The student news site of Owatonna High School.

The cost of Christmas

Where the money could go

December 19, 2017


Madison Bissonette

Many look forward to gifts for the holiday, but could that money go to something else?

Warm sweaters, freshly fallen snow and mistletoe. The holidays are here once again to lift  spirits from the dead of winter. Hearts yearn to give to those in need and to gift joy to their loved ones. All of the lights, shopping and festivities have a hypnotizing glow that is easy to get caught up in, but one may stray from awe into curiosity and wonder how much is actually spent on the holiday glory.

What is spent

The holidays do not come cheap. This year, according to American Research Group, Inc., “The average American will spend $983 on gifts.” That comes out to a total of $682 billion spent on gifts alone, a four percent increase from last years $655.8 billion. To put into perspective just how ridiculous that number is, with the money that will be spent this year on the holidays in America alone, one would be able to buy 682 Buckingham Palaces, 179 Eiffel Towers or 52 Great Wall of China’s. This begs Americans to ask if they could be spending their money on more beneficial things.

Instead of Gifts Americans could—

Instead of spending money on gifts, Americans money could be used to solve important issues. Each of the world’s major issues could be solved with simply rearranging funds. According to the Huffington Post, “It would cost about $20 billion to effectively eliminate homelessness in the United States.” A price only slightly less than what is spent annually on Christmas decorations. The New York Times says, “Resolving world hunger would only cost $30 billion per year.” That’s only 22.7% of America’s Christmas budget. The American Prospect says,” To bring everyone in America above the poverty line, it would cost $175.3 billion, aka 1.08 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.” That can also be translated to one third of what is to be spent this year on Christmas. Lastly, during a TED Talk given by Kevin Bales, it was estimated that there are approximately 27 million slaves worldwide. Slaves consist of women, children and families in all parts of the globe, including the United States. To free every slave in the world, it would cost $10.8 billion. That’s sixty-three times less than what is spent on this single holiday. Senior India Enter says, “I think it’s really sad that we’re so willing to spend as much as we do on having several obnoxious lawn ornaments we put in our yards instead of giving help to the people who need it. We can technically buy what we want but we just spend so much, it isn’t necessary. I know a lot of people do donate, including my family, but it just feels like it isn’t enough.” America has the resources to help, now it’s a matter of whether or not it wants to.

These problems may sound enormous and irrepremendable, but they can be solved once the organizations fighting the issues are properly funded. This year, consider donating to these programs by clicking on the highlighted words. Whether it’s to help victims of slavery, hunger, homelessness, poverty or kids in need, help is always appreciated.


  The money that will be spent this year on the holidays in America alone, one would be able to buy 682 Buckingham Palaces, 179 Eiffel Towers or 52 Great Wall of China’s.

Do good as you shop

Donating does not mean Christmas has to be any less spectacular, and buying Christmas gifts is not discouraged. The magnitude of some areas of spending does make one think that it is a good idea to donate and help fill the hearts of others. Websites like The Balance and Nonprofit Tech for Good have complied master lists of companies who donate to nonprofits with every purchase. These companies make it effortless to shop for loved ones while simultaneously helping others. Amazon Smile is one of those companies. It’s just like Amazon, but it donates 0.5% of the price of a purchase to the charity of one’s choice. The buyer just shops like normal. This is an easy way to find the perfect gift for relatives or friends while still making someone else’s holiday bright.

One can save money in the holiday season and donate the money saved. And Then We Saved is a wonderful place to find more affordable family activities. Experiences with loved ones bring as much joy as any gift. Holiday parades, visiting Santa or taking a trip to the ice rink are all inexpensive and worthwhile ways to bond with family. Arranging an inexpensive family game such as a white elephant gift exchange is another exciting tradition to consider. Rules for the game and white elephant gift ideas are available here. Mr. Kuehn, OHS art teacher, says “My family has a tradition of getting together with extended family and just visiting and enjoying each other’s company.” While presents are an exciting aspect of the holiday’s, the experiences are what clings to the memory for years to come.

  My family has a tradition of getting together with extended family and just visiting and enjoying each other’s company.

— Mr. Kuehn

Personalize Gifts

For those who are more creative, do it yourself (DIY) gifts are a trend that never dies. There are thousands of homemade how-to’s out there for everyone in the family. From candy cane sugar scrub, to DIY organizers, to hot chocolate on a stick the possibilities never end. Each gift is wallet friendly, yet still able to spark that wide eye wonder on Christmas morning.  Senior Skylah Drache takes homemade gifts to the next level. She says, “Sometimes for Christmas I’ll make my mom paintings. A good gift is something that shows you really know the person. My mom isn’t so much into material things, so I make her things she’ll keep forever.”

It is easy to get caught up in the hustling and bustling of the season, but it is important for one to remember those who could use some help this time of year. It is possible to paint a smile on the face of someone in need this holiday season and have a wonderful, memorable holiday of one’s own. Perhaps the warmth of giving will even sprinkle an extra dose of holiday cheer in one’s home.

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