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What is The True Cost of Hosting a Holiday?

[5 minute read]

For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m sure your plans are *mostly* set. Whether you are hosting or celebrating elsewhere, this blog is worth the read. We’ve hosted a couple times over the years, but have certainly been an attendee more often. It wasn’t until we hosted our own holiday celebration for me to truly understand the planning, energy, time, stress, and money involved with such a feast. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things we are grateful for. So, in honor of our #FridayFights blog theme, this writing is to help prevent fights, encourage gratitude, and make this Thursday more enjoyable for everyone through the power of awareness.

Because having an understanding of what goes into hosting a holiday celebration is key to preparation or being an incredibly awesome guest.  Below is where I break down the true cost of hosting a holiday.


Think about all the weekly to-dos you have: laundry, dishes, taxi service for your children, grocery shopping, meal planning, keeping up with netflix, staying in touch with friends/family, etc. Now imagine a week where you have to do that and THEN SOME.  Helloooo holiday hell week. Your weekly daunting task of meal planning now incorporates a dinner that requires at least 5 appetizers, 4 main courses, 13 side dishes, and 7 desserts.  

To start, you research recipes, audit the ingredients (allergies are more prevalent than ever), and select the perfect dish that strategically goes well with all the other 28 dishes you are making (I hope ya’ll are reading this and thinking “girl… I delegate the crap out of our Thanksgiving meal planning!”  If that’s you, bravo).  Alright, so you have your recipes, now you have to go through your pantry to see what ingredients you have or say screw it… I'll just buy everything. Like most grocery shoppers these days, you go to multiple grocery stores for your purchases, spend time in multiple lines, put the bags in your car, schlep your bags to the kitchen, and unload the groceries from there…. I’m already exhausted.

Meal planning - check! Grocery shopping - check!  Now it’s time to cook!  How much time spent on cooking can vary greatly, but just know it takes a lot more time than usual.  For example, last year we hosted a small (mostly) vegan Thanksgiving.  My mother and I cooked from 5pm-9pm the Wednesday before, and then another 7 hours on Thanksgiving and there were only FOUR of us!  


Hey I know a fun idea! Let’s prepare a bunch of food, make a colossal mess, and somehow make everything sparkle right when all the guests come over! Isn’t it funny how much our home turns into a disaster before we have guests over, then deep clean the heck out of it, only to have it absolutely destroyed within 15 minutes of the kids breaking free from their parents?  

Prior to having everyone over you clean the bathrooms, vacuum, dust, fix the outside railing, rake leaves, and so so so much more. And that’s just before! Remember, there’s also the aftermath of putting it all back together again. If you’re not hosting, offering to do the dishes for 20-30min is still nothing compared to the work it took (and will take) to make everything look great.  


This one may apply more to those who aren’t hosting than who are hosting. More than 55 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this holiday season. The gas itself doesn’t amount to much, but the time away from work can. For most workers, Thanksgiving is a recognized holiday with, hopefully, paid time off. But what about the Friday after?  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 61% of private-sector workers and 31% of public-sector workers DO NOT get a paid holiday the Friday after Thanksgiving. This means there is a pretty good chunk of gobblers out there that have to use their accrued PTO balance, or take it unpaid, to spend more time with their families that Friday. That’s money, honey. 


I can’t talk about the True Cost of Thanksgiving without talking about the actual cost to get all the grub! The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has been conducting a survey since 1986 on the classic Thanksgiving meal items to come up with the average cost of the meal. In 2018, that number was $48.90 for 10 people (or $5/person). The AFBF’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons. However, in 2018 they also included prices on a 4 pound bone-in ham, 5 pounds of Russet potatoes, and a 1 pound bag of frozen green beans. By adding these foods to the ‘classic’ menu, the meal increased to $61.27 in total, or about $6/person.

The cost of your upcoming holiday meal will depend on how many people are being served, what types of food, whether its organic, non-GMO, cage-free, free-range, grass fed… yadda yadda yadda. My point is that the food you (and me) are consuming this Turkey Day came from someone’s time, energy, and money.  

Writing this article allows me to sit and think about all the ways people are going to contribute to our holiday this year to make it such a special event (thanks ahead of time to my in-laws!). If you are hosting this year, thank you for providing a space for people to connect. If you are attending a celebration, find a way to show thanks to the host(s) for all the work they put into making your day memorable. Flowers, wine, gift cards, or even a note can go a long way.

We want to say thank you to our readers, followers, clients, and advocates.  We wouldn’t exist without you.  We wish you a safe and cozy Thanksgiving holiday celebration. 

Disclaimer:  This article is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation of Fyooz Financial Planning, Natalie Slagle CFP®, or Daniel Slagle CFP®. Past performance may not be indicative of future results and may have been impacted by events and economic conditions that will not prevail in the future. Therefore, it should not be assumed that future performance of any specific security, investment product or investment strategy referenced in the article, either directly or indirectly, will be profitable or equal to the corresponding indicated performance level(s). No portion of the article shall be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any specific security or investment product or to engage in any particular investment or financial planning strategy. Any reference to a market index is included for illustrative purposes only, as it is not possible to directly invest in an index. Indices are unmanaged, hypothetical vehicles that serve as market indicators and do not account for the deduction of management fees or transaction costs generally associated with investable products, which otherwise have the effect of reducing the performance of an actual investment portfolio.

Natalie Slagle
Founder, Fyooz Financial

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