Almost 20% of Americans Will Hold Virtual Thanksgiving in 2020

by Bruce Hogan - January 28, 2021

As COVID-19 spikes, an increasing percentage of Americans are deciding to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually this year. Less than 30% of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving per usual.

As we approach Thanksgiving 2020, many Americans are being forced to decide how they will celebrate the holiday. The CDC has recommended lower-risk activities such as having a small dinner with only people who live in your household, or having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.

How likely are Americans to follow these guidelines and leverage technology to adapt to the pandemic? To find out, we surveyed 995 Americans. Below, we analyze the results of our two surveys, which were taken one month apart on October 15th and November 15th.

Table of Contents

Almost 20% of Americans Will Hold Virtual Thanksgiving in 2020

We surveyed Americans in October and November to find out how many will use software to hold virtual Thanksgivings, and how many are moving forward with Thanksgiving per usual. We found that 26.5% of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving all in person per usual, 44.3% will celebrate in-person, but with a smaller group, and 17.5% will celebrate virtually.

how americans will celebrate thanksgiving 2020

In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have spiked across the country. We compared our October and November surveys to understand how the increase in cases has impacted Thanksgiving plans. As expected, the percentage of respondents planning to celebrate in person has decreased, and the percentage of respondents planning to celebrate virtually has increased from 14% to 19% (p=.02).

how americans will celebrate thanksgiving 2020 trend

Americans in Blue States are 33% More Likely to Go Virtual

We grouped respondent results by state to explore if a state's political orientation has an impact on Thanksgiving plans. Respondents in states that were won by Joe Biden in the 2020 election were 33% more likely to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually (p=.02), and 28% less likely to celebrate in person per usual (p=<.01).

how americans will celebrate thanksgiving 2020 political

Older Americans Are Staying Safe

Breaking results down by age shows that the youngest Americans are most likely to celebrate Thanksgiving in person. 83% of respondents aged 18-24 plan to celebrate Thanksgiving in person. This contrasts with only 66% of Americans over the age of 65 who plan to celebrate in person.

how americans will celebrate thanksgiving 2020 age

Females Are Less Likely to Celebrate Thanksgiving Per Usual

Analyzing our data by gender also revealed differences in Thanksgiving plans. Females were 25% less likely to celebrate Thanksgiving in person per usual (p=.01).

how americans will celebrate thanksgiving 2020 gender

What Are the Most Popular Software Solutions for Virtual Thanksgivings?

Our research revealed the four most popular software tools for virtual Thanksgivings 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. 995 respondents were asked the multiple choice question "How will your family gather for Thanksgiving 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:

  • 8% ages 18-24
  • 15% ages 25-34
  • 17% ages 35-44
  • 16% ages 45-54
  • 16% ages 55-64
  • 14% ages 65+
  • 48% female
  • 52% male
  • 500 October respondents
  • 495 November respondents