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The Real Price of Holiday Cheer: How Holiday Spending Affects Your Health

Enjoying holidays within your budget can save you a lot of unnecessary trouble.

Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on January 9, 2024

Person Holds Expensive Holiday Gift In Front Of Festive Christmas Tree

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Every year, as the holiday season begins, streets, homes, and shopping centers become brightly decorated, signaling the start of a widespread holiday shopping spree.

But while holidays like Christmas and Black Friday are synonymous with joy and celebration, they also usher in a wave of expenditures that can significantly impact our financial health.

Understanding the balance between festive indulgence and economic well-being is crucial for our mental balance and stress-free holidays.

In this article, we will explore the intricate dance of global holiday spending and its influence on our personal finances.

According to research on holiday spending, the shopping frenzy during Black Friday and Christmas is not just a cultural trend; it plays a critical role in driving the economy, influencing consumer habits, and shaping financial trends globally.

There are various marketing strategies and specific consumer psychology tricks that are used to influence our urge to spend. 

Let’s take a look at how it works and what you can do to have financially wise, easy holidays.


Global Holiday Spending Trends


With its spirit of giving and celebration, the holiday season sees a remarkable surge in consumer spending globally.

In 2023, global holiday spending was projected to reach a staggering 1.3 trillion USD, defying economic concerns and highlighting the enduring allure of festive shopping.

Christmas and Black Friday stand out as significant contributors to this trend, with their unique blend of tradition, marketing, and consumer enthusiasm.

While Christmas remains a global event with deep cultural and religious roots, Black Friday has also emerged as a retail powerhouse, particularly in North America.

However, spending on these occasions differs.


Celebration Costs Compared: Christmas and Black Friday


Christmas and Black Friday are often seen as the pinnacle of holiday spending, but their impact and consumer behavior are not the same.

While Christmas is predominantly driven by tradition and the spirit of giving, Black Friday’s appeal lies in its aggressive sales and the thrill of finding fantastic bargains.


  • Research shows that the average American consumer spends about 1,000 USD on Christmas, with a significant portion allocated to gifts.


  • In contrast, Black Friday spending tends to focus more on deals and discounts, with consumers spending an average of 430 USD per person.


This disparity highlights the different motivations behind each holiday’s spending: Christmas is about generosity and celebration, while Black Friday is driven by the excitement of competitive pricing and the urgency created by limited-time offers.


The Psychology Behind Holiday Spending


What exactly drives our urge to spend so much money during the holiday season?

Interestingly, it’s our psychology that fuels holiday spending.

During the holidays, a combination of nostalgia, societal pressure, and the desire to express love and appreciation through gifts often leads to increased spending.

The dopamine rush associated with finding the perfect gift or snagging a great deal can be exhilarating, creating a cycle of spending and emotional reward.

Marketing strategies also play a significant role in influencing consumer behavior.

Retailers use emotional advertising, showcasing idyllic holiday scenes, and happy families, to tap into the consumer’s desire to recreate these moments.

This emotional appeal, combined with time-limited deals and the fear of missing out, can lead to impulsive purchases and overspending.


Financial Health During the Holidays


Sadly, the actual cost of our holidays often goes beyond the immediate financial outlay.

The joy of gifting and the excitement of sales can make us quickly forget financial prudence and the immediate pleasure of holiday purchases ends with financial strain.

This strain is not just about the depletion of savings or the accumulation of debt – holiday stress has broader implications for our financial, physical, and mental health.

Overspending during the holidays can lead to increased stress, anxiety, emotional eating, relationship issues, and a challenging start to the new year.

Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a more balanced approach – one that allows for festive cheer without compromising financial stability.

Now that we know how strong psychological marketing triggers are, and how overspending can negatively influence your next year, let’s take a look at how you can take a wiser and health-focused approach to holiday shopping.


Smart Spending: Tips for Staying Within Budget During the Holidays


Here are ten practical tips to help you control your holiday spending and stay within budget, ensuring a merry and financially wise season.


1. Set a Clear Budget


Before the holiday rush begins, determine a realistic budget for your spending.

This budget should include all holiday-related expenses: gifts, food, decorations, and travel.

Stick to this budget to avoid overspending.


2. Make a Shopping List


Create a detailed list of all the items you need to purchase and whom you’re buying gifts for.

This will prevent impulse buys and help you stay focused on your budget.


3. Start Early and Spread Out Purchases


Avoid the last-minute rush by starting your holiday shopping early.

This allows you to spread out your spending over several months, making it more manageable.


4. Compare Prices and Look for Deals


Do your research and compare prices across different stores and online platforms.

Black Friday can be a good time to buy Christmas gifts with a bigger discount.

However, be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.


5. Embrace Homemade Gifts


Consider making gifts yourself rather than buying them. Homemade gifts can be more personal and cost-effective.

Additionally, they show that thought and effort were a part of your gift creation process.


6. Limit Credit Card Use


Try to use cash or debit for your holiday purchases to avoid running up a credit card bill that you’ll struggle to pay off later.

If you do use a credit card, choose one with the best rewards or cash-back options.


7. Track Your Spending


Keep a close eye on your spending throughout the season. Regular check-ins with your budget will help you adjust if you’re starting to overspend.


8. Focus on Meaningful Experiences


Remember that the holiday season is about spending time with loved ones.

Planning activities or experiences can often be more meaningful and less expensive than buying material gifts.


9. Shop After-Holiday Sales for Next Year


Take advantage of post-holiday sales to buy gifts for the next year at a significantly reduced price.

It’s also a perfect time to stock up on Christmas decorations, as they usually go on sale right after Christmas.


10. Practice Gratitude and Contentment


Gratitude can help you notice more positive things in life and reduce the urge to overspend.

Appreciating what you already have, what you can afford, and the season’s true spirit can be incredibly fulfilling.

By implementing these strategies, you can enjoy the holidays without the stress of financial repercussions.

It’s all about celebrating wisely and cherishing the season in a way that aligns with your financial health.




The holiday season is an array of lights, gifts, and festive gatherings.

To keep the mood merry and bright, navigating this period with financial mindfulness is essential.

After all, the true essence of the holidays lies not in extravagant spending but in the joy of togetherness, the warmth of shared experiences, and the celebration of life’s simple pleasures.

By being aware of your emotions, understanding holiday marketing tricks, and adopting smart spending strategies, you can ensure that your holiday celebrations are financially sound and stress-free.

Remember, a mindful holiday is one where the heart is full and health – both physical and financial – secured.

Here’s to celebrating with wisdom and joy!

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