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The Hidden Costs of Christmas 2022

The silly season is officially upon us - and with it can come the impending doom of expenses. The Christmas period is infamous for racking up outstanding bills, and it’s easy to let your spending spiral out of control. To ensure you stick to your budget this year, we’ve created a one-stop guide to all things Christmas spending in 2022.


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A cost-of-living Christmas

A cost-of-living Christmas

It’s beginning to cost a lot this Christmas! With Australians all around the country facing the rising cost of living, Christmas spending could come as much more of a shock than previous years.

A pre-Christmas Consumer Sentiment Survey by NAB found Aussies were expecting to spend an extra $170 per week in the lead-up to Christmas on groceries, fuel and energy bills.

How Australians will deal with a cost of living Christmas

According to the Pureprofile 2022 Christmas Report, Australians will be looking to save cash on gift-giving in many different ways this Christmas:


of Aussies won’t send gifts to family and friends overseas


of Aussies will only buy gifts for their children


of Aussies said buying fewer gifts is the main priority to sticking to a budget


is the average Australians are expected to spend on gifts alone

Here are some other practical ways Aussies will be saving a bit of money this Christmas, according to a survey conducted by Compare the Market in September 2022:

Decorative graphic of a light bulb

of households won’t put up Christmas lights or will put up less than they did in the past

Decorative graphic of a house

of households will run the air-con less

Decorative graphic of a thermostat

of households will ditch the extra fridge or freezer at Christmas

Decorative graphic of a lightning bolt

of households will switch appliances off at the wall

Decorative graphic of a Australia

of households will rely on solar panels (if they have them) during the day

How much does Christmas cost in Australia?

How much does Christmas cost in Australia?

Despite the rising cost of living, the ARA-Roy Morgan 2022 Pre-Christmas Retail Sales Report predicts Australians will spend a whopping $63.9 billion during the pre-Christmas period - a 3% increase from the year before.

Below we can see two snapshots: the first is how ARA-Roy Morgan predicts the pre-Christmas spending and sales in each major industry and how these predictions compare to last year’s figures.

The second snapshot is how much Aussies are predicted to spend per state by ARA-Roy Morgan. This figure makes up the total $63.9 billion.

ARA/Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Sales (Retail Categories)

($m - seasonally adjusted)








2021 Pre-
Christmas Sales








2022 Pre-Christmas
Sales Forecast








Growth % vs 2021









Source: ARA/Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Forecast Report 2022

ARA/Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Sales
(States and Territories)

($m - seasonally adjusted)

Green Arrow pointing up Represents growth as compared to 2021

Source: ARA/Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Forecast Report 2022

Map of Australia
Arrow 4.6
Arrow 6.5
Arrow 3.1
Arrow 6.6
Arrow 0.8
Arrow 3.8

Green Arrow pointing up Represents growth as compared to 2021

Source: ARA/Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Forecast Report 2022

The first figure predicts the hospitality sector to flourish in 2022 compared to 2021, showing a 16.3% increase - the largest growth across the board.

Despite data from Pureprofile concluding that 37% of Aussies believe they will spend less on food this year, the ARA/Roy Morgan data shows a 1.8% increase in the purchasing of food. This is evidence that despite the hopes of spending less, food inflation has been a major barrier for Australians in 2022. In the June to September quarter alone, the CPI for food rose 3.2% across the nation.

South Australia showcases the largest growth in the second figure, with an expected increase of 6.6% since 2021. This aligns with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) through ABS data, as Adelaide’s overall CPI rose 2.6% in the June to September quarter.

2022 Christmas Sales Forecast

2022 Christmas Sales Forecast

According to Salesforce's Holiday Insights Hub, climbing interest rates and the resulting demanding cost of living will impact the shopping season in Australia and New Zealand. As a result, Salesforce predicts that Christmas shopping will come earlier than usual in 2022.

