What does the average family spend at Christmas?

What do you think the average family spends around this time of the year?

(Disclaimer: this question is being asked to an average family – exclude people on their own, going out for lunch, don’t celebrate Christmas etc).

Over $1,000?

Under $1,000?

Is that on gifts alone, or do you count food?

I was thinking about this in the shower this morning. We are an average family and I guess my boys do get a couple of hundred $$ spent on them each at Christmas time. I buy for my husband and lots of family members. I’m not an over-spender or extravagant.

I am having Christmas lunch here this year and while everyone is bringing food, we are still providing the majority (but I wouldn’t have it any other way!).

Here are some other items I was thinking about that I’ve added to the Christmas-spend:

 ♦ Batteries

♦ A new saucepan

♦ New Christmas lights and decorations

♦ Food, food, food

♦ A new t-shirt for hubby to wear Christmas Day

♦ Alcohol (excessive amounts! Not for me though, but for guests)

♦ Pool chemicals (to keep it extra clean for the festive season)

♦ Ice

♦ Petrol (if you are travelling, or even because you’re running around more often)

♦ New outdoor camping chairs to take to bbq’s and Christmas parties

♦ Hair cuts for all the family

♦ Dog groomers

I’m sure there are many more things I have bought for the Christmas period.

Now, this doesn’t include a holiday or a mini trip away!

As a child we always had a Christmas like I have with my own little family. Lots of food, some cool presents and surround ourselves in family. We’re not fancy, just fun and happy.

Have you thought about what you spend at Christmas time?

Do you plan and save money in advance?

How do families survive if Christmas has a way of forcing you to spend money?

I'm a mum to 3 wild boys, a lover of pretty things & addicted to Instagram. My blog is about sharing pieces of my life & capturing moments as they happen.

Comments (51)

  • We try and stick to $500 per child. However it always goes way over. i think if i actually added it up it would easy be way over $1000 each this year, as one is getting an ipad, one an iphone4s and the other iphone4. they are all going on our work Vodaphone plan so it will end up being a monthly payment but HEY it is still extravagant. i dont shower my kids with things through the year. they get birthday presents and xmas presents and that is about it.
    We are having lunch at my cousins this year and that is still costing me about $400 after we take 4 kilos of prawns up. 2 home made pavs, 24 cans softdrink, wine & beer and a few nibbles Oh HANG ON and on top of that $400 is the presents i have brought all of them….
    So maybe your answer is YES over $1000
    I think i should stop now as you are making me think about how much i have spent and it seems WAY WAY TO MUCH
    Off to get a second job
    Pen :)

  • $1000 a child!!! Holy shit Penny! Is this what I have to look forward to when they want phones and computers?? LOL!

  • Remember those old Christmas Club accounts that banks used to have? Some credit unions still do them, and I use one. Every pay day, money’s automatically deducted and deposited so that by December I have $5000 saved.

    That’s not all for Christmas – all three of my boys have their birthdays in November/December (I know! What were we THINKING?!), so that’s an extra expense. Plus I use some of the money for the following year’s school fees, text books and uniforms. Those are all paid for now, so there’ll be no nasty extra costs in February, thank goodness.

    In the years when we host Christmas, some cash gets allocated to pay for food and drinks. Other years, we (hopefully) have some spare to cover meals out with friends and other celebrations without having to scrounge around to find the extra money.

    I’ve been putting money aside for Christmas throughout the year ever since I started work, so I don’t even notice the weekly cost. One thing I don’t have to worry about at this time of year is how to pay for everything. Now, if only choosing gifts was that easy…

    • I really should do this. I think every year I’ll start that. Would make my life much easier.

  • I have put a limit on my kids’ spend this year, and still feel like I’m haemorrhaging money. But extra food and general bits and pieces really add up. We are definitely in the over $1000 category!

    Merry Christmas!

  • Katrina, I don’t want to even think about the money we bleed at this time of the year and I wouldn’t say we were extravagant at all. I use the money from my blog advertising saved throughout the year to cover some of the costs for Christmas. Can’t live on it but it does make a nice end of year bonus. xx

    • That’s a great idea! I am not disciplined enough to save hahaha!

  • I direct debit money into a separate account each fortnight (my own version of a xmas account), so it’s not such a rude shock. When we had our first-born hubby and I set a per child limit of $200. I always add to that though with clothing, bits and pieces. It sure does get expensive once you add all the other costs to it. Is it any wonder some families choose to do secret santa? Thankfully, we don’t have too many to buy for.

