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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?



  1. Jo

    December 22, 2011

    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!

    • Katrina

      December 22, 2011

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

      • Jo

        December 22, 2011

        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

  2. deborah

    December 22, 2011

    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.

    • Katrina

      December 22, 2011

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

  3. Lanne

    December 22, 2011

    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.

    • Katrina

      December 22, 2011

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

  4. Kim (workingwomenaus)

    December 22, 2011

    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!

  5. Emma

    December 22, 2011

    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 🙂

    • Katrina

      December 22, 2011

      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

  6. Laura

    December 22, 2011

    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.

  7. Karen

    December 22, 2011

    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!

  8. Sherlyn

    December 22, 2011

    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?

    • Katrina

      December 22, 2011

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

  9. Gail McCormack

    December 22, 2011

    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!!

  10. Carly

    December 22, 2011

    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!

    • Katrina

      December 23, 2011

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

  11. Abbey

    December 22, 2011

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

    Abbey x

    • Katrina

      December 23, 2011

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

  12. Megan

    December 22, 2011

    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.

    • Katrina

      December 23, 2011

      Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family Megan x

  13. Dawn Stan

    December 23, 2011

    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.

  14. Peggy

    December 31, 2011

    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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