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Family gathered around a table preparing to enjoy a holiday meal

What It Means to Be Home for the Holidays

The holidays are known for being a time full of cheer, but it can also be full of stress and dread for some people. From cooking and cleaning to traveling and hosting, a lot goes into the holidays. 

With this in mind, we set out to find what being home for the holidays really means to Americans all across the country. We surveyed people in every state to learn what aspects of the holidays cause them the most stress, which family members, if any, they dread seeing around the holidays, and more. Read on to learn how the holidays are spent in various parts of the U.S.

Key Takeaways

  • Residents in Utah, Missouri, and Ohio are the most likely to feel extra stressed out during the holidays. 
  • Americans dread seeing their aunts, uncles and in-laws most this holiday season.
  • During the holidays, 1 in 4 Americans feel judged or criticized by in-laws.
  • Americans feel most judged or criticized for their beliefs/values during the holidays. 
  • Shopping, visiting people, and cleaning are the most stressful parts of Americans’ holidays.

Where Americans Are Most Likely to Feel Stressed During the Holidays

A U.S. heatmap showing where Americans are most and least likely to experience more stress during the holiday season

The holiday season is often thought of as being a happy, relaxing time of year, but this is not always the case. For many Americans the stress leading up to the holidays can at times trickle into the season itself, causing them to feel more on edge than usual. 

This is especially true for residents in Utah who ranked first for the most likely to feel more stressed during the holiday season. On a scale of 0 to 100, Utah received a score of 93.0 for holiday stress. Utah also ranks highest for residents who feel judged or criticized during the holidays, which could account for the extra stress. 

In second is Missouri where residents received an 83.9 on the holiday stress scale. In our study, we found that shopping, visiting people, and cleaning are the most stressful parts of Americans’ holidays. Whether it be shopping for groceries, gifts, or decor for your home to impress family coming to visit, simply spending time in any store ahead of the holidays can be a stressful experience for most people. 

In third is Ohio where 1 in 2 residents travel to visit family in the state during the holidays. While traveling within your state may seem less stressful than a cross-country trip, making sure you have everything packed up and ready to go can weigh heavy on many people’s minds. 

For some, the stress of visiting or hosting is just too much, as nearly 2 in 5 Americans admit they have lied about something before to avoid it. Overall, residents in Illinois, Utah, and New Mexico are the most likely to feel stressed due to hosting family during the holidays.

Not everyone is feeling stressed during the holidays though. Several parts of the country actually feel less stressed while enjoying the festivities. Residents in South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania are among the most likely to feel the worry simply melt away as the holidays approach. 

Family Feud: Which Family Members American Dread Seeing Most

A bar chart showing the family members Americans most dread seeing during the holidays

Sometimes the holidays are the one time of year when Americans get to see certain parts of their family, and for some people that’s okay. For others, not so much. Some families have that one person who just enjoys starting the hot-button topic conversations or who always seem to judge others for their life choices. These family members can often instill a feeling of dread in people seeing them around the holidays. 

Leading the way for the family members Americans are most likely to dread seeing are aunts and uncles, followed by in-laws. During the holidays, 1 in 4 people feel judged or criticized by their in-laws, which could explain the feeling of dread. 

When it comes to being criticized most Americans say it revolves around their beliefs and views or career and education. Overall, residents in Utah, New York, and Maine are among the most likely to feel judged or criticized by family during the holiday season. 

Other topics Americans may try to avoid due to a fear of being judged include relationships, finances, health, their home, parenting, and cooking. Since being criticized and judged are top holiday stressors, praise might be a worthy gift to make things merry and bright.

Holly Jolly Gluttony: ‘Tis the Season for Second Servings!

A bar chart showing the food and beverages Americans are most likely to overconsume during the holidays

With so many delicious foods and fun beverages, it can be hard to turn down seconds . . . or even thirds. The holidays truly can be a dangerous time for those looking to maintain their figure. If you find yourself overconsuming this holiday season, just know you are not alone. 

We found that 60% of Americans can’t help but overindulge on sweets, while 1 in 2 people say their weakness is side dishes. The holidays can often lead to fun, festive drinks being poured, which may be the cause of 1 in 4 Americans saying they overconsume alcohol during the holidays. 

Cooking is a big part of the holidays as the average American typically spends about four hours cooking. For 1 in 8 people, the time spent cooking is something they look forward to, while nearly 1 in 10 people absolutely hate it. 

Whether you love or hate cooking, you can always count on guests enjoying the food, as 92% of Americans say they enjoy a home-cooked meal during the holidays. For 1 in 9 people, they simply forgo the cooking and order takeout as their holiday meal. While some people take the holiday meal as quality time to put technology away, we found that 1 in 4 people eat their holiday meal with their phones out and TV on. 


Cleanliness of your home, parenting style, and career choices, are all things Americans feel judged or criticized for during the holiday season. If you plan to host this year, avoid some critiques by turning to All Star Home to take care of those lingering household needs.


In this study, we surveyed Americans in every state to determine what being home for the holidays looks like in different parts of the country. Survey questions asked respondents if they dread seeing any family members during the holiday season, if they feel judged or criticized during the holidays, which activities stress them the most, and more.

We wanted to calculate the average stress levels of Americans during the holidays. To find this, we asked respondents to rate their general stress level on a scale of 0 to 10 and then to rate their holiday stress level on a scale of 0 to 10. We then took the difference between those two numbers and averaged each location’s average increase or decrease in stress. We then adjusted scores on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the highest increase in stress during the holidays.