    • See, I need a proper savings plan. :)

  • We have 3 and are spending around $150 per child. I guess by the time we buy for the kids, family etc and then all the food/drink/travelling etc, I guess it probably come in at a tad under $1000?
    We are lucky in that we live in an area where we can get very reasonably priced seafood as well! Sadly I do not save or plan, just buy it all in the last few weeks before Christmas!

  • Hi Katrina. I always start out with a budget and every year go over it!!! I hate to be caught out without a gift for someone or to have under catered. I laughed at your list of ‘extra’ expenses as mine is almost identicle – the dog is off to be groomed tomorrow in preparation for the big day. Hubby thinks I’m nuts but Harvey has to look nice for the guests also – it’s all part of creating the Christmas image! Enjoy the day. Ange

  • For me it used to be (way) over $1000 plus a lot of stress running around shopping and crazy spending for what ended up looking like a tiny pile of crap at the end of the day. Made the decision a couple of years ago to put a stop to the madness. My girls both get one big ticket item each, the adults of the family do an ‘op shop or handmade’ kris kringle (which is hilarious and the laughs are worth more than any dollar amount) and we all contribute to the food & drink. A lot less stressful or expensive. But having said all that it does seem like money still pours out of my wallet this time of year.

  • Definitely under $1000 this year. We try to stick to a $100 limit for the children and $20 – $30 for cousins. Thankfully we don’t have a large family and out children are too young for iphones and such. My husband and I will buy a gift for each other but no longer buy for other adults in the family. Each family contributes to Christmas dinner. It does become more expensive when we travel for Christmas. That will be next year so I’ll try and save throughout the year.

  • We have a christmas club account which comes in very handy! It’s nice to have that money ready and waiting. However, I’ve probably spent $2500 just on presents this year and we don’t even have kids! All the other stuff…food, parties etc, I’d rather not think about!! Lol!

  • Definitely in the over $1000 catergory – we would be well over $2000 this year. I try to keep to a budget and write down what I spend on gifts – impossible to keep a tab on the food and grog as buy bits here and there as I see them on special. I buy for 2 kids, 1 husband, 1 mother, 6 cousins and 2 good friends. Its my birthday on Boxing Day so we have a repeat performance then, so 2 days of good food, drink and celebrating!

  • Our kids are under 3 so not too expensive for presents yet :) This year I used a Christmas Planner so it was easier to keep track and not go over budget on presents, but I did forget about batteries and our grocery bill was huge this week! Merry Christmas!

    • Oh yes, don’t forget batteries! x

  • Christmas day is always at my mums, but christmas eve is at my place this time. My two teenage children (12 and 14) are getting iPads and all the things that must come with them (case, screen protector, gift card for apps) plus a few little things like pool toys, books (they are both avid readers like me) and some clothes. My hubby just came back from his first month at the mines, and with the extra money, why not spoil them? Theres not so secret santa in my family and i got my parents (yay, not. theyre difficult to buy for) and they got us (i hope its not a towel set). Its not the greatest idea, but ill put up wiith it this year. The grandparents are still giving things to the kids (my two, and one of my sisters three kids) and my three sisters. Theres always a blue in the fam on Boxing day (when my sister with the kids comes up). My baby sister is recently married (october this yr) and the second youngest is waiting to be proposed to.

    I work at a bank, and a lot of places have christmas savings accounts. I make one evry year, and include money for uniforms and school books.

  • OMG I think my kids lucked big time we us as parents, We have 1 present from santa, and one from us as parents and this is it, $100 per child, (3 boys aged 3,6,8) and $100 for the kmart wishing tree. My boys all have to pick a present that they would like and put it under the tree for some who can not afford presents. We as a family focus on just that family, It is a time to be thankful for what we have. Our food bill is not really much higher then normal. I think we all need to remember that is is just one day of the year. We are a single income family and live within our means. But our children know know different. So here’s a merry christmas to you all and stay save at this frantic time of year,

  • Our boys are aged 6 and 8 and this year we spent alittle more as last year was hard for us and we didn’t have the money i think we have spent around $600 per child but then plus everything else for family and food we would be over the $2000 mark but in saying that i don’t go out and buy my boys things through the year really looking forward to a big family day so i say its worth it merry christmas to you all xx

  • Oh I didn’t even think about those extra expenses. Sheeesh!
    Between my husband and I we definitely spend over $1000 buying for each brother, sister, nephew, niece and the parents.
    Then as I love to cook Christmas food we spend a lot on groceries too and grog of course!

