Prepare for the holiday season — stress free.


By Morgen Olsen, Thumbtack Design Expert

The holidays are just around the corner and while the season can often evoke a sense that it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” — with picturesque snow falls, lively holiday music, and cozy vibes snuggled up next to a fireplace — it can also come with unexpected stress and an ever-growing to-do list. 

We surveyed more than 1,000 Americans* to get their take on the holiday season — from their decorating traditions, to the stressors keeping them up at night, and the hurdles that come with hosting. 

What we found: A whopping 58% majority of Americans told us they feel stressed about the holidays. And for those who are hosting this year, the stress is cranked up even higher — to nearly 70%. 

The most common stressors reported during the holiday season (after gift-giving) were surprising: one in four respondents shared that getting their homes ready (cleaning, organizing, etc.) was their top stressor, followed by hosting (11%) and decorating their homes (10%). 

This year, homeowners are fully embracing the holidays with bold decorations and over-the-top parties. Homeowners deserve to enjoy the holidays without nit-picking at their homes. This is where Thumbtack can help — with decorating, hosting, and home maintenance so that the pressure doesn’t overshadow the joys of the season. That way, everyone can focus on enjoying being home for the holidays and ensuring their family has a wonder-filled time. 

Watch out for procrastination when hosting for the holidays. 

44% of Americans plan to host family and friends this year for the holiday season and of those, 23% will be hosting for the first time ever. Those who’ve hosted before know it can feel like a daunting task when considering all of the different elements — from cooking to cleaning to entertaining family and friends and avoiding conflict (which let’s face it, can sometimes feel like a monumental task).

Oftentimes, it can be so overwhelming that we procrastinate until the last minute in order to avoid thinking about our growing to-do list. In fact, a majority (59%) of Americans admit they’ve procrastinated on cleaning their home before the holidays, followed by procrastinating on putting up their decorations (52%), organizing their space (38%), home improvement projects (31%), paint touch ups (20%), servicing their HVAC system (13%) and necessary electrical repairs (13%).

And those who have hosting on their minds are even more guilty of procrastinating across the board — on every single one of these important home tasks. The result? Disastrous home problems threatening to ruin the celebration!

The most common culprits for unexpected home emergencies while hosting family and friends are: clogged toilets (32%), icy walkway incidents (31%), the heat suddenly not working (25%), the oven breaking (23%), getting snowed in with guests (22%), and the chimney getting clogged and filling the house with smoke (20%). 

Most common hosting emergencies

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Average cost

Clogged toilets

Drain repair


Icy walkways

Snow shoveling


Heat not working

HVAC repair


Oven breaking

Appliance repair


Snowed in

Snow plowing


Clogged chimney

Chimney sweeping


Hosting can take a toll on a home, giving homeowners even more of a reason to stay on top of maintenance projects and to make sure they’re budgeting for unexpected emergencies.

Decorating etiquette and traditions for the holidays.

Every year, it feels like decorations start popping up earlier and earlier. And for those hosting this season, prioritizing “fun” projects like adding cheer in and around the house can often lead to deferring on essential home projects. 

Whether homeowners are looking to embrace a brightly colored winter wonderland theme, hosting an ugly holiday sweater party, or preparing a cozy candle-lit dinner — decorating is a key part of setting the right holiday spirit. And while it can be easy to procrastinate, those hosting are more likely to get a jump on creating the perfect holiday spirit, with 41% decorating between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, those who aren’t hosting wait to put up their decorations until Thanksgiving weekend (34%). 

As for taking down decorations, the most common time to take down decorations is right after New Year’s (49%) — especially for those who want to avoid judgment from the neighbors. 34% of Americans admit to judging their neighbors for leaving their holiday decorations up for “too long.” But exactly how long is too long? The general consensus (54%) says if holiday decorations are still up past the end of January — there’s something wrong. 

And while hanging holiday decorations can feel like a purely joyous occasion, it’s not without its dangers. 25% of respondents have gotten hurt while putting up or taking down their decorations. Sometimes, it’s best to leave it to the pros — especially when hosting, where the risk of injury increases to 37% — and hire an expert with the proper equipment. 

Enjoy roasting chestnuts by an open fire: Plan ahead, and hire a pro. 

Think about how to simplify the holiday season as much as possible and be sure to plan ahead. If homeowners are feeling overwhelmed and panicked about getting up on a ladder, hiring a pro to put up and take down holiday lights can help ease that stress, and help avoid injuries in the process. And for those hosting and worried about the endless stream of pre- and post-event cleaning, hiring a cleaner to deep clean their home can help cut down the mental load (and avoid side comments from the in-laws all at once.) 

Thumbtack is here to make sure homeowners look forward to the holidays rather than stressing about them. Download the app to get started. 

*Survey Methodology: This SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted between October 22–23, 2023 among a national sample of 1,030 adults (18+). Respondents for this survey were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data for this week have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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