Gen Z Is Doing Thanksgiving Differently

A survey shows the younger generation is choosing affordability over tradition.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we can already tell it's not going to look like the traditional family gatherings of past years. In 2020 and 2021, the gatherings were smaller, if not completely virtual, because of the pandemic. Now, as a result of rising inflation costs, Gen Z is getting even more creative with their Thanksgiving celebrations.

Cost-saving moves are the focus, but these adaptations go far beyond swapping out fresh cranberries for canned. Thanksgiving may not ever look the same after 2022.

Why Thanksgiving will be different this year

Grocery prices have long been on the rise, which is why dining out is so highly encouraged this year. The essentials of a Thanksgiving dinner made at home are getting hit hard with inflation pricing, per a recent Wells Fargo report. Since 2021, the financial institution reports the price of groceries has increased at a rate of 9.81%. The rise in the cost of dining out has increased at a much slower rate of 5.79%. Plus, many of the traditional essentials of a Thanksgiving meal such as turkey, potatoes, and cranberries have all had supply issues throughout the year that Wells Fargo predicts have led to increased prices.


Per data from both the USDA and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wells Fargo's predictions are spot on. Turkeys now cost 84 more cents per pound than in 2021, potato prices are up 18%, and canned fruits and vegetables are up 19% over last year. Although there are some pros and cons to celebrating Thanksgiving at a restaurant rather than in your own home, there's no denying stepping away from tradition is a budget-conscious move for many.

The Gen Z approach to Thanksgiving

Bring on the pizza and the potluck, friends. No, seriously. Gen Zers are ready to make some serious changes to how Thanksgiving is celebrated in 2022. Personal Capital, an online financial advisor, conducted a survey of 1,000 people in the U.S. with Gen Z respondents making up 25% and millennials accounting for 36%.


The survey found that many of those under added financial stress after losing their jobs this year, are also opting to skip Thanksgiving—32% of Gen Zers (the most likely to skip) said they'd likely do so to save money. They're celebrating Friendsgiving instead, with pizza as the entree of choice. 

For the seven in 10 Americans who do plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, 52% said they plan to ask guests to bring a dish or some other item and 42% plan to ask people to pitch in financially. Others plan to make fewer dishes or keep the gathering small, but Gen Z respondents were most likely out of other generations to implement all of these budget-friendly adjustments.

Gen Z (and millennials) are just doing their best. The pandemic, inflation, and the possible recession we're headed into make strictly adhering to tradition pretty damn difficult. The "true" focus of this holiday does not hinge on where you feast or even what the meal consists of, it's about who you surround yourself with. Share a slice or dig into some mashed potatoes, just have a Happy Thanksgiving.