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Fun Financial Christmas Facts

Written by
Andrew Tavin, CFEI
Andrew Tavin is a personal finance writer who covered budgeting with expertise in building credit and saving for OppU. His work has been cited by Wikipedia, Crunchbase, and Hacker News, and he is a Certified Financial Education Instructor through the National Financial Educators Council.
Read time: 8 min
Updated on January 11, 2023
young woman with glasses smiling and holding a pencil ready to share fun financial Christmas facts
Which age group in America is buying the most holiday gifts for their pets? If you guessed Millennials — and of course you did — you'd be wrong!

How much are people spending on Christmas gifts this year? Where do Christmas trees cost the most? 

We here at the OppLoans Blog have two primary objectives in this article: providing our readers with valuable financial information and offering seasonal facts to keep the conversation going at the holiday table with your families -- or, this year perhaps, during the family Zoom.

So put on a Christmas song, wipe the spider webs off your decorations, stand under the mistletoe, pour yourself a glass of eggnog, and read some Christmas trivia all silent night long. 

No 1. COVID Christmas time 

While COVID has led to some unfortunate economic circumstances, research commissioned by OppLoans* shows that many people are planning to spend in the hundreds during the holiday season. In fact, consumers are planning to spend an average of $730 on holiday expenses this year, whether that be Xmas gifts, candy canes, Christmas decorations, or Christmas dinner!

No 2. Many are spending less

While some customers are still spending a considerable amount this Christmas season, the aforementioned economic downturn has led others to cut back this year.  

OppLoans’ research* showed that 48% of respondents plan to spend less this year than they did last year, and 3-in-10 plan to spend $250 or less. Hopefully, the bulk of Black Friday holiday shopping was completed online, as stampeding crowds aren’t exactly within COVID safety recommendations. 

No 3. 'Tis better to give

Of course, this year presents unique challenges. You might be wondering what a more typical financial picture of the holiday season looks like in the United States, and we will indulge that wonder in our next few bits of trivia. 

A 2018 study commissioned by TD Ameritrade sought to find out how different groups spend their holiday money and who they spend it on. And then they were kind enough to share that information with us:

When inquiring about gift-giving, the Ameritrade study found most people were planning to buy presents for their kids and spouses. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they would be buying presents for either their kid, spouse, or both.

No 4. Presents for pups

If you have concerns that only humans receive presents for the holidays, worry no longer! The Ameritrade study found 20% of people were buying presents for their pets. And no — despite what you might assume — this isn’t just some Millennial thing.

In fact, 27% of Gen-X responders said they planned to buy gifts for their pets while only 22% of Millennials said they’d do the same.

No 5. Treat yourself

One millennial stereotype was a little more supported. It turns out millennials were the most likely to buy a gift for themselves, with 42% of millennial respondents looking to treat themselves. The older generations may judge, but after another year of dealing with massive student loan debt, stagnant wages, inconsistent benefits, and now a pandemic, maybe they deserve something nice.

No 6. Office politics

Planning to get some nice gifts for your coworkers? Just know it may be unrequited. Only 14% of respondents, fewer than any other category, said they planned to get a gift for a “coworker.”

No 7. 'Tis the season to be… guilty?!

The TD Ameritrade study also asked respondents whether they felt guilty about their Christmas purchases. Sixty-three percent did not feel guilty about their Christmas purchases, but there’s a big generational split.

While 81% of boomers did not feel guilty about their Christmas purchases, 62% of millennials did. Gen-Xers were in the middle, with 64% not feeling guilty.

No 8. The cost of Christmas trees

A 2018 study by the Chamber of Commerce found there’s a pretty big difference in the average price of a Christmas tree depending on where you live. Christmas trees were at their most expensive in New York, much like everything is more expensive in New York. On average, a 2018 Tammany Tenenbaum would have set you back $90.

No 9. One Dakota is closer to Santa’s house

Looking for the cheapest Christmas tree you can find in America? Then look no further than North Dakota, where Christmas trees are just $33 a pop on average. Or at least they were in 2018. At that price, you might as well get one for your dog, as well.

No 10. Red, white, and green

So now you know where to get the cheapest and most expensive Christmas trees in America, but what was the national average? It turns out it was right about in the middle between the New York high and the South Dakota low. A good old American six-foot Christmas tree would have set you back $59 on average.

