Christmas To Cost 17% More Than Before the Pandemic

Inflation will be the lump of coal in your stocking this year

the 2021 cost of christmas dinner: eggnog, spiral ham, potatoes (yellow, white, red, russet), frozen turkey

The Balance / Dennis Madamba

Inflation is the real Grinch this year. Christmas celebrations are set to cost 17% more than they did in 2019, before the pandemic, according to a data analysis by The Balance.

Gifts, a typical holiday meal for 10 people, and a tree (an artificial one) is estimated to cost an average of $1,783, up from roughly $1,525 in 2019, the data shows. Thankfully, compared to last year, it’s not nearly as big a leap, up just 3.4% from $1,725. 

Key Takeaways

  • Christmas celebrations will cost 17% more this year than before the pandemic
  • Compared to 2020, the cost of a holiday feast, gifts and a tree is up only 3.4% because of higher costs for things like ham, eggnog and artificial trees
  • So far inflation hasn’t been deterring shoppers—retail sales jumped the most since March last month

The Balance analyzed the price of popular items on many holiday wish lists, as well as the prices of ingredients for a holiday dinner and other Christmas staples. The price of a gallon of eggnog, for example, has risen more than 27% just since last year, jumping from $3.03 to $3.86. Trees are also more expensive, at least if you’re going to get a new artificial one. The average artificial tree costs $131, 26% more than last year, while an average real one is about 5% more at $85. (Dessert lovers, however, are in for a sweet surprise: While cookies are up 6% from 2019, they’ve fallen about 1% from 2020.) 

Inflation hasn’t gripped everything on your holiday shopping lists. Many popular gift items, including an iPhone, a pair of Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, a PlayStation, and a small Telfar shopping bag, haven’t changed in price since last year. Gifts of clothing could be pricier, though. Levi’s 501 jeans have jumped nearly 46% since 2020, to more than $64 a pair.

Though inflation is soaring—rising at the fastest pace in over 30 years, according to October data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—it doesn’t seem to have deterred shopping so far. Retail sales jumped 1.7% in October in the biggest monthly increase since March.

This year will bring the highest holiday retail sales on record, according to a forecast from the National Retail Federation. Retailers are preparing by beefing up staff and improving supply chains.

the 2021 cost of christmas gifts: nike air force 1, telfar bag, iPhone, Levi's 501 Jeans, PlayStation, Christmas Tree

The Balance / Dennis Madamba

Research and analysis by
Adrian Nesta
Adrian Nesta, Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash
Adrian Nesta is a research analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash, the digital publisher that owns and operates The Balance. His work includes data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization for stories in the data journalism portfolio across every vertical at Dotdash.
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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Consumer Price Index-October 2021.”

  2. Census Bureau. “Advance Monthly Sales For Retail and Food Services, October 2021.”

  3. National Retail Federation. “NRF Predicts Highest Holiday Retail Sales on Record.”

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