Despite Cyber Monday (28 November) and the week following being a popular time to save on gifts, 33% of holiday sales are forecast to occur in the first three weeks of November before Cyber Monday begins. Salesforce also predicts:

  • 84% of sales will take place prior to the week of Christmas
  • 25% of all the sales during the holiday period will take place during the week of Cyber Monday
  • The average discount rate will be highest during the week of Cyber Monday, averaging 22%
  • 70% of all traffic and 60% of all orders to occur on a mobile device during the holiday season

Common hidden costs of Christmas

Christmas spending doesn’t end with presents. No matter how hard you try to plan, there will always be one or two hidden costs that pop up over the festive season. To help out, we’ve nailed down just a few of these expenses to make sure they’re on your radar when you start your Christmas planning.

Christmas Trees

While buying a real pine Christmas tree is more of a white-Christmas tradition, it’s still a popular choice for many Australians. There’s something special about the smell of fresh pine filling your living room, but buyer beware - a real tree can be pricey.

A large-sized tree (over two metres tall) can set you back around $250 - $300 and will only last you a few weeks before wilting. Investing in a fake, good-quality Christmas tree is a great option if you’re trying to save. Not only will a fake tree last you up to a decade (if stored properly), you’ll be saving yourself roughly $2,500 compared to buying a new tree each year. If you keep an eye out for bargains you can even snag a real-looking ‘fake’ tree for around $100 - $200.

Gift Wrap

Congrats! You’ve done your Christmas shopping and now have to access your inner creative to get wrapping. While a roll of Christmas wrapping paper retails at an average of $5 - $10, it’s common to spend upwards of $20 per roll for premium paper with custom designs. While these costs aren’t astronomical, they do add up. If you’re wrapping 20 reasonably-sized presents, you could spend around $50 once you include gift tags and ribbons.

With gift wrapping, why not opt for some old-fashioned tissue paper, newspaper or butcher’s paper? If you’re using gift bags with family, avoid writing on the tags - you’ll be able to reuse them again, saving money while also helping the environment. If you have your heart set on matching Christmas-themed paper for all of your presents, why not check out what’s available online; many sellers offer bundles of wrapping paper that won’t break the bank.

Christmas Cards

While handwritten cards are somewhat a thing of the past, they still have their place during the festive season. If you’re lucky, you can usually nab a pack of Christmas cards for around the $5 mark at a discount store, while choosing cards with custom or hand-designed artwork can set you back $40 without a blink.

Even greater than the cost of the actual cards is postage. Whether you’re posting cards locally, across the country or overseas, you could be hit with some nasty stamp fees. With Australia Posts’ recent hike in delivery costs (nearly 5% increase), sending Christmas post could quickly rack up.

While some love the feel of holding cards in their hand, they’re not always the most practical of items. If you’re short on time, hate handwriting, or just want to try something new, e-cards are a great way to wish friends and family festive wishes while not wasting paper. There are plenty of websites, like Canva and Greetings Island, that let you create e-cards for any occasion, with hundreds of designs for Christmas.


Christmas decorations are one of the most iconic parts of the festive season. There’s such a wide variety of decorations out there that it’s easy to get carried away. A handy trick is limiting yourself to buying one new ornament each Christmas, giving each sentimental value.

If you’re a fan of decorating this time of year, make sure you check out Clean Up Australia’s Eco-Friendly Christmas Guide to learn how to make sustainable decorating choices around the house!


Who doesn’t love a festive party? There’s something extra special about entertaining during the Christmas season, but you should be careful not to overdo it.

It’s easy to spend a little extra on things during the season of giving, so if you’ve found yourself with leftovers, you’re not alone. If you’re hosting the celebrations this year, organising a potluck could be a good idea, so you’re not left buying all of the food. If you have a big family with lots of children, think about having separate food for the kids; saving the fancy food for the adults and serving the young children a basic cake for dessert. At the end of the day, children aren’t going to appreciate the food as much as you will, so saving some cash here and there does help.

