The Grinchiest Cities in the U.S. [2022]

FinanceBuzz looked at more than a dozen factors to determine which of America’s biggest cities have the least Christmas cheer this holiday season.
Last updated Dec. 19, 2022 | By Josh Koebert | Edited By Mindy Woodall
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While more than 90% of Americans celebrate the Christmas holiday, not everyone is happy about it. Between cold temperatures, early sunsets, and holiday shopping stress, there are plenty of people who feel a bit Grinchy this time of year.

So which cities across the country are the Grinchiest of all, and which ones are overflowing with Christmas cheer? Our team analyzed 50 of the biggest U.S. cities and evaluated them across nearly two dozen metrics that help measure the spirit of the season.

Key findings

  • New York City is the Grinchiest city in the U.S.
  • Hartford is the city with the most holiday spirit.
  • Oklahoma City, Memphis, Birmingham, Salt Lake City, and Louisville have the fewest holiday events and festivals among major cities in the U.S.
  • Miami locals volunteer the least of any major city. Miami residents also donate to charity the least.
In this article

The Grinchiest cities in the U.S. this holiday season

New York City takes the roast beast as the Grinchiest city in America thanks to having the nation’s lowest rates of holiday decoration shops (0.6), Christmas tree lots (0.3), gift shops (9.9), and food banks (0.1) per 100,000 people. Additionally, only 23.3% of New Yorkers volunteer annually — the fourth-lowest percentage in the country.

On the West Coast, Los Angeles is only slightly less Grinchy than the Big Apple. LA features just 2.4 shopping centers per 100,000 people — the lowest rate in the country. The percentage of Angelenos that volunteer (24.1%) is also among the five lowest in the country, and the percentage that donates at least $25 to charity annually (47.2%) is in the bottom 10.

San Antonio rounds out the bottom three as the third-Grinchiest city in the country, thanks largely to bottom-10 rates in a number of per capita metrics. The percentages of San Antonio residents that volunteer (24.6%) and donate to charity (43.1%) are among the 10 lowest in the country.

A map showing the Grinchiest cities in the U.S.


The Grinchiest cities in America

Rank City Holiday score (lower means Grinchier)
1 New York, NY 18.9
2 Los Angeles, CA 19.6
3 San Antonio, TX 22.7
4 Chicago, IL 24.7
5 Memphis, TN 25.7
6 Phoenix, AZ 28.3
7 Dallas, TX 29.7
8 Columbus, OH 30.0
9 Oklahoma City, OK 30.5
10 Houston, TX 30.8

The least Grinchy cities in the U.S. this holiday season

The two cities with the most holiday cheer, Hartford, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, are both just a few hours from Grinchy NYC.

Hartford boasts over 1,926 holiday festivals and events per 100,000 people — the most of any city in the country. Providence is second with 981 holiday festivals and events per capita.

In fact, Hartford and Providence finished first and second in four other metrics: ice rinks, Christmas tree lots, gift shops, and holiday markets. Hartford also has the most food banks (17.1) and homeless shelters (35.1) per 100,000 people of any city in the country.

Finishing third in cities with the most holiday cheer is Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nearly half of Minneapolis residents, over 48%, volunteer annually, the highest rate of any city in the country. Minneapolis is also top five in terms of the number of food banks per 100,000 people (5.4) and top ten in the percentage of people that donate at least $25 to charity every year (62.1%).

A map showing the least Grinchy cities in the U.S.


The least Grinchy cities in America

Rank City Holiday score (lower means Grinchier)
50 Hartford, CT 74.8
49 Providence, RI 74.8
48 Minneapolis, MN 70.7
47 Orlando, FL 68.3
46 Pittsburgh, PA 65.8
45 Riverside, CA 62.7
44 Atlanta, GA 62.5
43 Salt Lake City, UT 62.0
42 Baltimore, MD 60.0
41 Cincinnati, OH 58.9

Cities with the most and least number of holiday events and festivals

While every major U.S. city has holiday events and festivals, some places have more than others. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for example, has the fewest holiday celebrations of any city in the country, with just 18.5 for every 100,000 citizens. Meanwhile, Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island both offer over 950 such events per 100,000 people.

Lists of the cities with the highest and lowest number of holiday events per 100,000 people.