No 11. On the first day of Christmas, my true love spent for me

Did you know some banks have Christmas traditions? Every year PNC compiles the “Christmas Price Index,” a measurement of the total cost of the items in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” As of this writing, the CPI is $16,168.14, which is a 58.5% decrease this year to accommodate for the impact of COVID on this year’s holiday season.  

No 12. Santa Claus is coming to the bank

Whether you call him Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas, or plain old jolly Santa Claus, the man has a big job. He has to travel around the whole world before the end of Christmas Eve. 

Quite frankly, it sounds exhausting. So what does a job like that pay? Well, the average hourly wage of a mall Santa is $30 an hour, but the Santa elite can earn more than $100 an hour. Hopefully, the “one percent” of Santas aren’t looking down on the more paycheck-to-paycheck Santas.

No 13. You’ve heard about Elf on a Shelf, but Elf 2 on a Shelf 2?

Will Ferrell took his place in the Christmas movie hall of fame when he appeared in “Elf.” However, he did not want to appear in a sequel. Whether it was creative differences or a lack of a script, Ferrell turned down $29 million to appear in a sequel. So if you’re really desperate for an Elf sequel, you’ll need to offer Ferrell at least $30 million.

No 14. All I want for Christmas is 2 million dollars

Just as Will Ferrell managed to create one of the first Christmas movie classics of the modern-day, Mariah Carey created the first song in a long time to be added to the Christmas canon with “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” 

While Spotify is notorious for offering artists very little compensation per stream, Carey’s Yule opus has brought in more than $2 million since it’s been added to the platform, which is only a fraction of the total royalties. Overall, the song has earned more than $60 million in royalties throughout the years. That’ll buy a whole lot of tinsel and Christmas cards. Eat your heart out Bing Crosby! Forget White Christmas, Carey’s Christmas is all green.

No 15. A Scrooge loose

The most expensive Christmas movie ever made starred Jim Carrey. And no, it wasn’t The Grinch. It was the CGI version of A Christmas Carol, based on the Charles Dickens story. At $200 million, it cost more to make than the original Iron Man movie.

No 16. On Donner and Blitzen and… the rest…

Want to start your own Santa operation? It might not be quite as expensive as you think. You could theoretically get a reindeer for around $2,000.

Eleven more of those --  plus feed, a place to keep them, a sleigh, flying lessons, and jingle bells -- and you’ll be on your way to delivering toys to the children of the world in no time! You might not have Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but maybe there’s a Blue-Nosed Benny available.

No 17. Shine bright like a fruitcake

Everyone seems to complain about Christmas fruitcakes, but they keep being sold, so someone must be buying them. However, no one bought the world’s most expensive fruitcake.

At $1.72 million, it was created to be displayed in a Japanese department store. What makes it so expensive? A whole bunch of diamonds. So maybe don’t try to eat it.

No 18. Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, you are very tall

If your Christmas tree isn’t so tall that it pops through the roof of your house and allows the snow to get in, did you really even celebrate Christmas at all?

Well no matter how tall it was, it probably wasn’t taller than the world’s tallest natural Christmas tree, which was erected in Seattle in December of 1950. It was taller than 221 feet.

No 19. Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, you are artificial

If you thought the Seattle Christmas tree was tall, just wait until you hear about the world’s largest artificial Christmas tree! It was 236 feet tall and erected in Sri Lanka. So… it actually wasn't that much taller. Huh? Good job, nature.

No 20. A very English Christmas

Christmas may be an even bigger deal in England than it is in the United States. Apparently, British people are planning to spend an average of £965 on Noel gifts this year, which is actually an increase over last year. The ancestors of the old English Anglo-Saxon people may have celebrated the Winter Solstice back before they left Germany, but at some point after reaching the British Isles, they decided Christmas was their jam.

Happy holidays!

And there we are. Enjoy your Christmas facts, and your holiday season generally. Just don’t read them while you’re driving your one-horse open sleigh. Instead, keep an eye out for St. Nicholas as he flies by!

*Starred data was derived from an OppLoans emergency preparedness survey, which surveyed 800 U.S. household financial decision-makers in October 2020 regarding their budget and savings practices.

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