Your Thanksgiving Celebrations Poll Results

November 22, 2021 6:13 pm Published by

Holiday Football, the 5-Second Rule, and the Popularity of Pumpkin Anything

We recently asked you to share about your Thanksgiving celebrations and experiences and over 200 of you responded! Our staff enjoyed reading about your traditions and dishes – from the familiar to the ‘new to us.’ Your comments ranged from the common frustrations surrounding who hosts, what is served and dealing with annoying relatives to the anticipation of spending time with college-aged children who will return home, finally getting to meet new family members born during quarantine, games, laughter and spending time together in person.

Eighty-three people answered our prompt to share comments and stories at the end of the poll! Many shared stories of mishaps (“Dropped the turkey one year getting it out of the oven when done – 5 second rule! Picked it up, wiped it off and still ate it.”) and others shared beloved traditions (“When my family (my side) gets together there is always dancing involved. I wish my husband’s side did the same.”) We’ve included just a sampling of your responses here but there were so many specific examples given to many of the questions, we created an addendum – which includes some truly funny stories and provides unique insight into the wide range of our Thanksgiving experiences.


The Basics

When asked how large your typical family (or friendly) gathering was, the majority of people (79%) reported that they have between 5 and 20 people attend their Thanksgiving celebration. One person wrote that some years there may be up to 120 family members involved in their celebration!

For most of our poll takers, Thanksgiving starts at lunchtime or mid-afternoon (82.8%).

The celebration and gathering together seems to be a longer affair, with only 18% saying it lasted only a couple of hours. Most, 40.6%, said it lasts at least half the day.

One person reported that their group stays up until 1 or 2 am playing games together. Several people reported that “Thanksgiving” lasts into or through the weekend.


The most popular dishes listed as “must have” on the Thanksgiving table were turkey, followed closely by stuffing/ dressing. One respondent was kind enough to list the possibilities for turkey, mentioning roasted, fried, barbequed, baked, fresh, frozen, whole bird, just the breast, it didn’t matter, as long as it was served!

Casseroles and potatoes/ sweet potatoes were also frequently cited. The types of casseroles mentioned included: green bean, cheesy green bean, cornbread, broccoli, ham and sweet potato, and corn. Gravy was frequently mentioned — by itself and in combination with another dish.

When asked about the oddest or most awful Thanksgiving meal side dish they’d encountered the list ran from the general “stuffing from a box,” to the specific – “my aunt’s cottage cheese and mandarin orange salad!” and one “awful corn casserole” that was described as “greasy, bland, and squeaky.” There were two items that rose to the top of the list though – dishes involving cranberries and ones suspended in jello.

Interestingly, green bean casserole, which was often cited on the ‘must have’ list also appeared on this one (described as an abomination by one individual) as well as on the list of traditions you’d like to do away with.

When it comes to who does the prep work and cooking for the Thanksgiving meal, 70.5% reported that it was themselves and other family members. This is followed by the next biggest percentage of 12.4% who report that it is one person – them – who does all of the preparation and cooking. One respondent said that “Almost everyone in the family makes something, even the kids get involved.”

When it came to “go to” recipes and solutions for Thanksgiving leftovers sandwiches was the most mentioned item, though they were served a variety of ways, including – baked open-faced, as paninis, hot or cold. One individual said, “Turkey sandwiches are so much better than the actual meal.”

Soups were next on the list and included everything from making basic stock, to turkey noodle soup, loaded turkey and potato soup, turkey dump soup (whole legs, leftover meat, seasoning, broth, and bags of frozen vegetables), turkey jook, and even turkey and sausage gumbo.

Many respondents said they split leftovers up among the attendees. “Aluminum foil is our secret weapon, the host home is clean and what you do with what you take home is your business.”

Asked about the kind of pie on the dessert table, it became clear that Sweet Potato Pie should have been an option on the main list as it was mentioned in the write-in section more often than mincemeat pie was chosen above. But Pumpkin Pie reigned supreme with 83% of you reporting it is served at your celebrations. Pumpkin featured heavily on the list of write-in pies and desserts which included: pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin soufflé, pumpkin chiffon, pumpkin roll, pumpkin swirl bread, pumpkin bars, and pumpkin whoopie pies!

Pecan Pie took second place, followed by Apple Pie. Cobblers, tarts, and trifles came up as did cream pies, chocolate pies, shoofly pie, key lime pie, a rum cake, brownies and something called possum pie (described only as “a four-layer delight”). 