Cities where people volunteer the most and least

Miami, Florida features one of the best ratios of holiday events and festivals relative to its population, claiming the fourth-highest number in the country. But while Miamians may love attending a Christmas party in South Beach, they’re less eager to volunteer their time.

Miami is the only city where less than one-fifth of residents volunteer their time annually. Its 18.7% volunteer rate is the lowest of any city in the country. Plus, only 36.7% of Miami residents donate at least $25 to charity every year, which is also the lowest rate of any city in the U.S.

On the flip side, Minneapolis, Minnesota lives up to the stereotype of “Midwest nice,” as nearly half of residents (48.3%) volunteer to help others every year.

In fact, two other Midwestern cities also make the top five in terms of cities with the largest percentage of volunteers. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (44.6%) comes in third, and Indianapolis, Indiana (43.3%) comes in fifth.

Lists of places with the highest and lowest percentages of people who volunteer annually.

Tips for saving this holiday season

The holiday season doesn’t have to drain your wallet or your Christmas spirit. Here are some ways to shop smart and save this season:

  • Shop online. Not only can you save yourself time by skipping the store, but you can also save money by shopping online. Use an extension like Capital One Shopping to help you find great prices and to compare deals on must-have items.
  • Earn credit card rewards. Be sure to pay with one of the best credit cards for shopping online to earn miles, cash back, or other rewards for your purchases.
  • Scan receipts. Use a rewards app to scan your receipts to earn money and rewards like cash back or gift cards. Depending on the type of rewards you want, you could earn cash back with Ibotta or turn your points into gift cards with Fetch.
  • Find free activities. Tons of fun holiday activities are free. Find one of the best holiday events in your state with this handy list of free winter activities and festivals in all 50 states.

Methodology

FinanceBuzz collected data on 50 of America's biggest cities.

Data for five major categories related to the Christmas holiday were collected for each city. These categories were communal celebrations and decorations, holiday shopping, holiday season of giving, holiday cheer, and holiday jeer. Each of these categories was created using individual data points listed below. Each data point was indexed using a 0-to-5 scale. The scores were then weighted and added together to create a score of 0 to 20 for each category, and then those category scores were added together to give each city an overall score on a 0-to-100 scale. We deemed the lowest-scoring cities to be the "Grinchiest."

For individual data points, a weight of 1.00 is standard, with weights above 1.00 having a larger impact on a category’s score and those below 1.00 having a lesser impact. The weights and sources for the individual metrics used in each category are as follows:

Communal celebrations and decor:

  • The number of holiday events and festivals per 100,000 people. Source: Eventbrite. Weight: 1.00
  • The number of ice skating rinks per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 1.00
  • The number of holiday decoration shops per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 1.00
  • The number of Christmas tree farms/lots/shops per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 1.00

Holiday shopping:

  • The number of holiday markets per 100,000 people. Source: Eventbrite. Weight: 0.80
  • The number of toy stores per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 0.80
  • The number of gift shops per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 0.80
  • The number of department stores per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 0.80
  • The number of shopping centers and malls per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 0.80

Holiday season of giving:

  • The number of food banks per 100,000 people. Source: Eventbrite. Weight: 1.00
  • The number of homeless shelters per 100,000 people. Source: YellowPages.com. Weight: 1.00
  • The percentage of the population that volunteers annually. Source: AmeriCorps' 2019 "Volunteering in America" report. Weight: 1.00
  • The percentage of the population that donates at least $25 to charity annually. Source: AmeriCorps' 2019 "Volunteering in America" report. Weight: 1.00

Holiday cheer:

  • Google Trends score for "Christmas Party" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 0.67
  • Google Trends score for "Christmas Lights" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 0.67
  • Google Trends score for "Christmas Concert" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 0.67
  • Google Trends score for "Christmas Festival" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 0.67
  • Google Trends score for "Christmas Market" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 0.67
  • Google Trends score for "Christmas Dinner" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 0.67

Holiday jeer:

  • Google Trends score for "bah humbug" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 1.00
  • Google Trends score for "I hate Christmas" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 1.00
  • Google Trends score for "Christmas sucks" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 1.00
  • Google Trends score for "the Grinch" over the last five years. Source: Google Trends. Weight: 1.00

In all cases where population was used to create a “per 100,000 people” calculation, the population data came from the United States Census Bureau.

