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Survey Reveals the Secret Cost of the Holidays

The holiday season is right around the corner, which means many Americans have begun their holiday shopping or are in the midst of preparing their homes to host friends and family for celebratory feasts. However, the most wonderful time of the year also comes with added stress and pressure to overspend, overcommit and tackle endless to-do lists. This got us thinking: what is the secret cost of the holiday season, both financially and emotionally? 

Yelp commissioned Onepoll to survey 2,000 Americans who celebrate a winter holiday to take a closer look at the common pain points they face during the holiday season. 

Secret Cost of the Holidays

We found that between purchasing the perfect gift, feeding friends and family, and traveling to see loved ones, a quarter of Americans have gone into debt due to holiday spending.

The survey revealed that over half (53%) of respondents have a budget for the holiday season – with millennials most likely to have one (62%) – but only one-fifth of those “always” stick to theirs. Of those who don’t stick to their budget, the average respondent will overspend by $489 – and a quarter of those will overspend by more than $500.

When we think about spending for the holidays, gifts are the first thing that come to mind. However, although the majority of respondents (46%) were most likely to overspend on presents for family and friends, one third said they were most likely to overspend on food and drinks, whether for celebrations at home, or dining out.

Thirty-six percent of respondents reported they’re more likely to eat out during the holidays than during the rest of the year, and 57% of those say they’re more likely to stress over the cost when doing so. Using Yelp to find affordable and delicious dining options near you is a simple way to keep costs and stress levels down.

The Most Stressful Time of Year

We also delved into the different ways respondents are choosing to celebrate, pinpointing the elements that cause the most stress. Results found that hosting a party or dinner is the most stress-inducing way to celebrate (51%), followed by loved ones staying over or traveling to see family and friends (tied at 45%).

For those with guests staying over, the most stressful tasks were found to be cleaning their home before hosting a dinner (41%), having enough time to get everything ready (38%) and preparing holiday meals (36%).

We also learned that 38% of respondents say their life feels “chaotic and unorganized” during the holidays, but a quarter of those surveyed (24%) say that they still prioritize small home improvement projects in advance of hosting, wanting their home to be perfect before guests arrive.

The stress of being a five-star host or hostess during the holidays can make it challenging to get into the holiday spirit. Whether catering or home cleaning, consider what projects you can outsource to a professional, giving the gift of a stress-free holiday season to you and your loved ones. Yelp’s Request a Quote feature lets you compare costs for up to 10 businesses, to find the best match for your lifestyle and needs. 

According to the survey, 26% of respondents have rented tables, chairs, or other items for their holiday celebrations, while 29% have used a professional cleaner, 24% have hired a caterer or private chef and 22% have hired someone to help with decorations around their home.

Let us know if you stick to your holiday budget, and what causes you the most stress during the holiday season on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @yelp.