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December 18, 2021

How much could you save by skipping Christmas?

There are a lot of curmudgeons in this world.

Donald Trump doesn’t seem like the most pleasant fellow; Christian Bale’s a pretty volatile guy; and this dude appears to be a mean S.O.B.

But you’d have to think none of those people, misery and dejection considered, would suggest skipping Christmas.

Sure it’s expensive, but even the fickle Ebenezer Scrooge came around on the holidays – and he’s probably the most infamous penny-pincher we’ve got.

Yet let’s humour the numbers to answer the question once and for all: how much would we save if we passed over Christmas? has summoned the National Retail Federation (NRF) to help give us a breakdown of the costs. Gifts, as you might imagine, take up the bulk of your Christmas cash.

Last year in the U.S., consumers spent the following on presents during the holidays:

-For family members: $431
-For themselves: $119.82
-For friends: $94.52
-For others (misc.): $43.50
-For co-workers: $26.70

That’s a total of $715.54. And we’re just getting started. The average price of the following is also to be accounted for come Christmas:

-a tree: $41.50
-cards and postage: $32.43
-flowers: $22.61
-food and candy/treats: $95.04 (a disputed number; some surveys say it’s closer to $500)
-decorations: $51.43
-travel: $960.50

If you take the NRF’s modest numbers, that’s at least $958.55 using the low figure on food and not factoring in any travel. Consider a higher grub budget and a bit of travel and that total can easily reach about $2,300.

So, let’s call it down the middle and say you’d have a good shot at saving $1,600 if you skipped Christmas. Is that worth it?

Forbes suggests you put that cash into a high-interest savings account or CD, or pay down any credit card debt you might have.

Crazy? No, not really. But come on, this is Christmas! We know it’s expensive, so maybe a sobering account like this just gives us reason to tone things down and focus on what’s most important around the holidays.

Do these numbers sound in line with what you’re spending this season?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...