We asked about any specific ethnic food traditions incorporated into the Thanksgiving meal and we were given examples of dishes from China, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, India, Norway, Portugal, Croatia, Italy, Lebanon, England, Poland, Greece, Slovakia, Germany, Netherlands, Trinidad, Jamaica, Mexico, Canada, Hawaii and the Inuit.

Click here for more responses to our food related questions.


The question of being able to do away with one of your family’s Thanksgiving traditions a lot of strong responses. The most common theme centered around preparations, cooking and cleaning up, especially related to the unequal distribution of the workload. One person’s response was “Someday I would like to NOT host and see what it’s like,” while another summed up multiple related responses by saying, “Why do I have to do the cooking? Let’s do takeout!”

The food itself was also a repeated theme with one respondent saying “The turkey – no one in the family likes it anyway,” and another suggesting it be replaced with a smoked brisket or ham.

Relatives round out the top three themes with mentions of them showing up so late everyone had already eaten, or bringing their animals to the host’s house. In-laws, both generally and specifically named ones, were brought up in multiple, unflattering examples.

When it comes to screen-based entertainment, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was most popular with 60% of respondents reporting they watch the parade. Watching professional sports came in at 55%, followed by watching movies on TV (37%) and going to a movie (15%). People who wrote-in specific responses reported watching the National Dog Show, college sports, and playing Heads Up on the iPad.

Others said they stuck to non-screen activities like board games, fall walks, putting up the Christmas tree and decorations, puzzles, napping, and Black Friday shopping, while several others said they avoid anything with a screen or have a no TV rule.

When asked if anyone in the family was forced to watch something, there was no greater lightning rod than NFL football which was described as always being on and also as largely inescapable in many cases. One lucky person responded, “No – there are enough TV’s in the house for people to watch what they want.”

When asked if anyone is not allowed to watch something, Christmas and Hallmark movies were mentioned frequently but, once again, football topped the list with one person answering, “No football during dinner.”

When asked if there is something about your own family’s traditions, foods, or rituals that you discovered isn’t common in other households, food-related comments dominated the list. Things mentioned included serving funeral potatoes instead of mashed, ham and scalloped potatoes instead of turkey, spicy foods and hot sauce, fried oysters, baked beans and hamburgers, cool whip fruit salad, candied yams, olives, pistachio salad, whip me whop me dessert and pink stuff, tamales, mac and cheese, red chili on mashed potatoes, cheesecake instead of pie, and one family that eats breakfast all day long.

Asked about things that you would like to incorporate into your family’s activities, The most common answers centered around how to make more time to reflect and focus on being thankful, as well as incorporating a walk or a hike into the day, wanting to do a Turkey Trot 5K with the family, and, of course, ways to eliminate burdensome preparations, cooking, and clean up.

Click here to read more responses to questions about Thanksgiving traditions.


When it came to the aspects of getting together with others are you are really NOT looking forward to, cleaning up and doing the dishes topped the list with 53%. Awkward conversations at 35% was second with arguments and being asked the same question over and over again both around 23%. One optimistic person wrote, “I can honestly say after not being able to get together last year, there is nothing I’m not looking forward to this year. I can’t wait bring it on!”

The thing people are MOST looking forward to about this Thanksgiving is the abundance of delicious food (71%). Being able to see family or friends who live far away was a close second at 61%, and 51% also clicked the button for being happy about having a long weekend off of work. Spending time together was also mentioned frequently in the write-in comments – playing games, catching up, and just being together. More than one person mentioned having single people or international guests, with one who enjoys, “the fact that every year one or more of us bring in someone that has nowhere to go.”

The most unexpected thing that caused an argument had some interesting answers: who was going to sit next to grandma, differences in memory about family history or childhood experiences, who gets to break the wishbone, misbehaving children, misbehaving dogs, and someone who was chewing in a way that bothered their neighbor,

When it came to examples of the most personal question you’ve been asked by a relative, questions about marriage, pregnancy, and weight gain and loss topped the list. Why aren’t you married, when are you getting married, why you got married, when are you having a baby, are you pregnant, are you having more children?  Is there still sex after 70?

“One person wrote that they were asked, “Don’t you like children? They asked because I was not pregnant (I am a primary school teacher!).”

There were a variety of activities you enjoy doing at your family’s gatherings but eating, playing games and spending time together catching up and reminiscing were mentioned most frequently with going for post-meal walks and dancing also making multiple appearances. “Laughing; whether it is from playing games, dancing after dinner or telling a funny.””

Click here to read more responses to questions about people.

Thank you for sharing your stories with us. The Appreciation at Work team withes you a healthy and Happy Thanksgiving, no matter how or where you spend it.

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November 22, 2021 6:13 pm

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