by Ted O’Neil
Two cities in North Carolina and two in California are in the top five among the best cities in the country for celebrating Christmas, according to a new study from WalletHub.
Durham, N.C., edged out San Jose, Calif., by less than one point to take the top spot with a cumulative score of 68.16, compared to 67.99. Honolulu, Hawaii, took third with 67.92 points, followed by Oakland, Calif., (67.09) and Raleigh, N.C. (67).
WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities to come up with the rankings using four key dimensions: safety, traditions, observance and generosity.
Each of those dimensions were then evaluated using a number of key metrics that were graded on a 100-point scale and then weighted against population to determine a final score.
Under safety, for example, researchers looked at the average weekly number of coronavirus cases and deaths per capita, with Honolulu taking the top spot.
Durham tied for first along with Miami and New York City for the most Christmas tree farms per capita in the traditions category, with Las Vegas and Raleigh rounding out the top five. This category also included metrics such as Google search interest for things like “Christmas light show” and “Christmas dinner,” along with the number of bakeries per capita and the average cost of beer and wine.
Philadelphia ranked first overall for tradition, followed by Las Vegas and two Arizona cities, Glendale and Gilbert.
For generosity, WalletHub looked at a number of metrics, including food banks per capita, share of income donated to charity and online giving per capita. Seattle ranked first, followed by Madison, Wisc., and Washington, D.C.
Seattle, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Denver all tied for first for most food banks per capita.
Under observance, cities were ranked by the percentage of residents who identify as Christian and the number of churches per capita, with Birmingham, Ala., in the top spot. Other highly ranked cities were major metropolitan areas, including New York, Chicago, Cleveland and St. Louis.
WalletHub also noted that this holiday season in particular will be stressful for many because of the coronavirus pandemic due to things like lockdowns, social distancing and loss of income. A panel of experts weighed in with advice on things like celebrating on a budget and celebrating safely.
“Ideally, your Christmas budget should be planned at the beginning of the year or at least five or six months before you begin shopping,” Jane Boyd Thomas, a marketing professor at Winthrop University in South Carolina, said. “This approach will enable you to save a little for holiday gifts and other related expenses.”
Jack Samuels, a professor of hospitality and tourism, suggested exploring outdoor recreation activities to remain safe.
“Well, the biggest one is what everyone knows, social distancing and masks. There is no substitute,” he said. “The snow sports industry has done some amazing things to keep us safe on the hills. In the warmer parts of the country, outdoor activities like hiking are safe and inexpensive.”
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Ted O’Neil is a contributor to The Center Square.