Poll: Americans Having Least Stressful Christmas in Years

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — ‘Tis indeed the season to be jolly for Americans, who are experiencing their lowest levels of holiday stress in years, according to a new CNN/ORC nationwide poll.

The poll suggests they’ve already decked their halls with boughs of holly, as only 30% of the public said they’re feeling a great deal or fair amount of stress from all the things they need to do to get ready for Christmas.

That’s a steep drop from 2005, when a vast majority of Americans must’ve left the tree-trimming to the last minute, as 86% said they felt a great deal or fair amount of stress that year. In 1989, 76% felt the same, perhaps because they waited too long to buy the new Nintendo Game Boy, the hot toy released that year.

Americans may be feeling less stress this year in part because they’re not dealing with the often messy hassle of putting up a natural tree, and the pressure to make sure far-flung extended family members get their Christmas cards in time.

The survey found a slight majority of Americans — 51% — plan to have an artificial Christmas tree this year, up from just 39% in 1996. And only 58% of Americans planned to send holiday cards this year, down from 74% in 2006.

But that doesn’t mean Americans are losing their holiday spirit: 95% say they celebrate Christmas. But the country is split on whether observers view it more as a family holiday — 47% — or as a religious holiday, 46%. That’s a shift from 1992, when a slight majority of Americans said Christmas was more of a religious celebration.

For most Americans, the holiday moment to look forward to is Christmas Day — that’s when 58% of the nation opens their presents. A lucky 20% of the nation opens them both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The poll also found Americans aren’t as concerned as they used to be about a terrorist attack will hitting over the holidays.

Now, just 39% say a terrorist attack is very or somewhat likely, down from more than half in 2010.

The survey was conducted through live interviews of 1,011 adults nationwide via landlines and cell phones and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; no attempt was made to reach Santa Claus about his stress levels, which presumably peak this time of year.

By Alexandra Jaffe