Almost 30% of Americans Will Celebrate Christmas Virtually in 2020

by Bruce Hogan - January 28, 2021

As COVID-19 spikes, an increasing percentage of Americans are deciding to celebrate Christmas virtually this year. Less than 20% of Americans will celebrate Christmas per usual in 2020.

As we approach Christmas 2020, many Americans are being forced to decide how they will celebrate the holiday. The CDC has recommended postponing travel and staying home. It has also recommended using technology to host virtual gatherings.

But how likely are Americans to follow these guidelines and leverage technology to adapt to the pandemic? To find out, we surveyed 1,002 Americans. Below, we analyze the results of our two surveys, which were taken two weeks apart on November 23rd and December 7th.

Table of Contents

Almost 30% of Americans Will Celebrate Christmas Virtually in 2020

We surveyed Americans in November and December to find out how many will use software to celebrate Christmas virtually, and how many are moving forward with Christmas per usual. We found that 19.3% of Americans will celebrate Christmas all in person per usual, 43.0% will celebrate in-person, but with a smaller group, and 28.5% will celebrate virtually.

how Americans will celebrate Christmas 2020

In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have spiked across the country. We compared our November and December surveys to understand how the increase in cases has impacted Christmas plans. Interestingly, the percentage of respondents who indicated that they would celebrate in-person per usual, and the percentage who indicated that they would celebrate virtually both increased. In contrast, the percentage who responded that they would celebrate in-person with a smaller group declined.

how Americans will celebrate Christmas 2020 trend

Americans in Blue States are 33% More Likely to Go Virtual, Red States 16% More Likely to Celebrate In Person

We grouped respondent results by state to explore if a state's political orientation has an impact on Christmas plans. Respondents in states that were won by Joe Biden in the 2020 election were 33% more likely to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually (p=<.01)). In addition, Americans in states that were won by Donald Trump were 16% more likely to celebrate in person (p=<.01).

how Americans will celebrate Christmas 2020 political

Older Americans Are Less Likely to Celebrate in Person

Breaking results down by age shows that the youngest Americans are most likely to celebrate Christmas in person. 73% of respondents aged 18-24 plan to celebrate Christmas in person. This contrasts with only 59% of Americans over the age of 65 who plan to celebrate in person. Only 15% of Americans over 65 plan to celebrate in person per usual, which is the lowest percentage among any age group.

how Americans will celebrate Christmas 2020 age

Females Are Far Less Likely to Celebrate Christmas In Person Per Usual

Analyzing our data by gender also revealed differences in Christmas plans. Females were 88% less likely to celebrate Christmas in person per usual (p=<.001). In contrast, women were more likely to indicate that they plan to celebrate in person with a smaller group. There was no statistically significant difference between the percentage of men and women who plan to celebrate in person in any size group (i.e. per usual or with a smaller group).

how Americans will celebrate Christmas 2020 gender

Americans Have Become More Likely to Celebrate Holidays Virtually as COVID-19 Hospitalizations Have Increased

In the past three months, we have asked Americans about their holiday celebration four times – twice for Christmas, and twice for Thanksgiving. As shown below, the percentage of Americans who indicated that they will celebrate holidays virtually has climbed as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased.

Chart of the percentage of Americans who will celebrate holidays virtually and COVID-19 hospitalizations

Source: The COVID Tracking Project.

What Are the Most Popular Software Solutions for Virtual Christmas?

Our research revealed the four most popular software tools for virtual Christmas to be Zoom, Facebook Messenger Rooms, Google Meet and Skype. Consumers trust that these popular and proven video conferencing tools can be used reliably for larger groups during holidays. They are also more familiar with them compared to newer or niche video chat software.


Zoom went public in late 2019, and became a household name as a result of COVID-19. It is among the most popular video conferencing software in the market today. Zoom does offer a free plan, but group meetings can only last for 40 minutes. Zoom subscriptions start at $149.90 per year.

Facebook Messenger Rooms

Facebook launched Messenger Rooms in April 2020. With this new feature, you can use Facebook or Messenger to create a room of up to 50 people. Other than being free, a major upside of Messenger Rooms is that there's no time limit on video calls, and you don't need a Facebook account to join.

Google Meet

Google offers its own free video conferencing solution, known as Google Meet. Anyone with a Gmail account can create meetings, and invite up to 100 people to meet for up to 60 minutes for free. For $8 per month, you can increase these figures to 150 people and 300 hours.


Skype is a popular video conferencing service that has been around since 2003. The Microsoft-owned company is still highly popular. It offers an attractive free plan that allows calls of up to 50 participants for up to 24 hours. Skype now works through any device with the Skype app or in any Internet-connected browser.

Research Methodology

To collect data, we conducted online surveys targeting a sample of all Americans physically located in the United States. 1,002 respondents were asked the multiple choice question "How will your family gather for Christmas this year?" Available answers were "All in person per usual", "In-person with a smaller group", "Virtually using a video call", and "Other." Answers were presented in a randomized order.

Detailed respondent data:

  • 7% ages 18-24
  • 13% ages 25-34
  • 16% ages 35-44
  • 16% ages 45-54
  • 17% ages 55-64
  • 15% ages 65+
  • 48% female
  • 52% male
  • 501 November respondents
  • 501 December respondents