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The Cost of Christmas in 2018

By Mike Brown / Read - Follow Blog "LendEDU" / December 11th, 2018

The Cost of Christmas in 2018

It's almost the most wonderful time of the year.


It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas. We've already been seeing the commercials and hearing the music for a month now anyway. 

Christmas has always been about showing gratitude and love and embracing the spirit of giving. And at the center of it all is the abundance of presents!

The only thing people love more than giving presents is receiving presents. However, the spirit of giving can rack up quite the expensive tab. When you factor in the money spent on holiday travel and decorations on top of gift-purchasing, Christmas quickly becomes a very expensive celebration.

How much will the average American spend on Christmas in 2018? To find out, LendEDU polled 1,000 adults who intend on celebrating Christmas.

In 2018, How Much Will the Average American Spend on Christmas?

After polling consumers who intend to celebrate Christmas this year, LendEDU was able to find out what the cost of the December holiday will be this year. 

The following question was asked to our respondents: "How much do you expect to spend celebrating Christmas this year? (note: include travel expenses, gifts, decorations, etc.)"

Based of the responses, we were able to calculate that the average American will be spending $633 on Christmas this year. Interestingly, this is down from our figure last year, $708. 

As the graphic above depicts, we were able to break out the total Christmas cost of $633 according to specific expenditures involved with the holiday. Each poll participant was asked to estimate what proportion of their total Christmas spending was going to be put toward travel, gifts, decorations, and other expenses, respectively.

Not surprisingly, gift-buying will be the most costly expenditure. Purchasing gifts for loved ones and friends is projected to account for 54 percent of the total Christmas expenditure, or $341.82. So, before you rag on a family member for getting the wrong gift, remember how much money they had to spend on presents.

After gifts, travel will be the second highest expense for Christmas celebrators. In 2018, Christmas travel will be responsible for 21 percent of the total holiday cost, or $132.93. This is not so shocking, either; many Christmas celebrators must travel far, either by plane or by car, and plane tickets and gas can quickly add up.

Miscellaneous expenses will be the third biggest cost of Christmas in 2018. According to our data, the average Christmas celebrator will be spending $88.62 on random holiday expenses this year, or 14 percent of the overall expenditure. 

Rounding out the last remaining dollars for the total expenditure for Christmas in 2018 is decoration expenses. This category will be responsible for 11 percent of the total cost, or $69.63. It makes sense that decorations would be the cheapest of Christmas expenditures, as most families simply store their lights and plastic reindeer to be used year after year.

Where Will Christmas Shoppers Buy Most of Their Gifts?

In 2018, it is easier than ever before to do all of your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your couch. However, LendEDU's poll of 1,000 Christmas celebrators found that the majority of consumers will still go gift shopping at brick-and-mortar shops.

We asked the following question to our poll-participants: "Where do you plan on purchasing the majority of your Christmas gifts this year?"

The majority of Christmas consumers, 51 percent, will do their holiday shopping "at the store." If its not broke, why fix it, right?

46 percent of Christmas celebrators stated they would be doing the majority of their gift-shopping online, while 2 percent plan on making their gifts. A minuscule proportion of respondents, 1 percent, will buy the majority of their Christmas presents from a catalog.  

The results from this poll question fall right in line with a previous study done by LendEDU. We recently found that 66 percent of American consumers intended to shop on Black Friday, while only 49 percent planned to buy on Cyber Monday. Our data also found that shoppers intended to spend nearly four times as much on Black Friday than Cyber Monday. 

With An Anticipated Christmas Cost of $633, Nearly a Quarter of Americans Expect to Go Into Debt Due to Christmas Shopping 

Finally, this next question was proposed to our respondents: "Do you think that you will go into debt (ex. credit card debt, personal loan debt, payday loan debt) as a result of your spending during Christmas?"

Good news: The vast majority of Christmas celebrators, 72 percent, have zero intentions of going into any type of debt due to Christmas shopping.

Bad news: Nearly a quarter of American consumers, 22 percent, do expect to go into debt after splurging on the holiday, while another 6 percent opted not to reveal if they would be taking on debt this holiday season. 

So, how much debt will they be going into? Among those holiday consumers who anticipate taking on holiday debt this year, the average amount of debt they expect to incur is $554. Because this debt figure was so close to our Christmas expenditure figure, we wanted to find out if the respondents who are expecting debt will be spending more than the average consumer.

As it turns out, among those respondents that plan on going into debt due to Christmas shopping, the average respondent expects to spend $836 on Christmas, more than $200 extra when compared to the standard survey participant.

Going into debt, no matter how deep, is never a desirable thing. If consumers anticipate their holiday expenditures and spend and save accordingly, they can usually avoid debt. 


All data that can be found in this report derived from a poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by online polling company Pollfish. In total, 1,000 American consumers that plan on celebrating Christmas in 2018 were polled on each question.

Respondents were only allowed to proceed to the questions if they answered correctly to the screener question. The screener question was put in place to ensure all respondents were planning on celebrating Christmas in 2018. When asked to estimate how much they were going to spend on Christmas, respondents were given the opportunity to enter an exact dollar amount. When asked to estimate what proportion of their Christmas spending would go to each expenditure, respondents again were given the ability to enter in an exact percentage equaling 100. After collecting 1,000 responses, we were able to average together all of the responses to find an average Christmas expenditure amount, as well as the average proportions for each of the expenditures. 

This poll was conducted over a two-day span from Sept. 29, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2018. Respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their ability. 

Author: Mike Brown

In his role at LendEDU, Mike uses data, usually from surveys and publicly-available resources, to identify emerging personal finance trends and tell unique stories. Mike’s work, featured in major outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, provides consumers with a personal finance measuring stick and can help them make informed finance decisions. - 24/7 Support including Chat

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  1. Webster Shields

    I mean, I know it's not really necessary to spend so much on Christmas and all that, but I think it's just something that people do because they feel like they need to do it. Visit this site to get the best templates about memorial. I don't know why. And I'm not saying that because I'm poor or anything like that. But I've never been able to afford a lot of things like presents or decorations or food or anything like that, so it's not something that I've had as much experience with as others might have had before.

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