How much will you spend on Christmas this year?

December 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

National Lampoons Christmas House

Ah yes, the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas and the holidays mean different things to everyone, but most people can agree it’s a great thing to celebrate. It brings us all together and forces us to get back into the spirit that we so looked forward to as kids.

However, Christmas has turned into something else for businesses. Mainly, it’s the time of the year when retailers make almost 40% of their annual sales.

it’s important to weigh the intentional commercialization of Christmas with the spirit of giving. I have to be careful to not let my lack of ‘getting into the spirit’ of buying crap get in the way of giving. I definitely love giving to my family and friends. I’m just in a battle against debt, and I don’t like how retailers use the spirit of the season to their advantage!

Anyway, enough of the rant… I believe in capitalism so I wouldn’t have the retailers do it any other way. The key is to control your spending and try your best to have a set amount.


What’s the best way to control your spending on Christmas?

1. Create a list of everyone you want to give presents to

2. Estimate how much you will spend on each person

3. Compare your estimate to how much money you have

4. Adjust list as necessary

5. Take your list with you when shopping and use it!


You shouldn’t buy Christmas presents that will take the next 6 months to pay for! This isn’t really giving… I’d hate to see the new bike you got for your youngest repo’d .

Another way to cut back is to not buy gifts for yourself! According to a recent article in the LA Times, “Self-gifting was also on the rise as 46% of Black Friday shoppers bought something for themselves, up from 35% last year, research firm NPD Group said.” One for my family, one for me!

According to the National Retail Federation (the other NRF), “Nearly six in 10 holiday shoppers (59.9%) say they plan to take advantage of retailers’ sales and discounts to make additional non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.” We find such great deals that we just can’t pass them up… even if they won’t end up under the tree.

The NRF study continues with, “The average person will spend approximately $130.43 during the holiday season to take advantage of sales and discounts on apparel, electronics, home goods and other items for themselves or a family member, up from $112.20 last year.”


How much does the ‘average person’ spend on Christmas presents?

The same NRF report says the average shopper will spend $704.18 on gifts, which is actually down from last year’s $718.98.

This is the average for one person, so if you look at a couple the average is a little over $1,400 per year. We spent over that last year… so I guess we’re above average. The chart below shows how the spending per person has fluctuated over the last seven years.

Avg Holiday Spending

How are you paying for Christmas?

Ideally, you have saved money every month from January through December and have the full amount needed for Christmas already saved up. That was our plan this year. As each month passed we put our leftover cash budget into an envelope. However, when we were in the middle of renovations, we broke from this habit and then stole some from the envelope!

Luckily we have money saved up we could use, but my wife gets paid every two weeks and December is one of the months she’ll get three paychecks, so we’ll mostly use her extra paycheck. We’ll try harder next year to not raid the Christmas fund.

You want the joyful parts of Christmas to remain after the holiday season (memories, time with family, etc), but don’t rack up a bunch of debt that sticks around well past winter!

How much do you spend on Christmas? Leave your comments below

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