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How Much Do Americans Spend on Christmas? (Christmas Spending Data)

Last updated: 3 weeks ago
6 min read

On average, Americans spend $997.73 per person on gifts, food, decoration, and travel.

  • $648 on gifts
  • $231 food and decorations
  • $118 for other holiday expenses like travel

Additionally, Americans plan to spend $97.34 on gifts for each child (on average, National Retail Federation data)

Do you find this high or low?

Find more average Christmas spending and budget statistics below.

Christmas spending statistics

Average Christmas Spending Statistics (Top Picks)

  • The average American spent $997.73 for holiday shopping on gifts, food, decorations, travel, and other related purchases.
  • Around 1 in 5 Americans go into debt for Christmas spending.
  • Back-to-College is the biggest shopping event with the personal budget of $1200.32. While Christmas is the biggest holiday with each American spending around $998.
  • On average, Americans plan to spend $97.34 on gifts per child in 2021.
  • Most Americans, 24%, give out 6-10 Christmas gifts to family and friends.
  • LEGOs for boys and Barbie dolls for girls are the most popular Christmas toys.
  • In 2021, America spent $886.7 billion on Christmas spending. It’s growing at 4% annually.
  • American Christmas budget for a household with 2 adults is $1995.46.
  • While Americans are big spenders on Christmas, their neighbors, Canadians spend more, but the biggest spenders are the British.
  • Americans spend different amounts on spouses, children, and friends: $110,9 on a spouse, $97.34 per child, $48.6 on friends

How much do Americans spend on Christmas?

The average American spent $997.73 for holiday shopping on gifts, food, decorations, travel, and other related purchases.

This is data from National Retail Federation (NRF) that makes a survey every year, so we can compare it.

The whole budget is not spent on holiday gifts but includes food purchases, decorations, and other holiday season spending. Here’s how last year’s budget was divided:

  • $648 on gifts for family and friends
  • $231 for food and decorations, including Christmas trees
  • $118 for other holiday purchases, including travel

The average holiday spending budget is about the same as the previous year and a bit less than in the pre-pandemic years when it was over $1,000.

Average American Christmas spending

How much did the average person spend on Christmas? Here’s a table with a yearly breakdown:

YearAvg. Christmas spendingChange
2021$997.73<1%
2020$997.79-4.8%
2019$1,047.834%
2018$1,0074.2%
2017$966-2.1%
2016$987+3.4%
2015$954+2.8%
2014$928+2.8%
2013$903+1.2%
2012$892+1.6%
2011$878+5.6%
2010$831+6%
2009$784+2.1%
2008$801-6%
2007$853+0.9%
2006$845+3%
2005$820+3.9%
2004$789/
Source: NRF 1

Here’s a table of Christmas budget breakdown compared to a 5-year average:

Christmas budget by category20215-year average
Gifts for family & friends$648$641
Food & decorations$231$224
Other holiday purchases (travel)$118$139
Source: NRF 2

People are spending a bit more on gifts, food, and decoration, but less on other holiday expenses like travel.

How many people go into debt for Christmas?

Around 1 in 5 Americans go into debt for Christmas spending.

Around 1 in 5 Americans go into debt for Christmas spending

In a Motley Fool survey, 21.5% of respondents said they go into debt for holiday spending.

  • Almost a third, 29.7%, of those who went into debt, said they intend to pay it back with tax returns.

(Source: Fool)

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Thankfully, more Americans engage in charity during the winter holidays.

7 out of 10 plan on engaging in a charitable activity in holiday season.

(Source: NRF 1)

49% start Christmas shopping in early November.

49% of consumers start Christmas shopping in early November

There are multiple reasons for it:

  • 45% want to avoid the stress of holiday shopping.
  • 36% don’t want to miss key holiday items they want to buy.

NRF is finding that more people are deciding to shop earlier and avoid the holiday craziness.

