Cost of Christmas

Trinity News breaks down the spending habits of students around the festive season

Christmas can be an expensive time of year — from buying presents for family to Kris Kindle with work colleagues and a general increase in socialisation with friends, the season of giving could also be regarded as the season of spending. With the cost of living crisis weighing heavily on many Irish people’s minds, one can only wonder how different the Christmas period will look this year.

Last Christmas, we had yet to return to normality with COVID-19 restrictions still looming over the country and 8pm curfews cutting the holiday celebrations short. Christmas 2022 is our first Christmas completely back to normality with regular trading and hospitality hours. Speaking to Trinity News, one student shares their excitement for the holiday period to return to how it was “I absolutely can’t wait I almost forgot that we had restrictions last year, it felt so surreal. So for this Christmas, I’m going to go all out and make the most of it. I think we all deserve it to be honest after the last two years.”

Christmas 2022 is our first Christmas completely back to normality with regular trading and hospitality hours 

In 2021, the Christmas spend around the country was €1.58 billion more than other months of the year. However, with the cost of living crisis and many families cutting down on spending, the amount we spend this holiday period is projected to be significantly lower. In a survey conducted by PayPal, it showed that the average Irish person spends an average of €721 on gifts at Christmas time in 2021. The figure stood much lower in 2020 with the average spend being €541 however, one can predict that as a result of the cost of living crisis, the amount we will be spending this Christmas will be drastically lower. In the Credit Union Consumer Sentiment Survey, it was found that three out of four consumers will be cutting back on spending for necessities such as food and heating. With Economist Austin Hughes predicting that this Christmas will be “Scrooge-like” due to cutbacks. 

Speaking to Trinity News, one student breaks down her Christmas spending “I probably spend around €600 around Christmas Time. I start saving super early for it, usually starting around mid-November to make sure I have enough once the Christmas shopping starts.” Another student states how they spend “around €500” during the holiday period but notes that they do have a small family which would factor into the amount they spend during December. 

Modern-day Christmas festivities […] have turned into a money-making racket for businesses, cashing in on the holiday fun

One student explains: “Christmas, to me, just feels like a shopping spree, I’m not exactly a practising Catholic and don’t even go to mass at Christmas time but still, I love to ‘celebrate’ it.” She goes on to say “the commercialisation of Christmas has resulted in people almost forgetting that they are in fact celebrating a religious holiday and I suppose I am one of those people too.” Modern-day Christmas festivities have drifted from its religious roots and have turned into a money-making racket for businesses, cashing in on the holiday fun.

The Christmas period is often a time of reunion. With people home for the holidays, the nights out, catch-ups, dinners and drinks seem never-ending. One student describes how she “tends to do more around Christmas”, making note of brunch dates and coffees with friends. However, living on a student budget, she explains how she is “conscious of what [she’s] ordering” and the thought of increasing expenses is in the back of her mind. A victim of the January blues, the student explains how in the new year, “there is such a feeling of guilt and regret and feel like I shouldn’t have spent money on that” around the holiday period. The student feels that this regret is “sad because all of the things you spend money on at Christmas, all contribute to having a social christmas. Going to drinks, putting on a Christmas dinner with friends, doing Kris Krindle, they’re all such important things around this time of year.” What is meant to be a time of joy and excitement can often turn to stress and worry due to the costs associated with the festive season. Unfortunately, the financial obligations can often overshadow the true spirit of the holiday.

A student with a more creative approach to gift-giving notes how she is “trying to save by doing paintings for my parents for Christmas instead of spending loads because I really don’t have that much money.” Another student explains how “some members of my family like my Granny would know that, as a student, I don’t have an unlimited budget so, instead of buying her a present, she would rather I do something for her. In the past I’ve made a scrapbook and another year I baked her a Christmas cake which she loved!” It is possible to give gifts without breaking the bank this Christmas. Secondhand books from charity shops or The Last Bookshop on Camden Street have a wide array of books, both fiction and non-fiction, so you can definitely find a book to suit the reader in your life! If you are more in touch with your creative side, writing a poem or story is a heartfelt way to show someone that you care this Christmas!

In relation to budgeting, one student explains how “I feel like it’s time for me to grow up and actually try to manage my money this year because I feel so guilty having to ask my parents for some extra money around Christmas time because it’s a stressful time for everyone, whether you are a student or not.” She goes on to say how this year she would like to “have a set budget for going out and drinking” and money set aside for gifts because she “wants to make sure there is no overlap” in her spending. Another student feels like “everyone overindulges at Christmas” and notes how “[she doesn’t] really budget and am just tapping away.” However, she “would feel less guilty about spending money over Christmas,” given the time of year it is.

Overall, Christmas 2022 may look very different to previous years, whether that be in a positive or a negative way. For the lucky few, the cost of living crisis will make no difference to their festivities and the celebration can live on; however, for most, budgeting and cutting down on costs will be on the cards this year. For the first restrictionless Christmas in what feels like a decade, socialisation and spending will be at an all-time high, so start saving early to get the most out of the holiday period.