How often Americans attend — and how they feel about — 20 kinds of special occasions

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
March 02, 2023, 1:39 AM GMT+0

While not everyone would classify themselves as a party animal, most people enjoy at least some form of celebratory get-together from time to time. In a recent poll, YouGov asked Americans about the last time they attended 20 types of occasions marking the beginnings and endings of various life chapters; all but one — funerals — usually take the form of celebration or party. Among the most frequently attended events are birthday parties, weddings, graduation parties, and family reunions; these are also among the events that the greatest share of attendees like.

While all other occasions are more liked than disliked by past attendees, funerals are unsurprisingly, highly disliked. They also are attended relatively often.


According to the poll, birthday parties are the most common form of celebration attended by Americans out of the 20 asked about. Nine in 10 people report having ever been to one, including more than half (59%) who say they’ve attended one in the past year; only 5% say they never have. Birthday celebrations are not only common, but also beloved: The share of people who have been to birthday parties and say they "love" or "like" them (84%) is the largest among the events polled about.

While nearly all Americans have been to a birthday party at some point in their lives, fewer have been to specific types of birthday celebrations asked about, such as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah (24% have attended one) or a quinceañera (23%). Most people (59%) have attended a surprise party.


As with birthdays, most Americans (86%) have been to a wedding at some point in their lives, though just 27% have been to one in the past year. Around half of people have ever attended each of three other wedding-related events: a bridal or wedding shower (55%), a bachelor or bachelorette party (51%), or an engagement party (43%).

Weddings rank second among the events polled in the share of people who have been and say they love or like them (79% say this), beating out the shares of past attendees who say the same about bridal/wedding showers (67%) and engagement parties (65%). While 58% of people who've been to one have a positive opinion of bachelor/bachelorette parties, these events rank in second to last place — only behind funerals — in the share of attendees who say they hate or dislike them (29%).


Nearly two-thirds of Americans have been to a baby shower (65%), with 22% saying they’ve attended one in the past year. Fewer have ever been to a baptism or christening party (57%), though people who have attended one of those events feel similarly about them as people who have attended baby showers feel about those events (68% love or like each). Women are far more likely than men to have attended a baby shower (80% vs. 50%) and, among those who have, to say they love or like them (74% vs. 58%).

Just 28% of Americans have been to a gender reveal party, and the vast majority of people who have attended one say the last time they did so was within the past decade. Just 1% of people say the last time they attended a gender reveal party was more than 10 years ago. Another indication of the gender reveal party's relative novelty is the finding that adults under 45 are more than three times as likely as Americans 45 and older to say they have ever been to one (45% vs. 14%).


When it comes to reunions, families reign supreme: 71% of people say they have been to a family reunion, including 23% who have been to one in the past year. Three-quarters of Americans who have ever attended a family reunion say they love or like them. Far fewer have been to a school reunion (44%). And while most people who have been to a school reunion have positive feelings about the event, 20% do not, placing school reunions among the least favored occasions polled.


Each stage of life must come to an end, and when they do it is common for Americans to join together in acknowledgment. Funerals stand out on our list as both frequent occasions (89% have ever attended, including 37% who have within the past year) and sorrowful ones (75% hate or dislike them). Compared to the other 19 events polled about, which are more likely to have been recently attended by younger Americans, funerals are the only event with a similar frequency of recent attendance among young and old Americans. Older Americans are also less fond of funerals: 82% of Americans age 65 or older say they hate or dislike funerals, compared to 50% of adults under 30.

Celebrations marking the end of other life phases are viewed more favorably, but are also less frequent. Three-quarters of Americans (75%) have attended a graduation party, and 77% who have say they love or like that kind of event. Half of people (49%) have been to a farewell party, which can mark the end of a variety of chapters of life, such as when someone moves, leaves a job, or embarks on a long journey. Similar shares say they've attended a retirement party (52%) or housewarming party (55%).


— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted online on January 13 - 18, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Adobe Stock (