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Are you in an unhappy holiday head-space? Survey finds many of us are struggling

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

The results of a just released survey would certainly seem to indicate that for some in Anne Arundel County and beyond, this holiday season is becoming a cause for distress rather than joy.

With shipping shortages, a persistent pandemic, inflation and just the regular stress that can come with the obligations of this time of year, many are not looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas season.

That's according to a new national survey completed by Lending Tree and announced Tuesday..

With all these stressors, there may be an opportunity for folks to adjust their attitudes about the holiday and lean into the spiritual side of the season, rather than immerse themselves in the materialism of this time of year.

The survey revealed nearly half surveyed are dreading the Holidays, as some are still paying off last year's Holiday debt:

According to the LendingTree survey of more than 2,000 Americans, the main reasons for distress involved the anticipated costs of presents and festivities, as well as the pressure to purchase gifts.

In fact, stress levels are so high that about a quarter of Americans say they're even losing sleep worrying about how they'll afford holiday spending this year.

Key findings

  • Nearly half (48%) of consumers are dreading the holidays due to the costs associated with them. Specifically, 40% are dreading Christmas and 13% are dreading Thanksgiving.

  • With this year's season looming, 13% of consumers are still paying off last year's holiday bills. The percentage is even higher among parents with young kids, with more than 1 in 5 still grappling with balances from last year's toy haul.

  • Debt expectations are up from last year, too, with 41% of Americans saying it's at least somewhat likely they'll incur holiday shopping debt this year, compared to 31% who said the same last year.

  • Gift-giving pressure is real, as per 40% of Americans who say they feel obligated to purchase gifts for at least one person, most commonly family (23%). Gen Zers and millennials are feeling pressure more than other age groups.

  • The stress level is so high that about a quarter (24%) of consumers say they are losing sleep worrying about how to pay for the holiday season. That jumps to 36% among parents with kids under 18.

  • On average, Americans plan to shell out $792 on gifts this holiday season. Parents with kids under 18 will expect to spend even more, up to $1,105 on average.

"It's definitely normal to dread the holidays because of how costly they are.," said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree. "However, there's no question that for some Americans, this holiday season will be even harder,

"Not only have millions had their financial lives flipped upside down by the pandemic, but this year has introduced a growth in inflation. It's a really bad time to have everything cost more."

These findings may give one cause to pause. Consider this is a time of year inspired by:

  • A free, heart-felt feast harvested from the land and offered by native neighbors to new immigrants to America (Thanksgiving)

  • A miracle of a unexplained lit candles providing hope during a time of war in the Holy Land (Hannukah)

  • A humble virgin birth by a modest woman in a livestock shelter 2,000 years ago (Christmas)

Yet somehow they now inspire such distress among our fellow Americans. Perhaps re-examining the meaning of the season, would help alleviate some of the stress among us. Putting down a few shopping bags and lighting a few more candles might connect us to the peace-filled origins of these holy days.

To view the full report, visit:

Methodology LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 2,036 U.S. consumers from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30, 2021. The survey was administered using a nonprobability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.

About LendingTree LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE) is an online marketplace that connects consumers with the choices for their financial decisions. LendingTree allows comparing of multiple offers from a nationwide network of over 500 partners in one search. Services include mortgage loans, mortgage refinances, auto loans, personal loans, business loans, student loans, insurance, credit cards and more. LendingTree, LLC is a subsidiary of LendingTree, Inc. For more information, go to, dial 800-555-TREE, like the Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter @LendingTree --from press release, commentary

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Photo: Max Beck