Aside from food, there are other costs that come with Christmas parties. You might want to purchase a new outfit, or (if you’re not hosting) bring along a small gift for the host. Aside from the obvious ways to avoid such costs (i.e. re-wearing an old outfit), try checking your local Facebook Marketplace to see if you can grab a bargain on a pre-loved outfit, or DIY a ‘brownie-in-a-jar’ as a sweet and homely gift.


It’s no secret that Australians love a drink, especially on Christmas Day. Whether you’re stocking up the fridge for visitors or just enjoying a cold one on your own, the average Australian spends around $130 on alcohol during the festive period (excluding alcoholic gifts).

If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll be able to find some good deals on alcohol over the Christmas period, both leading up to and after Christmas Day.


Millions of Australians travel throughout December and early January to visit friends and family. Thanks to COVID-19, travel was a distant memory for a couple of Christmases; however, things are looking up in 2022.

Flying Christmas Day tends to be the cheapest day for travel within the week of Christmas, while the days leading up to December 25th are the most expensive. Therefore, it still pays to be savvy with travel costs.

Need a loan for travel this holiday season? Check out our express holiday loans.

How-To: Christmas Budgeting

How-To: Christmas Budgeting

Christmas budgeting will be your saving grace during the festive season. Whether you’re hosting Christmas lunch or organising Secret Santa, you’ll probably end up spending more than you bargained for.

While it can be tempting to whip out the credit card, sitting down and creating a budget for the festive period will be a lifesaver when it comes to not overspending and avoiding those post-Christmas blues when checking your statements.

Budgeting isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your version of a budget will depend largely on your income, expenses, family size, and a bunch of other factors. A budget for the Christmas season should be started as early as possible, with most choosing the beginning of November to get the ball rolling. Though if you’re only getting around to it in December, not all hope is lost. You will still reap the benefits of getting your finances in order in the weeks leading up to December 25th.

  • Budgeting Tip #1: Write It Down

    Sit down with a pen and paper and write down your income and any regular expenses that will pop up between now and December 25th. Depending on whether you’re paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, your cash flow is likely to be different from others. By physically writing out your budget instead of using a spreadsheet, you could be more likely to stick to it and not overspend.

    Once you’ve written these numbers down, subtract your expenses from your income and see what that leaves you with: you might be surprised by how much discretionary cash you have lying around! Or, more likely, you’ll have a mini panic when you realise that measly number is what will get you through the festive season.

    Either way, now that you have a rough idea of how much you can spend this Christmas, you can start looking at individual costs.

  • Budgeting tip #2: Get creative with gifts

    Once you’ve got the basics written down, you should compile a list of who you plan to buy presents for. Set yourself a spending limit or get creative and think of ways to buy joint presents for people. This could be as simple as buying a family pass to a local theme park or booking a night away for a couple.

    Another great way to give the gift of thought this Christmas is through DIY coupon books. These nifty little coupons are an excellent way to give a practical gift that (to many) will mean more than something materialistic. Whether it be a free home-cooked dinner, a 30-minute massage or a night of babysitting, coupon books can be an excellent way to give a virtually free (yet thoughtful) present.

  • Budgeting tip #3: Share the food love

    If you’re hosting Christmas lunch this year, don’t let the burden of catering fall entirely on your shoulders. Preparing food for your extended family or friends can easily set you back hundreds of dollars without even considering beverages too.

    To split the responsibility, try asking all attendees to bring a plate of their choosing and simply request that it be for nibbles, a main, or dessert.

  • Budgeting tip #4: Stay accountable

    The most important part of budgeting is sticking to it. Whether you purchase a fancy budget planner or create an Excel spreadsheet from scratch, it’s essential that you regularly check back in on your budget and compare your spending with what you originally planned for.

    If you’ve found yourself going down the wrong path with overspending, don’t beat yourself up. There will always be unforeseen expenses popping up - especially around the Christmas season. The trick is to ensure you’ve set enough aside to cover these unexpected expenses so that you’re not left in the lurch come the new year.

