Christmas is considered by many to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but in 2021 it may be one of the most stressful times of the year. Americans have to decide how they will observe the holiday while still staying safe in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people will also have to adjust their spending plans due to the financial impact of the pandemic, though overall spending is still expected to increase compared to last year.
There are still plenty of ways to keep the Christmas spirit alive while social distancing and without breaking the bank, though, such as having video calls with loved ones, getting takeout from your favorite local restaurant, and attending online church services if you’re religious.
In order to determine which cities will offer a holly jolly holiday even amid the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, WalletHub compared the 100 biggest U.S. cities based on 15 key indicators of a safe and affordable Christmas. Our data set ranges from COVID-19 cases to the availability of Christmas traditions to the city’s overall generosity.
Best Places for Christmas
(1 = Best)
|City||Total Score||‘Safety’||‘Traditions & Food’||‘Observance’||‘Generosity’|
|2||San Jose, CA||67.99||3||46||62||6|
|7||San Francisco, CA||66.86||2||84||56||8|
|12||Virginia Beach, VA||62.49||7||62||85||17|
|14||Kansas City, MO||61.28||8||77||29||62|
|15||San Diego, CA||60.72||9||39||37||83|
|21||Fort Worth, TX||59.53||32||14||27||32|
|27||Santa Ana, CA||58.36||19||40||78||48|
|30||St. Louis, MO||56.91||59||27||6||47|
|34||Los Angeles, CA||56.62||53||17||12||46|
|35||Oklahoma City, OK||56.56||41||25||20||63|
|37||Chula Vista, CA||54.96||9||78||92||80|
|45||Colorado Springs, CO||53.82||30||49||74||60|
|50||San Antonio, TX||52.77||57||21||23||73|
|55||Las Vegas, NV||51.28||73||2||38||39|
|62||Long Beach, CA||49.07||53||53||57||69|
|72||New York, NY||46.99||88||99||2||11|
|76||St. Petersburg, FL||45.42||58||63||86||76|
|80||St. Paul, MN||44.42||83||79||32||42|
|84||San Bernardino, CA||43.84||44||72||87||93|
|86||Fort Wayne, IN||41.88||85||38||55||91|
|89||Baton Rouge, LA||41.18||86||69||54||85|
|92||New Orleans, LA||38.11||90||85||52||65|
|93||Jersey City, NJ||36.90||95||91||68||18|
|95||El Paso, TX||35.40||97||31||61||92|
|97||North Las Vegas, NV||33.34||73||90||100||86|
|98||Corpus Christi, TX||33.16||96||24||60||100|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
Ask the Experts
Many people feel pressured to spend during the holidays, which can lead to overspending. To help consumers stay safe and avoid ending the year with an empty wallet, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What tips do you have for celebrating Christmas on a budget?
- What are some of the big money wasters on Christmas?
- 85% of Americans are planning to celebrate Christmas this year. What are some key points to keep in mind for celebrating safely, without losing holiday cheer?
- What money-saving tips do you have for people planning to travel for the Christmas holiday?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best cities for Christmas, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities across four key dimensions: 1) Safety, 2) Traditions & Food, 3) Observance and 4) Generosity.
We evaluated those dimensions using 15 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for celebrating Christmas.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. In determining our sample, we considered only the city proper in each case, excluding cities in the surrounding metro area. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we used the square root of the population to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Safety - Total Points: 30
- Average COVID-19 Deaths per Capita: Triple Weight (~18.00 Points)
- Average COVID-19 Cases per Capita: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
Traditions & Food - Total Points: 30
- Google Search Interest for ‘Christmas Celebration’: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the real intent of the population to find information about the following search terms: “Christmas light show”, “Christmas market” and “Christmas dinner”. “Real intent” is measured using the average monthly search volumes for those specific terms.
- Christmas Tree Farms per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: “Christmas tree farms” refers to Christmas tree gardens, lots and selling points.
- Bakeries per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
- Availability of Highly-Rated Takeout or Delivery Food: Double Weight (~6.00 Points)
Note: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants offer safer alternatives to in-person dinning such as delivery or takeout. “Highly-Rated” refers to restaurants rated 4 stars or higher.
- Restaurant Meal Costs: Triple Weight (~9.00 Points)
- Average Beverage Price: Double Weight (~6.00 Points)
Note: “Beverage” refers to beer and wine.
Observance - Total Points: 20
- Share of Christian Population: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Churches per Capita*: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
Note: This metric is not a suggestion to attend services in person, as many churches are offering virtual services to their communities in 2020. Thus, the more nearby churches, the better.
Generosity - Total Points: 20
- Food Banks per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Share of Income Donated to Charity: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Share of Population Collecting/Distributing Food & Clothes for the Needy: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Online Giving per Capita: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Christmas Spirit: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Most Caring Cities” ranking.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Corporation for National and Community Service, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Council for Community and Economic Research, The Association of Religion Data Archives, Yelp, Numbeo, Google Ads, The New York Times and WalletHub research.