Year% of those who
start shopping before November
202149%
202042%
201939%
201840%
201741%
201641%
201540%
201440%
201341%
201241%
201139%
Source: NRF 3: N=7,921 NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics 2021 Consumer Holiday Survey

How winter holidays shopping compares to other consumer events?

Back-to-College is the biggest shopping event with the personal budget of $1200.32. While Christmas is the biggest holiday with each American spending around $998.

Christmas is the biggest holiday by personal spending

Here’s the latest 2021 data available:

Holiday/eventAvg. spend per person
Back-to-College$1200.32
Christmas$997.73
Back-to-School$848.90
Mother’s Day$220.48
Easter$179.70
Valentine’s Day$164.76
Father’s Day$174.10
Halloween$102.74
Independence Day$80.54
Super Bowl$74.55
St. Patrick’s Day$40.77
Source: NRF 4

Christmas spending is still the biggest among holidays when money goes for gifts, food, social gatherings, and celebration.

Back-to-college, Back-to-School, and Super Bowl are events and not really holidays. However, it’s still a time when consumers spend more money on school items, clothes, and other things students need. Many items are big-ticket purchases of new laptops and smartphones, increasing average spending.

Average Christmas spending per child

On average, Americans plan to spend $97.34 on gifts per child in 2021.

Whether this is actually how much they spend is debatable as many people cross their budget plans. And there is a variance from family to family. Some spend over $200, while others don’t spend anything at all. See the data below.

  • Most Americans, 23%, plan on spending between $50-$100 for gifts per child.
Budget for Christmas gifts per child

The Christmas budget per child is different from family to family but falls in the below ranges.

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Survey respondents were asked how much they plan to spend on Christmas gifts for every child.

Here’s the breakdown:

Budget for gifts per child% of answers
No money2.2%
Up to $2512.6%
$25 – $5020%
$50 – $10023%
$100 – $15014.7%
$150 – $20010%
Over $20017.5%
Source: Statista survey

Another survey by YouGov Plc with 2,485 respondents from 2021 found slightly different data.

  • For each child under 18, an average shopper plans to spend $276 on gifts.

This is more than what the previous survey found, but it is probably less relevant as it has fewer people participating, which increases the odds of statistical inaccuracy. Plus, the question is different, only asking about the gift budget for kids under 18.

How many gifts on average do Americans give for Christmas?

Most Americans, 24%, give out 6-10 Christmas gifts to family and friends.

Most Americans (almost a quarter) give 6-10 Christmas gifts to family and friends

Over 70% of Americans give in the range of 1 to 15 gifts. While a considerable share of 11% give more than 20.

Here’s a breakdown of how many Christmas gifts Americans give:

How many gifts do you give on Christmas?Share of answers
1-3 gifts16%
4-5 gifts19%
6-10 gifts24%
11-15 gifts14%
16-20 gifts8%
More than 20 gifts11%
Don’t know8%
Source: Statista survey

What are the most popular Christmas gifts for boys and girls?

LEGOs for boys and Barbie dolls for girls are the most popular Christmas toys.

Here’s a table of the most popular Christmas toys among kids:

Popular toys for boysPopular toys for girls
LEGOBarbie (doll brand)
Cars and trucksDolls
Hotwheels (brand of toy cars)LOL Dolls (brand dolls)
PlayStation (console & games)LEGO
Video gamesApple products/smartphone
Nerf (brand of toy guns)American girl/baby dolls
Paw patrol (cartoon )Apparel & accessories (Frozen-related)
Remote control carsDisney/Disney princess
Xbox (console & games)Beauty products
Pokemon (cartoon)Nintendo switch (gaming console)
NRF 2

How much does America spend on Christmas per year?

In 2021, America spent $886.7 billion on Christmas spending.

American holiday sales per year

Every year Americans spend a bit more. The trend of historical holiday sales is positive, with an average growth rate of 4% per year from 2001 to 2021, as per NRF data.

