And despite the pandemic, hosts plan to spend even more on dinner than last Thanksgiving.

By Jelisa Castrodale
November 18, 2020
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The number crunchers at Lending Tree have released their annual survey into the cost of Thanksgiving and it's… surprising, both because of the amount of money that hosts plan to spend this year, and because of the number of guests they're still willing to invite. 

The company surveyed 2,042 Americans whose demographics ranged from Gen Z to the over-75s referred to as "The Silent Generation." More than 40 percent (841) of the respondents said that they'll be the ones hosting this year's meal, and they'll be shelling out significantly more than they did a year ago.

Credit: LauriPatterson/Getty Images

Last November, the would-be hosts told Lending Tree that they expected to spend $310.17 on Thanksgiving food, drinks, and decor, and that number has grown to $475 this year—which comes out to around $52.78 per guest. (Unlike some other cost-of-Thanksgiving surveys, Lending Tree includes the price of holiday housewares, dishes, linens, and furniture.) 

Despite the fact that the holiday is taking place during a pandemic, the number of people who plan to host Thanksgiving has increased by eight percent since last year, and they expect to welcome at least nine guests, on average. Last year, the average host sat 10 people around their table. 

Regardless of who you are (or aren't) spending Thanksgiving with, buying a turkey might be slightly more expensive this year. According to David Anderson, an AgriLife Extension economist at Texas A&M University told Texas A&M Today that lower supplies of turkeys could lead to higher prices. Turkey production overall is down 2.7 percent compared to last year, while the number of turkeys in cold storage had decreased by 11.5 percent in September. As a result, prices for turkeys of all sizes were up by 19 percent compared to this time last year. 

“The turkey industry has struggled with profitability and some of the trends when it comes to consumer choices around the holidays,” he said. “You have producers trying to gauge demand and what the market will be, and that’s been difficult the last few years.”

One Minnesota turkey farmer told Vox that production has been down at his farm due to employees who have had to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus. "We saw a definite decrease in the workforce at the plant, and that affected the farm because we’re working at half speed so we can’t get the birds out on time," John Zimmerman, the owner of P and J Products said. "Our situation was good; we didn’t have to euthanize any birds, but we did have to truck some of them out to Utah for processing. The supply chain broke down really quickly." 

Zimmerman said the turkey industry has always had to be "nimble," but that there was a lot of uncertainty around this holiday, and how people will choose to celebrate it.

That said, if you do invest in a slightly pricier bird this year, make sure to cook it correctly using our Thanksgiving Turkey how-to guide.