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The Season of Giving: How much do we spend at Christmas?

16 December 2020

The Season of Giving: How much do we spend at Christmas?

Christmas is a time to embrace all things merry and bright – which is probably why we tend to spend tens of billions of dollars at Christmas each and every year! And we’re not just talking about splurging during the Christmas sales: the average Aussie spends hundreds of dollars on gifts, travel, decorations, food, and all manner of things when the holidays arrive.

And while Christmas comes with a lot of happy feels, the cost of it brings many people a huge amount of stress. But, how much do we really spend, and what are the best ways to save for Christmas?

The cost of Christmas state by state

Interestingly, where you live in Australia can dictate how much you might spend on Christmas (on average, of course). According to consumer comparison website Finder’s 2019 report, the average household spend was $969 – but that number can be higher or lower depending on where you look in the country.

  • New South Wales: $1,223
  • Queensland: $778
  • Victoria: $1,038
  • South Australia: $629
  • Western Australia: $628

As you can see, the cost of Christmas seems to be higher for residents of New South Wales and Victoria. Much of this money is attributed to gifts, but there are a number of other things we’re forking out money for at Christmas.

Where are we spending our money?

While gifts are of course a big portion of our spending, Australians are also splashing cash in other areas.


Aussies just love Christmas getaways, which is why we spend around $470 on travel over the holidays, although that number is looking down for 2020. Of the different age groups, Gen X tend to spend the most money on travel.


Big Christmas lunches and dinner are ingrained into much of the Australian population, so it’s no surprise that food is one of the bigger costs of Christmas. In 2018, the average Aussie spent $122 on food at Christmas, with a lot of that money going towards purchasing a Christmas ham or turkey.


It’s called the ‘silly season’ for a reason. The average Australian will spend around $130 on alcohol, not including alcohol purchased as gifts.

Charitable donations and decorations

Around 43 per cent of Australians make a donation to a charity of their choice at Christmas, usually $40 or more – nice work Straya! We also spend a similar amount on Christmas decorations to really get us in the festive mood.

Who spends the most and how?

Men tend to spend more at Christmas compared to women, while Gen X take the prize for spending the most at over $800 ahead of Baby Boomers ($578) and Millennials ($470).

And the way we pay is just part of the cost of Christmas: in 2019, 5.4 million people relied on credit cards to get them through Christmas, and one in four Aussies didn’t have enough savings to cover the costs.

So, what can you do, and how can you make some savings at Christmas?

How to save money at Christmas

Planning ahead and budgeting give you the best chance of saving money at Christmas. Here’s some more ways to save for Christmas .

Set a price limit with family and friends

If it’s the thought that counts, then why not put a price limit on what you can spend for gifts among your friends and family? Whether it’s $50 or $100 or more (or less), it’s a good way to rein in spending.

Partake In Secret Santa

If the thought of having to buy for everyone in your family is overwhelming, why not opt to do Secret Santa instead? You can still buy for the kids if you want, but if other adults in your family feel the same way you do, buying a gift for just one other person is a good way to cut back on the cost of Christmas. You can go one step further and implement a spending limit as well.

Shop during the sales

If you’re organised, the Christmas sales tend to start in late November, so take advantage of them! Rather than waiting to do all your shopping on Christmas Eve (which far too many people seem to do), get in early and take advantage of sale prices.

Use gift cards and first-time offers

Do you have a bunch of gift cards stashed away somewhere that you don’t intend to use any time soon? Now’s the time to make use of them, and they’ll be extra handy at the Boxing Day sales. Plus, if you’re shopping online, many retailers offer a small discount if you’re a first-time shopper. All they’ll ask for is your email address (so that they can send you more offers and newsletters), but you can unsubscribe from these.

Share the catering job

Having the family around for Christmas is a joy, but it can also be both stressful and expensive! Ask family and friends to bring a plate of food to your get-togethers, and you’ll have a much more affordable and enjoyable time.

Having a plan of action will save you time, money and stress at Christmas – probably one of the most important days of the year for families across Australia. By understanding where your money goes, you can head into the festive season with a positive outlook on your finances.




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