Question of the Day: How Much Does the Average Consumer Spend On Holiday Gifts?

Dec 01, 2014
Activity, Behavioral Finance, Question of the Day, Budgeting, Purchase Decisions

Good question that can lead into a exercise where students create a holiday budget.  The answer (from The Week):

The average consumer will spend $804 during this year’s holiday season, according to the National Retail Foundation, and more than a third of shoppers will go over their budget. In order to stay within your means, write down each of your holiday expenses in advance, including food costs, “the white elephant gift for the family party, the office Secret Santa exchange, and all the service workers you tip extra.” To save some dough, think of giving presents that “cost more time than money,” like knitted scarves, baking mixes, or even chores you can offer friends and family.

Obviously, high school and college students will spend less than this amount.  Might be fun to survey the class to see how much they plan to spend after they have had 10-15 minutes to create a holiday budget. You can revisit this in January to see if they were able to stay within their budget.

Discussion points to explore:

  • Does the amount you spend on a gift reflect the importance of that person in your life?
  • What is the best gift you ever received? Was it the most expensive OR was it a gift that reflected a lot of thought on the part of the giver?
  • How many gifts that you received last holiday season are you still using today?
  • When do you think is the best time to shop for gifts?

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.