Get expert advice delivered straight to your inbox.

Skip to Main Content

Where Does Your Christmas Spending Rank?

Americans plan to spend $997.79 on holiday purchases for themselves and their families this year. That’s down from last year’s $1,048, but it’s still a big chunk of change.1

Is that all on presents under the tree? Nope—here’s a breakdown:
Gifts: $650
Food and decorations: $230
Other holiday purchases: $117

Yeah, Christmas can get expensive. But remember: Those are averages based on what the average American plans to spend. Which brings us to our next point:

How Much Will You Spend on Christmas?

Turns out, you don’t have to be average. You’re in charge of your money and your spending. So, you get to decide if you spend $100 or $1,000 on gifts this year. Just follow these three tips while you’re figuring out how much you’ll spend on Christmas:

  1. Don’t spend more than you can really afford—aka don’t go into debt to fund your Christmas. You don’t need to still be paying off your kid’s new bike come St. Patrick’s Day.
  2. When you know what you actually have to spend, create a Christmas budget.
  3. Stick to the budget. (If you need an easy and awesome budgeting app, try out EveryDollar!)

Quick Tips to Stay on Budget This Christmas

Keep your Christmas list from getting too long. Christmas spending can get out of control real quick if you buy gifts for every extended family member and coworker. Forget obligation gifts. Buy only for the people you really want and need to buy for. (You can use our Christmas Present Planner to help!)

Tighten spending in other spots of your budget. The money for Christmas has to come from somewhere. Saving up over a few months before December is always your best bet. But if you haven’t been doing that, it’s not too late to budget for all the holly and jolly of the season. Just tighten spending in other areas of your budget.

Check your motives. If you’re feeling pressure to spend more than you have this Christmas, ask yourself why. Is it because you want to look a certain way to others? Is it because you want better for your children than you had as a kid? It might be time to remind yourself what the Grinch learned when his heart tripled in size: Christmas isn’t about tags, packages, boxes or bags. Check your motives so you can stay in budget.

Shop deals online. Shopping online might be your cup of cocoa if you’re prone to overspending in a frenzied mall. Plus, it’s so easy to check for deals and do quick price comparisons across websites. Just remember, shipping isn’t an instant thing. If you get down to crunch time, consider a digital gift like an e-book.

Go in on a group gift. Sometimes the perfect gift for someone on your list is, well, sort of expensive. Don’t worry. You don’t have to settle for coal. Just get others to go in on it together. Maybe you and your siblings all pay for part of that fancy grill Dad’s been talking about nonstop. Or email all the parents in your kid’s class to do one, bigger gift card. You don’t have to sacrifice quality to stay in budget. You just need to plan well.

Give meaningful gifts. Instead of knickknacks or random clutter this year, give presents that mean something. For your BFF, that could be a framed photo from an important moment together. Maybe snag a journal for your nephew who loves writing or a book on something that’s near and dear to Mom. Think about gifts that will make an impact on their hearts, and maybe on their lives!


Start budgeting with EveryDollar today!

Hey, we’ve got lots of options when it comes to meaningful gifts—books, planners, tools and memberships to help people reach their goals. There’s not much more meaningful than that.

We’ve shared Christmas spending averages for this year and some ways to help you stay on budget. But really, the holidays shouldn’t be about being “average”—in your spending, your gift-giving, or your priorities. Be better than average. Be great. Make a plan, set a budget—and have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Did you find this article helpful? Share it!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

Related Articles

10 Financial Lessons From Classic Christmas Movies

10 Financial Lessons From Classic Christmas Movies

What can your favorite Christmas movies teach you about money? A lot! And we aren’t even talking about not giving out loans (looking at you George Bailey!).

Ramsey Ramsey