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At-Home Entertaining

Consumers participating in the 2024 IHA At-Home Entertaining Survey are likely looking to host more home events than fewer in the year ahead, which should provide significant opportunity for the home and housewares sector in the upcoming year.

While 53% of consumers said they would host about the same number of gatherings in the year ahead, 26% said they would host more versus 16% who believe they will host less. In the survey, 10% of consumers said they would host much more often, while only 5% said they would host much less often.

Men, at 31%, anticipate hosting more gatherings over the year, while only 22% of women said the same.

One out of five study participants said they are most likely to host during the January-March period, 13% in the April-June period, 21% in the July-September period and 46% in the October-December period. In the study, when asked which is their next most likely month for hosting a gathering, 26% of consumers said they are next most likely to host a January-March event, 32% an April-June event, 28% a July-September event and 14% an October-December event.

Although consumers are trying to make more of their outdoor spaces, as gains in grilling and related merchandise demonstrated over the past several years, indoors still trumps outdoors for gatherings, as 46% would host all or most gatherings indoors versus 20% outdoors. Although indoors has the lead, it’s important to note that 33% of consumers split hosting gatherings pretty evenly between inside and outside.

Compared to the past 12 months, do you anticipate hosting more or less gatherings in your home?

Consumers 18-34 are most likely to anticipate hosting more gatherings in the upcoming months, at 37%, followed by 35- to 44-year-olds, at 34%.

67% of respondents plan to make and prepare food themselves vs. cater.

Thinking about gatherings you host at your house, do you generally have food catered or do you prepare it?

Despite the terrific range of party food provided by food retailers, caterers and food service operators both in-store and online for celebratory occasions, household events remain largely a place for home cooking. Only 9% of study participants always or usually serve catered food when hosting, while 67% always or usually prepare the dishes they serve home event guests themselves.

Of course, a lot of what is served includes guest contributions. Provisions by the guests, or by a combination of guests and the host, is most true for desserts at 55%, alcohol at 54%, and side dishes at 53%. For half of consumers, a buffet is the way to go for gatherings, with sit-down meals coming in second at 39%.

The oldest and youngest consumers, those 18-34 and 65 and older, are most likely to host sit-down meals, at 42% and 41%, respectively.

At 23%, Northeastern consumers are the most likely to say they would always or more often have gatherings outdoors, with Westerners coming in second at 21%.

Lower-income consumers, at 22%, are most likely to always or more often host outdoor events, with middle-income consumers earning from $50,000 to $100,000 up next at 20%.

Regarding drinks, self-service rules again, with 53% of consumers offering their guests beverages from a fridge or cooler and 22% from a bar area. Still, some prefer the service element, so 12% of drinks are passed by the glass and 8% are mixed and served by a bartender.

Although 20% of consumers don’t serve alcohol during the events they host, 30% serve beer and wine, 42% serve beer, wine and limited spirits and 19% offer a full bar.

Despite the availability of disposable items, and 38% prefer them, 44% of hosts still prefer everyday and special housewares when entertaining guests.

Thinking about gatherings you host at your house, how often are the events indoors vs. outdoors?

Northeastern consumers, at 46%, prefer hosting sit-down meals, while other regions of the United States tend toward buffets, with West, South, and Midwest a bit above 50% in likelihood.

Which of the following formats do you use most often for gatherings you host at your house?

When the event is over and the kitchen storage products come out, 95% of consumers send food home with their guests at least occasionally.

According to At-Home Entertaining study participants, clean-up is the most challenging part of home entertaining, cited by 35%, with preparing everything at the same time next, at 24%, followed by prepping at 13%.

The study suggests that consumers continue to expand their hosting ambitions and will purchase housewares as the needs of their events warrant. For example, 31% of consumers said they usually or always have to purchase glassware or other forms of drinkware in preparation for a home gathering. That’s true of cookware, 25%; bakeware, 27%; prep gadgets, 25%; kitchen electrics, 22%; tableware, 31%; serveware, 27%; cutlery, 25%; food storage, 36%; textiles, 38; barware, 23%; and décor, 26%.

At 43%, women, by ten percentage points, prefer disposable housewares for gatherings.

Looking back over the year, At-Home Entertaining Study participants asked about those events they had hosted, and the majority, at 57%, hosted casual gatherings from happy hours to informal dinners. When it comes to occasions events such as birthdays, holidays and related gatherings, 59% of participants hosted at least one in the past year.

Consumers 18-34 lead for the highest proportion of occasions-based home gatherings held last year at 65%, with those 35-44 following at 62%.

At 73%, consumers from households earning $100,000 are the most likely to have held an occasions-based gathering over the past year, versus middle-income consumers earning $50,000 to $100,000, at 67%, and low-income consumers earning under $50,000 annually, at 49%.

The 2024 IHA At-Home Entertaining Survey was conducted by Morning Consult between September 9 and 10, 2023, among a sample of 2,203 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data was weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment and region. The data was then subset to adults who have hosted a gathering in the past year and represents those 1,407 respondents. Results from the subset have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
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