    I love Christmas time, expenses and all, i’m just glad it only happens once a year :-)

    • They add up! Arrr!!! Merry Christmas x

  • My hubby and I buy a pressie for each other with a cap of $30 and the kids get one big present each from us (this year its a skateboard each) and bits and pieces from Santa. My children also get gifts from the Op shop too, we are not too precious in this household. The kid’s cousins all get a $25 gift, voucher or cash. My sisters and I organised this years ago and we’ve all stuck by it. I try so hard to not spend too much and do a pretty good job. If I don’t have the money I simply do not spend it.
    Merry Christmas Katrina.

    • Merry Christmas to you too Mandy! x

  • With 4 boys & large families on both sides, this time of year is madness money wise. But I am good at buying through the year and storing stuff, I bought my sister in laws gorgeous glass cake stand in about June when it was half price-ha. My boys are slightly spoilt, but as another said, apart from school supplies & sporting equipment & shoes, I really don’t spend any money on them any other time. So I guess we have spend about $350 on each kid this year. Plus gifts for each other & all the families kids. We do Kris Kringle for the adults on both sides, but buy for our own immediate family members-Mum, Dad & Siblings/Siblings Kids. And Christmas is here this year and like you, we will provide the majority even thought everyone is contributing in some way. So I quess with all the little bits & bobs it would be definately upwards of $3000. But that’s not bad for 4 kids. plus a big party with all our families members. But this is our splurge, we don’t spend on alot during the year & it is the time we are all together.

    • I think I’ll be creeping up around that figure too Niki. I don’t buy my boys endless things throughout the year either.I need to plan better next year though!! Merry Christmas to you lovely girl xo

  • I do not want to even start adding up – I might end up having a heart attack. I started with the alcohol we have bought to take to Wagga this year (cheaper at Dan Murphy’s) and that added up to almost $500. I will stop there! ha!!

    Merry Christmas Katrina x

    • My sister is loading up with stuff for us from Dan Murphy’s!

  • Funny. I was only just thinking about the things that I “have” to get done before Christmas. We are having lunch at our house this year, and they are the kind of things that I really like to get done, but really, no one else is really going to notice. Like yesterday, I had our carpets and couches steam cleaned. $350. Gone. I did draw the line at the guy who wanted $800 to prune our oak tree though.
    Totally agree. There are the presents and the food and the alcohol. And add to that all those other bits and pieces. Crikey! Easily over $1,000.
    Like you Katrina, totally inspired to do the Christmas Club Account for 2012. Then my husband won’t ask why we are haemoraging money!

    • $800 yo prune a tree!! Eeek!! But yep, I’m going to start a plan earlier next year!

      • It’s a whopper of a tree and you would never be able to do it yourself. But yes, $800 was the cheapest quote too. I think they see me coming ….

        Loved reading everyones comments. Good topic x

  • Merry Christmas Katrina.

    Normally we would be well over a $1000. Not this year. My whole family has had a shocker with many unforseen happenings and large expenses.
    I have never dedicated a certain dollar amount per child but just the number of presents each from us to be the same, be that two or ten.
    For the family this year we are doing a Kris Kringle for the adults $50 and the kids are getting $20 each from each adult which will add up.
    We have a family meal where everyone is going to contribute.
    As a family we decided to do this so no one has to feel awkward about what they can and can’t afford.

    Here’s to a better one next year.

    • I do hope you have a better year next year. Merry Christmas xo

  • We stopped doing the HAVE to christmas things about 7 years ago. It has been blissful since. The rule is – if you have added something to our lives or been someone we are grateful for – you get a gift. No ‘have to buy for’ presents. (eg. the teachers were terrible this year – no gifts!) We gave gifts to 40 people this year – I made or bought small but thoughtful gifts. I did custom christmas cards for 100. We aren’t travelling, and we will have a feast but for few people on the day. We have spent about $350 on our son including helping Santa out with his bill. I would say we skimmed the 1000.. just. And I am fine with that… but if i felt like I was spending big money on one day I might feel differently.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family Katrina.

    • Merry Christmas to you too! I like that idea of not giving presents to people just because (eg. teachers).

  • We’re definitely in the over $1000 category, but that’s because both my husband and I are from big families. Even with Kris Kringle there are still so many to buy for. We also have the European traditional Christmas eve as well as Christmas day. Double the turkey, ham, trimmings and grog!

    The other big expense is presents for teachers, carers and coaches. Not to mention Christmas cards…I love it though. Wish we could celebrate twice a year!