More money-saving tips for this Christmas

After creating your budget, tracking your spending is an important part of saving at Christmas and is a way to prevent you from getting carried away with buying unnecessary bits and pieces.

Your internet banking app might have a nifty spending tracker which lets you break down your spending into categories; or, you might take a manual approach and buy yourself a spending tracker journal.

However you decide to do it, keep yourself accountable by tracking what you spend and what you spend it on.

It’s not uncommon for gift cards to be shoved in the back of your wallet and forgotten about all year. With many having a 12-month expiration, make sure you don’t let them go unused. If you’ve received credit for a store that isn’t taking your fancy, use it to purchase something for a relative or friend who frequents the retailer.

Getting organised is an important part of saving money. If you start your Christmas shopping a few months before the silly season, you’ll be able to grab some great bargains if you keep an eye out. Early November comes with thousands of Click Frenzy and Black Friday (25th November) sales, followed closely by Cyber Monday (28th November).

A popular tool for online shoppers is discount browser extensions like Honey. Once you’ve downloaded the extension, you’ll automatically be alerted if any websites you’re visiting have discount codes, and with one click of a button, you can run the program to see which codes are valid for your purchase.

No one likes paying delivery fees, especially when it could be avoided. Many websites have minimum spend limits to qualify for free shipping, and it usually takes adding more than one item to your cart to reach it.

If you plan ahead and have a list of items you’ll be buying, try shopping for them through department stores like David Jones and Myer which stock hundreds of brands. By placing larger orders through the online retailer, you’ll save a bucket load on shipping costs, and will most likely qualify for free shipping anyway.

If you didn’t get around to buying presents on Black Friday, you might still be able to nab a great bargain. Many people won’t get around to celebrating the festivities with friends until after Christmas Day, so if you have the time, set out on Boxing Day to grab your items at heavily discounted prices. No one will know whether you’ve done your shopping before or after the big day.

Affordable gift ideas that won’t break the bank

Affordable gift ideas that won’t break the bank

Subscription boxes

There are hundreds of online subscription boxes out there that offer everything from socks and food to magazines. They make a great gift idea and are super affordable too. Sites like Subscription Box Australia offer a huge variety of monthly subscription boxes, ranging from beauty, and pet products, to fitness packs and book boxes.

Choosing a box that matches someone’s interests is not only a practical gift but will keep things exciting each month.

Secret Santa

Secret Santa is an awesome way to save some cash while ensuring everyone receives a Christmas gift. It’s an especially great idea if you have a large extended family, and want to save yourself buying individual gifts for each person. You each get one relative or friend to buy for and can put a little extra in since you won’t be shopping for everyone. A common price range for Secret Santa is around the $20 mark, meaning you have room to choose something thoughtful, while not breaking the bank.

If your family traditionally only purchases gifts for the children, try organising a Secret Santa for the adults. This way, you’ll each get something little from the family while not having to worry about spending too much.

Practical accessories

Even though gifting socks sometimes gets a bad rap, there’s nothing wrong with giving a practical present. In fact, gifting someone socks, undies, and other everyday items can be quite thoughtful.

As long as it’s appropriate (i.e. not for your boss), giving someone a pack of undies will save them a trip to the shops and usually some frustration when they realise their current ones are all in the wash. They can also make great stocking fillers if you’re wanting some smaller gifts.

Don’t forget to spread Christmas cheer!

At the end of the day, Christmas is a time to celebrate your love for friends and family. While it’s easy to get caught up in buying presents, decorating the house and cooking up a feast, don’t forget to cherish the time you have with your loved ones, as this is the most important part!

If you’re looking for ways to give back to the community during this time, see if any local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, or animal rescue centres are needing extra volunteers, or whether your local shopping centre has a toy or food bank for donations. While it may take a bit of searching, there will always be ways to give back and spread the Christmas spirit this time of year!

Written by Katie Francis (2021)
and Jemima Kelly (2022)