How much did America spend on Christmas in previous years?

Here’s a table of American Christmas spending per year :

YearChristmas sales% Growth
2021$886.7 billion+14.1%
2020$777.35 billion+8.2%
2019718.64 billion+3.9%
2018691.48 billion+1.8%
2017679.24 billion+5.0%
2016646.72 billion+3.0%
2015628.17 billion+2.7%
2014611.52 billion+4.8%
2013583.52 billion+2.8%
2012567.65 billion+2.6%
2011553.26 billion+4.6%
2010528.77 billion+5.2%
2009502.67 billion+0.2%
2008501.5 billion-4.7%
2007526.0 billion+2.7%
2006512.1 billion+3.2%
2005496.0 billion+6.2%
2004467.2 billion+6.8%
2003437.6 billion+5.1%
2002416.4 billion+2.1%
2001407.8 billion/
Source: NRF 1, NRF 5 data. NRF defines holiday spending as November & December.

Average Christmas household budget

American Christmas budget for a household with 2 adults is $1995.46.

The Christmas household budget varies significantly due to the variance in the number of family members. The estimate assumes 2 adults with income for easier comparison on a year-by-year basis.

This number includes a budget for gifts, food, decorations (including Christmas trees), and other related expenses like travel, eating out, etc.

How much did the average family spend on Christmas over the years?

YearHousehold Christmas budget
2021$1995.46
2020$1995.58
2019$2095.66
2018$2014
2017$1932
2016$1974
2015$1908
2014$1856
2013$1806
2012$1784
2011$1756
2010$1662
2009$1568
2008$1602
2007$1706
2006$1690
2005$1640
2004$1578
Source: NRF 1

How much money is spent on Christmas worldwide?

While Americans are big spenders on Christmas, their neighbors, Canadians spend more, but the biggest spenders are the British.

United Kingdom, Canada, and United States are the biggest spenders on Christmas

The British spend £1,108 pounds which is equal to $1,524.3 USD assuming the average 2021 GBP/USD exchange rate. Canadians are 2nd in holiday spending with $1,420 CAD, equivalent of $1,132.87 USD, spent per person.

Here’s a breakdown of Christmas spending worldwide by country:

CountryChristmas spending
(local currency)
USD equivalentSource
United Kingdom£1,108$1,524.3YouGov
Canada$1,420 CAD$1,132.87PWC
United States$997.73 USD$997.73NRF 1
Australia$1,232 AUD$925.6Finder
France€639$755.9CF
Spain€531$628.2ThinkSpain
Germany€522.1$617.6Statista
Poland2129 PLN$551.8Statista
Italy€370$437.7Statista
Mexico4889.1 MXN$241USDStatista
spending/per person (Used avg. exchange rate 2021)

How much to spend on Christmas gifts per person?

Americans spend different amounts on spouses, children, and friends:

  • $110,9 on average for gifts for a spouse
  • $97.34 on average for gifts per child
  • $48.6 on average for gifts for friends
Average spent on Christmas gifts per person
Source: Statista

The averages are based on a Statista survey of 1018 US consumers.

Americans spend more money on their spouses and kids, while around half for friends. This shows Christmas is still predominantly a family holiday where you show appreciation for those closest to you.

What are the most wanted gifts?

Here’s a table of what’s most often on the Christmas wish list:

GiftPopularity
Gift cards56%
Clothing and accessories47%
Books and other media32%
Electronics, including headphones26%
Home decoration23%
Personal care products20%
Jewelry20%
Home improvement16%
Sporting goods16%
Other7%
Source: NRF 2

Read more:

Conclusion

This was the latest data on how much Americans spend on Christmas. It’s important to know that your state’s average amount might not be average for the US. What’s normal can vary greatly from county to county.

In the end, spending just enough to make your family happy and enjoy the holiday season while not damaging your finances is the only thing that matters.

How much do you plan to spend this Christmas?

Share with us in the comments below.

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