Have you ever wondered what really goes on at Christmas?

This year, we decided to check our facts. Here we present (in no particular order) ten things we discovered about the holiday season.

Fact #1: Santa Makes 1 in 4 parents uncomfortable

One out of four (27%) Australian parents who have young children are “uncomfortable” with the discussions they have with their children affirming Santa Claus, according to research by McCrindle. I wonder how many will give the game away on Christmas Eve this year...

Fact #2: A lot of us have mixed emotions about gifts

In a 2014 survey in the US, majorities said buying and receiving gifts makes them feel joyful (83%) and generous (78%), but considerable minorities also said it makes them feel stretched thin financially (46%), stressed out (36%), or wasteful (23%).

Fact #3: 7 in 10 KIDS want an iPad for Christmas

"It's all about brands and electronics this Christmas, kids want the best of the best and will settle for nothing less", says Australian Retailers Association's Russell Zimmerman in response to Roy Morgan's Young Australian Survey. Out of 3,000 surveyed kids, Apple products top the 'cool list' with 69% of children voting the iPad as the best gift this Christmas. Just over half of children believe the iPhone would also make a nice stocking surprise. No comment.

Fact #4: 8 out of 10 Australians believe that shops jump the gun at Christmas

Research also suggests that shopping is the least fun part of Christmas, and 81% of Australians believe that the shops set up for Christmas much earlier than necessary. McCrindle's research also showed revealed 3 in 4 (74%) are most annoyed by over-crowded shopping centres. Most of us (69%) also rate commercialism as a top three Christmas gripe.

Fact #5: 140,000 Brits are petitioning for an end to the Boxing Day sales

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has refused calls to force all shops to close on Boxing Day, saying it is not the Government’s job to tell businesses how they should run their shows.

British MPs will hold a Westminster Hall debate on a petition with more than 140,000 signatures calling for a ban on all retail premises opening the day after Christmas, on the basis that it exploits low paid workers.

Fact #6: 1 in 3 plan to spend less than last year

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment survey points to lower Christmas spending across Australia this year. It found that 34% plan to spend less, 52% the same, and 14% said plan to spend more. But – this isn’t anything new. The authors point out, ‘Over the entire 42-year history of the survey, the sentiment lead-in to Christmas 2016 is in the middle of the pack’. So there you go.

Fact #7: Australians spend more on food than presents at Christmas

Notwithstanding the previous point, Australian shoppers will spend more than $48.1 billion in retail stores over the Christmas trading period this year, including more than $19 billion on food alone. On presents, Australians are expected to spend $8.8 billion, more than half of which will be spent on credit or store cards, according to a survey by peer-to-peer lender Society One.

Fact #8: US residents say alcohol is officially the worst present to give

In a Consumer Reports survey of 1,300 US residents, alcohol received the highest number of votes for ‘worst gift’ and 20% listed it as the gift they would least want to receive. Flowers came in next at 14%, anything ‘clearly re-gifted’ came in at 12%, while home decor items such as picture frames and candles received 11% of the votes. In total, 80% said they’d prefer to receive a ‘practical present’. Hope it’s not too late!

Fact #9: Not everyone feels merry at Christmas    

One‑third of people responding to a Relationships Australia survey last year reported that their family relationships were highly negatively affected due to financial worries at Christmas. A similar proportion of the 1,900 survey respondents indicated that their family relationships were negatively affected at Christmas due to work-life balance factors.

Fact #10: 1 in 4 regret something they did at a Christmas party

A British survey conducted for Drinkaware by Opinion Matters, asked more than 2,000 people aged 25 to 55 to dish the dirt on their previous office parties. More than a quarter (26%) of us have regretted something we did at a work Christmas party in the past, and unsurprisingly, most of us think drinking too much alcohol was to blame for our questionable behaviour.

The most common regret suffered by Brits each year is kissing a colleague, or worse, trying to kiss a colleague and finding yourself rejected. Cringe.

The take-home lessons?

Ease up on the alcohol, skip the shops, and opt for quality time with the family - that is, if you can distract the kids from their new iPads.


About the Author

Tandi Williams
Managing Director

Patternmakers’ Founder and Managing Director Tandi Williams is an experienced consultant and arts and culture research specialist.