feast is expensive, and research shows that more than 50 percent of hosts do not have a firm budget and that is a problem,” Dr. Andrew Burnstine, an associate professor at Lynn University said in the press release. “This leads to holiday loans, credit card debts, and lingering financial and emotional strain. So, one has to look for cost-effective ways to celebrate thanksgiving. Some ways are to pool resources (like a potluck) as everyone offers to bring something and you need not take all the stress. The second is to budget, plan the menu, and look for deals. The third and most important is to put focus on making memories by spending quality time with family and friends rather than embellishments.”

Carol Roberts, Community Resource Development Agent at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension St. Lucie, said to plan a potluck meal.

“When everyone shares the load of making a dish to contribute, it spreads the cost and workload around, and you can end up with a really diverse meal,” Roberts said. “As the host, you might offer to provide the main dish — a turkey or ham — and then ask guests to provide a category of side dish, say the sweet potatoes in whatever format they select. This is a way to explore other dishes and perhaps other cultures too. Your guests might even appreciate being able to share some of their holiday traditions with you. One other tip for keeping costs under control this holiday season is to take inventory before shopping for your supplies. It has been a year and a lot has happened so you may not remember until you look, that you already have a jar of that spice you need for that recipe.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.