  • I prob wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at a couple of hundred dollars per child, this is about what my mum would’ve spent on us as kids. But then I met my husbands family. They don’t have gift giving ‘rules’ – if you see something you think a brother/mother/cousin would like, get it for them, no budget, no set person to buy for. Last year I got Matt’s mum and his brother a gift, but not his dad or sister. And that was fine. It was a hard concept for me to wrap my head around – but now I GET it! Matt’s niece and nephew only get a few gifts, all either handmade or bought from the op shop. At first this horrified me! Then I saw how happy Laura was with a second hand bike and brand new school shoes from the op shop. Matt’s sister spent $40 on each child last Christmas at op shop and they had books and toys and Lego and puzzles. My new in-laws have changed the way I look at the world, and Christmas, and I’m so thankful for it :)

    • Thank you for the comment – I really really liked this one. I think you are very lucky that your family doesn’t worry about who gets what. Merry Christmas to you! x

  • We have been in blissful ignorance in the past, but this year I have tried to keep an eye on spending. We have a 2yr old and a 9mth old and we buy for loads of family. We easily spend over $1000 on gifts (for everyone, not per person :)) Hubby had it in his head that we only spend about $500 until I pointed out that one trip to the shops was $500 on its own! Plus we spend alot more on food at this time of year and petrol to travel to see family. Next year we are going to set up and old school christmas savings account so it doesn’t come in one big hit.

  • I have nominated with our family assistance ect to not recieve it fortnightly but rather as a lump sum at tax time and keep that as our christmas money. When we recieve it the first thing I also do is pay our rates out of it for the whole year so we dont get that quarterly bill as well as paying for things like getting carpets/windows cleaned, dentists visit and car servicing. You dont seem to save for these things if you get it fortnighly but as a lump sum I have a list for it to get spent on and am pretty good a sticking to that list rather than frittering it away, which is tempting!

  • Well I understood everything you wrote but couldn’t understand why you mentioned ice in the Christmas-spend list?I mean you don’t have to buy that , you always have it in refrigerator isn’t? Coming to the questions you’ve asked I think each family have their own spending tendencies,if they really can’t control their desires then they may end up going overboard with their budget but personally I feel that’s OK given that it happens once a year! Christmas Time is after all a happy time,fun time!Love it love it love it:D
    Check this if you want –
    Christmas Holiday Personality
    What does your Christmas Holiday say about you?

    • Ice for all the esky’s for the Christmas parties!

  • I thought the trend was to keep expenses down…but after reading above comments…Yakes, not the case…all I can say is I’m glad my kids are now ADULTS!!

  • Hi katrina, my husband and I spend about $700 all up, we have 5 nieces and nephews and 4 adults on my husbands side and do Elfster secret santa online with my family with $fo limit. We have no kids, and help with the supply of food for two lunches. We only buy something small for each other…but this year we bought a house for christmas! Merry christmas!

    • Oh yay! Good work! Merry Christmas to you too xo

  • Gosh Katrina – I would hate to think what I spend all up! Have a wonderful Christmas :)

    Abbey x

    • I’m turning a blind eye too! ha! Merry Christmas Abbey. x

  • We’ve spent an average of $150 per child (4 kids) and on each other. My family only buy for kids, and my husband’s family is small. We’ve taken platters of home made goodies to each event (shortbread, truffles, fruit mince pies) and are hosting a dinner party with friends. We’d probably be a little over the $1000 mark, $1500 at a stretch.

    • Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family Megan x

  • Merry Christmas to you and your family Katrina.

    We have spent about $200 on my two girls this year. Financially it hasn’t been the best year so we are not spending too much this year.

    We are going to my inlaws for Christmas lunch and everyone takes something. We are taking a cheese and fruit platter. This eases the expense of whoever is hosting it.

    We have a commonwealth goal saver that we put $150 a week into automatically. This isn’t just for Christmas but for holiday etc as well and off course the odd time something unexpected crops up.

  • I would have to say we are definitely far below the $1000 mark. We have 3 boys ranging in age from 12 to 17 and we typically spend $50 to $100 per child and we have 10 relatives whom we “spend” roughly $250 on as well. However most of our purchases are made through ebates so that we get a percentage back as well as paying with a credit card which offers rewards points. As soon as we get our bill we pay off the entire amount so as not to incur fees. This past year alone we accrued enough points to purchase $300 in gift cards for gifts and supplies. I also have a standing request for hand crocheted dish cloths, homemade pasta, homemade preserves, and homemade marshmallows which are included as part of the gifts. Total out of pocket this year… $400 but we will get about $50 back in rebates/cash back incentives.


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