Complete factor scores and overall rankings for all 50 cities

City Communal celebrations and decor score Holiday shopping score Holiday season of giving score Holiday cheer score Holiday jeer score Overall city score

(Higher is better)

Atlanta, GA 13.4 14.6 13.2 7.4 13.8 62.5
Austin, TX 6.5 2.1 3.8 5.5 15.8 33.7
Baltimore, MD 12.5 9.7 14.1 7.5 16.2 60.0
Birmingham, AL 8.2 10.3 11.9 7.6 14.2 52.1
Boston, MA 8.2 8.0 9.6 6.2 11.2 43.3
Buffalo, NY 16.9 14.9 9.0 6.2 10.3 57.3
Charlotte, NC 3.5 2.5 6.3 7.5 15.2 35.1
Chicago, IL 2.0 1.8 3.7 7.6 9.6 24.7
Cincinnati, OH 11.5 13.3 12.9 7.5 13.7 58.9
Cleveland, OH 12.4 9.4 12.9 7.8 11.7 54.3
Columbus, OH 4.1 2.8 6.5 6.3 10.3 30.0
Dallas, TX 5.5 2.4 6.5 7.0 8.3 29.7
Denver, CO 6.3 6.2 8.2 8.2 14.5 43.4
Detroit, MI 8.3 5.7 11.0 3.8 15.8 44.5
Hartford, CT 20.0 20.0 13.3 6.3 15.1 74.8
Houston, TX 1.2 3.2 4.9 7.0 14.5 30.8
Indianapolis, IN 2.8 2.5 9.4 7.7 11.3 33.8
Jacksonville, FL 1.2 2.0 3.8 7.8 16.7 31.6
Kansas City, MO 5.4 6.5 10.8 6.0 14.7 43.4
Las Vegas, NV 3.1 11.5 2.9 4.1 14.7 36.4
Los Angeles, CA 1.2 1.3 3.7 3.8 9.6 19.6
Louisville, KY 1.3 4.5 7.4 6.7 15.0 34.9
Memphis, TN 1.3 4.0 7.5 1.2 11.6 25.7
Miami, FL 7.5 15.3 6.2 2.3 18.5 49.8
Milwaukee, WI 9.7 4.8 13.8 10.7 16.3 55.2
Minneapolis, MN 16.2 15.0 15.6 9.3 14.6 70.7
Nashville, TN 2.1 3.7 8.3 9.7 11.6 35.3
New Orleans, LA 3.2 9.8 4.1 8.7 16.7 42.4
New York, NY 0.7 1.3 2.7 2.8 11.4 18.9
Oklahoma City, OK 3.0 2.2 5.1 7.0 13.2 30.5
Orlando, FL 16.2 19.7 5.5 10.5 16.5 68.3
Philadelphia, PA 5.1 5.5 6.2 6.3 8.7 31.9
Phoenix, AZ 1.8 1.7 6.0 5.4 13.3 28.3
Pittsburgh, PA 14.1 14.2 16.4 10.1 11.0 65.8
Portland, OR 7.4 7.2 11.8 6.1 14.4 47.0
Providence, RI 19.9 18.8 11.9 7.0 17.1 74.8
Raleigh, NC 6.0 8.6 10.4 7.2 13.5 45.6
Richmond, VA 14.1 12.5 4.5 6.0 15.0 52.2
Riverside, CA 20.0 17.8 11.4 3.8 9.6 62.7
Sacramento, CA 7.9 5.3 8.3 4.8 12.4 38.8
Salt Lake City, UT 13.8 14.1 12.6 10.1 11.4 62.0
San Antonio, TX 1.1 1.3 2.3 4.4 13.6 22.7
San Diego, CA 6.3 2.4 4.3 5.2 16.1 34.4
San Francisco, CA 4.2 5.1 9.3 3.6 17.7 40.0
San Jose, CA 5.3 2.8 9.0 3.6 17.7 38.4
Seattle, WA 7.7 5.5 12.9 6.1 16.2 48.4
St. Louis, MO 12.7 15.9 10.6 6.5 11.9 57.6
Tampa, FL 9.8 9.7 8.9 8.2 13.6 50.1
Virginia Beach, VA 4.1 3.5 6.4 7.4 13.5 34.9
Washington, DC 7.6 6.9 8.2 8.2 11.6 42.5
Average 9.7 9.0 9.6 6.6 10.3 45.1

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Author Details

Josh Koebert Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.