Here’s the Average Cost of a 10-Person Thanksgiving Feast in 2019

updated Nov 26, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Holidays in general tend to be expensive — whether that means gifts you buy for friends, travel to go see family, festive decorations, enough candy to hand out king-size bars to every kid in the neighborhood, or whatever. And then, of course, there’s the meal — particularly important at Thanksgiving, when it’s the singular focus of the holiday. While turkey tends to have a fairly low cost-to-meat ratio, things can add up quickly when you start setting out all the sides. So how much, exactly, does a Thanksgiving meal cost? Well, that depends on who you ask. 

The first analysis comes from the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has been doing this same analysis for more than three decades — meaning it’s a great way to not only estimate the cost, but also see what that looks like compared to the last few years. The cost of a 10-person feast in the year 2019, they say, it’s $48.91 — or about $5 per person. It’s virtually unchanged from last year’s analysis (which was $48.90) after a few years of decline. That will buy you a 16-pound turkey, sweet potatoes, rolls and butter, green peas, fresh cranberries, a vegetable tray, pumpkin pie, and whipped cream — plus coffee with milk to keep you out of that food coma.

The second study was by Lending Tree, an online lending marketplace. Lending Tree found that Americans hosting Thanksgiving will spend $310.17 for 10 guests. That’s $31 per guest, nearly six times what the AFBF found! What accounts for that? Well, they do include housewares, dishes, furniture, and the like, but their number just on food is $227.42, which is still a fair amount more than $48.91.

Of course, it’s hard to come up with an average when it’s so dependent on what you buy, where, and at which store. The real thing to consider after reading this is that if you’re a guest, your host is probably spending some bank on dinner, so don’t skimp on that bottle of wine or bouquet of flowers.